Let’s kick things off by saying that the idea on social media that you need to “pay to play” isn’t 100% true. Yes, it’s a nice little boost. Yes, it does help to pay. But, in today’s world, not everything that’s paid for is gold. There are different ways to increase engagement in your online community organically and still reach the big leagues.
While having customers is one thing, creating a community is another. Customers come and go like the seasons, but an established community is usually there through thick and thin. So, how do you build a community on social media? And how do you get people to interact with your content without paying for them to see it all 👏 over 👏 the 👏place?
Well, buckle up! Cause we’re about to spill the beans.
1. Optimize your social media profiles
Social media is a numbers game that goes way beyond followers and likes. The (dreaded) algorithm is constantly changing things up for businesses and personal profiles, which means you need to stay up to date with the trends in order to organically increase engagement in your community.
Every single part of your social media profiles should be optimized to make it easier for new and existing customers to find you, interact with you, and share your content with the rest of the world. After all, this is the first touchpoint between you and the public, so it’s important to make sure it’s clear what you do from the start..
Plus, search engines like Google also latch on to your social media page’s name, description, likes, and followers (to name a few) when ranking you online. This means that you’ll have a much better chance of showing up when you have everything social media-wise under control.
How can you optimize your social media profiles to increase engagement in your community?
There are a few things you can do in order to optimize your social media profiles and grow organic engagement in your online community. Some of these are
- Stay consistent with your branding
- Always have a profile photo and banner (when applicable). Make sure they’re the right size.
- Add links to other social media platforms you’re active on
- Use keyword-rich descriptions
- Add important contact information
- Post consistently and remain active
Optimized social media profiles prove to other users that the company takes its online presence seriously. This, in turn, gives people a much bigger sense of trust than if they find a company whose social media is void of any personality, information, or even presence. Basically, it’s a lot less sketchy when a company is actively posting and engaging than when the last thing they ever shared was a blurry office photo from 2009.
Optimizing your social media profiles might take time, but it’ll all be worth it in the end when you’ve managed to increase engagement in your community without spending a dime on paid advertising.
2. Let people reach out to you
What differentiates a community from a simple group of people? Communities love having conversations. They connect with one another and, as such, they love listening to what everyone else has to say. That’s why it’s so important that you allow customers, followers, future-fans, etc., to reach out to you with comments, concerns, questions, and even love!
Communication is essential to human connection. Without it, we’d all be wandering around the world a little dazed and confused, alone, and wondering wtf we’re all doing here if we can’t engage with one another. Social media works the same way. If there’s no way to communicate with you directly, people will start dropping out. How can you make it so people reach out to you? Here are a few options:
Facebook & Instagram messages
Easy, quick, and open to everyone, Facebook and Instagram messages are the perfect way to let people get in touch with you. Combing through them might be a huge task, but it means a lot when people have their questions answered by a brand.
Use Facebook chatbots to get the conversation started and take it from there, or respond to every message personally. Whatever you choose, make sure to always stay on top of what people are saying to you. These messages could then be repurposed into something bigger like a blog, social media post, or newsletter announcement.
PRO TIP: You can set up autoresponders on your Facebook Business Page to answer any questions if someone reaches out. Alternatively, if Instagram is more your platform, you can create ‘quick responses’ with answers to FAQ to make responding to messages easier.
Create a private group
Whether you do this on Facebook, Slack, or any other platform, creating a private group that members can be a part of is a great way to promote exclusivity and help your community feel special. There’s something sweet about joining a group you know not everyone is a part of (think secret society vibes). Plus, private groups means you’re not the only one who has to lead the conversation: there are other active members helping each other out!
Some other group platforms to check out (Free & Paid):
- Mighty Networks
Use Instagram stories & ask questions!
Instagram stories are (still) an underused tool by (too) many businesses out there. Oh, the wasted potential! Oh, the opportunities missed!
Stories are a great place to hold more public conversations with your followers that don’t require too much maintenance or moderating (mainly because you choose what goes out there before it even goes out there). The different stickers Instagram keeps rolling out helps keep followers on their toes with questions, polls, and quizzes.
Here are a few ways to use these stickers to increase engagement in your community
- Use the “Questions” box to ask for feedback on a certain service/product
- Use the “Quiz” option to teach people more about your brand
- Use the “Polls” sticker to invite your community to participate in a future launch and let them make some of the decisions
- Use the “Questions” box to gather FAQs and answer them in the future
PURCHASE THE CONVERTING CONTENT BUNDLE TODAY: From from social media posts to email campaigns and landing pages, dive into content creation in a way that’s both effective and fun!
Using stickers is a fun way to learn a lot about your community without necessarily looking intrusive or nosy. Plus, they’re also a fun way to show off your brand’s personality in a more “behind-the-scenes” setting.
Use Facebook & Instagram Live to hold Q&A sessions
Another tool that’s great for increasing engagement in your community organically is the “Live” option on both Facebook and Instagram. There’s something special about knowing that you’re connecting with a brand in real-time, especially when it comes to Q&A sessions and product launches. Going “Live” on these platforms helps users feel like they’re in on the action, actively participating, and not just watching from the sidelines.
You can use the Instagram Story tips highlighted above to gather a list of questions beforehand or let people ask them as they roll in through the comments – whatever makes you feel most comfortable. Starting a conversation with a live audience will also show a lighter, more authentic side to a brand that they might not see when they scroll through your feed.
3. Always provide value
Although easier said than done, providing value on social media is what differentiates brands that go above and beyond from brands that go “bust”. Social media shouldn’t be about constant self-promotion and in-your-face sales. That might have worked in the past, but customers today see right through these tactics.
Today, people would rather engage with a brand that adds value to their day. Can you solve someone’s problem? Do you have the answer to someone’s question? Can you teach someone something that they don’t know? Bringing something new to the table and providing people with valuable information is what makes the difference between a post they scroll by and a post they like, comment on, and share.
Gather as much information as you can about what your followers most struggle with and start producing content to help them alleviate these things. From blogs to videos, social media posts, and how-to guides, putting your followers first and your brand second will highlight your authenticity and desire to help and, in turn, increase organic engagement in your community.
How to provide value on social media to increase engagement in your community
There are so many different ways to provide value on social media that you shouldn’t stick to a list of specifics. Think big, dream bigger, and always stay on the lookout for what your followers are saying in order to help.
Some ways you can provide value to your followers on social media are:
- Create infographics that give a bite-size explanation of a certain subject
- Write a blog post that details how to do certain things
- Partner with an influencer to create content that teaches and empowers your followers
- Host an event with other professionals in your niche
- Share important news your followers will find interesting
- Find pain points & offer solutions via an Instagram post
- Inspire your followers with quotes, case studies, and more
Once your followers see that you’re more about helping them than simply helping yourself, they’ll start to identify with your brand and will want to share the message for others to feel the same.
4. Focus your efforts & don’t try to “do it all”
Trying to wear seven different hats at the same time will only make you drop them all. The same thing happens when it comes to running efficient social media channels. Trying to be present on all of them will, at one point or another, put a strain on your marketing efforts and leave you reeling.
Sit down with your team – or with yourself – and create an outline of your ideal client. Which platforms are they present on? Which platforms do they not bother with? Once you’ve figured this out, it’ll be much easier to focus your attention on all the right places instead of simply wasting your energy trying to be relevant all over the place.
Check out other competitors and see where they’re most active and how well followers are responding to their posts. A graphic design business, for example, might perform a lot better on Instagram and Pinterest than a company that specializes in coding. Once you start to note these trends, ask around, and see what your customers think. Create a survey, send out an email, give them a call…there are tons of different ways to receive feedback if you’re still unsure of where you should be focusing your efforts.
5. Give back to your community
Once all that is said and done, there’s one thing left to do: give thanks. And, how exactly can you thank people for helping you grow your dream? Well, one way is to give back to the community you’ve created. You know what they say: the more you give, the more you’ll eventually get back.
A few ideas to show appreciation for your community are
- Host a giveaway and gift a special someone (or someones) with a free consultation, product, etc.
- Create an ambassador program and reward your most active customers with affiliate codes, links, or special discounts
- Run a contest and let the winner decide the fate of a new product or service.
- Allow users to take over your social media channels for 24 hours and let them show the rest of the community how they do certain things.
Showing appreciation and giving back to the community that helps you stay afloat is a great way to increase engagement organically and appear a lot more authentic.
Wrapping it up…
All in all, increasing engagement in your community through organic content is a game of give and take: You open up a space for conversion, they talk back. You provide value, they give back by engaging. They provide engagement, and you give back by saying “thanks”.
All it comes down to is how you manage to keep the conversation going, even when it isn’t directly affecting your business.
The main five things you need to do in order to increase organic engagement in your community are
- Optimize your social media profiles
- Let people reach out to you
- Always provide value
- Focus your efforts & don’t try to “do it all”
- Give back to your community
What other ways have you found to help increase organic engagement? Let us know in the comments below and let’s share some tips!
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