While social media is the new engine driving much of modern marketing, not all interactions are created equal. The power of an online post lies in how big a conversation it starts. Sure, it’s always great to be “liked” — but a like is really the end of the discussion.
A comment, however, really gets people talking, providing four times as much engagement as a like. When someone comments on your post, you have the opportunity to connect with him directly and address his praise or concerns. That can be as simple as thanking him for his kind words or providing a coupon or assurances if he’s dissatisfied. In either case, it provides a better lasting impression of your business.
After comments, shares and retweets provide the most engagement by helping you spread your message across different networks, increasing your reach and opportunity for leads.
Of course, while likes and favorites might deliver the least value, that doesn’t mean they’re useless. They still provide support for your brand and can provide validation for the types of content you create to help you figure out what works for your business.
Developing Powerful Content
You can do a few things to increase the likelihood your posts and tweets will get the comments and shares that will propel organic, genuine conversation:
1. Know your audience
Once you understand your audience, you can tailor your posts to cover what matters most to your followers. While research shows that social media posts with images can significantly increase engagement, pay close attention to what types of content your followers interact with the most. Do your fans seem to appreciate in-depth articles about animal rights over pictures of puppies? Informative pieces might spark more conversation than photos of your product. At any rate, make sure that any content you choose to post, whether visual or text-based, is top-quality and compelling.
2. Know where to look
Not everything you post needs to be about your company. By sharing a wide range of information about your industry, you show your audience that you’re a trusted expert. This credibility poises you as a thought leader and keeps you at the front of minds when it comes time to buy.
3. Know when to post
Timing plays a big role in getting the most social engagement possible. While most businesses post only during work hours, the Twittersphere is actually active for more than 12 hours a day in your audience’s time zone, and tweeting between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. leads to a 30% increase in interaction. When it comes to achieving retweets, one US study showed that the peak time is between 10 and 11 p.m. Eastern time.
4. Know how to engage
Incorporating shorter links and hashtags into your tweets can really boost engagement, and longer tweets (up to 120 characters) are more likely to be retweeted or favorited. You can also lead by example and like and favorite posts from others in your community. When you show your fans that you are willing to engage more broadly (i.e., outside your brand’s messaging), they will respond in your favor.
Many companies have really mastered these rules. For example, General Electric — which might not be the first brand you think of as a savvy social media user — has done a fantastic job of responding to its fans and creating conversations. Its team knows its audience well and crafts content accordingly, using eye-catching graphics and videos that appeal to the tech industry.
A toilet paper brand is another you might not expect to excel on social media, but Charmin has gathered nearly 69 000 followers on Twitter and was named the “sassiest brand” on the platform. Take a look at its fun #tweetfromtheseat campaign, and you’ll quickly see how the company is so adept at engaging its fans online.
Ultimately, engagement and leads are driven by the quality of the content you put out. The more you focus on sharing content that will resonate with your audience, the more conversations you’ll spur. It’s all about treating your fans as real people with genuine interests rather than as mere leads.
Don’t overcomplicate your job by trying to figure out how to sell on social. Just be human and create a positive dialogue. Deliver intriguing content to your audience, and you will see a natural increase in both engagement and leads.
Putting in the time and energy to really get to know your audience will help you see an exponential return on that investment. Consider the tips above as you ask yourself: How, when, and where can I best focus my social media marketing efforts?