The best thing about social media marketing is how easy it is to get free and organic brand awareness and website traffic. However, if you’re not getting much reach or engagement on your social media posts, then there really isn’t much that it can do for you.
So what do you do? If you’re saying “Give up,” then you are wrong and the two of us need to have a serious chat, my friend.
You never give up. What you do is learn how to be strategic with your posting and check out these sure-fire tricks for increasing social media engagement.
1. Hashtaaaaaags FTW
Are you a bit unsure of how to use hashtags properly in a way that benefits you? Well, before we get into anything, go read my post on using hashtags to promote your business right meow.
Okay good, you’re back. Now that you’ve gotten some basic hashtag knowledge, we can move forward.
Hashtags are functional on pretty much any social media platform now, however I personally recommend only using them on Twitter and Instagram.
In fact, here are the Four Commandments of Hashtag Usage (yes, it’s a thing):
1. Thou shalt not ever use a hashtag on the book of faces. UNLESS it is for something that simply cannot be said without a hashtag, like #tbt and so on OR it is just for humor. #nuffsaidguys
2. Hashtags on Pinterest look spammy and need to GTFO.
3. You should use two hashtags per tweet, maybe three, but after 2 hashtags, engagement actually drops 17%.
4. Hashtag the shish kabob out of your Instagram posts–photos with 11+ hashtags get the most engagement.
2. Use photos in your tweets
Did you know that by the simple act of including an image in your tweet, you can get a 150% increase in retweets?
I know, I wouldn’t believe it either, but I’ve seen firsthand the power of images in a tweet. Including an image in your tweets makes the tweet larger so that it stands out more in someone’s timeline and a pretty image is also much more eye-catching than a wall of text.
Create an optimized Twitter image to go along with each of your blog posts so that you can include photos whenever you share your blog posts.
I’ve consistently been doing A/B testing each day by sharing a tweet with only the title of my blog post and a link versus a brief description of the post and an optimized image and the image posts always perform better. Try it out for yourself.
(What I mean by optimized Twitter image is one that is properly sized to fit into a tweet. Learn more about that in my post on branding your social media.
3. Explain why you love articles that you share
Your followers love to see the articles that you choose to share with them. But do you know what they love even more? When you include a little snippet as to why you love the article.
See a couple of examples here:
— Chloe West (@ChloeWest28) May 25, 2015
— Chloe West (@ChloeWest28) May 13, 2015
Not only does this make the person who wrote the article feel fantastic, but it gives readers a little bit more than just a post title to work with. When they see your personal recommendation for the article, they’re that much more likely to engage with the post.
4. Include links to your other social media in the caption of your cover photo on Facebook
Whenever you update your cover photo on your Facebook Page, it updates your timeline. Take advantage of this and caption your cover photo with links to your blog/website and other social media profiles. Anyone who goes to your Page will see this:
This encourages the people who already follow your Facebook Page to check you out on your other outlets.
5. Don’t include a mention (@) at the beginning of a tweet
Did you know that your tweets don’t show up on your profile if you have a mention at the very front of it? Twitter assumes that you’re talking directly to a person, so they don’t show those tweets to everyone. (You have to click “Tweets & Replies” on someone’s profile to view them.)
This is a great feature if you are, in fact, talking directly to a person. In fact, I love this feature during Twitter chats because my profile only shows my answers to each question and not my giant clog of tweets interacting with other participants.
However, if you’re mentioning someone, but it’s also a tweet that you want your followers to see, be very careful about how you word the tweet. Move the mention into the middle section or at least put a “.” or another symbol at the beginning, rather than the “@” symbol.
6. Tag other Facebook Pages when you mention them
Are you sharing articles from or about other brands, blogs, or businesses? The next time you post one of these, tag the Facebook Page of the brand that the article mentions.
Not only does this notify the owner that you’re sharing their article (which they always seriously love), but your post will also be shown to their fans as well as your own. In a world where Facebook reach is practically zilch, we’ll take all the help that we can get!
7. Create an Instagram hashtag
If you already have a great presence on Instagram, then this little trick might be right up your alley. Create a hashtag on Instagram that pertains to your business/blog and invite others to post photos using your hashtag. Then, occasionally, you can feature the best images.
This is mutually beneficial because it brings awareness to your hashtag and your Instagram but also shows other Instagram profiles and photos off to your own followers.
8. Get personal on Twitter
You’re fabulous. Let your followers get to know you on a personal level. Switch it up and occasionally tweet something that’s not all business.
Check out these examples from my own Twitter:
Every time I have to use my credit card, I hate myself just a little bit more.
— Chloe West (@ChloeWest28) May 21, 2015
Trying to get myself to wake up earlier so I set my alarm tone to Separate Ways by Journey. I can’t think of a more badass way to wake up. — Chloe West (@ChloeWest28) May 21, 2015
Sometimes you just need to tweet from the heart. Or just type out whatever’s seeping out of that big, beautiful brain of yours and call it a day.
If you’re struggling with finding your personal voice on social media, use this free worksheet to help you.
9. Show us some behind-the-scenes
What do we, as followers, love more than getting to see what your life is like #nofilter style?
Absolutely nothing. We eat that shiz right up.
Take photos of your work space, your latest living room furniture setup (because I know I’m not the only one who rearranges their furniture every three months or so), your cute new heels, or anything. Give us a peek into your life and who you are.
As a blogger or solopreneur, your brand is you, so let us see you.
10. Play games
Who doesn’t love a good game? Use your social network in a fun way and host fun games for your followers. Here are a few great games to play:
Not only are these great for engagement but they’re funny as hell. Find a funny picture, ask your followers to give it a caption, and laugh for days.
Simple as that.
Fill in the Blank
Rather than having this be an “educational” fill in the blank where there is only one right answer, simply post a silly phrase and have your followers fill in the blank with something funny.
Post the first sentence of a story and ask your followers to help you write the story by posting the next sentence in their comments.
11. Hold a contest
There are seriously a million different ideas that you could come up with for this, but I’m going to give you a few examples of stellar contests anyways.
– Host a poll on your Facebook Page that asks follower opinions about something.
Example: An electric company asks followers how they’re going to lower their electric bill this month: unplug chargers while they’re not in use, turn off lights every time they leave a room, or turn down the thermostat?
– Ask followers to submit photos in a certain category. Photo with the most votes wins a prize.
Example: For Halloween, a pet groomer asks followers to post photos of their pets in their Halloween costumes.
– Give a prize to your Nth follower.
Example: You are almost to 1,000 likes on Facebook, so you announce that the person who is like number 1,000 gets a prize.
12. Start one-on-one conversations
When we’re using social media for business and for promotion, a lot of times we forget that the whole point of social media is simply to interact with other people and brands.
The next time you log onto Twitter, scroll down your timeline and look for posts that you can simply respond to and start up a conversation. Or pay attention to your new followers’ bios and start up a conversation based on something that the two of you have in common.
Obviously, one of the best ways to increase social media engagement is to simply do it yourself by striking up a conversation.
13. Ask a question
Ask a question and you will get answers. Answers = engagement. Voila.
You could ask your followers a thought-provoking question, like what niche they would consider their blog/business to be a part of. Or you could ask your followers for feedback on your next ebook cover or something else that you’re working on. Or you could ask your followers for input on a topic that you could reference in your next blog post.
14. Share discounts and promos
If you love something, you should always make sure that that something knows it. For example, you love your social media followers, so make sure that they can feel the love by occasionally sharing exclusive product/service discounts and promos just for them.
Maybe it’s 15% off your newest ebook with a special promo code or a free informational handout if they retweet your tweet. You decide what you want to do to show your followers how much you love and appreciate them.
Also foot rubs are always nice.
15. Share memes
What would the internet be without memes? It would be NOTHING, that’s what.
Okay, maybe that was a little bit dramatic.
But seriously, could you imagine living in a world without memes? I know I wouldn’t want to. You can turn any bad day right back around just by perusing the humor section of Pinterest. Put a smile on your followers’ faces by sharing your favorite memes.
16. Pay attention to when you’re posting
Do you know when your followers are online? Check out this post I wrote about finding the perfect times to post on social media.
By discovering when your followers are actually online, you’ll be able to get your posts in front of the most eyes possible, increasing the likelihood of people engaging with them.
17. Include a call to action
We live in a world full of obedient people. In fact, if you just flat out ask someone to “Like” or “Retweet” your post, they usually will.
For example, you could post a quote to Facebook with the caption “‘Like’ if you agree with this!” or share a funny someecard to Twitter with the caption “‘Retweet’ if you can relate!”
18. Start or join a collaborative Pinterest board
If you’re a part of a collaborative Pinterest board, then you’re able to get your pins to more than just your own audience–they will also show up for the audiences of everyone who participates in that Pinterest board.
Depending on the amount of pinners on the board, that could be thousands of more eyes on your pins.
19. Host a giveaway
Hosting a giveaway is a great way to gain exposure and followers on social media. You can have people enter by liking your Facebook Page or following you on Instagram and then use a tool like Rafflecopter to choose a winner.
Just be sure that you read the rules for giveaways on the platform of your choice so that your giveaway isn’t causing any policy violations.
20. Post regularly
It’s pretty easy to understand that if you only post to Facebook or Twitter once or twice a month, that you’re probably not going to get the best engagement rate.
Come up with your posting schedule and stick to it.
Here’s a sneak peek into my own working schedule:
– Facebook: 1-2 posts/week
– Twitter: 3-5 posts/day + mentions & Twitter chats
– Instagram: 1 post/week
– Pinterest: ~5 pins/day
– Google+ 1-2 posts/week
21. Comment on others’ social media
How can you expect engagement on your own social media posts if you refuse to engage with others?
At least once a week, make a point of visiting the Facebook/Twitter/Instagram pages of your favorite bloggers/business owners and liking/commenting/responding to one of their posts.
This works out well because many times, they will return the favor.
22. Get involved in groups and communities.
Take advantage of Facebook groups, Google+ communities, and LinkedIn groups.
Be active, respond, make connections, and just be regularly involved. This puts your name out there and usually leads to new followers and sales leads.
I’m involved in a couple of great Facebook groups and can’t tell you how invaluable I find them. Check out this awesome article from Olyvia.co showcasing some of the best Facebook groups to join.
23. Share sneak peeks of products
Whether you’re sharing pieces of the product while they’re still in progress or sharing sneak peeks of products that you’re about to release, people love to see your latest and greatest project. They want to ask questions, congratulate you, prepare their finances so that they can buy it from you, and things like that.
For example, you could post photos of your product’s cover or branding to Instagram or you could post an excerpt of your upcoming ebook to Facebook to generate buzz.
24. Share selfies
Someone in my office recently brought his new selfie stick to work and ran around the office taking photos with everyone. You can best believe that those made their way to our company’s Facebook Page.
You don’t need to have a selfie stick (in fact, please, please, tell me that you don’t have a selfie stick), but selfies always make for great social media posts. Most of the time the photos of ourselves will be professional images. Take a candid photo of yourself every now and then to share with your followers.
25. Join a Twitter chat
Out of all of the reasons on this list, this one is definitely in my top 3.
Then why is it way, way down the list? Well, because I like to save some of the best for last so that you have to read all the way to the end.
Do you want proof as to why Twitter chats are fantastic? See below:
— Chloe West (@ChloeWest28) April 21, 2015
Excuse the typo in that tweet. It haunts me.
26. Search for relevant hashtags to your niche
This is a great way to find new bloggers/business owners that you want to follow along with, find tweets to engage with, and find awesome articles that you want to read. It’s like a goldmine in the Twitter search catacombs.
You might search for hashtags like #socialmedia, #blogging, #photoshop, #designerproblems, and things like that.
I’ve done social media for a dry cleaner before, and we liked to search for the hashtag #laundryproblems and engage with the tweets we found with funny quips.
27. Find out when people are talking about your brand
Mention is a great tool to use to keep an eye out for when people talk about your brand without actually mentioning you on social media.
You always want to make sure that you engage with the people who are already talking about your blog/business. They may not always directly mention you, so it’s important to still find and thank them for whatever it is that they’ve said.
28. Participate in #TBT
Because what could be better than showing us pictures of your adorable self at five years old?
One of my favorite games that some companies play is when they take baby photos of their staff along with current photos and ask their followers to match the adult to the baby photo. Classic.
Although as a blogger/solopreneur, we don’t have a staff to play that game with, anyone can appreciate a good baby photo.
Or even just your awesome Halloween costume last year. Or flashback to when your now giant two-year-old was only a wee little baby.
29. Give shoutouts to clients/customers
Charleston does this awesome contest every year where the Charleston City Paper hosts this giant poll for “Charleston’s Best.” We have everything from Charleston’s Best Pub to Charleston’s Best Pet Groomer to Charleston’s Best Mechanic.
A local company showcased each of their clients that was nominated for the awards and asked their own followers to go vote for them. Brilliant.
Your clients are paying you to perform some kind of service. Show how much you appreciate them by giving back a little bit of love and giving them a shoutout.
30. Promoted posts
Yes, sometimes we just have to fork out a bit of money. That’s just the way it works. If you want your business to succeed, you just have to invest.
Luckily, Facebook advertising is pretty dang cheap for what it offers. I put $10 behind each of my blog posts and have seen very good results even for that little bit of investment.
Have you had success with any of these? What others tricks do you use to increase your social media engagement?