The world of social media is ever changing and can be overwhelming, but there is one aspect that stays rooted under it all and that is its purpose – connection. In fact, social media has become an integral part of all of our lives and as of 2020 there were 3.6 billion people using social media worldwide. So, as marketers or as a brand or company looking to market itself and its services or products, how can we use social media as a tool to interact with consumers and drive business decisions? Welcome to Community Engagement 101.
So, what is community engagement?
Community engagement is the action of interacting with your audiences on your social media platforms with the purpose of building a positive, trusting, and loyal community. Community engagement is often associated with social media engagement which is the measurement of how people are interacting with your social media accounts and content, refers to likes/favorites, comments, direct messages, shares, retweets, saves, link clicks, and mentions. You can see how these two terms go hand-in-hand, the more community engagement you engage in, the better your social media engagement numbers should be.
Likewise, these engagements with your community go beyond promoting your products or services but include serving as a customer service tool for your consumers, speaking on important societal, political, and industry topics, and showing support for key players in your industry.
Now, why would you want to increase your social media engagement numbers?
Well, to put it simply – it’s what the social media platforms want. In fact, in this video from Facebook, we learn that posts with more “meaningful engagement” are actually prioritized in Facebook’s algorithm.
Additionally, studies have shown that social media is the number one choice for customer care. With 90% of people surveyed saying they have used social media in some way to communicate directly with a brand – even surpassing phone and email!
Well, what are the benefits of community engagement?
We’re so glad you asked! There are many benefits to dedicating time to your community engagement efforts, but here are our top five:
- Establish an Authentic Brand Voice
Establishing an authentic brand voice on social media is important as it allows your consumers to get to know your brand or company on a deeper level. It’s helpful because it humanizes your brand and encourages people to respond or positively talk about your company. There are many ways to develop a brand voice that fits your company’s values and mission, and we find this four-part formula that is broken down into tone, character, language and purpose extremely helpful as we guide our clients through establishing their authentic brand voice.
- Foster Personal, Long-Term Relationships
It all boils down to the fact that we’re all human, and humans crave genuine human interaction – especially after a year in a global pandemic! Real people are the key to building authentic relationships and consumers want to learn more about the people behind their favorite brands and companies. In fact, humanizing your brand is said to be one of the top trends for 2021! Investing in your audience relationships strengthens your customer loyalty, which in turn has a direct effect on business revenue.
- A Direct and Transparent Line to Communicate with Your Audiences
Social media can (and should) be seen as one of your most vital customer service tools. Social media platforms give brands the opportunity to directly communicate with their target audiences and customers. Plus, every back-and-forth interaction boosts your social media engagement numbers!
- A Front Row Seat to Learn from Your Audiences
Community engagement also gives your brand a front seat to listen in on your audience’s feedback, thoughts, problems, interests & hobbies, and more. This information is essential to have when it comes to content planning, building target audiences, creating marketing strategy, and establishing overall business goals.
- Increase Website Traffic, Referral Rates, and Sales Leads
Studies have shown that social media engagement numbers correspond with visits to a company’s website. One of the main reasons why a business’ website becomes successful is because of their active and consistent interactions with their customers. Additionally, if your customers follow your social media accounts and enjoy your content, they’re more willing to refer your products or services to others. Lastly, buying audiences are engaged audiences. People prefer to use services or purchase products from companies that they have interacted with beforehand.
Okay, but what if I don’t put a good effort into community engagement?
If you don’t begin to implement community engagement efforts in all aspects, your company or brand may miss out on potential leads and customers to competitors, miss valuable feedback, struggle to drive traffic to your website, and lose credibility. Your brand or company should take advantage of every opportunity it can to emphasize your core values and mission, establish yourselves as thought leaders, and stay relevant and up-to-date.
For example, not even a year ago with the disruptions caused by COVID-19, the killing of George Floyd and the onset of the #BlackLivesMatter movement, people began to devote their attention to major social movements and changes to their way of life. With this, came higher expectations for brands to deliver on societal issues. In fact, 70% of consumers say it’s important for brands to take a stand on social and political issues, and 53% of consumers say that every brand has a responsibility to get involved in at least one social issue that doesn’t directly impact its business.
However, in order to achieve this, a brand needs to show that it honestly cares about the issue and is not just jumping on the bandwagon. In fact, take a look at Silent Brands, an Instagram account dedicated to publicly shaming brands that didn’t acknowledge the #BlackLivesMatter movement as well as brands that addressed the movement and took no further action.
Alright, so who does community engagement really well?
It’s no secret that many brands and companies have stepped up their game when it comes to engaging with their online communities, and while this article may be from 2016 it highlights some of the early community engagers that set the bar for the rest of us. We’ll highlight a few of our favorite key points:
Starbucks – “My Starbucks Idea became a goldmine for the company, not only keeping them updated with insights from their audience without having to use data intelligence methods, but also keeping their audience engaged...”
Innocent Drinks – “They are always on point with their replies, keep the conversation light and on-brand.”
Lush Cosmetics – “Their feed is a great mix of good-looking visuals, product posts, and retweets of happy customers…customers that took the time to interact with the brand and show their love. Lush is smartly utilizing these initiatives from their customers to entice new and old audiences.”
You’ve convinced me, now how do I get started?
To start, take a look at our Tips To Increase Your Brand’s Community Engagement to learn a few quick and easy ways to begin implementing community engagement into your marketing plan. You got this!
Still needing guidance or lacking time to dedicate to your company’s social media efforts? If you need help improving your social media and community engagement strategy, the team at Seventh Scout is here for you! We will get to know you and your business to figure out the best ways to engage your audiences and optimize your social media platforms to become a beneficial marketing tool.