Maintaining a connection with your audience on social media is no easy task. Consumers are buffeted by trends, current events, and life situations that cumulate into ever-shifting behaviors. Their perceptions and interests evolve, so brands must work hard to maintain relevancy with their audience.
Social media is the main point of contact for many brands and their customers. Consumers often use social media to research brands and products to see if they align with their needs and values. Growing engagement levels across your social media presence should be one of the primary goals in your marketing.
Here, we’ll explore some of the reasons why you need a social media engagement strategy. Specifically, we’ll explore:
- The benefits of a good social media engagement strategy
- How social media changed in 2021
- How your social media engagement strategy should shift in 2022
Social media platforms are constantly changing, and new users are jumping on board daily. While growth expands and contracts in the short-term, over the long haul, an effective social media engagement strategy will help you capture the attention of more users as platforms grow. Here are a few relevant statistics speaking to the state of social today to put everything in context:
- According to Hootsuite’s Global State of Digital 2021 report, the number of social media users has grown 13% over the past year to just under 4.2 billion users across the globe.
- In Q4 of 2020, the global daily average for social media use was 2 hours and 22 minutes. Latin America was the region with the highest daily average at 3 hours and 33 minutes.
- The median engagement rate per post on Facebook across all industries is 0.08%. The median on Instagram is 0.98% and 0.045% on Twitter.
There’s no better time than now to revisit your brand’s social media engagement strategy. 2022 is sure to have its fair share of twists and turns consumers will need to navigate. Finding the best way to insert your brand into relevant conversations while alleviating consumer pain points will attract users to your content. Keeping them educated and entertained while doing so will set you up for success. Let’s talk about how you get there!
Benefits of a Great Social Media Engagement Strategy
Social media has fundamentally changed how consumers interact with brands. However, social media platforms aren’t static entities, so what worked yesterday may fall flat tomorrow. Algorithms get updated, new features roll out, and users come and go looking for the next best thing.
This constant state of change is one of the best reasons to stay current with your social media engagement strategy. For instance, text-based updates gave way to photos, memes, and augmented reality. From there, video pushed to the forefront and morphed into the rush for short-form video. Virtual reality and the metaverse are on the horizon for social platforms, which will change content marketing yet again.
It would seem ridiculous if a brand is still throwing out boring tweets now and again with no photo or video content. But that’s what it’s like when brands don’t adjust to changing norms and features on social media.
Additionally, if all their content consists of, “Look at us, we’re brand X, and we make the best YZ,” no one is going to care in the long term. There must be something to your content that consumers relate to in a broader context. For effective engagement, your content should be a continual dance between your brand, the audience, the product (solution), and current events/emerging trends.
And since your audience is on social media for over two hours a day on average, you might as well be capturing more of their attention and driving engagement. Figuring out what resonates the best with your consumers is well worth the effort as it sets your brand apart from the competition. Here’s how:
Engagement Raises Brand Awareness
Potential impressions matter. Whenever a social media user interacts with your posts, it’s likely to be seen by that person’s friends, family, or followers. These interactions help put your brand on more people’s radar. Some will ignore you, and others will be intrigued enough to check out your feed, while some will suggest your brand to others. Word of mouth is powerful, and raising engagement expands those opportunities.
what is that brand that lets you make your own fragrances and candles.? please
— loverboybrandon (@TheWakerBaker) December 18, 2021
Engagement Elevates Social Proof
Elevated levels of engagement act as social proof. In other words, traction acts as validation when consumers come across your brand. When they see others positively engaging with your content, it subconsciously tells them you are trustworthy. That’s because people tend to trust other consumer opinions more than branded content.
Therefore, increasing engagement is a double-edged sword in building brand awareness and trust at the same time. Moving the needle on positive attention can help grow your bottom line as 81% of consumers say they need to trust a brand before committing to the sale.
Engagement Extends Your Marketing Reach
An effective social media engagement strategy extends the depths which your marketing penetrates. When users find your content intellectually stimulating, humorous, or helpful, they are inclined to keep coming back for more. Additionally, when they notice your brand active in the commentary, many will become comfortable enough to join in. Every engagement builds upon your awareness and social proof to send your content even further throughout the web.
How Social Media Changed in 2021
Where you spend your social media focus depends entirely on where your audience is. While overall social media growth slowed in 2021 compared to 2021, brands need to know whether their audience is still tuned in.
In 2020, as the pandemic was brand new, TikTok’s popularity skyrocketed as everyone adjusted to life at home. Social media usage went through the roof as people sought a reprieve from reality – and boredom. Usage tapered off from those extreme highs in 2021, but there was some notable movement, particularly amongst younger age groups. A recent YPulse Survey illustrates this succinctly.
We can see that YouTube is firmly in first place with Gen Z while coming in second behind Facebook with Millennials. Instagram is holding its own, placing in the top three with both age groups.
TikTok gained the most ground in 2021, growing in preference by 19% among Gen Z and 12% with Millennials. On the Gen Z side, that puts the platform within a hair’s breadth – three percentage points – of overtaking Instagram for second place. Given the popularity of short-form video, there’s a strong possibility TikTok could unseat Instagram in 2022 among the Gen Z crowd.
On the Millennial spectrum, Facebook and YouTube are nearly neck and neck for the top spot, with only a 3% difference here as well. And speaking of short-form video, both platforms released products to mitigate TikTok’s runaway success with the format. Last year, YouTube Shorts and Facebook Reels were introduced to capture audience cravings for bite-sized video content and keep things fresh.
Of course, one of the biggest social media news stories to come out of 2021 is Facebook’s announcement that they were changing their name to Meta. The name is a take on Neal Stephenson’s 1992 book Snow Crash which first used the term metaverse. The term is intended to represent a future form of the internet that creates a network of 3D virtual spaces. Each of these spaces is linked together to create what is known as the metaverse.
The name change is indicative of where social media is heading. Along with the name change, the company announced an extensive investment in AR/VR technology. This is on top of their already popular Oculus VR headset.
The foundation of the metaverse has been poured with online gaming and social media. And many of the worlds have already been built. We can see that with rabidly popular games such as Minecraft, Roblox, and Fortnite. The convergence of social media with these free-floating digital “worlds” will be interesting to watch as they form a networked metaverse.
Regardless, this series of events shows what’s on the horizon for social media. As such, we’ll most likely witness social media become more integrated into VR as 2022 progresses. This will open up new opportunities for brands to market themselves and drive virtual engagement.
Social media is constantly changing, and the metaverse development will be a game-changer. While brands are driving social media engagement in the traditional sense this year, they should also carefully monitor the metaverse conversation for first-mover opportunities. After all, a virtual social media engagement strategy will become a thing, and the first brands on the scene will be the ones who’ve monitored the discourse all along.
Shifting your Social Media Engagement Strategy for 2022
English author Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch coined a phrase back in 1914 that’s often misattributed to William Faulkner. In a university lecture, he famously instructed his writing students to “murder your darlings.”
In context, he was teaching his students to let go of flowery, verbose prose in their writing, use simple language, and get to the point. But there’s something to the phrase that marketers and social media strategists can put to work.
We often tend to hang onto the status quo and resist change. This can be detrimental with the ever-shifting nature of social media platforms, consumer behaviors, and emerging trends. Sometimes these changes are subtle, and we sell ourselves short by continually pushing out the same content with the same influencers on the same platforms. And then we wonder why we’re not driving engagement anymore.
The point is – don’t be opposed to changing things up in 2022 to drive your social media engagement strategy. Murder your darlings.
For instance, your brand may be comfortable gathering your engagement metrics from each individual platform. If you’ve been doing it a while, you probably don’t think twice about it. However, brands everywhere are adopting social listening tools that aggregate performance metrics from a variety of platforms. That way, everything is in one place – all in the name of speed. If you’re not, make the adjustments you need to streamline your engagement strategy.
If you want to turbocharge your engagement on social media, then you must maintain relevancy at all costs. Be honest with yourself and ask – are we doing the same thing, expecting different results? Is our content boring, or are we intriguing our audience?
If your content marketing comes off like Charlie Brown’s teacher, having a social listening tool that offers complete transparency is your golden ticket to relatable content. This means you can build an analysis around brand mentions, current events, emerging themes, or audience interests and dig into the conversational themes that emerge. If your tools limit transparency, get new ones.
The purpose here is to uncover sub-topics, themes, hardships, user-generated content, and anything else of interest to your audience you can highlight in your marketing. But you have to get into the posts behind the numbers.
These are the stories you want to tell in your messaging that resonate with your consumers. Give them more of it. How do you know it will work? Because they’re already talking about it. Use their stories in your brand storytelling, and you’ll drive engagement because you’re giving back. Take a page from GoPro’s playbook, as they have this tactic locked down.
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While we’re on the subject of listening to consumer conversations, make sure your engagement metrics account for brand mentions outside of your owned channels. Where are your strengths and weaknesses in terms of your earned media?
Additionally, you need to capture all your brand mentions to measure this correctly. Ensure the tools you use bring in everything, even those without an @ symbol. Also, it’s helpful to run your analyses to account for common misspellings of your brand name along with any nicknames your audience refers to you by. That way, you don’t miss a thing.
Accurate measurements are the highest priority if you want a social media engagement strategy that works. Anything less is half-baked. Capturing your brand’s conversations and those of interest to your audience is critical in developing content that holds their attention. Measuring them tells you whether you’re winning or losing. Additionally, use these topical narratives to uncover new influencers in these spaces and put them to work driving engagement.
Since the world of social media is fluid, your brand must make continual adjustments to maintain traction and stay relevant. Continually tweaking your process is one part of the equation and using the right social listening tools is the other. If you want to bombard your audience with relatable content in 2022, reach out for a demo, and we’ll help you drive engagement all year long!