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What makes an ‘engaging’ social media channel?

As business social media becomes standard practice, many businesses are now faced with the prospect of maintaining their online presence with regular content and interaction.

For some, this is easier said than done. Organic social media posts provide a means of delivering a message to your followers (and beyond), unhindered by all but the wordcount and platform moderation. While this provides real freedom and flexibility, it can be daunting, as there are no guidelines or external rules to provide direction for your content.

One thing that any self-proclaimed social media guru will talk about is the need for your channel to be ‘engaging’. But what does this really mean? In this blog post, we’ll go over a few of the important things to keep in mind to ensure your channel flourishes.

What do we mean by ‘engaging’ content?

Fundamentally, good social media content needs to intrigue someone enough to actively consume the content and interact with it. Ideally, you want them to be so impressed that they share your message with their own friends or followers.

This means that your post needs to cut through the noise of all the other posts shouting for attention. However, as anyone who has ever scrolled through their social media feed and flicked past countless posts without a second glance knows, this isn’t always very easy to do.

So what is it that makes us stop scrolling?

Something surprising. Something unusual. Something authentic. Something that resonates with us. Something that makes us want to comment and discuss with our friends. Fundamentally, something relevant to us.

To achieve this, businesses need to ask three questions:

  • What does your target audience care about?
  • What emotional reaction are you hoping to get out of your audience?
  • What stories can you tell that that fulfil those requirements?

Even with all of these points in mind, the way you dress up your content is integral to its success. Social media content that is dry or does not immediately intrigue won’t get very far. Likewise, explicitly promotional content rarely does well, and is more likely to put off your followers than engage them. A good rule of thumb is to picture your content being delivered verbally by a guest at a cocktail party. Does it inspire discussion and make you want to hear more from the guest? Or would it make you politely excuse yourself because it was irrelevant, boring or pushing you into business with them?

How does this work in practice?

Given its short-hand, spur of the moment nature, social media lends itself to far less formal and more personable content than any other channel. Businesses have responded to this by developing their own unique styles for their content, ensuring they stand out from others. Some, like Innocent Smoothies or Cadburys, use quirky images, short videos, gifs ensure stand out.

Alternatively, industry big hitters, like Hubspot, use interesting or useful blogs, infographics or videos to offer their audience invaluable expertise.

However, you don’t have to be a large company or product or service with mass appeal to succeed on social media. AntsCanada, a company that sells products related to ant keeping, runs a very successful Youtube channel that documents the growth and management of several ant colonies. While this is not a topic with obvious mass appeal, the videos are beautifully produced and actively encourage viewer engagement. As a result, the channel has over 1.5 million subscribers and it often makes the trending list on Youtube. Consequently, AntsCanada appears to be succeeding in not only engaging its core audience of ant enthusiasts but a wider audience who may not have considered insect keeping before. Give it a watch below:

Regardless of the direction you decide to take with your channel, ultimately, your business’ tone of voice needs to fit your values and personality. We recommend checking out our blog on the topic here.

This aside, it’s also important to remember that social media is far more than just the posts you put out on your platform. To create an engaging social media channel that people come back to regularly, your actions need to extend beyond the content you post.

Don’t forget to be ‘engaged’ too!

It is also important to remember that, similar to a cocktail party, social media offers almost endless means to interact with others, whether they are individuals, business partners or other organisations. With this in mind, listening and responding is just as important as delivering your elevator pitch and sharing news about your business. After all, we are more likely to pay attention to someone if others appear to be enjoying their company or engaging them in conversation.

From a customer perspective, there’s little point to a social media channel that puts out great content but doesn’t respond to enquiries. While it might take time, responding to third-party activities on your channel will show your followers you care about their contributions, enquiries or complaints, creating a positive impression.

Additionally, it is important not to neglect the further soft networking opportunities social media provides. Interacting with other businesses and their employees on social media has countless benefits. It can put you in front of new audiences, show your business is pro-active and aware of the environment in which it operates and, most importantly, offer you the opportunity to build relationships with other businesses. In some cases, this can lead to tangible business benefits, such as new partnerships or business. So, remember to look outwards. Take part in your industry’s #hashtag discussions, respond to other businesses posts and be generally sociable.

Are you looking to make your business social media more engaged and engaging? 360 Integrated PR offers a range of social media training and consultancy services to help you hone your strategy. Contact us today for your free consultation.

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