In the early days of social media, businesses often approached the medium as another channel to push out advertising messages. Today, social media marketing is much more nuanced. It’s all about making connections, building relationships, and engaging audiences with valuable, informative, and exciting content.
Keeping your social followers engaged requires consistent effort, however, and some strategies work better than others. The members of Young Entrepreneur Council understand this and have developed their own approaches to audience engagement. To help get you started, members discuss some of the lesser-known or easily overlooked — but highly effective — social media strategies, and what to keep in mind when adopting them for your own business. Here is what they advise:

1. Reply to Comments

One of the easiest but sometimes forgotten ways to keep an audience engaged on social media is to reply to comments. Your audience is more likely to keep the conversation going when they get a response from you. Plus, when they know you’re likely to join in on the conversation, they’ll be more likely to comment on your social media posts again and again. Also, simply “liking” a comment works, too. – Stephanie WellsFormidable Forms

2. Host a Live Q&A Session

Live Q&A videos are popular among consumers but not practiced enough by small businesses. If you’re willing to put yourself out there and answer questions about products or services, your audience is far more likely to want to engage with your content outside of the question-and-answer stream. – Blair WilliamsMemberPress

3. Ask Questions

Consumers are far more likely to engage with your content if you ask questions in your status updates, headlines, and within your content. If you’re noticing low engagement on your posts, try asking simple questions such as asking readers what they think of this topic. The end result will typically be a full-blown engaging conversation among your subscribers. – Syed BalkhiWPBeginner

4. Hold Contests That Encourage Self-Expression

Try posting contests to Facebook and Instagram. They are an especially engaging type of social media, because it often requires people to take their own photos or videos and share them. A good way to mix it up from the usual photos and such is to ask users to express their individuality by posting original poems, drawings, or recipes. Users like the attention and to see how others respond. – Blair ThomaseMerchantBroker

5. Post Instagram and Facebook Stories

Stories are similar to Snapchat in that they give audience members a snapshot of what you’re doing at the current moment. This can be in the form of photos or videos, depending on your strategy and what message you’re trying to send. Always keep your target customer in mind when creating your stories content so your audience is engaged. – Chris ChristoffMonsterInsights

6. Go Live on Facebook

Livestreaming on Facebook is a great tool for engaging your audience, especially during live events. You can receive and respond to comments directly through the live stream to further increase engagement. This great tool still isn’t used by so many businesses, which are really missing out. If you’re doing an event, in particular, you should definitely be live streaming it. – Andy KaruzaFenSens

7. Talk About Your Hobbies

In addition to discussing your business, talking about some of your personal hobbies on your business’ social media pages helps to promote engagement and bolsters your brand’s personality. One such topic that can be very successful to post about is sports, especially with football season back in action. – Bryce WelkerBeat The CPA

8. Ask for Feedback

A powerful tool that is often not utilized to keep social media users engaged is to request the users’ feedback in a fun and playful way. For instance, conduct a survey on topics important to your consumer base. By inviting their response, you allow them to be a part of the conversation. The more responses, the better, as it can increase engagement with other users and start trending. – Matthew PodolskyFlorida Law Advisers, P.A.

9. Start a Niche-Specific Group

Starting your own group on Facebook or LinkedIn is a creative way to engage and build an audience. A good way to use this approach is to create a group devoted to a very specific niche or interest that’s relevant to your business. The more specific it is, the easier it is to target a particular audience — for example, a group about intermittent fasting rather than health/dieting in general. – Kalin KassabovProTexting

10. Be Timely

Always keep your finger on the pulse of the global trends and be reactive whenever you encounter a powerful content moment. This could be a seasonal image based on some current trend or a funny video inspired by some piece of news (or even the entire promotional campaign — it depends on how creative you are and how fast you can react). We’re still living in meme culture, so make use of that. – Solomon ThimothyOneIMS

11. Educate Your Audience

Many companies lack empathy in their social media content by creating content that users don’t care about in the first place. Instead of status updates, offer content that is educational, informative, or funny. Users engage with content that they like, or, in other words, content that adds value. Start from the root: what you’re actually saying on social media is the most important factor. – Frederik Busslerbitgrit Inc.

12. Feature User-Generated Content

A dynamic way to increase engagement is to feature your audience on your social media channels. While it takes a little more time, featuring your audience shows that you are listening to them, which makes them feel appreciated and helps build loyalty. To boost this strategy even more, encourage customers to share photos with your product with relevant hashtags. – Shu SaitoGodai

13. Be Vulnerable and Authentic

Show your real self, be vulnerable, and discuss the ugly truth about life and some experiences others might be afraid of sharing. Be the mouthpiece when others are afraid to talk and open up. It is important that, when we are vulnerable, we only share what’s important and highlights about the topic. Do not overshare, as it might also bring some disrespectful comments in the future. – Daisy JingBanish

14. Keep It Conversational

When posting on social media accounts, do everything you can to keep it conversational. Ask questions of your followers: What are their experiences with a certain topic? Do they have feedback on your new product release? Starting a conversation on social media can provide helpful data for you, but it can also show visitors to your profiles that your team replies to comments and is helpful, too. – Keith ShieldsDesignli

15. Create Curiosity

The most effective way to get people interested and stay engaged with your content is through creating curiosity, especially in the opening lines and seconds. This creates a powerful psychological hook that draws people in to find out what you have to say. You can do this effectively by saying something striking, audacious, revealing, or vulnerable that creates intrigue about what comes next. – Justin FaermanConscious Lifestyle Magazine

These answers are provided by Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most successful young entrepreneurs. YEC members represent nearly every industry, generate billions of dollars in revenue each year, and have created tens of thousands of jobs. Learn more at yec.co.

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