With the number of social media users expected to reach 2.46 billion this year, no sane marketer can ignore these platforms for growing a business’ target audience, client base and revenue. But how can you stand out from the competition?
Aside from the obvious advice such as generating high-quality content geared toward your target audience, there are other, more unconventional tactics to differentiate your brand. Below, 15 members of the Young Entrepreneur Council give their best advice on social media engagement.
#1 Tag Someone You Love
When we post something relevant, we ask our followers to tag someone they love. When they do this, it helps give someone they care about the warm and fuzzies, and it has a viral contingent for us. Strategically doing posts like this a few times a month helped grow our Instagram channel to almost 50k highly engaged followers in a year. —Mark Krassner, Expectful
#2 Get People Riled Up
People love to be a part of a conversation. Give them a reason to. Ask questions where they can voice their opinion and engage. Think of topics that are hot buttons, such as Chevy vs. Ford in the automotive world. What things in your industry draw opinion preference people want to talk about? —Jeff Cayley, Worldwide Cyclery
#3 Use Direct Messenger
Allowing the messenger service to be used and leaving it open throughout different parts of the day has been great. I schedule time to talk directly with prospects and it’s turned into greater engagement once they realize they can chat like this and get an immediate response. —Peter Daisyme, Due
#4 Be Punny
I engage in wordplay as often as possible. Using puns appropriately is a great way to make the content creative, and your followers appreciate the time it took to think about what you are saying. Putting extra effort into the words you use is a small, scalable change that makes an enormous impact. A good pun elicits an emotion or feeling of amusement that resonates with your viewer. —Matthew Capala, Search Decoder
#5 Do Facebook Live AMAs
I began a series of 100 episodes of Facebook Live Ask Me Anything, which has helped me more than double my engagement with followers. During these AMAs, the questions asked by fellow entrepreneurs and those in the world of digital marketing always expand into something bigger due to responses by others. This strategy works because it’s ultimately based on educating over just conversing. —Kristopher Jones, LSEO.com
#6 Ask Interesting Questions
Rather than always providing lots of content, I find that people engage with our social media when we post intriguing questions that people want to answer. Hearing our online community provide insight and share their experience is a really nice way to stay connected and learn more about our clients. —Rachel Beider, Massage Greenpoint, Massage Williamsburg
#7 Use Facebook Groups
Use Facebook Groups to let your followers connect and interact with one another. It’s essentially like a built-in discussion forum for your audience. This basically allows you to increase engagement with your brand without having to do much legwork at all. You may want to monitor the discussions from time to time, though, just to see what’s being said. —Andrew Schrage, Money Crashers Personal Finance
#8 Post Unrelated Stories and Pictures
We are a tech company. However, we create several posts in our social media strategy that has nothing to do with technology—mainly related to lifestyle and events. These posts really help us win followers. We recently posted about healthcare and technology, earning a lot of followers and generating likes from existing followers. —Piyush Jain, SIMpalm
#9 Ask for Expertise
People like to think they are smart—it’s a pretty natural feeling to enjoy. So, if you’re trying to increase engagement with your social posts, get people to think they are experts. Ask somewhat broad questions and let people weigh in, but try and get something out of it. If you can grab an email address in exchange for people voicing their favorite tips and tricks, then you’ve won. —Bryce Welker, Crush The CPA Exam
#10 Hold a Facebook Caption Contest
Our company hosts a weekly photo caption contest on Facebook. Our social media manager scours photos related to our industry, then posts an amusing one on Facebook each Friday. People write funny captions and the five most “liked” captions are voted on. The winner earns free products. This contest has grown to thousands of responses each week and has created a huge community in itself! —Diego Orjuela, Cables & Sensors
#11 Tag People or Companies
A great way to reach additional people with social media posts—e.g. Facebook, LinkedIn—is to strategically tag people with certain levels of influence, etc., to posts. This alerts them to the post and they are more prompted to share it. Furthermore, if you tag someone on LinkedIn, LinkedIn will proactively share your post to that person’s connections. —Adelyn Zhou, TOPBOTS
#12 Use Instagram Live
Instagram Live is a really intriguing method to engage followers. Being raw and unedited in front of your followers demonstrates your willingness to step up at any time, and it gives them a behind-the-scenes feel, which is exciting. —Abhilash Patel, Abhilash.co
#13 Post a Binary Puzzle for Engineers
Instead of posting the usual boring “congratulations” with upcoming holidays, we designed an old-fashioned binary code card that our core audience loved. It’s not for everyone and apparently worked well in a technology-focused community. It was a fun and unusual way to ask people to solve a puzzle without actually doing that! —Andrey Kudievskiy, Distillery
#14 Offer Thought Leadership
The common idea right now is that to achieve a following, you have to be proactive and say things just for attention. But if you live by that sword, you die by it. I have unconventionally decided to never tweet and to instead express my views in thought pieces where I am more fully able to express myself and my ideas. —Paul Grossinger, Gaingels
The answers above are provided by members of Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.
Opinions expressed here by Contributors are their own.