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In marketing, social media engagement involves making connections with current and future customers. The more engagement you have online, the greater impact you may have on your sales and overall brand. When followers become involved and interact with your content, it can help boost your company’s reputation both on and offline. In this guide, we discuss what you need to know in order to increase and measure your social media engagement successfully, including helpful tips and tools.

social media notification bubble drawn in pink chalk on a white brick background, has a heart with a number one next to it in the bubble, a hand holding a black cell phone is below

Image via Unsplash by Karsten Winegeart

What Is Social Media Engagement?

Social media engagement is the measure of interactions you have with your audience. It can be platform-specific or span your entire social portfolio. Metrics that help track engagement include:

  • Click-throughs
  • Comments
  • Direct messages (DMs)
  • Followers and audience growth
  • Likes and reactions
  • Shares, reports, or retweets
  • Tagged and untagged mentions
  • Use of branded hashtags

Why Is Engagement Important for Social Media?

Engagement with your company’s social content shows that people like what you’re doing. When engaging on social media, consumers often express interest or want to know more about what you do. Creating connections with customers builds a positive brand image. On average, 66% percent of people say they have a better perception of a company that responds to customer service requests online. When you use similar tactics, you may learn more about the user experience. This can help you better customize your interactions with customers.

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How To Increase Social Media Engagement

You may understand that it’s a good idea to increase engagement on social media, but you might not know how to do it. Consider using these steps to make simple changes to your content and up your engagement numbers:

1. Analyze Your Engagement

Review your current engagement statistics. Look at numbers like your followers, comments, and shares per post. Decide which metrics you’d like to increase. Recording your current numbers can give you a baseline to track as you make changes, which can help you evaluate your strategies’ effectiveness in the long run. 

2. Understand Your Audience

When you understand your audience, you can create content that’s more likely to engage them consistently. Think about what your audience likes, dislikes, and values. Additionally, how do they talk and converse with each other? 

Language and tone often change depending on who you’re talking to. For example, you likely speak with your work supervisor differently than you do with your best friend. This is also true of how different brands interact with their audience and create a brand voice. Consider researching your audience’s preferences through surveys or polls. Then think about the products and services you offer. This can help you decide the tone and information your audience will find appropriate and valuable.

3. Select a Strategy

Your social media strategies depend on your company’s business goals and target audience. When choosing an engagement strategy, look at your current numbers and decide which ones to improve. Depending on your goals, you might consider strategies like:

  • Collecting feedback about products or services
  • Developing new customer leads
  • Providing the audience with advice and resources
  • Updating your brand image

4. Learn the Algorithms

Not all social media platforms calculate engagement in the same way. Learning the mechanics of each channel you use can be helpful as you prepare to gather information. Read about the metrics each channel tracks and how they quantify their data to best understand how to review engagement on each platform.

5. Create Valuable Content

Social media is more than a billboard to advertise how great your company is. While there are plenty of opportunities for promotion on social media, that’s not its only purpose. Instead, try to use social media as a conversational tool that gets people talking about your topics and generates value for your audience. The value of your content depends on your brand, audience, and social platform. Creative posts ideas that can generate value may include:

  • Q&A sessions
  • Branded filters or stickers
  • Contests
  • Customer spotlights
  • Media upload contests
  • Polls
  • Questions
  • Quizzes

Many platforms now offer story features that make it easy to share this kind of interactive content and glean measurable data from any interactions.

6. Stay on Topic

Creating social media content around current events or trends can be engaging because audiences often seek content regarding these topics. This strategy works well if the trend relates to a national or global fad or a subject that directly affects your audience. Consider theming content around:

  • Anniversaries
  • Awards shows
  • Big sporting events
  • Holidays
  • Localized events
  • Memories or throwback events
  • Pop culture news
  • Viral memes
  • Weather conditions

When something is popular, people like to contribute and appear relevant or knowledgeable about the subject. Theming your content around these topics may encourage that social behavior, driving up engagement with your posts.

7. Encourage Conversation

In social media marketing, conversations often result from two types of engagement:

  • Reactive engagement: Answering direct messages, incoming mentions, or comments
  • Proactive engagement: Creating content to encourage discussion

A reactive conversation may be easier to conduct than a proactive one. When a follower asks something of you, you’ll likely develop a customized response. This can increase customer satisfaction and put the brand in a favorable position. Proactive conversations may take more time and effort, but they can reach a wider audience. To increase proactive conversations, consider asking questions in your posts to start a traditional dialogue.

8. Be Human

Your social media represents your brand and also the people running the accounts. Letting the human side show from time to time can make your brand feel more approachable. Consider letting members of your social media team appear in photo and video content. You may also encourage them to sign their posts with their name, a nickname, or another handle. Other ways to appear more personal on social media include:

  • Acknowledging and answering questions
  • Commenting on followers’ posts and reactions
  • Using humor or other friendly, conversational tactics in responses

 

9. Use Attention-Grabbing Language

Attention-grabbing words can create a sense of urgency that makes people stop and engage with your material. Using these words in both headlines and post content can help you allude to how the reader can benefit from the content. Words like “alert,” “bonus,” “now,” and “exclusive” are common social media attention words. Using this language as a teaser can make people curious and give them an incentive to click, read more, comment on, or like the content.

 10. Respond Quickly

Having a stash of pre-written responses for frequently asked questions (FAQs) can save you time when responding to followers. Writing these responses in advance can help you strike the right tone and include all the important information for each topic. By saving time responding to common questions, you can dedicate more time to providing good content. You can also put more effort into solving more specialized follower requests.

 11. Use a Schedule

Frequent posting to your social media channels can encourage engagement. Uploading a post one to three times per day is ideal. Posting content at the right times is also important. This helps you get maximum exposure, which can lead to better engagement. Make a scheduling calendar to plan your posts ahead of time. Learning when your target audience is online can help you pick the right times to share content as well.

Most social media sites have native scheduling platforms, but you can also use a third-party service that allows you to schedule posts across channels from one dashboard. Many of these third-party programs also offer analytics to help you learn more about your content reach.

 12. Go Beyond the Feed

Public interactions aren’t the only way to engage your audience. Answering private messages, interacting with stories, or using chat features may be other options for connection. These features can be especially helpful for answering customer questions.

Measuring Social Engagement by Platform

Measuring social engagement is easier if you understand which metrics to track. Each platform uses similar measuring tools with slightly different names to provide analytics. Below, we summarize the common analytics for popular platforms:

Facebook

As of July 1, 2021, Facebook Analytics no longer exists. However, Page Insights and Facebook Business Suite still provide insights about content, audience, and trends. To access these features, you need a Facebook business page. The existing tools currently offer metrics for:

  • Actions: Demonstrates how people use your call-to-action features and what people do on your page
  • People: Shows the demographics of your visitors, such as age and gender, and how people found your page
  • Posts: Highlights data for individual post performance over time
  • Reach and engagement: Tells you how many people saw your posts and how they interacted with them, including hiding them or reporting them as spam
  • Views: Identifies how many people look at your page and which sections they browse

Twitter

All Twitter users have access to their analytics, both per tweet and an account overview. Notable Twitter metrics include:

  • Completion rate: Percentage of the total audience that watches a full video
  • Detail expands: The number of times people have clicked to see more details about your tweet
  • Embedded media clicks: The number of times people have clicked to view your photo or video in a tweet
  • Engagements: The total number of times people interact with your tweets
  • Engagement rate: The number of engagements divided by total impressions
  • Follows: The number of people who follow your account
  • Impressions: The number of times a tweet appeared in a timeline or search results
  • Likes: The number of people who like a specific tweet
  • Link clicks: The number of click-through for one posted link
  • Monthly overview: Shows your top tweet, mention, follower, media tweet, and card tweet for each month
  • Optimal posting time: Identifies when your audience is online and their time zones
  • Reach percentage: The total number of followers who saw a specific tweet
  • Replies: The total number of replies for one tweet
  • Retweets: The total number of times people retweet a specific tweet
  • Retention rate: The average percentage of a video that people watch
  • Shared via email: The number of times someone emails your tweet to someone else
  • User profile clicks: The number of times people click your handle or profile photo to view your account
  • View rate: The percentage of people who watch your videos for more than two seconds or who click to expand or unmute a video

Instagram

Instagram business and creator profiles allow you to access Instagram Insights and track your engagement. Some of their metrics include:

  • Audience demographics: Identifies where your audience lives, their ages, and genders
  • Call and email clicks: The number of times a visitor clicks your phone number or email address from your profile page
  • Comments: The number of comments on a specific post
  • Discovery: Shows the number of accounts that don’t follow you who have reached your content through the Discovery feature
  • Mentions: The number of times other users have mentioned your account handle
  • Optimal times: Clarifies when your followers are online and the days and times they’re most active
  • Popular content: Tells you which of your posts get the most likes and comments
  • Post follows: The number of followers you’ve received from a specific post
  • Post impressions: The number of times people have seen your post in a certain time frame
  • Post interactions: The number of times users have taken action from a post, such as visiting your profile or clicking a link
  • Post reach: The number of unique accounts that have seen a post
  • Profile impressions: The number of times people viewed your profile within a certain time frame
  • Profile interactions: The number of times users have clicked on or interacted with your profile
  • Profile reach: The number of unique accounts that have seen your profile
  • Profile visits: The total number of profile views you’ve received in a week
  • Saves: The number of unique accounts that have saved your post
  • Website clicks: The number of times a visitor clicks your website link from your profile page

Instagram stories also have their own metrics for reach, impressions, and audience insights. Two specific categories tied to stories include:

  • Exits: The number of times someone leaves your story midway through the content
  • Replies: The total number of times someone responds directly to your story content

TikTok

TikTok Pro accounts allow users to access their analytics. Some common metrics for this platform include:

  • Average watch time: The average time people spend watching a particular video
  • Engagement rate: The number of times people have engaged with your content compared to how many people have seen it
  • Follower activity: The days and times your followers are most active on the app
  • Follower sounds: Shows the top sounds your followers choose
  • Follower videos: Identifies which videos your followers watch, including yours and others
  • Followers: The total number of followers you have and how many followers you’ve gained in a week or 28 days
  • Gender: The gender distribution of your audience
  • Profile views: How many people view your profile in either seven- or 28- day increments
  • Top territories: Shows where your followers are from, ranked by country
  • Total comments: The number of comments on one video
  • Total like count: The number of likes on one video
  • Total likes: The total number of likes on all your content
  • Total shares: The number of times someone shares your video
  • Total video views: The number of times people see a particular video

LinkedIn

LinkedIn business accounts have a specific set of features to allow you to check engagement, while personal accounts have different options. Some of the business metrics include:

  • Click-through rate: The number of clicks you earn compared to the number of impressions
  • Clicks: The number of signed-in members who click on a company name, post, or logo
  • Comments: The total number of comments for a post
  • Custom button clicks: The number of unique profiles that have clicked a link you created in the past 30 days
  • Engagement rate: The number of interactions divided by the number of impressions
  • Follower demographics: Information about people who follow your page, such as their location, industry, and company size
  • Follower metrics: The number of people who follow your page
  • Impressions: The total number of times at least 50% of an update became visible on a feed for more than 300 milliseconds
  • Pageviews: The total number of times users have visited your page
  • Reactions: The total number of reactions for a post
  • Shares: The total number of shares for a post
  • Visitor demographics: The same content as follower demographics, but for browsers who don’t follow your page

Snapchat

Verified influencers, brands, and accounts with large followings can access their Snapchat analytics. Some metrics include:

  • Average view time: The average time viewers look at your story each day of the week
  • Completion rate: The percentage of people who watch your full story until the end for each day of the week
  • Demographics: The age, gender, location, and interests of your audience
  • Geofilter analytics: The number of times people use your branded filters, stamps, and illustrations
  • Screenshots: Shows how many people take a screenshot of your content
  • Unique views: The total number of unique one second or longer views to your Snapchat story by year, week, and month
  • View time: The number of minutes viewers spend watching your story by year, week, and month

Pinterest

Pinterest business accounts let creators measure their analytics. Pinterest metrics are:

  • Average play time: The average time someone spends watching a particular video
  • Engagement rate: The total engagement for a Pin divided by the total number of times people saw that Pin
  • Engagements: The total number of interactions with your Pins
  • Impressions: The number of times your Pins or ads appear in a feed
  • Pin click rate: The total number of clicks on a Pin divided by the number of times the Pin appeared in a feed
  • Pin clicks: The total number of clicks on a specific Pin
  • Save rate: The total number of saves for your Pins divided by the total number of times those Pins appeared in a feed
  • Saves: The number of times people save a video or Pin to a board
  • Total engaged audience: The number of people who have engaged with your Pins
  • Video views: The number of views for a specific video at least two seconds long with 50% of the video in view

YouTube

All YouTube creators can access their analytics through YouTube Studio. Common metrics include:

  • Age and gender: Demographic data about the signed-in viewers in your audience
  • Engagement top videos: Identifies your videos with the most watch time over 28 days
  • Impressions vs. watch time: The number of times your video’s thumbnails appear on YouTube and how often they result in a view
  • Likes and dislikes: The number of reactions viewers have to a specific video
  • Realtime: Shows your content performance over the last hour or the last two days
  • Subscriber bell notifications: The number of subscribers who receive notifications from your channel
  • Top end-screen elements: Show your channel’s most effective end screen elements over the last 28 days
  • Traffic source types: Tells how viewers found your content
  • Viewing time: Shows your audience’s online activity on your channel for the last 28 days
  • Watch time: How much your audience watches your videos, split between subscribers and non-subscribers

Tips for Growing Your Social Media Following

Having many followers doesn’t guarantee an engaged audience. However, the more people who see your content, the higher your chances are for engagement. Try using these tips to attract a larger social media following:

Advertising

Consider buying ad space on social media platforms to increase your exposure and reach. You can customize paid ads to certain audience demographics. Additionally, you can specify to have them appear in sponsored feeds. This increases your chance of impressions, which can lead to more engagement and followers.

Consistent Themes

Using a theme for your content may attract more followers and help you build your brand. If people know they can expect things like humor or inspirational content from you, they may be more likely to follow your account. Additionally, on platforms like Instagram, having a certain visual style across posts can attract followers.

Collaborations

Working with other brands that share your target audience can also result in more followers due to heightened exposure. This strategy is most beneficial when two companies share a demographic but aren’t in direct competition with one another. For example, a teen clothing brand and a shoe store may be ideal social media collaboration partners. Collaborating for content and events may allow both organizations to increase follower counts.

Social Media Tools To Boost Engagement

Using certain third-party programs and tools for your content and strategies may help you boost your social media engagement. Some tool topics include:

Analytics

Understanding your starting and fluctuating engagement levels is key to developing and maintaining social media strategies. Many social media platforms provide their own analytics, but scheduling platforms and other analytics programs may provide these tools too. Choosing one that meets your needs can streamline the analysis process.

Automation Programs

Automation tools can make social media engagement easier. They can help you stick to a posting schedule and share content across platforms. They may also help you converse with customers, find relevant hashtags, and choose graphics. Look for automation tools that can:

  • Build campaigns
  • Schedule posts
  • Send automatic replies
  • Track analytics across platforms

Content Sharing Programs

Sharing content from other accounts and creators can increase your engagement. Like creating collaborations, sharing content across accounts and then linking back to the original posts can help you access new audiences. You also increase the chances of the other account linking back to your content. This can raise your brand profile without you increasing your content production.

GIFs

GIFs are visuals that combine emotions with pop culture topics. They also move, which makes them visually engaging for social media scrollers. A 2017 article from Time magazine says millennials prefer using GIFs and emojis rather than actual words when communicating digitally. There are many GIF websites available that let you search for clips related to your content or create your own GIFs. Depending on the platforms you utilize, you can use GIFs in your posts or in your responses to followers.

Photo Editing

According to HubSpot, when you pair information with a relevant image, people retain 65% of the information up to three days later. A high quality image may be especially impactful. Using a photo editor tool to combine elements, fix a mistake, or add text can encourage users to click your content. Photo editing software may be free, paid, web-based, or cloud-based, and some run on both mobile and desktop devices. Alternatively, you can use a service like CopyPress’ custom illustrations to add images created specifically for your unique content.

Video Editing

Video may increase your post shares by 1,200% compared to shares generated for posts that contain just text or images. Similar to photo editing apps, you can find a variety of video editing programs for all skills levels. The type and sophistication of your video editing software may depend on your social platforms. For example, you may use more advanced video editing programs for YouTube videos than for an Instagram reel. 

Average Engagement Rates

Each social platform calculates its engagement rates differently. Though they might have different names or categories, the typical formula for engagement rate is:

Engagement rate = Total engagement / Total followers * 100

The total engagement is the sum of all your interactions, such as shares, comments, and likes. The total followers are the number of people who follow your account. Your answer to this formula will be in the form of the percentage. For example, if you have 1,000 followers and got 250 reactions this month, then your engagement rate for that period is 25%.

Learning the average engagement expectations for each platform can help you set a benchmark for your own statistics. Engagement rates between 1% and 5% typically pass as “good” for accounts with many followers. However, Instagram’s rate per post may be slightly higher than other platforms. Your rates may also differ based on audience, demographic, and industry. This means that it may be more beneficial to rank your average engagement against your own past data rather than against the platform average.

People use social media to make connections, and these tools can benefit marketing professionals through strategic use. If you leverage your audience’s desire to make a connection by becoming an engaging online company, you can build your brand, increase your following, and gain revenue.

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