Seven Tactics to Increase Engagement Across Your Social Media Channels
By Stephanie Hilger Director of Social Media, Blue Magnet Interactive | February 04, 2018
While social media marketers preach the importance of relevancy, engagement, and quality, brands often feel like they are drowning in Newsfeeds. Pushed out by algorithms and users' family and friends, as a brand, competing for a like, Retweet, or share can be a challenge. Rival your competition by employing these seven tactics that are sure to amp up engagement across your social media accounts.
1. Take Time to Optimize the Content You Are Publishing
Blurry photo? Scroll past. Spelling and grammar errors? Scroll past. Text overlay getting cut off on your image? Scroll past. A tweet that was clearly pushed out automatically from a Facebook post? Scroll past.
It takes less than 50 milliseconds to form a first impression. Unoptimized content is lazy, ineffective, and will no doubt fall victim to the scroll past. Taking the time to fully optimize your content for the channel it is being published on will make a huge difference in increasing engagement and getting users to perform your desired call-to-action - whether that is a like, share, or a click through to your website.
Pushing out a non-optimized post is a missed opportunity, especially when the "fastest growing channels are visually based. " Whenever you are adding rich media to your post (and you always should be), apply these key optimization tips:
- Pay attention to image size guidelines. Different channels and different placements (i.e. ads, link previews, Newsfeed) within those channels require different sized images. Picture this: you spend time creating a high-quality image with a text overlay; however, you did not size the image appropriately. In this instance, it is likely that your text overlay will get cut off once the image is published (and your post will end up looking sloppy). Users will not engage with content that they can not read. For a comprehensive list of image sizing guidelines/standards, check out Hootsuite's Social Media Image Size Reference Guide.
- Invest in high-quality visuals. Do not post blurry or low resolution photos. If you do not have access to good visuals, take the time to edit them with free online tools or by enhancing/filtering your photos in Instagram. Next-level content will stop users in their tracks, entice them to engage, and help your brand overcome the scroll past.
- Take advantage of helpful tools. Some of the best tools for creating visual content (on a budget) include Canva, Fotor, and Over. You do not need to be a graphic designer to produce visually stimulating content; there are a variety of apps and websites to help you take your content to the next level.
- Do not rely on sound. When devices are muted, videos on channels such as Facebook and Instagram will autoplay without sound. If you want to attract an audience, your video can not rely on sound. This is an important component to consider when you create videos for your social channels; after all, 85 percent of videos are watched with the sound off.
- Animate static content. Tools such as Lumen 5 and Werble can help turn blah content into mesmerizing videos in a matter of minutes.
- Update link previews. You should always update the link image, title, and description once the preview populates on Facebook (if you are able to). The link description often gets cut off in awkward places, and users are less likely to click if they don't know exactly what they are going to find on the other side of that line. What if "Book your stay by the end of this week…" was cut before the most important part of the message was shown? For example, "Book your stay by the end of this week and enjoy one free night." How many more users might have liked, shared, or commented on that post, tagging a friend, if they knew the landing page had information regarding a free night's stay during an upcoming vacation?
- Make it clear to users where they are headed once they click on the link you are sharing. Little context or non-optimized link previews can deter users from engaging with your content. Why would they tag their friend in your post or Retweet a link if they have no idea where they (or their followers) will end up once they click through?
Always remember… mix up the media you are sharing. Not every single post needs to be, nor should be, a link back to your website. Draft posts that encourage engagement (ask a question, spark a conversation) instead of always having your goal be to drive website traffic. If your content strategy is centered around sales, your call-to-action is always "Book Now," and every link you share is sending users to your booking widget, your engagement rate will decline - and fast. Users do not want to solely be sold to; they want relevant, useful information. A key part of "selling" is entertaining. Entertain your audience and let the "sales" happen naturally.
2. Maintain Your Accounts
Engagement should not be a one-time occurrence. Do not think of engagement in terms of one like, one reaction, one reply. Engagement is not one date - it is a long-term relationship. Draw users in with interesting content and keep them captivated long after. Part of maintaining this relationship is through maintaining your profile or account. Let's say a user clicks on your Facebook Page. Once they have come across one piece of content they like in their Newsfeed, are they going to want to stick around? Are your profile photo and cover photo/video alluring? Is your 'About' section filled out and up-to-date? If a user was to scroll through your own feed, are the rest of your posts optimized and appealing? Is your content relevant enough to develop a lasting relationship with the user/person?
3. Use the Power of Intrigue
Be creative. Be personable. Be exciting! Inspire engagement from users by asking them for their opinion. Ask them questions they want to answer. Encourage reactions by making interactive/participation-focused content part of your strategy. Make users feel important enough to want to share your content with their friends, family, and followers. Unveil new information and share content that people won't see anywhere else.
For hotels, this could be as easy as sharing/providing/posting a behind the scenes look at a chef preparing a meal, a sneak peek at a newly renovated guest room, or a special offer that can only be found on social media and not on your website.
One way to intrigue users is to host a sweepstakes or giveaway. Aside from increasing engagement, hosting a promotion or a giveaway is an effective approach to increase brand awareness, promote a new special or amenity, advertise recently renovated event space or guest rooms, gather feedback, collect leads, and grow your online community.
4. Know Your Audience
Why is your audience on social media in the first place? What are they interested in? What channels do they spend their time on? Know where to focus your efforts and be careful to not spread yourself too thin. Invest time in the channels your target audience is investing their time in and optimize your content appropriately. Did you know that females are 38% more likely to use Instagram over men? Or that the majority of Instagram users fall between 18-29 years old? (1) If your target audience is young adults, specifically women, Instagram is the place to be. Once you are there, know what your audience wants to see. It is likely that this specific demographic is more interested in your Shopping Special, Spa Package, or Girls Getaway offer than your Golf Promotion. Once you have identified who your audience is on each channel, feed them the content that you know they will love and interact with.
How can you learn more about your audience? Their likes and dislikes? What content works and what doesn't? Do not ignore the data! Routinely analyzing Facebook Insights and Twitter Analytics can help you piece together who exactly your audience is.
5. Figure Out What Works and Repeat
Once you have identified your audience, figure out what content they like. Which posts/tweets are they engaging with the most? Which topics or specific forms of media spark their interest?
Study which posts/tweets get the most engagement and plan your content accordingly. If content works, share it again! Repurposing old content is a key component of a successful social media campaign. As long as the information is still relevant, there is no harm in re-sharing what has proven to work in the past or reusing style elements. In fact, according to Contently, 60% of the top brands on Instagram use a consistent filter!
To learn more about what content works, again, monitor your Facebook Insights and Twitter Analytics. The data will give you a clear picture of what types of content and which forms of media your audience, and said channel's audience as a whole, is engaging with.
Do not ignore your website analytics either! User behavior on your website can indicate what type of content users want to see on social or how that content is performing. What is happening once users click on the links you share on Facebook and Twitter? Are they staying on the page or bouncing immediately? If they are browsing around and parsing through additional pages, what does their path look like? Are you implementing the proper tacking to make this information clear in your reports/reporting?
If you find yourself in a bind, stretching for content that your audience will love and find relevant, content curation is always an option (and should be a part of your strategy anyways).
6. Community Build
"Your greatness is not what you have, but in what you give" - Alice Hocker
Engagement is certainly not a one-way street. Focus on building your community and interacting with other brands and users' content, not solely responding to posts on the content you have shared. By commenting on and sharing posts from other Pages, Retweeting or replying to Tweets of other users, and exploring other accounts and hashtags on Instagram and leaving comments as you see fit, you will build a network of users who are thankful for your engagement and will often times return the favor. Create a list of relevant accounts, local area attractions, niche bloggers, industry experts, and preferred vendors that you can engage with on behalf of your hotel. Share their content and answer their questions in order to see your engagement rate sky rocket. "Like" other Pages on behalf of your hotel's Facebook Page and make sure to follow back relevant accounts on Instagram and Twitter. This will not only help promote engagement, but will aid in maintaining and growing your own accounts as well.
Bonus Community Building Tips:
- Participate in a Twitter Chat. Twitter chats are an excellent way to expand your network and, at the very least, temporarily boost engagement rates on Twitter. Twitter chats are typically hour-long, real-time conversations hosted by a specific account who will ask questions, and other users may join in by using the chat's designated hashtag. Ready to chat? Check out Buffer's Step-By-Step Guide for best practices on joining or hosting a Twitter Chat.
- Research and make use of relevant hashtags. Posts on Instagram that include at least one hashtag receive 12.6% more engagement than those without. (2) And while it is very important to incorporate hashtags into your content strategy to increase engagement, it is more important to make sure to do your research first. What other types of posts pop up when users click on the hashtag? Is the hashtag relevant to your post? Will users who click on the hashtag and find your post find value from it? Do not just hop on "trending" topics expecting to see engagement. Do you due diligence first, and the engagement will follow.
7. Pay to Play
If you are really looking to amp up your engagement, and fast, there are always Facebook and Twitter Ads to help. Specific objectives on both platforms, such as "Tweet Engagements" and "Post Promotion" (found under the Consideration > Engagement > Post Engagement) are great ways to get in front of audiences that are likely to engage with your content. When you create a campaign to amplify post engagement, you have the option of promoting an existing post or creating a post that coincides only with the campaign.
Warning: Do not just select "Boost Post" on Facebook if you don't have a large budget. Invest time in setting up a campaign with customized targeting for the best long-term results. It might not be worth the $3 everyday for an extra set of eyes if those eyes do not necessarily care about what you have to say - quality over quantity, always!
Why is Engagement Important to You?
Monitoring engagement is necessary, no matter which channel you are active on. While engagement rate is important, it is just as crucial to determine the goals of your social media campaign, the desired outcome of increased engagement, and the actions you want your online community to take. Ultimately, social media engagement should contribute to your overall business goals. Are you looking to drive more website traffic? Fill need periods? Focus on creating content that ultimately gets users to click through to your website or share posts regarding specials you are running during low occupancy periods. Perhaps your hotel recently rebranded and underwent a multi-million dollar renovation. If creating brand awareness is your objective, encourage shares and Retweets to reach a new audience.
Whatever your objective may be, social media can help in a variety of ways. These seven tactics will make a notable difference in their business model.
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