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Content and Engagement in Social Media

In my last post, I discussed why many businesses are doing social media marketing wrong, and what they can do about that. This time, I’m tackling the two biggest social media challenges that businesses face: content and engagement.

First, let me just say that I might have been a little hard on you in my last post. I get why social media marketing often isn’t done right: businesses just don’t have the time. Small businesses in particular find it difficult to devote the resources necessary to run great social media campaigns, so it often falls to the bottom of marketing priorities. After all, when forced to choose between producing materials for the next tradeshow and posting content to Facebook, the tradeshow will always win.

It’s worth making time for, though, because if you’re only doing social media halfway, you may as well not be doing it at all. It’s not “good enough” to maintain social media accounts if there’s no interest or activity on them — it’s like they don’t even exist.

That being said, you don’t necessarily have to hire a full-time team to devote to social media. Sketch out a strategy and scale it to your particular business — I promise you, even a few hours a week can work wonders.

But to do that, you’ll have to leap the double hurdles of figuring out what to talk about that will get people talking.

Now, for all practical purposes, these two elements are one and the same. It’s hard to tell where engagement ends and content begins, because one is always driving the other.

But where to start?

Before you begin, reconsider your approach. Unlike most traditional marketing, your goal is not to sell to fans and followers. No, your goal in social media is to make them care — ideally, you’ll make them care enough to buy your product or service, but that comes later. Focus first on making a connection.

So in that vein, here are a few tips on creating social media content that engages.

  • Community outreach. What’s happening in your ‘hood? Whether it’s a highway cleanup, a donation drive, or a volunteer effort, it’s not a humblebrag to say you’re involved. Invite followers to come pitch in with you to help maximize the impact of your good deeds.
  • Request feedback. You’re bound to get responses when you ask for an opinion — because everyone always has one. Ask what they think of a new product color, or what they think could be improved on.
  • Riff on pop culture. This one is a little tricky, because in general businesses should stay away from controversy — unless controversy is a key component of your brand personality, of course. But pop culture doesn’t have to be controversial. Post your take on the upcoming Star Wars film, or about a beloved childhood toy. As long as it’s less on the side of seedy Hollywood gossip and more on the side of tasteful, you’re all good.
  • Go local. People love to “recognize” themselves in your feed. Post about quirky news, beloved landmarks, community news, or funny signs close to home.
  • Think out loud. Tell your fans what you’re tinkering with; what projects or products you’re dreaming and scheming up.
  • Tease them. Launching a new item or service soon? Allow sneak peaks to “leak” out.
  • Go behind-the-scenes. Picture of employees at work or a product coming off the line are interesting because they give fans an inside look at your process.
  • Contests + giveaways. These doesn’t have to involve big Lottery-like winnings — something as simple as a gift card or coupon could work. For extra points,
  • Build partnerships. Pairing with another company or enterprise is a stellar way to ramp up publicity for both of you. The cross-promotion opportunities are mutually beneficial.
  • Make small talk. No, really. Ask your followers how their day is going, or to share one thing that’s made them happy lately.
  • Acknowledge mistakes, and fix them. Domino’s really had something going when they came right out and admitted their pizza was terrible. You don’t have to go quite that far, though. I recently saw a business post on Facebook about a product that had arrived broken at a customer’s home. They apologized and offered to ship a new one for free — helping cement their reputation as an honest, responsive company to their fans.

Have you seen other examples of successful social media engagement? Share your thoughts!

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