Almost 59% of American consumers engage with brands on social media – sometimes up to three times a day. And nearly two-thirds of consumers who are satisfied with brand interactions over social media are likely to recommend that brand to others.
So you know it’s important… but do you still find yourself staring at your computer screens wondering what magic words will boost engagement over platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Are you ignoring your social media channels? Or, worse, are you using them to spread promotional content… and little else?
We’ve made it easy for you with 30 social media conversation prompts. This ‘swipe file’ of engaging openings can be used across any industry.
Related Content: 7 Ways to Get More Engagement on Social Media [podcast]
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask General Questions
One of the best ways to improve engagement is by asking a question: People love to talk about themselves, and one goal of social media is to encourage self-revelation so your social following becomes a community.
Remember that not every question needs to relate to your business. Conversion shouldn’t be your only goal on social media. Engagement in and of itself is worth its weight in gold.
Here are a few of our favorite general questions to ignite a conversation:
- “If you could interview one person in your field, who would it be?”
- “What’s one nice thing you could do for somebody in your life today?”
- “If you won the Powerball lottery, how would you spend your winnings?”
- “What would you like to tell your 5th grade self?”
- “What five things couldn’t you live without?”
- “What do you think about [some recent news event in your industry]?”
- “Who is your favorite superhero and why?”
- “What one decision in your life would you like to go back and change?”
New businesses without a sizable, responsive audience likely won’t receive much of a reply, even if they are asking great questions. To encourage engagement, consider asking a few friends or business colleagues to respond to your questions. You can also pay most social media platforms to promote your posts to relevant, specifically targeted audiences.
Related Content: Paid Content Promotion: A Comparison Of The Different Platforms
Ensure that You’re Asking Meaningful, Relevant Questions, Too
While it’s fun – and effective – to ask your followers warm-up questions, there’s another great reason to ask your social followers questions: it helps with market research. Product Launch Formula author Jeff Walker starts off every product launch by asking his audience one simple question: “What’s your single biggest challenge around [X]?”
Glossier, a rapidly-expanding beauty startup, asks their followers about their skincare regimens on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. They even feature the skincare regimens of celebrities and regular users on their blog. They’ve given those features a social media-specific name — #shelfies — which has become a buzzword among Glossier users and cosmetics lovers alike.
Because the brand doesn’t shy away from letting followers mention other competing, quality products on the market, they learn a great deal about their fans and the gripes they regularly have.
Asking both pointed and open-ended questions can help your business get a sense of the problems and challenges your audience faces. This newly-gleaned knowledge can help you craft and refine just about every aspect of your business, from product features to marketing approach to your buyer persona.
Here are some specific, info-gathering questions your business might want to ask:
- “What do you love about your current [gym, recruiting software, SEO strategy]?”
- “What do you wish you could change about your [cable provider, grocery store, workflow]?”
- “What drives you crazy about [working out, commuting to work, buying a car]?”
- “What’s the hardest part of [losing weight, finding love, growing your business]?”
You’ll find that your audience loves to complain – and you can use that information to your business’s advantage. Just like real life, the best way to build a deep relationship is by listening to other people’s problems. Some brands like to sort through replies and “Like” them, send a cute reply like a thumbs-up emoji, type a quick “Thanks!”, or respond in detail with a link to their website or a phone number. Whatever your reply strategy, set it and stick with it.
Related Content: The Complete Guide to Developing and Using Buyer Personas
Provide Value by Sharing Information that Matters
Before social networking got so, well, complicated, one of the most popular ways to communicate was to share influencers’ work. Don’t be shy about incorporating this traditional strategy into your marketing plan. Here are some ideas:
- An industry statistic and explanation that’s actually interesting to outsiders
- A quote from a leader in another industry that inspires your business, and a short sentence or two about how it inspires your company
- A quote from a competitor you agree or disagree with
- A beautiful, inspiring, or adorable photo that’s relevant to your business’s mission
- A viral video from another source that relates to your business in some way
- A funny meme that’s industry-relevant and speaks to industry insiders
- A news article, along with a little blurb about what you think it means for your industry
- Quick tips and how-tos on topics relevant to your brand, product, or industry – infographics are particularly good
When sharing news, don’t overuse one source. You can’t always turn to Vox for cool videos or the New York Times for breaking news. Try to create a shortlist of twenty or thirty credible, high-quality sources of information so that your shared content is always diverse.
Avoid sharing content, however, without adding a sentence or two of to the conversation; bring your brand’s voice into everything you promote.
If you successfully share well-curated information about your industry, you just might find yourself becoming a must-follow account in your sector.
Remember: Thought Leadership Matters, Too
There’s a third type of prompt your business should be incorporating into its social media strategy: thought leadership. Thought leadership builds brand authority by demonstrating that you’re an expert in your industry.
Here are some ideas for sharing ideas that interest your followers while assuring them of your credibility:
- A branded video or thinkpiece
- A new blog post your company has published
- An interview, written or recorded, with someone from your team
- Earned – or even paid – media coverage
Related Content: Out of Ideas? 10 Ways Thought Leaders Create Content
Run Promotions and Campaigns Sparingly and Smartly
Too much self-promotion on social media is a recipe for disaster. But when used sparingly and effectively, it really does boost engagement.
Kettle Brand, an all-natural potato chip company, celebrated its own birthday by giving away a trip to Oregon, a backyard BBQ, and cash to followers who participated in its #KettleBrandBirthday giveaway.
Here are some ideas for promotions and campaigns that’ll engage your followers:
- Host a giveaway contest (for a subscription, a gift card, an Apple Watch, etc.,) ensuring that you collect e-mail addresses for future retargeting efforts
- Post hints about an upcoming product release, using photos or hashtags to boost the anticipation (think: movie trailers!)
- Ask followers to “Like” or “Share” your best promotional posts
- Post special coupon codes or incentives for your followers
- Occasionally post case studies demonstrating your company’s value
NARS, a luxury makeup brand, used Snapchat to promote their latest cosmetic collection. The beauty brand gave their audience a sneak peek of the upcoming launch, even hinting to their Twitter and Instagram followers that only Snapchat followers would get the first glimpse at the new line. The results were twofold: NARS used Snapchat to boost their sales while simultaneously growing their following on the platform.
In December of 2017, Kim Kardashian West posted a Christmas-card-ready family photo every day leading up to the 25th of the month. Love her or hate her, the reality star knows how to start a buzz. Each photo was more popular than the last, as magazines and bloggers wondered what this social media queen might post next. A picture of her newest baby? A pregnant Kylie Jenner? Even if you can’t stand the Kardashians, you have to admit that the marketing strategy worked. It got people talking about the family and checking their Instagram for the next big reveal.
Related Content: Why Retargeting Is Absolutely Essential For Any Marketing Funnel
When You Start Conversations, Remember Why Your Followers Are Here
When you create your posts, remember that social media marketing should be fun. No matter what type of conversation you’re attempting to start, you should always keep your audience in mind. Your followers are using the platform to kill time, be entertained, and learn a little. Social media is like a cocktail party; it’s place to mix, mingle, and get to know people. It’s not place to lay sales and marketing on too thick.
Are you following suit? If so, you’re taking advantage of an opportunity to get to know your customers and build relationships that will power your business’s long-term growth.
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