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6 Steps to Rethinking Your Social Media Engagement Strategy

By: Joe Pollicino, Social Lead, Hot Paper Lantern

May 11, 2020

So, you’re prepping for your new social media campaign or brand launch. You have beautiful visual assets, a few weeks’ worth of content planned out and a broad audience development strategy supported by day-to-day posts.

What tends to be missing, however, is a key component of audience development: direct engagement. Here are six frequently missed opportunities for direct audience engagement in social media campaigns.

Don’t put the engagement cart in front of the horse. Viewing audience engagement as a reactive exercise isn’t uncommon. You post your awesome content. Folks give it a like and maybe even a comment. You interact with some of those, and done, right? No, you’re not. If you really want your content to be seen, you need to proactively engage with other brands, content and creators in industry spaces adjacent to yours. This should be relatively simple if you’ve done your research, because you’ll already know which conversations and keywords align with your brand, as well as being aware of the target audiences for your value proposition.

Set interaction guidelines. Your biggest hurdle is figuring out what’s off the table for your brand. For instance, do your messaging guidelines allow you to interact with competitors in a friendly manner? Without guardrails for this kind of proactive outreach, you may as well be shouting at a wall. Once you have the necessary approvals, go ahead and interact with some posts and accounts. Don’t just “like” all of those posts; try responding to Instagram Stories directly, or leaving authentic comments on videos or photos that you enjoyed.

Keep a narrow focus. Whatever the social platform, and despite variations in algorithmic preferences, your reach generally comes down to engagement. The more interaction your content gets, the more your content becomes discoverable. However—and this is a key distinction—do not worry about high volumes of views or clicks overall. Worry instead about how those metrics trend among the niche audiences that will benefit the most from your value proposition.

Make the most of initial content. On Instagram, a good starting point is to remember that you’re allotted 30 hashtags within your caption (which counts toward the 2,200 character post limit) and 10 tags within the media itself. This is your first shot at maximizing a single post’s impact. Eventually, you’ll be able to make shortlists of accounts and hashtags to follow and engage with (depending on your content cadence, industry relationships and messaging guidelines).

Engage in (friendly) competitive research. Take a few minutes to look for a handful of recent posts, hashtags and accounts that have seen a fair amount of engagement in your vertical. This will help you gauge what’s resonating with your target audience. To decide what content to interact with from your branded account, take note of popular accounts and highly engaged posts, as well as smaller accounts and less engaged posts where you’ll be more likely to be noticed (less noise to cut through).

Execute engagement strategies in parallel. For account growth, focus on proactive engagement, in tandem with good content, published consistently. Getting more engagement isn’t a mystery benchmark—it’s a product of proactive engagement.

Joe Pollicino is a social lead at Hot Paper Lantern.

At The Social Shake-Up