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Social engagement is the most important aspect of social media strategy. Without it, the only information you have coming back – likes, retweets, etc. – is superficial at best. That data isn’t enough to tell you what your audience really cares about or wants. Here’s how to get to the data that matters – and how to apply it to keep consumers engaged with your brand.

Listen, listen, listen!

If you want to get consumers talking, you’ve got to give them something to talk about. That means you first must know what they care to talk about.

The whole point of social listening is to push past the vagueness of likes and reactions and get to know what makes consumers tick. What makes them run to the movies, immediately click “buy,” share with their friends, lash out at a brand, etc?

You’ve got to know what makes them laugh, cry, and rage at the world – and converse with them about these things, human to human. That way when you need to talk to them like a brand – with a great offer, for example – you know what motivates them.

Use sentiment monitoring to create consumer segments to target. Only then can you offer up the perfect thing, at the perfect time, in the perfect way. Anything less won’t get them to stop scrolling and take notice.

Ask a question they can’t resist answering

You want your audience to do more than see you and click “like,” though. You want them to respond in a way that breaks through those pesky social algorithms and puts your posts in front of other consumers. At the same time, it has to make them like you for asking, and want to stick around for more.

Consumers are always willing to take a one-and-done quiz telling them what they’ll look like when they’re older, or which celebrity they most resemble – but that kind of engagement doesn’t lead to anything further.

This is where knowing what moves them makes a difference. Asking questions about things your audience loves encourages them to participate – while helping you get some organic traction in newsfeeds, AND keeping them connected enough to shop your brand now or in the future.

Screencap from Amy Jo Berman Facebook page; this post generated 110 comments

Shine a light on content creators

User generated content (UGC) is a gift from the social gods, so be sure you take advantage of it. When you see fans creating artwork, videos, spoofs, memes, etc., praise their creativity and enthusiasm – and retweet so they feel seen and appreciated.

This alone entices others to create and share content, but offering incentives and prizes ups the ante even more.

Identify and incentivize influencers

UGC isn’t the only engagement where incentives come into play. Even if your most active – and most popular – audience members don’t create their own content, their value comes in sharing your brand’s content with their own devout followings.

The magic of influencers comes from other consumers wanting to be like them. So if they love your brand, their fans will give you a try just to get the influencer’s attention.

Offer these VIPs something exclusive for being part of your team. They’ll then post about THAT, making others want to engage in the hopes of receiving special perks as well.

Converse for amazing campaigns

Commiserating/conversing with your followers builds trust and a feeling of common ground – so avoid “advertising” until you’ve done this. Even better, use this approach in your campaigns versus a “salesy” approach – find the love/hate and discuss! Then track in real-time to be aware of any adjustments needed along the way.

At all times remain an active part of the conversation. If your fans are talking to each other, that’s great! If they feel like they’re talking to themselves, you’re in trouble, And, of course, if they have questions you need to respond.

Even if they don’t, your job is to stay engaged with them – just talking to them as people. That’s what makes them love you enough to keep coming back.

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Image from Marc Falardeau

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