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How to engage your audience through social media

If you run an online business, are working for a nonprofit or even want to just fine-tune your personal brand, social media marketing is a given. While you don’t have to join every platform (Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, Snapchat), engagement with your audience brings more potential profit and attention to yourself and your company. But make sure you exercise your own best talents before starting a new social media account.

For example, if you’re not much of a wordsmith and don’t particularly want to follow hashtags and news, Twitter may not be your social media marketing tool of choice. For visual arts enthusiasts, photographers and meme-friendly users, Instagram or Pinterest may be a better choice. If you’re more interested in allowing users to hear your voice and see videos of you, consider YouTube or Snapchat. If connecting with a particular group and creating safe spaces for events is your top priority, Meetup and Eventbrite are probably more in alignment with your personal and professional goals.

Whether you join a few social media platforms or all of them, what else should you do?

Best practices for social media

Search engine optimization (SEO) plays a key role in accessing and maintaining legitimate social media followers. But how do they find you? Some users may specifically look for you and want to know your thoughts on a variety of topics, if you’ve built a steady audience through other outlets like in-person (or digital) speaking events or networking. But if you are a company that is looking to build your audience, using hashtags that fit your brand are essential in boosting your follower and friend count.

Whether your business is mainstream or part of a niche audience, in the early stages, focus on topics that you want users to start to affiliate with you. For example, if you’re a company that sells men’s grooming products or women’s makeup essentials, hashtags like #beauty or #barbershop would make sense as starting points. If your company is geared toward marketing for an apparel company, focus on #fashion hashtags. If you’re into computers or smartphones, see what’s going on with #technology.

Are you unable to find a hashtag that best fits what you’re trying to sell or brand yourself as? Then consider focusing on talking to people within the demographic you want to sell your products to. In a roundabout way, by becoming interesting to your customer base as a typical social media user, you may be able to then make them want to know more about your company. (This happens quite often on social media platforms like Twitter, when a tweet ends up trending in top results and the user takes that opportunity to share other products or events they’re affiliated with. Once the audience is there and engaged, use the new attention to your advantage—constructively.)

Making the most of your social media analytics

Once you’ve started to build your social media audience, use social media management tools to help you keep track of your shares, followers, most-engaged status updates and even favorited videos. Without paying attention to what your followers like reading from you, you can too often lose your core base. Find out who they are and what intrigues them.

Knowing who is buying your products (or who is supporting your company in other ways like donations or attendance) can significantly help with your social media marketing strategies. For example, say you have an anti-aging beauty product that caters toward women 50 and up. And now you want to release marketing videos with music. Be very careful not to turn your viewers away by playing music that is not traditionally embraced within that niche.

The same rules apply for catering to a younger audience such as Millennials or Generation Z. If your social media posts tend to be dated or all the people in the images don’t look like their age group, you can too easily turn users away, thinking that you don’t cater to their needs.

And don’t just post a onetime social media campaign, then disappear. Reply to users who tag you in their posts or respond to your own status updates. Share or retweet a few of the best responses or statuses from those who you follow back. Social media engagement works both ways. That personal connection lets your social media audience know you see them, too.

Best free social media management tools

To gain optimal results, you need to integrate some of the best social media management tools into your overall marketing scheme. Read social media marketing news, tips, best practices and upgrades. Consider working with beta companies. Even if the beta sites for social media platforms don’t always work out, your goal is, “Why was this beta test site created in the first place? Where did this demand come from, and can I use it in some other way?”

Stay up to date about how your audience is reacting to your content. While every social media post won’t be a hit, you definitely want to get a handle on whether they’re all misses.

One surefire way to miss out on your audience is to abandon your social media accounts. If users only see you on these platforms every few weeks, months or years, by the time you say something of significance, they’ve already lost interest in your account. And after a while, they’ll more than likely unfollow you or will be unaware of when you have actually shared something new. While you don’t want to overrun their timeline with daily updates, Fast Company recommends the following number of social media stats per day:

  • Twitter: 14 times per day
  • Facebook: 2 times per day
  • LinkedIn: 1 time per day

SproutSocial gives tips on when are the best times to leave these statuses and posts to be able to get more eyes on your page. There will be certain hours, weekdays and even weekend segments where you’ll get far more engagement than others. You should also make sure to leave your social media handles on other platforms. Followers and readers can tag you on their pages with their followers, who may then follow, too.

Finding the best online marketing courses

If you’re still unsure of how to boost your audience, consider taking an online course in social media marketing. Google Skillshop and Facebook Blueprint are considered to be some of the best free online courses for individuals who are interested in boosting their social media engagement rate.

Even social media experts can learn a thing or two to add onto their existing knowledge to improve the quality of their social media engagement channels. If done correctly, you may find yourself becoming the kind of digital marketing guru that others then come to in order to boost their own social media marketing, too.

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