Rules of Engagement: How to Stay Connected to Your Audience
You have a Facebook page that you’re filling with original and curated content. You also have a Twitter feed, perhaps a Tumblr blog, and maybe even a YouTube channel. And recently you began posting to Instagram.
Well, not exactly. Building and feeding those platforms is only half the battle. The other—equally important—half is how you engage and grow your audience. If, like so many brands, you’ve found that your Facebook following has plateaued and your Twitter feed is sans retweets, try one of these three easy ways to re-engage with your community.
As you already know “content is king,” so it’s easy to get hyper-focused on the content you’re creating or sharing. But, that content isn’t as effective as it could be if people aren’t engaging with it. So, how do you ensure that happens? Just ask! Get your community talking by asking them questions related to the content you post. For example, if your brand sells travel deals, ask your community about their favorite vacation destination, their most memorable beach vacation, or where they went on their honeymoon.
When incorporating questions into your content, keep two things in mind. First, keep the questions simple. If your community can answer with one or two words—i.e., “Bermuda”—people are more likely to interact. Second, try to ask questions that will get your audience talking about themselves and their experiences. It’ll feel more personal, and you’ll get to connect with your audience in a unique way.
You can also ask simple questions to get your audience to weigh in on their preferences (check out online retailer, Ideeli, which does a great job of this with its “like or dislike” series). More engagement for your followers, and more information about your audience for you.
Run a Contest
Giveaways are a surefire way to excite your audience—as long as you know what they want. When creating your contest, make sure the theme, the prize, and the method of entry all go along with your brand’s mission.
You should also consider your brand’s priority when it comes to engagement. Want more “likes” on Facebook? Run a contest awarding fans that “like” your page. Want more video content? Ask your followers to submit their contest entries as videos. Regardless of the parameters, always be transparent with the contest guidelines, and be sure to research the rules Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, or Tumblr might have around running contents on their platforms. And remember: the bigger the prize, the bigger the draw—and that means the higher the engagement.
For inspiration, check out Oreo’s recent Facebook contest in celebration of its 100th birthday, Butterfinger’s “The Last Spokesperson on Earth” Facebook video contest, and Clif Bar’s current Twitter contest which awards fans who tweet their outdoor activity with free food. As these brands have demonstrated, Facebook and Twitter are great (and easy) platforms for contests. But regardless of the platform you choose, make sure you promote what you’re doing across all of your social media properties.
Re-blog, Re-tweet, and Re-post
Another great way to engage your audience is to re-blog, re-tweet, and re-post what they’re saying. People love to interact with the brands they follow, so if your community sees you actively listening and helping them share their thoughts, they’re far more likely to engage with you. It’s also a great way to get to know your target audience better.
Plus, instead of having a stream of posts that are 100% focused on your brand, you’ll now have a fantastic and easy way to curate great content and add more voices to the mix.
Finally, as you begin to engage your community, remember that you’re a social media consumer yourself. Pay attention to the content that inspires you to interact with a brand, and see how you can translate those same strategies to reach your audience. And don’t forget: There are humans behind the icons and avatars! So make sure the questions you ask, contests you host, and posts you share are in line with what your audience is looking for, as well as how you want your brand to be perceived.
About The Author
Alex Honeysett is a Marketing & Brand Strategist who believes the secret to marketing success is not to sell your soul, lose your sense of humor or shape-shift into a corporate marketing robot -- it's to create a human relationship with your community (strategically!). After spending nearly a decade leading corporate communications strategies for companies including Thomson Reuters and NASDAQ, Alex now helps women entrepreneurs and small businesses create foundational brand, messaging and marketing strategies that leverage all the ways they innately communicate and connect with people and bring those strategies to life. You can learn more about her work (and story!) here: alexhoneysett.com.