A key element to building your business through social media is being able to engage with your audience. Posting for the sake of posting won’t get you where you want to go. The goal is to capture attention and motivate people to not only become part of your business community but to also become lifelong customers. This requires both seizing attention and then retaining it.
Let’s take a look at strategies to both ignite and engage your audience on social media.
Identify the Trigger Points
The first step to engaging your audience is identifying the types of content that they respond to. You’ll need to perform a bit of research and testing to accomplish this. You can use keyword searches to start. Using hashtags and your own analytics can determine the popular topics and the content that draw people to your website.
Other tools that are useful in identifying popular content include Buzzsumo and Topsy. Both are good for examining content topics that received a significant number of shares and then working to finding another angle that could help you get that same kind of social sharing. Knowing what topics resonate with audiences is half the battle.
Once you know the topics they’re looking for, try various content formats, topics, and headlines to identify the material that generates attention and creates conversation and clicks. And even though you might initially decide to go with written content, think about how you might be able to repurpose that information in a more visual way with video, a Slideshare presentation, or an infographic.
Create a Strong Platform
Your audience wants to know what to expect from you. Your platform should ideally support your brand and your voice. That being said, you can be creative with your platform. For example, you can use your social media profile to provide a daily tip for your readers. You can share commentary and make your platform one that is primarily editorial. Identify what your audience wants and how you can offer them value, and then format a platform around that opportunity.
Think about what message you consistently deliver and then look to the content you share to reflect that message.
The beauty of social media is that it’s intended for two-way communication. One cannot engage others without asking questions and inviting feedback. Whether you publish polls, ask for opinions, seek advice or incite controversy and start a dialogue – the goal for social media is to motivate your readers and followers to get involved. This requires a call to action. Tell your readers what to do next. If you want them to answer a question, ask them to answer a question. If you want their opinion, ask, “What’s your opinion?”
Test and Measure
Finally, be sure to test and track your efforts as you learn and engage. Track the posts that people really get excited about. Track the material and links that generate the most clicks. And by all means track the material that results in conversions. The more you know about your audience, the more you can provide them with the right material – the material that not only provides value but also encourages them to become an active member of your business community.
There are no shortcuts to being successful on social media. You have to think about a strategy and plan it from the start. Start quietly and observe. Try to uncover how, when and why people engage and what kinds of information get them involved.
Like all marketing, social media marketing is not a short-term game. The process starts and builds slowly because your audience has to get to know you, like you, and trust you.