How to increase Social Media Engagement

How to increase Social Media Engagement

Why is it difficult to gain social media engagement? The sheer scale of the competing voices is undoubtedly one factor; every single day 2.5 billion new items of content are shared on Facebook alone. To stand out from a crowd of that size you really need to offer something of value.

Does social media engagement actually matter? Isn’t it all a vanity exercise? Ultimately, engagement spreads your content further, rippling out through natural networks. Engagement is not about patting yourself on the back as the numbers roll in, but building an ever increasing network of followers and fans who will see your content. Ultimately this should help attract new customers.

Content needs to provide value to engage with people. It needs to be genuinely useful, interesting, inspiring, curious, funny or otherwise engaging in some real way. Then there is the psychology of social content to consider.

While creating engagement-worthy content will still take ingenuity and imagination, experience has shown that you can create a framework around your content that will help to gain social media engagement.

Set engagement goals

Different forms of engagement create different actions. If you want to drive brand awareness, retweets and shares will put your content in front of people who might not have seen it otherwise. Gaining followers is great for the long term, as more people will be presented with your content and can help spread it further.

Decide on what it is you are trying to achieve, and the corresponding metrics that will demonstrate improvements in that area.

Different activities and different content are likely to drive different types of engagement. For example, a Twitter chat can be useful for increasing your followers, as each person who joins the chat will spread the conversation, and you should have an interesting discussion for the new audience to join. A chat is also a great way to engage your existing community.

Once you have decided what it is you are setting out to achieve, you can tailor your campaign towards that particular goal.

Understand your audience

Your audience is made up of real people, with a variety of interests outside of your brand. That’s an obvious point, but one many brands seem to forget. By understanding what those interests are, you can add more value.

Social analytics tools can provide this information by examining the topics your audience are talking about.

ASOS audience topic cloud

In addition to helping you refine your own messaging, sharing content from other sources is a useful tactic. A non-stop barrage of self-promotion is a real turn-off for most.

Sharing relevant content from other sources will break up the branded content and show that you are considering your audience. Recognising that value can be provided by organizations and people other than yourself shows you are not simply there for the hard sell.

Consider the type of content

A fact often repeated and backed up by research, pictures and video are the most engaging forms of content. However, visual content is not a fix-all, and still needs to be well crafted.

At the very minimum, make sure you get the dimensions correct. Each site has different picture sizes, and several guides on picture dimensions will ensure you get this simple point right.

In addition to visual content, there are other tactics that are often quoted to increase engagement on social media:

  • Ask questions
  • Run a poll
  • Run a competition
  • Use relevant hashtags

A popular tactic is to make a retweet of your message the entry to the competition. This gives people an incentive to retweet, putting the competition in front of a much wider audience. Honda grew their social buzz by a staggering 1221% during a one-month competition using this tactic.

Hashtags can help people find your content, but overuse of hashtags is seen as bad practice. Highjacking a popular hashtag is only practiced by spammers and bots, and should definitely be avoided.

While these techniques can definitely work, none of them offer a guarantee of engagement. You still have to offer value, be that relevancy, helpfulness, humor, and so on. It doesn’t look great to ask a question nobody answers or have a poll that hardly anyone votes on.

Discover the best time to post

The best time to post will depend on several factors. Your location, a national or international focus, the industry you operate in and the platform you are publishing to will all play a part.

The best way to establish when you should post is by looking at your own analytics, whether that’s an integrated tool like Facebook Insights or a dedicated social analytics tool. This is going to give you the best, most personalized data on when to post.

With Brandwatch, you can compare your activity to the audience activity by days of the week, or hours of the day. This gives you data about your specific audience and allows you to make sure you are active at the same time as them.

graph showing social media engagement of brands and audiences

 

There are also several studies that have examined the best times to post on average. These generally examine thousands or millions of posts across a wide range of industries, and can be useful if you lack your own analytics.

SumAll has collated several online studies into two handy infographics, one detailing when to post and one when not to post.

Choose your channels

Should you be on every social media site out there? You want to be accessible to your audience, and that may well involve being on more than one network. However, it is important not to spread yourself too thin, as responding quickly is vital for engagement (more on that later).

Think about which platforms are best for your business. B2B companies will generally find a larger and more engaged audience on LinkedIn than Snapchat, for example.

In some cases, it can be useful to create multiple accounts on the same platform. Many companies have a main account and a customer service channel: a useful split that keeps primary messaging separated from customer issues.

Nike has 46 verified Twitter accounts, which may make sense for a brand of that size but would be overkill for many businesses. It is important to not confuse customers and fragment your voice too much.

Twitter Channels

Some segmentation of accounts can make sense. You may be releasing different types of content aimed at different segments of your audience. By grouping everything together you can create a lack of cohesion, where too much irrelevant information detracts from the useful stuff. This can lead to a lack of engagement and crucially, a declining number of followers.

Respond quickly

This is vitally important. People contact businesses on the platform of their choosing, and they expect a quick response. We’ve previously covered using customer service as a marketing tool, and it can be a powerful tactic.

In one study, customers who received replies to Tweets were more satisfied with their experience, more willing to recommend the company, and willing to pay more in the future.

Responding to customers shouldn’t just be about dealing with customer complaints. Part of earning engagement from your audience means – surprise – engaging with them.

When customers or prospects interact with your brand, responding in a timely manner is the polite, human thing to do. NikeRunning’s Twitter is a great example of this, constantly engaging with their audience in an affirming way, creating a giant community of like-minded people.

Nike's customer engagement on Twitter

 

Use tools to boost social media engagement

There are a number of tools that can help with social media engagement in a variety of ways, from improved content to making sharing easier.

Spruce – Improve your engagement by creating shareworthy photos overlaid with text. Type your text, choose from thousands of public photos or upload your own, and post directly to Twitter or Facebook. Free to use.

Canva – Simple to use online design software, that features social media templates. It’s free to use, so you can easily create better images for your social channels.

Click To Tweet – Provides a link so readers can easily tweet a quote direct from your content, encouraging higher engagement. Simple to use and provides tracking and analytics.

Digg Digg – A WordPress plugin made by Buffer, which adds sharing buttons with counts on your page. Networks covered include Twitter, Buffer, Facebook Share, Facebook Like, Digg, LinkedIn, Google .

HowSociable – Add your social media accounts, or that of your competitors, to receive a score for each platform based on that week’s usage.

Track metrics for continuous improvement

Of course, you need to track your efforts to see what is working and what isn’t. There should always be an element of experimentation, and by keeping a careful eye on the numbers you can repeat what is working and stop what isn’t.

What should you be measuring? This depends largely on the goals that were set at the start. Brandwatch tracks a variety of metrics so you can understand which tactics have been most successful. The following metrics are some of the measurements to consider.

Followers – the people who will be regularly exposed to your posts and content. The more followers you have, the further your reach will be

Shares/RTs – how many times your content is shared by others, increasing its reach

Mentions – how many times is your brand mentioned tweets or posts

Screen Shot 2016-06-22 at 11.47.32

Comments – the number of comments posted in response to your post

Likes – probably the least valuable engagement metric as it’s easy to give away. People can often hit the like button without reading the full story or really engaging with it

Reach – the number of individuals who have actually seen your content

Impressions – the potential number of times your content was seen (not the number of times it was actually seen). This could include the same person seeing it twice if it reappears in their timeline/feed

Sentiment – when tracking online conversations, social intelligence tools use natural language processing to segment negative and positive statements

Share of Voice – by tracking the social conversation around your brand and your competitors, you can understand the percentage of conversation focused on your brand

Traffic – Ultimately, all this engagement should be driving people to your site. Your web analytics program will be able to tell you how many people have arrived at your site via social media

Earning social media engagement is about connecting with people, and offering them valuable content. Setting your goals and knowing your audience are key to success. Alongside these tenants, some simple research can help you maximize your efforts.

Finally, the only way to know what is working and what isn’t is to track your metrics. Continually monitoring the numbers means you can amend your strategy based on the results, and keep improving your social media engagement.

5 New Things You Can Do with WordPress 4.8

5 New Things You Can Do with WordPress 4.8

One of WordPress’ best features is that it’s constantly improving and evolving. Frequent major and minor updates ensure the platform is secure, and provide new and improved functionality. The latest version – WordPress 4.8 – is no exception, so it’s important to update your site as soon as you can. What’s more, it’s just as vital to understand what’s changed and how you can take advantage of the new features.

In this article, we’ll introduce you to WordPress 4.8, also referred to as ‘Evans’ in honor of jazz pianist and composer William John ‘Bill’ Evans. We’ll run through this update’s major changes and additions, and show you how to use them. Let’s take a look!

1. Add New Media Widgets to Your Site

Widgets have always been a simple way to customize your WordPress site’s functionality and add important features. The core platform has developed quite the collection over time, including widgets that add calendars, lists of comments or posts, custom menus, and more to your site.

WordPress 4.8 expands on the existing offerings by adding three new media widgets. While you previously had to install a plugin if you wanted to easily add media files through widgets, you can now do so without any extra tools.

First up, the developers have created an Image widget that enables you to easily add pictures to your widget areas. Simply drag the widget to your sidebar or footer to activate it. Then give it a title if you’d like, and click on Add Image to upload your file:

The new WordPress Image Widget.

The other two media widgets – the Video widget and the Audio widget – work exactly the same way. All you need to do is add the right kind of file, and it will be displayed on the front end of your site. It’s that simple!

2. Experiment with the Improved Text Widget

WordPress has had a Text widget for a long time. It’s always been a handy way to add some extra text to your sidebar or footer, such as a short bio, disclaimer, or copyright information. However, the existing widget was incredibly simple. It only enabled you to type in a title and content, and didn’t let you customize the appearance of either element easily.

This was inconvenient for many users, because they had to use HTML if they wanted to format the text in any way. Fortunately, WordPress 4.8 has brought a much-needed update to this older tool. The new version of the Text widget includes a simplified version of the same editor you already use to customize your posts and pages:

The updated WordPress text widget.

This means you can now easily add formatting and links, and view the content of your Text widget through both the Visual and Text editors. You can even incorporate bulleted and numbered lists. This is great news for existing WordPress users who wanted a more useful feature, and newer users who may not have known how to add formatting to the older version of the widget.

3. Build Custom Media Widgets

So far, we’ve covered both new and improved widgets courtesy of WordPress 4.8. This next widget-related addition is a little different, since it will be more of interest to developers than to casual users of the platform.

In a nutshell, the three new media widgets we talked about earlier were all created using the Widgets API. All three run using the same base class, which determines how they function. This same class can be used to simplify the creation of new media widgets. That means developers will have an easy time building similar types of widgets, such as ones that add a gallery or playlist to your site.

If you’re a developer (or if you’re simply interested in that side of WordPress) there are a few additional behind-the-scenes changes to the platform in this latest update. You can read more about them in the WordPress.org news section.

4. Simplify Your Workflow With the New Link Boundaries

Sometimes, the best updates are the simplest ones. Small changes that improve your everyday workflow can save you time and help your tasks go more smoothly. Such is the case with the WordPress 4.8 update to link functionality.

In short, there are now ‘link boundaries’ within the WordPress editor. When you add a link to your page or post, it will have a clearly defined beginning and end point. This means it’s easier to add text either to the link itself, or before and after the link, and avoid accidentally linking the wrong words.

You’ll see this feature working right away in your editor. When you add a link and click on it, blue highlighting will appear and show you exactly what characters are part of the link:

The new WordPress link boundaries features.

Simply type within the box to add text to the link itself. If you want to add text outside the link, place your cursor at one end of the box and hit the left or right arrow key. The highlighting will disappear, and you’ll know you are no longer editing the link. In the long run, this small update should save you some frustration and make the WordPress editor a little more intuitive.

5. Display Nearby WordPress Events on Your Dashboard

The previous four updates have introduced changes to the way you design your site and create content. In contrast, this final addition is meant to help you more easily connect with the larger WordPress community.

We’re talking about the updated WordPress News and Events widget on your website’s dashboard. It will appear by default as soon as you activate WordPress 4.8, although you can remove it if you’d like:

The new Events and News dashboard widget.

This back end widget was formerly the WordPress News section, which displayed the latest happenings in the WordPress community. The new version does the same thing, but now also displays a list of WordPress events in your nearby area – including WordCamps and meetups. These events are a perfect way to meet other WordPress developers and enthusiasts, hone your skills, and get more eyes on your own work. With WordPress 4.8, you don’t have to leave your site to find out about these valuable opportunities.

Conclusion

As an open-source platform with a huge, supportive community, WordPress is a project that’s always evolving. This is a good thing, because it means developers are constantly adding new features and improving existing functionality. Keeping your site up-to-date is vital, and so is staying abreast of the latest updates.

There are a number of new and interesting things you can do with WordPress 4.8, including:

  1. Adding new media widgets to your site.
  2. Experimenting with the improved Text widget.
  3. Building custom media widgets.
  4. Simplifying your workflow with the new link boundaries.
  5. Displaying WordPress events on your dashboard.

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