You have heard about, and no doubt seen, a plethora of cute cat videos on Facebook which went viral. As a marketer, you were envious that these often simple, homegrown videos were shared repeatedly and seemingly with ease. Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a secret sauce or recipe for getting consumers to share your brand content on Facebook or other networks? A three step, guaranteed process perhaps? The truth is that content that entertains fosters engagement. Engagement on social media eventually equates to sales. However, the lesson isn’t that you should immediately include all things cute and cuddly in your social media strategy. In fact, if it isn’t authentic to your brand, no amount of cuddliness with work. Rather, if you want to drive engagement, you must look at your content through the lense of authenticity and human connection.
Social media is dynamic, and as such, an orchestrated attempt to create content which is sure to be shared is of dubious outcome. In fact, if you purposefully create content with the end goal of it being shared, it will likely fall short simply because social media users can often see through these efforts and refuse to play along. That is what I mean by authentic content which is representative of your brand story and of your community. Make it authentic or don’t even bother.
The beauty of social media is that driving engagement in its simplest form is really about the human connection. It forces you to remember that you are human and so are your customers. Thus your communication with them should feel as such. Often brands unintentionally distance themselves from the heart or humanness of marketing. They want to show you how great their products or services are, but that focus ends up feeling like a one-way conversation with your long lost Uncle. He tells you all about himself never stopping to ask you a single question about you.
Social media is a two-way conversation when it is done right. It isn’t about you. It is about how you interact and how you relate. It’s about how you make the other person feel. The feeling element is the most important aspect of successful social media campaigns. So how do you make your audience feel something and associate that feeling with your brand? We already talked about the entertainment value in social media, and its impact on engagement. However, there are other ways to cultivate feelings as well.
One of the most powerful tools for driving social media engagement is through inspiration or motivation. Anyone who has seen even a short video of Tony Robbins knows the power of motivation done right. You absolutely want to watch everything that he says, and you like it so much that you watch it a second time prior to sharing it with your friends. Inspiration is ridiculously under-utilized in social media and virtually all other forms of media today. Brands shy away from it because they don’t see anything particularly motivation-worthy within their company or brand, but I assure you they exist. A behind the scenes informal interview with a smart and successful CEO is an excellent example. Look around and you’ll find inspiration.
Education is another key to social media engagement. Who doesn’t want to feel informed? Fortunately, many companies have training guides, tips, tools and other resources which can quickly be turned into an infographic or other educational resource which consumers will engage with because they wish to be educated. Of course, social media isn’t the place for a lengthy dissertation, but it is an ideal environment for sharing informational material which fuels lead generation and sales.
The other important driver to engagement is tying your content to current events or pop culture. It is easy to see what shows are popular, what events or happenings are trending, and this type of content is often the most refreshing because it connects your brand to your community. It shows that your company is current, relevant, and in the know. It spices up your campaign in a fresh and authentic way.
At the end of the day, social media engagement is about human connection. Remember who you want to connect with on various social media platforms, analyze your content and see if you, and more importantly, your audience would want to read/view it. If not, move on. While your target audience may be very different from you, there are commonalities that shape us all. We all want connection. We all want to be informed. We all want to be entertained, encouraged and enriched. Keep these things top of mind and watch your social media campaigns prosper.