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Too many people approach social media marketing as if it’s a step-by-step process that must be carried out – checklist-style – every day. As a result, you’ll see plenty of webmasters posting a set number of status updates, following a certain number of new people and sharing a specific number of articles, day in and day out.
In fact, social media marketing represents a great opportunity to engage with your followers and generate both lifelong customers and the market research information needed to keep your product and service offerings fresh. If you aren’t used to using social networking websites in this way, the following options are a few great ways to get started!
- Add featured stories to your company’s Timeline – Stories running across the width of your profile’s Timeline generate more interest and engagement than standard posts, and allow you to highlight company milestones.
- Ask engaging questions once a day – Get in the habit of asking leading questions once a day, and your visitors will get in the habit of engaging with your profile.
- Post shareable pictures – People love to share pictures, so either create your own or find interesting, royalty-free images for your visitors to share.
- Offer incentives to like your Page – Create an app that leads visitors to a special discount code or free giveaway product in exchange for a Facebook “Like.”
- Advertise for “Likes” on Facebook – Instead of running Facebook ads that lead to your website, post advertisements that encourage users to “Like” your page instead.
- Rotate your Facebook ads daily – Facebook Ads suffer from high burnout rates, so try rotating your ads every day to keep engagement high.
- Add a “Follow Us on Facebook” link to your email newsletters – Any time you’re reaching out to your customers, make sure you include an encouragement and a link back to your profile
- Add social sharing icons to your blog posts – Your visitors are busy people, so make it easy for them to share your content by including social sharing icons on each post.
- Connect your Facebook profile to your blog to auto-post new content – The new “Facebook for WordPress” plugin makes it easy to ensure your Facebook fans are able to connect with all your new content.
- Customize your Timeline application graphics – Adding your own custom images to your Facebook Timeline creates a consistent brand image and a greater connection between you and your audience.
- Post exclusive video content to your Page – Sharing unique content with your Facebook fans is a great way to keep them coming back for more.
- Ask fans to share your profile with others – Sometimes, a direct request that leverages your existing subscribers can be the best way to build your fan base.
- Respond to follower comments on your Page – Demonstrate that you’re interested in what your fans have to say by responding to all comments left on your profile.
- Develop your own social engagement Facebook app – Take your fan engagement to the next level by offering unique, interactive apps that provide additional value to users.
- Update your profile and cover pictures regularly – Keeping things fresh on your Timeline shows your readers that you’re committed to maintaining your social networking presence.
- Experiment with promoted posts – The jury’s still out on how effective Facebook’s promoted posts are overall, but for many businesses, they’re worth a try!
- Follow new people every day using authority figure follower lists – Browse through the lists of people who are following your industry’s authority figures to find new people to follow.
- Pre-load tweets to launch throughout the day – Even if you can’t be on Twitter every day, pre-loaded posts deployed through services like the Buffer App will keep engagement high.
- Use Tweriod to uncover your followers’ most active times – Instead of wasting effort when your visitors aren’t active, use services like Tweriod to find the best times to engage.
- Set up follower lists – Segmenting your Twitter followers into lists will allow you to deploy unique messages to each group, resulting in higher levels of engagement.
- Change your profile picture from your logo to your face – The size of your Twitter profile picture makes it better suited to faces than logos. As an added bonus, people tend to naturally engage better with faces than with any other type of image.
- Create a custom profile background – Twitter’s stock backgrounds are fine, but a custom background shows that you’re committed to engaging with your network on the service.
- Seek out opportunities to answer audience questions – Browse through the questions your followers are posting and answer as many as possible.
- Update your bio regularly – Your Twitter bio has a major impact on how many people decide to follow you, so update it regularly to keep it fresh and engaging.
- Build a custom Twitter landing page on your website – Add a page to your website that provides a special welcome to Twitter visitors and link to this page from within your Twitter profile.
- Search for mentions of your brand name – Periodically search Twitter for any mentions of your brand name that are posted without your username or hashtag in order to find opportunities to engage.
- Regularly clean up your following list – Keep the list of people you follow fresh by periodically weeding out inactive or closed accounts.
- Host a tweetup or Twitter chat – If you have the time to commit to such an undertaking, hosting a tweetup or Twitter chat is a great way to boost engagement with your brand.
- Use bit.ly to “split test” different Twitter promotions – Test how well different promotions are received by your audience by posting similar announcements at the same time using two different Bit.ly links.
- Capitalize on top tweets – Use the “Top Tweets” feature on Twitter to find good tweets to re-tweet to your audience.
- Create posts based on tailored trends – Keep an eye on Twitter’s new tailored trends feature, which creates unique trend announcements based on your location and who you follow, to find engaging topics of discussion for your profile.
- Set up all relevant Google+ properties – If your business qualifies for a Google+ Page, set it up. If not, build out as much information as possible within your personal profile.
- Update your Google+ “rel= author” settings – Follow the steps listed here to connect your Google+ profile to your published content in order to claim your “rel=author” benefits.
- Add the Google+ Share Button to your website – Recently, Google+ launched a new share button to make distributing content on this social network even easier. Check it out if you aren’t already using a social sharing tool on your blog.
- Optimize your Google+ profile images – Google+ profiles and Pages offer several different places to add your own images. Take advantage of all of these options to make your profiles more visually appealing.
- Make use of Google+ enhanced photo and video albums – Google+ now supports full-bleed photos and videos, so make sure the content you upload for your followers displays correctly.
- Follow industry leaders in your niche – Be a part of the conversation within your industry by following and engaging with the thought leaders in your niche.
- Participate in industry hangouts – Whenever people in your industry host hangouts, try to join in whenever possible in order to engage with new people on Google+.
- Host your own Google+ hangouts – Alternatively, conduct your own Google+ hangouts to give followers access to your knowledge and experience.
- Run Google+ Hangouts On Air – To quickly and easily build a following on both Google+ and Youtube, try Hangouts On Air, which let you stream hangout footage directly to the web video giant.
- Curate content recommendations on your profile – Regularly scan through top articles in your industry and share them on your Google+ profile in order to increase engagement with your followers.
- Comment on other people's content – When other people post interesting content on Google+, comment on it and share it with your own followers to boost your perceived authority.
- Cross promote your business with other Google+ users – Partner up with other Google+ users in order to share each other’s content and recommend each other to your followers.
- Be funny – People like to read and share funny things, so try adding jokes and comments to your Google+ profile when appropriate.
- Share product reviews – Posting product reviews to your Google+ profile in order to minimize the amount of research your busy followers must do on their own is a quick way to build a fan base.
- Solicit feedback for future product or service developments – Demonstrate that you care about your follower’s contributions by soliciting and implementing their advice on future product or service developments.
- Encourage followers to “+1” your content – Because the number of “+1” votes your content receives may impact your SERPs placement, ask followers to vote for the articles you share on your profile.
- Stay on top of popular memes – Being the first to share a funny new meme is a great way to demonstrate to your followers that you’re engaged with current pop culture.
- Use Google+ to promote customer surveys – Setting up surveys to gather customer feedback is a great way to conduct cheap, effective market research. Once you’ve built your surveys, use your Google+ profile too promote them to your followers.
- Monitor Google+ activity using Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools – Both of these Google products report various social networking performance metrics, so review them regularly to find new opportunities to engage with your audience.
Obviously, these are only a few of the different options out there for engaging with your audience via the “Big 3” social networking websites. If you have other recommendations for specific techniques you’ve used to better connect with your followers, share them in the comments section below!
Image: Gigi Ibrahim