For content marketers looking to spread the reach of their brand over new digital platforms and social media, engagement is the name of the game. In fact Simply Measured’s latest State of Social Marketing Report found that engagement metrics like Likes, Comments and Shares were the considered the harbinger of success by over 58% marketers, beating out conversion and revenue-focused metrics
Likes and Shares metrics have gotten so deep into the mindset of marketers that some brands have resorted to using (mostly, buying) fake social accounts or websites just to get their numbers up, in the hopes of catching the eyes of real people later on. These fake likes, shares, and comments artificially boost their content views on most social media feeds.
While this strategy works for some and not for others, it is certainly not creating lasting, sustainable engagement that fuels company success. In order to attract the right customers, your team’s efforts must be focused on creating organic engagement.
Here are three easy ways to get the ball rolling in the right direction.
Start with Employee Advocacy
In many ways, your employees are the best (and most underrated) marketing tools available. After all, the people in your company are, well, people. They have friends, colleagues, business acquaintances, and other contacts who trust them as individuals more than they would trust a brand.
Employee advocacy through social sharing increases organic engagement levels because the messages are real and authentic. In fact, a LinkedIn study found that getting a mere 3% of your workers on board to share content about your brand can drive in 30% more engagement on the company’s pages.
The Marketing Advisory Network conducted a study about employee advocacy and found some interesting results. Most employees (especially Millennials) are more than willing to share content about their work to help grow the brand’s social following and find more customers. However, most of them simply don’t know how to do this. 12% do not know what kind of content to share, and 30% are concerned that sharing company content will make them look like a corporate robot and bore their followers.
In order to utilize this highly effective marketing strategy, it is important that employees have access to positive, engaging content, or the motivation to create their own and spread their expertise. Marketing teams can assemble libraries of written content or links to articles that mention the company to make it easy for everyone to find something to share. Employees should also be encouraged to share photos and memories from company events, like parties or conferences, for truly authentic content.
The content that your employees share doesn’t have to be (and honestly shouldn’t be) a commercial for your business or product. Each post should be genuine and honest for the best results.
Track Brand Conversations
Consumer engagement is a two-way road, however, businesses don’t always have to be the first ones to talk. Thanks to social media, everyone has the opportunity to share their opinions or questions about anything at any time. Plus, with industry-specific review sites like Yelp, Glassdoor, and the popularity of blogs and forum sites, there is a platform for just about anybody to share their experiences, particularly about brands.
Paying attention to this chatter can help businesses jump into the conversation in a natural and engaging way. Brand conversations are not always sparked by fans and followers; in fact, 96% of these discussions are started by accounts that do not follow the mentioned company on any social media sites. This makes it the perfect opportunity for marketing teams to introduce themselves.
Quick responses lead to better engagement and customer experiences, so it is best that marketing teams set up alerts to let them know the moment a customer has something to say.
Google Alerts is a marketers’ favorite that tracks blogs, websites, and forum mentions. TalkWalker Alerts goes a step further and includes social mentions, along with providing Boolean operators for specific filters. This allows marketing teams to further customize the types of conversations they want to be alerted about; they can even set up timed reports to make it easier to stay on top of all brand mentions.
Whether it is a response to a complaint, an answer to a question, or just a friendly reply, brands that pay attention to what people are talking about across the web will be able to connect with their customers in much more substantial way than businesses that don’t.
Do Some #Research
Hopefully, you caught the double meaning in the title here. The key to hashtags is relevancy and popularity. Just including a hashtag because it is on the trending list doesn’t guarantee anything, especially if it has nothing to do with your message. However, using the right ones can make all the difference. Including a single hashtag in a branded tweet can double engagement rates.
Just like your content team delves deep into keyword research, your social media marketing team should also dive into hashtag research before they post. Thankfully, there are lots of tools available to help your brand find the best hashtags to connect with your customers. RiteTag is a good one for finding suggestions for popular hashtags based on your content subject or images.
It will also show you how well these hashtags are faring on various social networks to help you choose the most engaging option.
In the social world, hashtags are what connects people to topics and discussions they want to be a part of. They can be used to show your support of a cause (think #BlackLivesMatter), or they can help you find the exact content you are searching for (like #HealthyRecipe or #AbWorkout). By tracking, researching, and properly using relevant tags, brands can grow their audience reach and engagement levels by simply using the right words.
Over to You
Engagement is all about real, genuine content and meaningful conversations. Fortunately, accomplishing this with your brand messaging is not extremely difficult. Share real stories, listen, respond, and interact with your audience on a personal level. Connected with the masses doesn’t have to be a complicated or confusing process.