Audience engagement is an essential component of your digital marketing plan. The concept of engagement is not unique to social media – advertisers and publishers have been using it for decades to gauge their effectiveness in motivating audiences. To understand engagement, it is helpful to distinguish it from the related concept of “reach”. Reach essentially captures eyeballs – namely, how many people have been exposed to a piece of content. Engagement captures reactions – namely, the extent to which those exposed to said content actively did something with it. Thirty years ago, a news publisher might have measured engagement by examining the number of reader letters received monthly. Social media turned audience engagement into ubiquitous currencies. Prominent indices of engagement include liking (or other built-in emotional responses added by Facebook like “love”, “angry”, “surprised”, etc.), sharing (Facebook) or retweeting (twitter), and commenting.
There is no one bullet proof method to foster engagement, as much depends on the brand, the audience and the platform. However, the following principles are generally conducive to the creation of more engaging social media profiles.
Yes, we all like to be surprised here and there. However, our appreciation of the extraordinary derives from an even stronger appreciation of routine. It is important that your digital presence maintains consistency in two manners. First, as Ben Givon says, be consistent in the frequency of your posting (e.g., 1 Facebook post a day, 10 tweets a day). Your audiences can’t show up and react to your content if it isn’t a constant, and predictable, feature of their social media diet. Second, use a consistent style or “voice”. Build a digital personality and stick to it. Once your persona and style are established, it could be fun to break out of character – however, that’s only amusing because there is a recognized character to compare with.
Eye-catching, emotionally appealing content
Content that appeals to emotions is especially engaging. Think about how your brand can be incorporated in content that tells a story about humans and their feelings. Interestingly, studies have found that not all emotions are equal. For example, Berger and Milkman found that news articles that evoked high arousal emotions (be it positive, like “awe”, or negative like “anger” and “anxiety”) led to more engagement than low-arousal emotion (like “sadness”). Use visuals to compliment your content. Ben Givon always teaches that images, movies, and emojis are eye-catching in general, as well as powerful and concise conveyers of emotion.
If you want your audiences to engage with your content, you must set an example, and engage with their content. Think of yourself not as a broadcaster, but as an active part of a multidirectional conversation:
- Create content like polls and surveys that presents built-in interactional features.
- React to user comments with open-ended, probing responses that elicit conversation. For example, don’t just thank a user for complementing your content, ask them a relevant follow-up question.
- Share/retweet posts from your followers .
In conclusion, create a fun and engaging social media profile by cultivating a reliable and consistent digital persona, that shares interesting content and interacts with followers.