Everyone and their parents are on social media these days. More people hop onto Facebook, YouTube, Insta & Co. per day than there are visitors to all the trade shows, expos, and conventions around the world in a year combined (pre-pandemic, obviously).
No matter how new or niche your business, with 4.2 billion social media users at the start of 2021, we can promise you this: your target audience is frolicking about on social media as we speak - and probably in far greater numbers than you suspect.
All you have to do is reach them.
Okay, yes - that’s easier said than done. But it’s also not quite as tough as it might overwhelmingly seem in the beginning or when you’re struggling to find that‘magic sauce’ to build your social media engagement and turn your followers into leads.
That magic sauce is a combination of patience, consistency, trial and error, and actuallynot **focusing on the promotion** of your products or services. Sounds backwards? Bear with us and it will make sense - promise!
1. Focus on the “Social” Part of Social Media
People hop onto their social media platforms of choice to engage with their friends and family, be entertained by cat videos and gorgeous travel pics, and find inspiration in other people’s journeys, trials, and tribulations.
They don’t go on social media with the express goal of buying the latest workout equipment, ordering facial cream, or making an appointment for a deep tissue massage. Although almost half (46%)of users do already use social media platforms while thinking about making a purchase, and 54% of people browsing on social use their platform of choice to research products they’re intending on purchasing.
But that just proves the point; they don’t buy stuff off social media simply because they stumbled upon something in a lost post on their feed. They’ll buy things from channels, users, and influencers who they admire and trust and feel like they’ve come to know over the time they’ve been following them.
This doesn’t mean that you, the person looking for new leads for your business, have to reveal the innermost workings of your life down to the tiniest personal detail. It just means that you need to take off the “marketer” hat and put on the “relationship” cap.
To amass followers on social media, your main focus has to lie on establishing personal relationships with people. Tell stories they can relate to and that make you and your brand relatable. Create narratives that will help people answer their questions, solve their problems, overcome their hardships.
Most important for improving your social media engagement: you have to engage with them (D’oh). That means answering when they post a comment or send you a DM. Starting conversations. Sharing your story and expertise.
You know, doing all those things you do to make new friends: being social.Albeit with a little more strategy and focus than meeting people at a club.
2. Share “Stories”
A great way to share your story on a daily basis is to use the “Stories” feature integrated in most social media apps. You know, that section that pops up at the very top of your Facebook or Instagram feed, where the people you follow upload videos and pics that are visible for 24 hours. Even Twitter recently jumped on the “Stories” bandwagon.
“Stories” are perfect for sharing
- special events,
- tips, tricks and hacks, and
- everyday routines and occurrences,
that revolve around your product or service and - more important - about you as a person and how you relate to your product or service.
- For example, as someone selling sustainable yoga gear, you could create and post a time-lapse video of your latest yoga session using your newest yoga mat on Facebook.
- As a photographer looking for new clients, you could post “behind the scenes” photos of your last shoot, explaining how you put your shy and anxious model at ease.
- As a financial consultant, why not post a Story in which you’re explaining how stocks work and which stocks you just invested in yourself.
As you can see, there’s no limit to what you can post in Stories that makes you relatable while also being informative or inspirational. Those are the kinds of stories - and people - we like to follow, listen to, and engage with.
3. Use the “Live” Feature
An offshoot of Stories, the “Live” feature on Facebook and Instagram is exactly what it implies: you going “live”. Meaning your followers can accompany you in real time as you
- discuss a frequently-asked question in your field with a fellow expert,
- demonstrate how to use your product, or
- broadcast live from an event you’re joining or, better yet, organizing.
Just to mention a few examples. Again, the sky’s the limit. The Live feature gives you to your followers in a raw, unfiltered format that makes you appear even more real and human.
4. Encourage Commenting
We’ve already hinted at this, but it’s so important that we’ll say it again: if you want to improve your engagement on social media, it has to start with you. You have to engage first.
The easiest way to do this is to give people opportunities to engage with you, for example by posting questions or polls, by asking for their opinion, feedback, and input. And by making it clear that their comments are welcome and appreciated.
A big part of this is commenting back when they get in touch with you! If you never react to their comments, you’re showing them that their engagement is actually neither welcome nor appreciated. So they’ll stop and take their time and energy elsewhere.
Don’t be that person, that business, that brand that makes them feel unappreciated. Remember, the first rule for improving engagement on social media is to engage and be social.
5. Create a Content Schedule
Consistency is key. You want to pop up in your followers’ feeds or stories often enough that they automatically start to expect new content from you whenever they open their app.
That sounds like a lot of work, and yes, it does require a certain amount of effort. But social media content doesn’t have to consist of long, brilliant revelations on the meaning of life or beautifully rendered photographs every single time you post.
It doesn’t always have to be unique content, either. Found an interesting article about a topic in your field? Stumbled upon a video of someone showing a step-by-step walkthrough of a process you also use? Share them! Tell your followers how it affected or helped you, then ask them what they think of it, if it helped them, how it affected them. Just make sure to always give credit and link back to the original creator.
Back to our consistency-key: It helps to create a schedule of when you’ll upload your posts and stories. On Facebook, you can even schedule your posts directly. Apps like Loomly, Hootsuite, or ContentCal integrate with social media apps and make it super easy for you to schedule your content weeks or even months in advance. Then all you have to do is sit back and engage with your followers as their responses trickle or (hopefully) flood in.
6. Invest in Ads (Paid Social)
Let’s get down to business: Investing in social media ads is a great way to boost your engagement.
Sure, you pay for ads, but the return-on-invest can be a game changer. Especially since, sadly, the effectiveness of organic reach is consistently plummeting. Which is not to say you should neglect organic social media marketing - in fact, a combination of organic and paid social is the best strategy.
To get started with paid social, check out this guide on Social Media Advertising 101.
7. Continuously Optimizing Your Content
The key to improving engagement and boosting your leads is to always be optimizing. Try things out and see how they do. What works well, what doesn’t? Which type of posts or stories get the most engagement, which fall flat? What type of posting rhythm works well?
It’s a good idea to track as much data as you can on your posts and Stories, their engagement, and the amount of leads they actually create for you. Be brave, try new things, but also don’t be afraid to drop certain types of content that have almost no or negative feedback, even if the pros are telling you that this is the type of content you should be posting.
Every business, every niche is different, attracts different kinds of people. What works for one audience might not work for another. Find what works for your target audience - and then create more of that content.
But always keep testing, because the same is true over time: What worked last year might not work as well this year and there might come a time to switch gears. A great tool to help you continuously optimize your social media content, especially your ads, is A/B-Testing.
Bonus Tip: Run Giveaways and Sweepstakes
Everybody loves free stuff, because it’s… well, free. Which means it comes with no obligations and no regrets - but potentially someone’s day made or life changed, even if it’s just in a tiny way.
So why not offer your followers something free to brighten their day, and turn them into leads in the process. By running an online contest or giveaway on your social media channels.
Sounds like a lot of work? Not as much as you’d think, promise! Creating an online giveaway is actually pretty easy and, with the right tools, takes all of 10 minutes to set up.
Then all you have to do is slot it into your social media content calendar, generate some hype for it in your Stories, mention it Live, throw in a well-targeted ad or two, explain how to participate and where to comment - et voilá! You’ll convert people into leads in a way that feels completely natural and organic to them. How’s that for magic sauce?
Here’s how to run a giveaway with KickoffLabs on Instagram and Facebook(by extension).