Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Art of Engagement

Social media has become a marketing machine and, like every machine, operating without direction can have disastrous results. The most important direction: don’t just promote, but engage. How? We’ll start with the two most popular social networks: Facebook and Twitter, which have 1.11 billion and 218 million active users, respectively.

Just a few years ago, businesses balked at using Facebook. Today, 15 million brands have active pages. Clearly, not all of them are successful but those who are have some similar tactics to engage their desired audiences.

Pictures - It’s always been said that a picture is worth a thousand words and this goes for Facebook posts as well. 93% of Facebook posts gain the most attention, like and comments, when there is a photo involved. Facebook also now offers the option of commenting using a photo rather than limiting you to text. This tool is especially helpful for posts that receive multiple comments, as it allows your comment to stand out from the chatter. Bright and colorful photos that depict human interaction, will personalize your page as well as draw attention

Videos- The only thing that may be better than a photo is a video. Videos leave less for the imagination and anything with a play button grabs attention. When videos are incorporated into a post it gets 100% more engagement than if it were to be just text or a photo. It is obvious that watching a video takes more attention than browsing pictures so it is important to entice the audience: make sure to have an eye-catching default frame, keep it short, and keep it simple.

Give Back- People will always take advantage of free things. To keep fans interested, offer occasional sweepstakes, giveaways, coupons, or discounts. Two thirds of fans will “like” a brand or page on Facebook to be eligible for some sort of reward. 

Utilize Facebook Feedback- Facebook has evolved tremendously in terms of helping brands analyze and get the most out of their efforts. Facebook now highlights and points our which posts of yours reaches the most people and experiences the most engagement. Use this tool to take note of what kind of posts worked better than others. Also, watch for notifications of successful posts and promote them even further with Facebook’s ad programs. Asking questions to your followers is a great way to peak their interest, as well as dig deeper into what they are looking for. The trick to success in social networking is to encourage the opinions and comments of those who support your business or company.

 Twitter- Some still wonder: why have a micro-blogging social network limited to 140 characters or less, when you could have a blog with an unlimited amount of space? Well, for starters—no matter how fascinating you think your brand is, most people are not interested in reading an endless piece of writing to gain information. We live in an instant-gratification world, and Twitter has harnessed that mindset. Here are some secrets on how to increase favorites, retweets, mentions and follows that every brand craves.

Tweet relevance not advertising- When tweeting for a company or to promote a product or idea, stay away from simply tweeting facts about whatever it is you are marketing. Instead, it is crucial to be able to connect with the designated audience. Come across as not only knowing your product, but your industry as well. For example, if you are marketing for a clothing line, make sure to use those 140 characters to relate to existing or potential customers. Instead of tweeting the different styles of sweaters you offer , try: “Wow is it chilly this week or what?! I love sweater season!” with a picture of different sweaters you are selling this season. Most people can relate more to the fact that they need sweaters because it’s cold out than they can to your advertising copy.

Respond to your mentions - Well-known brands with many followers receive countless mentions each day. As time consuming as it is to give individual attention to all, it is important to respond to as many--if not all--tweets that come your way. This not only personalizes the relationship between the company and its followers, but also boosts your reputation. Many people will either respond back or retweet that their favorite company or person tweeted at them. Therefore you are reaching a much wider range than just that one follower.

InstagramInstagram has about 150 million users, including 123 Fortune 500 companies. The Instagram team is constantly releasing updates to better this product and aid in the success of the users. Captions are used within the posts with no character limit, however this particular app really focuses on the visuals. There are specific strategies that companies can use to keep their followers interested.

Diversity- Instagram recently began allowing users to post not only pictures but video footage as well. One of the most important mindsets to have while deciding on posts is to keep your audience on their toes. If a shoe company posts a picture each day of a style they offer, this will bore the followers. Mix business related posts with fun posts as well. For example, Anthropologie posts pictures of their products they sell, but also posted a picture of a puppy one day that received 7,640 likes. These types of posts as well as “behind the scenes” pictures will create a more intimate relationship with followers, as well squash the idea of “all work no play” within the company.

Videos- Nothing personalizes a user or company more than video footage! Instagram now allows 15-second videos, eligible to be filtered, while Vine offers short videos that loop. Make use of video to announce upcoming events, promotions or changes within the company that would be of interest to your fans.

Utilize Connections – Take advantage of hashtags or other accounts as a gateway to your Instagram. Instagram provides the option to connect your other social networks, such as Twitter, Facebook, blogs, Pinterest and so on, with your Instagram. Therefore with one post you can reach multiple networks simultaneously.

Pinterest- Pinterest is all about photos with even shorter captions than used on Instagram. However, your followers can also be seen as your marketing team. When someone is to re-pin one of your original pins, it reaches a much broader spectrum of people. Re-pinning on Pinterest can be compared to retweeting on Twitter. Re-pinning puts your company or brand on the map for those who maybe have never heard of it, but follow someone who re-pins your posts.  

Pinning- Success with using Pinterest is based on the ratio of re-pins you receive. The average re-pin ratio is approximately .3%, therefore if you have 1000 followers, 3 of them will re-pin one of your posts. Like other social networks, repins cause a ripple effect.

Be Specific- At first glance, Pinterest can be overwhelming. It is important when organizing your boards to be specific with the contents of each. This will help those users who are looking for something particular, link to your pins when they are searching. Organization is key.

Engage Your Community – Make sure to comment on pins that have to do with your specific brand or message. Adding personality to your page by acknowledging your followers will only motivate them more to share your posts. Soon enough your dedicated followers are marketing and promoting your company as much as you are.

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