Beyonce said that if you like it, then you should put a ring on it. We’re talking about engagement – specifically, social media engagement. It’s such an important part of your social media strategy and we’re constantly surprised that people don’t seem to give it more consideration.

Why should I care about engagement?

You’ve got your shiny social media platforms all set up, and you’re posting content to it regularly. Great! But you’re just not getting the reach you were expecting. That’s not great, obviously.

One of the reasons for that is that communicating with your followers is essential, and not everyone does it. Some people just don’t have time; others don’t really know what to say.

More surprisingly, we’ve recently seen social media managers promote packages to clients that don’t have engagement as part of the deal. *insert suspicious eyebrow emoji here*

What is engagement?

Think of social media engagement as building a friendship. What do you do when you make a new friend?  You chat, you find and share common interests; it can be just as scary as if you were putting yourself out there in real life.

And for the people who follow you, your vast array of loyal subjects, they’re putting their faith and trust in you. They want you to supply honest, reliable content about your product and services. And they want to know who you are – are you someone that could maybe be friends with in real life?

A report from Thunderhead said only one in four businesses feel confident in their customer engagement methods.

Engagment via the Great Pineapple Debate.So how do I engage with my followers?

I’ll give you a few tips and tricks to help you engage with your followers. Every day’s a school day, after all.

Share other people’s content – sharing memes, news relevant to your business, and maybe even funny videos – you don’t have to be creating brand new content every single post. Remember to tag them in it! And if someone comes to you with a question you can’t answer, always remember there’ll be someone out there who can. So there’s nothing wrong with sharing that content in answer to a question. It shows people you’re happy to help even if you don’t know the answer yourself.

Directly respond to comments/complaints – the days of “a customer service advisor will be with you shortly” are long gone. People these days know that getting on Twitter to make a complaint will get results far faster than writing a letter. If there’s a complaint, deal with it quickly. If it’s a comment, the same applies – be friendly, and take it as an opportunity for conversation.

Personalise your engagement – this simply boils down to using someone’s name in response to their question or complaint. It just sets the tone. Create a conversation!

Create polls and surveys a poll or a survey is a great way to engage your followers. It can be something as simple as “What’s for dinner tonight?”. Depending on your audience, they might like to get involved.

Domino’s Pizza, for example, did a really simple one in 2017.

Domino’s Pizza created a discussion around the use of pineapple on a pizza which is a common debate by all pizza lovers. Tapping into this discussion helped to generate engagement for the brand by not just pizza lovers but festival goers and The Telegraph readers too. This was cleverly done by quoting the news article Pineapple banned from Reading and Leeds music festival from The Telegraph. By doing this they were opening their engagement reach to a wider audience for the best chance of generating a discussion.

What will this actually do for my business?

Social media engagement offers proof that you care about your clients. Do your followers look like they’re having fun? Is the content is engaging, interesting, informative? Are complaints dealt with promptly and efficiently to the benefit of all parties? Then you look reliable, and like the sort of business people want to buy from, or work with? Plus, social media is global, and far more powerful than traditional forms of advertising.

A study conducted by Market Path found that 83% of companies see brand awareness as a central goal of their social strategy, but only 11% were using social media to provide customer service. That’s literally bonkers. Businesses focusing on building engagement benefit from better marketing reach and return on investment, and a greater brand awareness to attract those all-important new customers.