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University of Sunderland

How to increase customer engagement through social media techniques

Posted on: November 17, 2023
Web marketing specialist with mobile phone and laptop creating engaging social media content to promote brand, collage with free space. SMM manager researching target audience

Statistics shared by Sprout Social indicate the sheer market size and potential of social media marketing: as well as worldwide social media users clocking in at approximately 4.89 billion, internet users are spending more time on social media than ever – 151 minutes per day.

As the data suggests, social media presents a gigantic opportunity for businesses, brands and marketers. It helps level the playing field for everyone – from small businesses and start-ups, right through to established, global brands.

How can social media help marketers to reach new audiences, increase brand awareness, and stand out from the competition? Are there tried-and-tested ways to use social media to boost engagement?

What is the role of social media in increasing customer engagement?

Social media is a core component of any robust digital marketing strategy: it can build brand and customer loyalty, strengthen customer relationships, increase reach, and drive business growth.

Engagement is at its most effective when it’s a two-way process; it builds relationships and fosters authentic, positive interactions. Social media gives businesses and brands a direct, dynamic communication channel with existing and potential customers alike. Social media posts, messages and comments allow customers to reach out in real-time; while this supports community-building, customer care, accessibility and responsiveness, it also provides businesses with a fantastic ‘social listening’ tool.

Social platforms are pivotal to brand-building efforts. Digital marketing, particularly content marketing, provides fantastic opportunities for businesses to showcase their brand personality and identity, speak in their ‘brand voice’, and communicate brand values.

It supports content sharing and promotion, enables personalisation, provides valuable feedback and data insights, and – depending on the marketing techniques used – presents a cost-effective marketing option.

What social media platform is best for social media engagement?

In 2023, social media platforms proliferate. Popular examples include Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, LinkedIn, YouTube, WhatsApp, Twitter, Telegram, Reddit, Pinterest, Snapchat, and WeChat. Each has its own unique advantages and disadvantages.

The type of content, industry, target audience demographic, brand positioning and business objectives will all influence decision-making regarding which social media channels will produce the best engagement rates.

Further statistics from Sprout Social break down how different social media channels, platforms and techniques perform in terms of growth and engagement. For example:

  • TikTok is the fastest-growing platform, with a staggering 100% user growth rate between 2020 and 2022
  • Facebook is the world’s largest social network with roughly 2.96 billion monthly active users, and also the most-used platform by marketers
  • Instagram offers marketers the highest return on investment (ROI) for selling products, and offers customers the best in-app shopping experience.
  • 51% of people are more likely to share videos with friends and family over any other content type.

If your brand relies on beautifully designed, eye-catching images, you may choose to share your content on highly visual platforms such as Instagram and Pinterest. If you’re engaged in business-to-business (B2B) marketing and want to share details of upcoming professional webinars or networking events, LinkedIn is likely to be the place to be. If you are producing engaging, viral content such as reels, and want to target younger demographics, cultivating a social media presence on TikTok is a logical approach.

Many brands find it worthwhile to adopt a multi-channel approach to social media management, tailoring content and engagement strategy across each.

What social media techniques and strategies boost engagement?

Engagement can take many forms – from comments, shares, retweets and follows, to trending hashtags, mentions, click-throughs and likes. Whatever the metrics, they matter: as Hootsuite states, ‘higher engagement tells the algorithm you’re making quality content, so they boost your reach accordingly.’

Marketers have numerous options when it comes to selecting strategies for their social media accounts. Here are some examples:

  • Storytelling – Telling stories is one of the quickest ways to humanise a brand and prompt emotional responses from customers. Try sharing anecdotes, bringing followers ‘behind the scenes’ (BTS), and communicating the brand’s origins and background.
  • User-generated content (UGC) – Ask customers to share their own content and experiences related to the brand and its products and services. For example, written testimonials or visual content that can then be shared to Instagram stories.
  • Paid ads – Paid advertising places your posts and campaigns to wider audiences, boosts message frequency, supports campaign sustainability, and increases speed to market.
  • Interactive content – Encourage interaction and engagement via quizzes, polls, competitions, surveys and asking for opinions.
  • Livestreaming – Instagram Live, YouTube Live, and Facebook Live are all streaming features that facilitate real-time engagement with followers. Virtual events, new product launches, and live Q&A/AMA (ask me anything) sessions are all examples of livestreamed content.

Influencer marketing – Collaborating with ‘on brand’ influencers is an increasingly popular – and effective – digital marketing technique. Their inclusion is helpful in terms of endorsement, adding authenticity, and spreading the brand message to new audiences and followers.

Other techniques include giveaways, responding promptly to users, using hashtags, incorporating trends, using humour, trying link retargeting, A/B testing, focusing on keywords, and experimenting with content types.

Top tips for designing an effective social media marketing strategy

Give yourself the best chance of boosting customer engagement with the following tips and tricks.

Perhaps the most important piece of advice – for social media marketing and marketing more broadly – is to know your audience. Join your customers on the social networks they use, and deliver the compelling, diversified content that they most want to see.

Keep an eye on your analytics. What social posts perform best, and why? You might just land on a winning formula, learning valuable lessons such as when, where, and how to push social media content and brand messaging to the masses.

Embed consistency in your approach to social media by developing a social media content calendar. Ensure interaction is regular, authentic and – above all – customer-focused.

Harness social media strategy and techniques to build meaningful relationships with customers

Develop as an adaptable, multi-skilled leader and manager – with the marketing expertise to boost brand and business success – with the University of Sunderland’s online MSc Management with Marketing programme.

Join us at Sunderland, and gain the skills and abilities required to transform real-world business and marketing practices, paving the way for long-lasting, meaningful, and profitable change. You’ll learn to maximise value sustainably, balance diverse stakeholder needs, craft powerful marketing campaigns, and connect business operations across international boundaries. Study marketing management, international marketing, and global integrated marketing communications, alongside core aspects of business leadership such as international trade, people management, entrepreneurship, operations, financial control, and more.

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