My friend, Ann Smarty has been managing and growing communities for as long as I’ve known her. So when she offered this post on building community engagement, I was all-in. Put her tips to work. She knows what she’s talking about. —Kathryn
Creating an effective social media strategy is hard. Managing community engagement? That’s social media on steroids.
But as challenging as it might be, it’s not impossible — especially if you know the best tools and tactics for the job. If you want more meaningful conversations in your community, these 10 tips for boosting community engagement will help.
1. Do not automate your posts
Your community is unique, so it’s worth putting in the effort to customize every single one of your posts. As you manage your community for a while, you’ll know what its members like or dislike, what language they use, and how they react to certain messages. Use that knowledge to customize your posts.
I know that feeding the same message to multiple networks saves time, but if you want your fans to engage with you, respect them and show them you care. They will respond in kind.
You may post the same message on multiple networks, but use specific identifiers or symbols on the appropriate networks. For example, the hashtags that are intended for Twitter shouldn’t be used on Facebook.
Also, if your content is mostly made up of blog posts fed automatically into your Facebook page, don’t expect your community to engage with you.
2. Target your status updates
This mostly applies to Facebook. If you are a global brand and you have fans in multiple countries, use the target by country feature to spread the word about your local campaigns. Not only will your local fans appreciate it, targeted posts will not raise questions about, “Why is this campaign not available in my geography?”
Use Text Optimizer to come up with content topics that will interest your social media audience.
3. Your landing experience: your first impression counts
Make sure your page has clear branding and, where possible, relevant calls to action. Change the look of your main page every now and then (for example, on Facebook switch the cover image often to reflect the most recent events or programs).
On Twitter, make sure your profile stands out and your bio includes all of the appropriate information you want to communicate.
Don’t forget to cross-promote your website/blog and your other social properties.
Properly Setting up your page can help you get found and keep fans coming back. At a minimum:
- Include your contact information (especially your website and physical address).
- Make sure your bio contains strong keywords.
- Use a lot of visual elements to make your page appealing.
4. Set up an editorial calendar
If you have multiple administrators of your page, make sure you have a clear editorial calendar that states what will be posted, when, and by whom.
You can use your blog editorial calendar to plan your social media content out.
5. Don’t forget your CTAs!
I have experimented with different types of calls to action, trying to see what works the best. I’ve found that including a CTA can improve the response rate by over 50% (for my audience, asking them to share a post gets the best traction).
In addition, when a follower interacts with your posts, their friends see that activity, leading to the possibility of growing your fan base. So ask your followers to share, comment, or like your posts.
6. Create exclusive content
Make sure you offer your fans some exclusive content. Your community is valuable and special. Members deserve to be treated as MVPs.
- Provide sneak peeks just for your Facebook community.
- Run promotions just for them on Twitter.
- Livestream exclusive events and offer exclusive expert chats.
Make it worth their while to stick around. Fan of the Week programs have been successful for a number of brands on Facebook. Give it a try.
InVideo will be your lifesaver here. The tool allows you to create original videos in minutes. All you need is to pick a template and type your own captions.
7. Create traditions
DKNY is a good example. One of the ways DKNY connects with its followers on Twitter is through regular chats around weekly viewing of the popular show Gossip Girl.
The brand created a #GG hashtag and comment on the episode in real time along with their followers who are fans of the show.
If one of your traditions picks up, set up a separate site for it to always be there and provide your brand additional awareness opportunities. Namify is a cool tool to find a name for your little brand project:
The tool will even check social media availability for your chosen name and even create its brand identity.
8. Optimize your site for social traffic
Social media users are always in a hurry. You need a special skill to engage and convert them. Make sure your site is fast and engages from the first few seconds. Play with your CTAs and forms to ensure there are no barriers preventing your site users from converting.
Come up with additional ways to engage your social media traffic.
A good idea is to use conversational forms to turn your social media traffic into leads.
Another idea is setting up web push notifications will tie your social media traffic to your site and drive them back with each update. Push Monkey is perfect to create that sort of engagement strategy:
9. Analyze your progress
You cannot improve what you’re not analyzing! Use several tools to identify what works and how to improve your strategy.
Facebook offers free Insights. This handy tool lets you dig deep into the activity on your page. You can find your most popular posts, track likes and unlikes, find out where new fans are coming from, see when your posts get the most activity, check out your fan demographics, and much more. Twitter offers free insights as well.
Finteza is a more comprehensive tool. You need to install their code on your site and you will be able to monitor your social media traffic and how exactly it is engaging with your site:
10. Don’t give up!
A significant presence on social networks generated from a well-implemented strategy shows your customers that you want to connect and that you care — especially more than your competitors who aren’t bothering at all.
After you discover the topics your fans like and the days and times they are most likely to participate, post consistently on those topics, days, and times. Don’t ever give up!
By following the above steps, you’ll be well on your way to starting the conversations that lead to fan engagement, hopefully more than the expected 1%. Good luck!
Ann Smarty is the Brand and Community manager at InternetMarketingNinjas.com as well as the founder of MyBlogU.com. Ann has been into internet marketing for 10 years. She is the former Editor-in-Chief of Search Engine Journal and contributor to prominent search and social blogs, including Small Biz Trends and Mashable.