While statements about our shrinking attention spans have turned out to be a myth, attention still remains the most valuable (and scarce) resource on the Internet. The relentless drive of technology is changing how we consume information online, and in the world of social media, competition for attention is fierce. It is becoming harder to be heard above the crowd.
The limitation of being one voice among many is a challenge faced by marketers in every industry—as is driving engagement on social media. Thankfully, there are ways to tackle these challenges. To build authentic engagement on your social media channels you need to take a few new tools, and a few old tools, and build a strategy that integrates them both.
The New Tools
Modern digital marketing is where we find the reporting and research tools that let us gather accurate data about our current and prospective customers. These tools have a variety of names, it can be Hootsuite, Adobe Site Catalyst, or any other form of enterprise social media reporting software – all that really matters is the data insights they can produce. It is almost impossible to overstate the importance of data; it has been said that “data is like air for marketers”.
By utilizing these data analysis tools in social media, you can determine several amazingly powerful insights about your audience. Imagine how easy developing and implementing your social strategy could be with the answers to these questions:
- When is your audience online? Providing content and starting conversations while your target audience is online helps you build the foundation for authentic engagement and long-term relationships.
- What channels does your target audience use? Are they on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, or some other platform entirely?
- What type of messages and content does your audience interact with most? If you have the luxury of seeing what messages generate the most authentic engagement, why wouldn’t you use that data to create more messages in a similar fashion? From this, you can also track the optimum frequency of messaging.
- Who does your audience want to engage with? Some people have no problem engaging with corporate social media accounts, but the accounts of human beings—even those who are employees of the company—typically generate greater authentic engagement. This is a compelling reason to consider testing and building an employee advocacy network in your company, as each employee can act as a beacon and amplify your company message.
The data from these new tools can help you feed your existing, but older tools, to gain a much greater ROI.
The Old Tools
Social media is becoming more and more like trying to have a conversation in a crowded room, so why not go back to the old tools we have for getting attention in exactly this situation?
To maintain the interest of an audience who already has plenty of potential interactions available at their fingertips, you need to tap into the art of good storytelling. All too often, people thought that newer and flashier technology substituted for a good story, but it doesn’t. Here are a few tried and true classic tactics that have worked for marketers for decades, and will still perform strongly as part of your social strategy:
- Provide value: People are more likely to stay in a conversation if they are interested or it is useful to them. Using data you gathered with your new tools, you can start conversations that are more likely to generate authentic engagement.
- Do not just talk about yourself: Yes, you need to talk about yourself sometimes to sell things, but as part of providing value and generating authentic engagement you should also share content from other sources and talk about things other than your company and your products or services. This provides depth to your social media personas and can help increase your audience and overall social footprint.
- Tell a story: Nobody asked for a dry fact sheet to be read to them as a bedtime story. Your company has a story, and it is your responsibility to connect that story with the emotions of your audience.
- Reinforce your message: This is where employee advocacy shows its face again – it is both an old and new tool. Data analysis makes it easier to track the results of employee advocacy efforts and encourage employee participation, but employee advocacy to reinforce your marketing messages has been a remarkably effective tactic for ages.
If you are ready to begin driving engagement on your social media channels, we are here to help. Check out our Top of the Funnel Engagement Scorecard below to see how well you are doing.