Why You Should Focus on Social Media Engagement in 2020
Unlike traditional media, (organic) social media was designed to create communities and is fuelled by two-way communication. Like a virtual networking event or backyard BBQ, the idea is for people to gather and share their lives with each other, regardless of their location. Over the years the focus has shifted and, with the rise in social media marketing, many players have lost sight of platforms’ engagement ethos. Instead of conversing, some brands default to broadcast mode, pushing their own agenda but ignoring the messages and stories shared by other users around them.
Facebook and Instagram are not online billboards. The ability to like, comment and share content and to communicate with brands directly is what makes social media unique, compared with traditional media publications. At the touch of a button, you can ask a question, make a purchase or seek validation or verification from others all around the world about a company. Conversely, when you see an article in a printed newspaper you cannot show your approval with a thumbs up (well, you can, but the good folks at The Herald Sun probably won’t see it). The unique art of interaction inherent within social media platforms is where the secret to success lies.
Engagement. Huh, yeah. What is it good for? Absolutely everything!
When it comes to social media there are two types of engagement; The first kind I refer to as Passive engagement – the interaction you receive on your own content (posts/stories). This type of engagement is desirable because those likes, comments and shares not only give us the ‘warm fuzzies’ #theyloveme they also improve your account’s overall performance.
As a rule, the more engagement your posts receive, the more people the algorithm serves your content to. The Instagram and Facebook algorithm prioritises content and accounts that generate meaningful interactions. i.e. Substantial comments (something more than an emoji), DMs and post shares. Higher post engagement ➡︎ higher post reach ➡︎ follower growth and brand recognition (see more about the algorithm below).
The second kind of engagement and the topic of this post is what I like to call Proactive engagement: This type of engagement involves actively seeking out and conversing with other accounts in a meaningful way. Proactive engagement is the ‘secret sauce’ to social media success and is the piece of the social media puzzle that brands often neglect, to their determent.
Let me explain.
5 Reasons you should proactively engage on Instagram
1. To attract (quality) followers and real customers
Whaaaat? You thought you could just buy followers huh? The only thing achieved by buying followers is a shrinking bank balance.
Imagine you’re a Melbourne-based hairdresser who specialises in Balayage (the perfect low-maintenance colour for busy Mums, BTW). Purchasing 5,000 random male followers, aged 18-24 who live in India is highly unlikely to bring more paying customers into your local salon. Which is the whole point of spending your precious time on Instagram, right?
All that time you spend crafting content and posting will be for nothing if it is served to the wrong audience. Your account’s overall engagement percentage (that is, the percentage of your followers who engage with your content) will also suffer as your posts about summer up-dos are unlikely to resonate with Ravi and his mates and therefore they will not engage. If your followers aren’t engaging with you then you miss the opportunity to engage back – answering questions, providing value and demonstrating your authority in your chosen field. It’s a downward spiral to Lonely Town. Population: you.
Trust me, there’s a better way. Actively seeking out and engaging with your ideal customer online encourages the right people to connect with and follow your account(s). These people are more likely to take the next steps i.e. visit your website, sign up to your mailing list and eventually purchase from you. It is better to have 100 real followers who fit your ideal customer avatar than 10,000 fake followers.
THE GOAL OF SOCIAL MEDIA IS TO GROW YOUR BUSINESS, NOT YOUR EGO.
2. To ‘bust’ the algorithm and improve account performance
Oh, that pesky algorithm! Love it or loathe it, it’s here to stay and, in order to have your content seen, you must play but its rules. When people engage with your content (and you with theirs) you’re telling the algorithm that your content is valuable. Instagram is in the business of keeping users happy and nothing keeps users happier than being served valuable content that they love.
The fastest way to ensure your content appears in the feed of your ideal customer (if they are not already following you) is to interact with them. Watch their stories, DM, comment on and share their content to get yourself noticed and ensure that the algorithm connects your accounts.
3. To remind people that you’re still here
I don’t know about you but I’ve followed some accounts and then completely forgotten that they exist! This happens for 2 reasons: (1) They don’t post regularly or (2) I don’t interact with their content. If you’re not appearing in your followers’ stories or feed on the regular, it’s easy to become forgettable. If you’re not going to post on a consistent basis, actively engage with other people’s content to stay front of mind.
4. It saves you having to churn out non-stop content
We’ve all met the content beast – he’s like a Hungry Hungry Hippo with an insatiable appetite for content. Here’s the thing, if you spend more of your Instagram time ‘budget’ engaging with people you can get away with fewer posts each week. Yup. If, for example, you dropped your daily posting to, say, 3-4x per week and spent the 15-20 minutes (or longer) it takes you to write a post caption engaging with your ideal customers and existing followers, you’ll see better results. Less content to create and better performance on your account. Win-Win.
5. Engagement builds trust
At the end of the day engagement is just a fancy word for “talking”. Talking is how we build relationships. Conversing with other account users allows them to get to know you (and vice versa) and allows them to decide if they want to work with you or purchase from you. If you had the choice to work with someone you know vs a complete stranger, who would you choose? My bet is that you would go with the person you know, like and trust.
The more active you are, the more successful you’ll be online – attracting the right followers and building their trust and loyalty to you and your brand so they keep coming back for more and eventually, when they are ready to buy, they will come to you.
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