Facebook and Instagram are no longer the social media channels they used to be.
Years ago, you could start a page (or a profile) for your shop and within a week, you’d start getting a consistent stream of traffic (and sales) from social channels. It wasn’t easy, but you could do it. Today, that’s a whole lot harder to achieve.
Every social channel you can think of is overcrowded. As a result, what you post hardly gets seen. If you run a Facebook page, what you post might show up on as little as 6% of your fans. Tweets (which typically have a 24-minute half-life) are even worse. And with the new algorithms on Instagram, businesses are taking a hit.
But some ecommerce brands are killing it, even with all these changes. And there’s one reason why: Engagement.
Social Media Engagement is the key to reaching more fans and getting more traffic to your online store.
If you look at how social media evolves and how companies like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat etc. try to make sure their users see only those posts that they’d like, you’ll notice a single pattern emerging:
Every social network prioritises shows their users posts that they are more likely to engage with. Engagement plays a big role in deciding the “reach” of your page, your posts, your photos etc.
Engagement encompasses various forms of interaction, including liking, clicking, sharing, favouriting and commenting. Engagement tells Facebook that this person likes/loves this post (and with it, this page, this type of a post, within this type of a timeframe etc).
So the million-dollar question is this: how do we increase social media engagement?
There are many ways to get people to like or comment or share your post (without being unethical about it). Much of it comes out of psychology – the reason we like, comment or share.
In this post, we’ll take a look at 15 ways you can implement right now to increase social media engagement, which in turn will lead to a greater reach and more traffic to your store.
#1. Go live on Facebook Live
There are two things that make Facebook Live work like crazy right now.
- They are a new take on the whole “live video” trend that’s at its peak. (What if Periscope came to Facebook? That’s what Facebook Live is all about and that’s why it’s so popular)
- Whenever you go live, all your followers, fans and friends get a notification about it. Forget worrying about featuring on someone’s timeline. Your fans and followers actually get a “notification”.
If you think Facebook Live hasn’t got anything to do with an ecommerce store, you might be missing out on a lot of social reach and traffic. While Facebook Live is being used only by news agencies and recipe-makers and marketing gurus, you could be crafting out videos catered to your target market. The best part is the whole canvas is open to you.
#2. Tap into Trends
Social media engagement goes up whenever you post something that’s trending on the wire. This could be a plethora of things like:
- Current affairs / political trends (for instance, the presidential election or Brexit)
- Sports-related trends (UFC or NBA etc)
- Trends based on events that just happened and caught on (release of a new album from a celebrity singer)
- Movies and other entertainment that become trending hashtags
You can spot trends if you’re active on social media. Twitter makes it easy to find with the trending hashtags. Facebook shows a small trending ticker (that it curates with the help of people and algorithms). And then there’s Google Trends.
If you can find an angle for your posts and business that includes the trending thing (use hashtags to get found), you can ride on the wave of trends.
Sure, this is not something that would last long but every trend that you can use multiplies your average engagement and reach.
#3. Use GIFs in tweets and replies
Whenever you reply to a tweet or a mention, use GIFs. They do two things very well:
- They get noticed far better than the usual text or emoji replies.
- Because they get noticed, they get liked or favourited easily.
Getting a small engagement — even on your replies — helps your profile look highly-engaging to social channels. And this will help you increase your average reach and find more people ready to click-through from your social channels to your store!
#4. Share Customer Reviews and @mention / tag
This is easily one of the best (and underused) ways to boost social engagement. All it takes is a post dedicated to a customer who reviewed your product.
- Pick a customer review
- Find out the social profile of the customer
- Post the customer review (either by pasting the text or as a screenshot) and tag the customer who sent you the review
The reason posts highlighting a customer review work well (and boost engagement) is that they are big ego-boosts. The customer is happy that she was mentioned by your brand (which increases brand loyalty). Your brand comes across as someone who values customers and customer-service highly. And that’s a big boost to conversions.
#5. Leverage Facebook groups
Facebook Groups – once thought to be a dead project from Facebook – have experienced something of a revival in the last couple of years. Today, Ecommerce startups are able to sell tens of thousands worth of merchandise through Facebook Groups alone.
There’s one big advantage to having a Facebook group over a page.
The reach on a Facebook Group can be almost 100%.
Every group member sees your post. (This does change depending on the engagement within your group and the way that individual users have their settings, but typically, group posts see a far better reach than pages).
You could leverage Facebook groups in two ways:
- Become a part of other Facebook groups in your niche and start posting there
- Start your own group, get people to join your group and engage with them through group posts
Whilst the latter sounds easy to start with, it’s an uphill task to get people to join your group. Becoming a part of existing Facebook groups might sound hard at first but once you start joining groups and contributing (instead of just trying to sell), your engagement will shoot up.
#6. Ask to “tag a friend”
On Instagram or Facebook, have you seen posts that ask you to “Tag a friend”?
This is a very nifty hack which gets people to:
- Notice your post better (because when we see “tag a friend”, we see if it’s indeed worth it)
- Tag their friends — which increases engagement.
- Increases reach because anyone tagged is going to get a notification about your post
#7. Partner-up with other players
Some Ecommerce startups are very good at this. When you are new to the playing field, you should try to partner up with other similar players.
If you have a Facebook page for your sports apparel shop, you could partner up with a variety of pages including gyms, personal trainers, healthy-living startups, food companies etc.
But why should you?
Here’s two reasons:
- You reach an entirely new audience (resulting in more reach, more engagement and more traffic)
- Your brand becomes more popular than if you were trying to go it alone
#8. Host frequent contests / giveaways
People follow/like brands on social media for different reasons. But one of them stands out as the most popular reason: offers!
People want to know when a brand hosts a giveaway, a contest, a promotion or a sale. This is one of the most important reasons why people follow a brand. Especially if you’re an Ecommerce brand.
So, host contests, post about a sale or a discount, and do giveaways to boost engagement by leaps and bounds.
Contests, giveaways or a sale can take up a lot of work but with the right set of tools and planning, you can get it done quicker and with less toil.
#9. Promote others’ content with a hack
Curation of content is the key to making your social profile/page interesting enough for your fans and followers – and therefore a vital step if you’re to increase social media engagement.
If you run an online shoe store, there’s only so many of your shoes that you can post on your social pages every day. There is a risk that your followers will get bored and stop engaging with your posts.
Pick content from other websites, blogs, YouTube channels, even other Facebook pages / Pinterest profiles etc and share it on yours. This is the hack: when you do it, tag the people/page so as to credit them. This also earns their attention and gives your post an engagement boost.
#10. Engage with #hashtag users
Social search is so much easier thanks to the widespread use of hashtags. Millions of people use hashtags every day and this gives you an opportunity to find them — and engage with them.
Using the right hashtags and waiting for people to discover your posts is a passive way of doing social media these days.
The active way is to go out there, search for people who use hashtags related to your market and then connect with them.
If you’re selling shoes, connect with people using hashtags related to your niche and other verticals (like health, workouts, athletics and sports etc).
#11. Curate lists and mention people
Lists of things have some sort of a magnetic power. We are attracted to lists posts most likely because lists are easy to digest, easy to skim-through and get the gist and so on. You’ve probably skimmed through parts of this article, for example.
A severely underused way of making your engagement skyrocket is to share lists of people, brands or things made by them not as a blogpost but right here on social media. Here’s why it has a profound impact on your social engagement:
- Lists posts that are native on social channels (you don’t have to click-through to a website to find out what’s in the list) are becoming super-effective in earning likes and shares.
- The list post gives you a legit excuse to tag a lot of people/brands mentioned. By default, this gives you more exposure whenever the tagged people engage with your post.
#12. Polls and surveys with gifts
Polls and surveys on social networks somehow get more interaction than an average post. If you can incentivise your poll/survey then this is even better.
Twitter and Facebook have built-in polling features that you can try. On other channels, you can run your own polls and ask people to comment their answers.
Despite being a great way to boost social media engagement, polls are generally used very poorly. Get creative and ask questions that will get people’s attention and you’ll notice your social engagement go up (along with the reach).
#13. Be content-ready for holidays and special events
A lot of businesses post something concocted on-the-spot during holidays and time-bound events. That’s not wrong but it is one the least effective ways of approaching seasonal events and holidays.
If you know what your fans would like to see during these seasonal events and holidays, you can post just that and this will help increase engagement on your posts. To do this, all you need to do is be content-ready.
What this means is to be ready with special promotions and offers. It also means being ready with something creative enough to entertain your fans/followers. Instead of posting what everyone else posts on a special day, post something that meets the expectations (or exceeds them) of your followers. This is one way to boost your engagement — and prevent your posts from disappearing in cyberspace.
#14. Ask explicitly / put call-to-action
The most-overlooked way of boosting social engagement is adding a call-to-action.
You probably see dozens of calls to action every day, even if you don’t realise it. “Click share to let your friends know about this!” or “Check it out. Go right here: <somelinkhere.com>”? These are call-to-actions that play on our basic triggers. We are motivated to share or click when we see an explicit CTA.
CTAs are often overrated (because everyone’s talking about them). But within the social context, they are super-useful in giving you many spikes on the engagement graph.
#15. Cross-promote on all active channels
Let’s say you have a presence on Pinterest, Instagram and Facebook.
The smart social marketer does one thing that the rest of us won’t. She promotes her Facebook page on her Instagram profile. She promotes her Pinterest boards on her Facebook page. And so on. You’d be surprised how easy a small cross-promotion is. And while you won’t suddenly see a huge spike in followers, they build-up. The trick is to do this every once in awhile (without overdoing it, of course).
Cross-promote all your social channels on other social channels so you can reach your fans/followers on all social media and increase social media engagement without having to win any new fans.
Closing Thoughts on How to Increase Social Media Engagement
If there’s one key to being successful on social media, it’s engagement. That should be your only goal if you want to get all the other benefits that come along with it (clicks, brand visibility, traffic, true fans etc.)
In this article we’ve highlighted just some of the ideas you can use to boost your social media engagement. Feel free to experiment with newer, better, smarter, more creative ways all the time – and feel free to drop a comment if you’ve found something that we’ve missed!