What is Engagement & Why Does it Matter?On Facebook you have Likes (Reactions), Comments, Shares and Mentions / Tags. On Instagram, there are Likes, Replies and Reposts through external apps. Twitter uses Likes, Retweets and Replies. You’re probably seeing a trend and different tiers of engagement. Liking or Reacting is the easiest and quickest response. It requires the least effort and mostly shows acknowledgement or approval. Social networks value this as an engagement because people are giving your content the thumbs up as something they care about, which usually indicates that more people would benefit from seeing it, and that means extended reach. Of course, Comments and Shares are worth a little more in terms of increased exposure and interaction. Beyond the boost that most channels will give you, you can also get good feedback from fans when they talk to you or tell their friends about you. This is where you move from Awareness and Interest to Engagement and hopefully Purchase and Loyalty. Your job is to make it easy for your supporters to engage. You do this by making yourself available, inviting interaction and rewarding it. Let’s walk through the steps.
1. Pick the right channel(s) for your target audience, artistic medium and content. Take time to see where your fans are and what they want to see. Are you focusing on millennials or parents or a more affluent audience? Check out this great overview of each networks' demographics.
2. Know your audience’s interests and motivations. Why would they follow you? What can you provide in terms of content that will make their day better and eventually make them want to buy from you? Spend some time getting to know them and what they are already talking about so you can join the conversation. Relationship building for businesses is all about providing value.
3. Make yourself easy to find when people want to engage. This ranges from being present to consistency with your handles and account names as well as any branded hashtags that allow you to follow the conversation. If you aren't active on any channels, you could be missing out on good and bad feedback. Wouldn't you like to be credited in all mentions of your work? If you can't be found in a quick search, most people are too lazy to dig deeper and simply won't tag or mention you.
4. Follow or Like relevant accounts so you can lead by example with engagement. Always tag and mention where applicable to give credit, but also to get more reach because their audience will also have the chance to see what you post. This works for text and photos. You can also Like, Comment and Share to share the love for other artists. This not only helps the art community, but also shows your affiliations and what you value.
5. Balance your promotional content with entertaining and informative posts. People will want to engage with you more if they aren’t only being sold. Make sure not every post is all about buying. You can talk about your process, your inspiration, your works in progress. Certainly be sure to mention when you have events or sales, but make sure there's other value in your content.
6. Always reply or at least acknowledge so people continue interacting. Have you ever asked a question that no one would answer? It's frustrating, isn't? Don't do that to your Fans. They are engaging with you to support you. If you don't show appreciation and answer them when they want to know more, they will drop off and move on to someone else. Remember, social media is two-way communication.
7. Reward people for joining in the conversation. This means going beyond a Like or quick replay when your Fans engage. The most straight forward way to reward engagement is with giveaways or contests, but you can also reach out to faithful fans with special offers and thank you’s. I recommend sharing or reposting content that loyal buys put out there. This is free content for you to use, and it's real which makes it relatable and shows that you see buyers as people, but just money.
8. Don’t be afraid to ask for interaction. Post inviting content – questions, fill in the blanks, polls, feedback requests. It's fun for your Fans to get involved. Let them name a piece or ask their favorite. They will be more invested if they feel they can have an impact and be part of your process. While I don't recommend only posting questions, this is the most direct way to get engagement. Just make sure it's something worth caring about.
9. Take negative engagement out of the public eye before it escalates and hurts your reputation. There is such a thing as bad press. If you get a negative review or bad mention, reach out to those people and offer to fix the situation if you can. There are plenty of customers that you can't make happy, but the simple act of acknowledging and offering to make good shows that you care. From there you want to move the conversation to email so the negativity isn't continually popping up in people's feeds.
10. Pay attention to results so you can learn and repeat. All social channels let you know about your Reach, Engagements, Audience. Use that data to your advantage. If videos seem to work really well, share more. If certain topics are more liked, as long as they are relevant to your brand, incorporate that. While there will always be variation, keep an eye out for trends, and don't be afraid to test. Know that some things will work today and not tomorrow, so the environment matters just as much as your content, but you don't have to work blind. Metrics can be your friend.
You can having an engaging presence on social media. The more activity you drive, the more likely you are to reach buyers and supporters. The first step is making the effort. Even if you only post a few times a week, you are giving people the chance to build a relationship with you, and that's how you get the most value out of social media. If you'd like to talk about what you're doing well and where you can improve, I'd be happy to engage with you ;)