Written by Rivka Hodgkinson

December 13, 2016 at 8:54 am

Social Media Engagement 101: How to Motivate People to Respond

How do you think you do when it comes to your ability to engage on social media?

Are you acing this, or feeling like you are posting for nothing?

Social media engagement is an essential part of success on social media. On platforms like Facebook, engagement is part of the algorithm that drives your visibility. Even where there is a more chronological feed, engagement means more shares and a wider reach.

Basically, posting to social media without getting engagement is like talking to a wall.

GIF source
It is also something that many social media managers struggle with – how to get people to answer back. Luckily, there are a few key strategies you can employ in your strategy whether you are an individual social media specialist, or part of an agency.

Use Conversational Language

When is the last time you talked aloud to a billboard? Probably not often, unless you were really outraged. That is because a billboard is for looking at as we pass on by. A big reason that people fail to engage on social media is they treat it like a billboard rather than a conversation.

Rather than picturing the screen in front of you, picture your customers and clients sitting at a table with you at your favorite cafe. What would you talk about? How would you start conversations? What would you do if there was an awkward pause? Those same social skills will bring up the engagement on your social media pages too.

Not sure what this looks like in practice? Here are some tips:

  • Use singular pronouns whenever possible like “I” “me” and “you” rather than “we” “you all”
  • Avoid using long words when not needed
  • Include appropriate slang and sayings (what is “appropriate” depends on your company and social media policy)
  • Use emoji, images, and GIFs to respond when words along could be impersonal

Make It Simple

Do you want more responses on social media? Then make it easy to respond.

When we ask questions that have possibly long and drawn out answers, or no clear answer, then we are much less likely to get an answer back. People are not slowly and thoughtfully reading each post on social media and contemplating its true meaning. They are scrolling. You have only a short time to connect. It is like passing an old friend on the subway when you are both going different directions sometimes.

So take all the guess work out of how they should respond. Fill in the blanks, this or that choices, or things that only require a one or two word response are great examples. (I’ve even written an article specifically on eliciting responses from followers.)

Ask simple questions to engage on social media

Connect with Their Emotions

One of my favorite social media books of all time is “Contagious” by Jonah Berger. In it he discusses the details of why some things go viral and others don’t. One of the big areas of exploration is emotional connection.

There are a lot of ways to do this. Show that you understand their fears, inspire them, make them laugh. It really comes down to understanding your social media audience and what is most important to them, and then sharing that conversation with them. And don’t feel like you have to create new content all the time for posts like this. You can also share content that is already bringing engagement.

Emotional connection leads to social media engagement

Always Respond

How would you feel if someone was having coffee with you, you said something to them, and they stared blankly and didn’t respond?

We don’t do that in real life, and we shouldn’t do it on social media.

Sometimes we don’t respond not because we don’t have anything to say, but because we missed the comment in the first place. This is why using a good social media monitoring tool is so important. That way you don’t skim past something unintentionally.

Agorapulse is a great tool for this because it keeps all your interactions in your feed until you mark it as completed. You can also assign response to another team member, or flag for further follow up later.

Respond to your clients to engage on social media

You can also use Agorapulse’s reports to see which posts have gathered the most engagement over a certain period of time.

twitter engagement report

You can then take that information to create posts and tweets that engage even more the next go round.

teams and agencies

What about you? What works for you when you engage on social media channels?

Rivka Hodgkinson

Rivka is a social media specialist, speaker, and writer. She loves building authentic relationships online and offline and teaching small businesses and entrepreneurs how to get results on social media. Based in West Michigan, she loves all four seasons, running, drinking tea, and reading.

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