For modern brands with an online presence, a strong engagement on social media is a sign that you have an impact in the marketplace.
It's not just about looking popular, it's also about making meaningful connections with current and future customers to grow your brand (and ROI) both online and offline.
Read on for the ultimate guide on how to build, manage, and measure social media engagement and all business benefits.
Bonus: Get the Step-by-Step Guide to Social Media Strategies with professional tips on how to increase your social media presence.
What is social media engagement?
Social media engagement is the measurement of comments, likes and shares.
Of course, you want to get your followers, but ultimately, the greatest measure of social media success is an engaged audience, not just a large one.
As a company, you should strive for quality, not just quantity.
Imagine you had a party and tons of people showed up, but everyone just sat in silence. No small talk, no dancing, no conversations, no questionable drinking games. Was the party really a success? The RSVP list looks good, but did your guests have fun? Do they like your dip?
Activity and engagement are critical to any social platform in order to build a positive brand experience and build meaningful relationships with new and potential future customers.
Social media engagement is measured using a number of metrics, which can include:
- Shares or retweets
- Followers and audience growth
- Click through
- Mentions (either checked or unchecked)
- Using branded hashtags
Basically, social media engagement grows every time someone interacts with your account and can be calculated in a number of different ways. Check out our full list of social media metrics here and learn how to track them.
How to Increase Social Media Engagement
While you could just keep your fingers crossed and hope your followers get spontaneous chatty, chances are they might need a little encouragement.
Fortunately, there are many tricks of the trade to encourage that engagement and get this virtual party going.
First, analyze your engagement
It's difficult to measure your growth if you don't know where to start.
Put on your data scientist hat (looks very good on you) and note your current number of followers, how many comments and approvals you receive on average per post or which numbers are important to you.
Then make sure you follow up regularly so you can see jumps or drops in engagement that can give you valuable clues about what's working (or what's just as important and what isn't).
These social media analysis tools can save you time getting started.
Choose your strategy
Of course there is no single solution. Since each company's business goals are different, so will each company's social media strategy.
Dominos Pizza and Tiffany and Co. will have very different motivations for their involvement, and that will determine the content they post there.
Domino tries to create a young, fun, and weird brand voice, while Tiffany seeks to learn about its rich design history: both tweets engage in their own way.
(Source: Dominos Twitter, Tiffany and Co Twitter)
Depending on what fits your brand and what your business has to offer, your social media engagement goals can include:
- Change the public perception of your brand
- Development of new customer contacts
- Collect feedback on new products
- Educate your audience with resources and advice
Know your audience
It's difficult to get people engaged if you don't know who you're talking to.
The type of language, tone, and resources that resonate will likely be different for a skateboarding company than a gardening supply store. (Except for gnarled grannies out there.)
Our guide to conducting audience research will teach you everything you need to know about your target market.
Also, knowing your audience can help you notice:
- Which social media sites should you be on?
- When to publish
- Type of content
- Brand voice
Create and share valuable content
Now that you know who is following you and why you want to reach them, you are ready for that important third "W": what the hell am I telling you?
Content that is helpful to the audience, that addresses their needs and vulnerabilities, is critical. Think of "conversation", not "broadcast".
Just talking about how great your brand is or what you have for sale will make it harder to connect.
When posting pictures of your latest design for a t-shirt company, you'll only get this far. However, posting fashion tips on how to put on a t-shirt for a wedding provides unique service and wisdom to help your fans out. (And do you dare your followers to share their own "wedding tea stories"? Even better.)
In this Sephora post, the cosmetics company not only bragged about their mask choices, but asked their followers to pick their favorites with a #wouldyourather tag.
Time for a little game! # Would you rather use a clay or gel mask in the hot summer months? Comment 👇Clay masks: …
Posted by SEPHORA on Thursday June 25th, 2020
In terms of format, it is helpful to understand what type of content is best for each platform: artsy images for Instagram, lengthy text posts or videos for Facebook, etc.
Still, don't be afraid to get creative with these post ideas:
- ask questions
- Encourage your audience to ask you questions (try an "Ask Me Anything" session)
- Test your knowledge
- Media upload competitions
- Animated gifs
- Put customers in the spotlight
- Custom stickers or filters for Instagram Stories
Overall, the best way to find out what content works is by watching and learning. Be a happy scientist (another hat, cute!). Experiment, watch the reaction, tweak and repeat.
Stay up to date
Not sure what to talk about on a particular day? Just join a conversation that's already taking place. Commenting on current events and trends in a way that is related to your brand allows you to connect with an audience instantly and in a timely manner.
Trending pop culture (do you remember Spring Tiger King?), Major sporting events, holidays, or viral memes can be good excuses to post.
Good luck to the nominees tonight. Don't forget to look down before you speak. pic.twitter.com/8yJuEZiao0
– Charmin (@Charmin) February 24, 2013
Keep the conversation going
Some may think of conversation as an art, but in some ways it's really more of a sport: drawing attention and questions back and forth.
Online you also need give and take. It is important for brands to practice both reactive and proactive engagement.
If you're reactive, reply to direct messages, incoming mentions, or comments.
When you're proactive, you start a conversation with people who may be talking about you, but who may not have sent you messages directly. Maybe they mentioned you with a misspelled brand name ("I love La Croy!") Or a common, unofficial nickname ("Can I marry a McD & # 39; s breakfast sandwich, please"). Either way, this is an opportunity to get in touch and say hello.
If HBO is looking for both #GameofThrones and #GameofThornes, they can catch chatter even from fans (or, um, global media conglomerates) too excited to do the spell check.
Who would you choose as a roommate?
• Tyrion, but he never pays rent
• Jamie, but Cersei has a spare key
• Hodor, but he never closes the bathroom door
• Jon Snow, but he knows everything #GameOfThornes
– Disney + HotstarPremium (@DisneyplusHSP) March 17, 2020
To keep track of these indirect mentions, simply set up search streams on your Hootsuite dashboard so you don't miss a chance to keep the conversation going.
Show your human mark
A brand is far more tempting to engage with when you believe there is a real person on the other end. And there is! (… Right?) So don't hide it.
Many brands encourage their social team to personally unsubscribe from their posts. If you're particularly charming, you might even have a cult following, like the guard at the Cowboy Museum who signs "Thank you, Tim" on each of his posts. (PS: Check out the episode of Fridge-Worthy dedicated to Tim here.)
But beyond names, there are many ways to get personal:
- Go beyond retweeting and liking and commenting to start a conversation
- Confirm and answer questions
- Respond to comments with humor or warmth
- Show the people behind the brand in photos or videos
Keep response times fast
You can use Hootsuite's Saved Answers feature to pre-create answers to frequently asked questions. If an FAQ comes in your way, you'll be ready with a thoughtful, informative answer.
Okay, that might sound against the "show your human side" point above, but stick with me. Reacting quickly can lead to greater customer satisfaction and save time for your team to provide even more support (and human touch) elsewhere.
If you write your answers ahead of time, you will have worldwide time to make sure the tone is as warm, friendly, and helpful as you'd like.
But you don't even have to write them yourself if you don't want to. Answer enough questions of a similar type and Hootsuite will suggest answers based on your previous answers (similar to the answer feature suggested by Google in G-Chat). Since they are based on your previous answers, you can be sure that they still sound human and branded.
With the Hootsuite inbox, you can manage all of your comments and DMs in one place. Check out how it works in the following video:
Frequent posting – ideally one to three times a day – is important to keep your content fresh and active on social streams. It's also important to post at the right time each day so that your cute hedgehog meme doesn't miss its chance at maximum audience awareness.
You can't be at your computer 24/7 (believe us, we've tried), but you can use scheduling tools like Hootsuite to plan and prepare your posts in advance.
(Source: Screenshot of the @ RealWeddingsBC Hootsuite dashboard)
Try to allow a block of time (either daily or weekly) for creating and scheduling posts and another regular time frame for reactive and proactive responses. Then it's done for the day and you can focus on the rest of your work (or laugh at other hedgehog memes).
A few other Hootsuite dashboard features can also help you be more productive and ensure you stay on top of things:
- Streams: Use Streams in your dashboard to see all of the incoming messages from each social network in one place instead of checking each social network separately.
- Lists: Create Twitter lists based on specific industries, events or hashtags and set each up in a stream for easy monitoring and proactive engagement.
- Keywords: Use this feature to flag and track positive engagements so you can easily include them in your weekly or monthly reports.
Think beyond the feed
Comments or releases are great, but these public shows of engagement aren't the only way to see your audience care.
Private conversations like direct messages or interactions with stories are also strong examples of an engaged audience. So treat them right (and keep track of those numbers) too!
6 social media engagement tools
Have you ever seen this reality show alone? They are sent out to survive in the wild, but they are given 10 tools of their choice to take with them.
Likewise, you don't have to face the social media wilderness without help. In addition to your social dashboard (an essential IMHO), you may want to include the following in your survival kit.
- Canva makes it easy to crop images to the exact specifications of different networks. You can also edit photos directly in Hootsuite Compose and add text and filters to them.
- Video is extremely engaging – research shows that it generates 1,200% more shares than images or text. There are a million video editors out there, but the Clips app for iPhone makes it easy to stitch a few scenes together and add music or text frames on your phone. (Funimate is really similar, but for Android users.)
- At this point in time, GIFs are essentially the international language of the internet. Giphy lets you type in a keyword like "excitement" or "dog" to access a huge library of animations and add a little playfulness to any engagement.
- Hootsuite Insights is the best way to get a high-level view of your engagement efforts. It even reports certain keywords or topics. Brandwatch, meanwhile, offers in-depth reports that capture all of the social conversation surrounding your brand and industry.
How to measure social engagement
Now that the comments and approvals are flying, it's time to pull out some numbers to prove what a great job you did.
Good social media analytics are so important in measuring your brand's success.
Fortunately, there are plenty of tools out there that you can use to get a general overview or see your various social stats in one place. Social ROI or engagement rate calculators are also helpful.
In addition, you can always measure effectiveness directly from your social platforms. The specific metrics vary with each social website, but there's always a juicy treat to take away.
Mix all of these tools together and you have access to serious social information.
Here's what you can expect right out of some of the most popular social media platforms:
Facebook Analytics includes a very robust and comprehensive dashboard with plenty of ways to track your audience engagement.
You can track the following metrics on the popular social media platform:
- Reach and engagement: How many people saw your posts? Who interacted with them? What posts did people hide? Have people reported posts as spam?
- Actions: What actions do people take on your side? How many people click on your call to action? How many people click through your website?
- People: What is the demographics of the people who visit your site? (You can dig deeper into this topic with Audience Insights.) When do people visit your page? How do people find your page?
- Views: How Many People Are Seeing Your Page? Which sections are you looking at?
- Posts: How do your posts develop over time?
Learn more about Facebook Analytics here.
Likewise, Twitter offers a number of robust tools for measuring your metrics.
You can track the following metrics on Twitter:
- Engagement rate: How many engagements and impressions did it get?
- Reach outreach: How many followers saw a particular tweet?
- Link Clicks: How many click-throughs did a posted link get?
- Optimal Publish Time: When Is Your Audience Most Likely To Be Online? What time zone do you live in?
Learn more about Twitter Analytics here.
If you have a company profile, you can access Instagram Insights to track your Instagram engagement. This dashboard gives you all the key social media engagement metrics you need for your campaign. It's not particularly sturdy, but it's still worth checking out.
You can track the following metrics on Instagram Insights:
- Audience demographics: where do they live? Are they men or women? How old?
- Optimal times: when are your followers online? What days and times are they active?
- Popular content: What gets hearts? Which contributions do comments receive?
Learn more about Instagram Analytics here.
Everyone and their mom are (literally) on TikTok at this point – maybe it should be your brand too?
It can be overwhelming to join a new social media platform first (wait, do I need to know how to dance now ?!), but analytics helps take the guesswork out of content strategy. You can stop stressing and learn what moves Doja Cat today.
Insights are available per accounts that include the following metrics:
- Audience Demographics: What Is My Follower Growth? What do you see and hear? Where do they live and how do they identify?
- Profile views: when did my traffic increase?
- Content Statistics: Which Videos Have Been Watched Most This Week? What is the average playing time? How many comments, likes and shares did my video get?
Learn more about TikTok Analytics here.
However you define it, engagement on social media is about integrating the "social" back into social media. Whether it's a big party or an intimate conversation with a friend, if you invest time and care about people, you get it back right away – show your followers that you like them, really like them.
Put your engagement strategy into action and save time by using Hootsuite to manage all of your social channels from one dashboard. Try it for free today.