Social media is a blessing for businesses. It’s a platform where engaging directly with customers and potential customers is easy and beneficial. You can get feedback, engage with, advertise to, and learn from your preferred demographic. The problem with social media marketing is saturation. There is so much content to sift through and there are so many users to reach out to. We asked 18 experts to weigh in on how to stand out, build an audience, and increase organic engagement.
“The key to organic user growth is to provide consistent content via social media that is honest, relevant, and informative. Posting gimmick ads or trying to hard sell is not efficacious in this medium as users want to connect and learn. They will come to you when they want to buy so don’t pressure them on social media. Inform, Connect, & Engage.”
– Aaron Vick, Chief Strategy Officer, Cicayda
“A few things have helped us grow our audiences on social media:
- Genuine interaction with those in related fields that have a large following in order to build a relationship that will allow us to get exposure to their followers.
- Posting interesting, useful content (most of which is not self-promotional) that will appeal to those visiting our accounts so that they see value in following us.
- Genuine interaction with our followers.”
– Ryan G Wright, CEO, DoHardMoney
“Genuine interaction is the best way to attract an audience. Like, share, and reply to posts that relate to your business or cause, and provide helpful solutions to customers without pushing a hard sale. Throwing in some tasteful humor and entertainment, and using visual branding as part of your social media tactics, also helps to attract genuine users and genuine engagement.
Ideally, for this to work, a brand should have two functions or roles related to social media. The first is social media management, which involves curating and sharing content, and moderating the accounts. The second is community management, which involves going a step further to interact with the community most likely to become customers, to provide solutions, and catch complaints before they become a serious problem.”
– Alexis Chateau, Founder & Managing Director, Alexis Chateau PR
Deliver Your Brand
“Cutting through the noise of saturated social media channels isn’t easy, but it can be done through expertise in creating laser-focused ads and engaging campaigns that have edge. One great tactic we’ve learned here at MAG, for example, is sending targeted ads to all of our direct competition’s current followers who we know have a pain point that we can address, but with a notably different angle. As for design, Video and/or beautiful high-res images are a must, paired with messaging that is both clear and concise.
Organic engagement stems from testimonial of real core users who have experienced satisfactory customer service and delivery. You can’t spark social engagement without nailing down your fundamental brand message and delivering that value to your customers accordingly. From there, when you start driving contest campaigns and asking community-related questions and demands, your clientele will want to make the effort because they believe in your product/services.”
– Nina Pfister, Growth Consultant, Mooring Advisory Group
“My first tip for businesses looking to grow their audience organically on social media is to get personal. Regular engagement with your targeted audience is key for success, regardless of the platform. On that note, you can’t just wait for them to engage with you. Seek users out using relevant hashtags, and interact with their posts authentically. Generic comments won’t get you very far.
This leads me to my next tip: Utilize hashtags effectively. Simply saturating your posts with any trending hashtag is unlikely to achieve results. Instead, study your target audience carefully to see what hashtags can get you in front of them, and incorporate those tags only when your post aligns with the content usually shared with those tags. Your best shot of securing a following with this method is to focus on top-ranking hashtags, and share content that will stand out amongst the crowd. My final tip is to be consistent.
Social media is not an “if you build it, they will come” undertaking. You simply cannot garner a following by creating an account and forgetting about it. Regularly posting valuable content is the only way to succeed.”
– Laura Ure, Owner, Keenability
“My best advice, as an online marketing strategist, is to show the unique person/people behind the brand. Sure, you have competitors that do essentially the same thing as you do. But they’re not YOU and that’s your super power on social media. Tell your followers about the solution your business provides, but also be real with them. Show them the personality behind what you do. Then, your ideal client/customer can get to know, like, and trust you as a person enough to choose you when the time comes to invest in your product or service.
One great way to show the person/people behind the brand is to utilize the social media platform’s Live or Story features. Facebook Live and Instagram Stories are an ideal way to bring your ideal client/customer “behind the scenes” and get them to genuinely like you and your team.Another way to connect and engage with your ideal client/customer organically on social media is to have conversations with them in “real time” within comments. If a follower likes and comments on your latest post, comment back to keep the conversation going. Only you can provide this type of next-level service and that can go a long way in the mind of someone considering paying you.”
– Britney Kolodziej, Owner/CEO, JAM Marketing Group
“CRM like a lot of other businesses is insanely saturated. Getting a following requires doing something that other people aren’t doing on these social media channels. So I stretch myself to do something unique. For example, over at Medium, I go deep into Psychology, History, Pop Culture to tell stories to backup “business advice”. At YouTube, I open up the behind the scenes of my family even if it means showing a tantrum from my toddler or an ER visit. But since you won’t find another CRM company showing a crying toddler to their audiences, my stuff stands out. A fan recently said: “At first I was asking ‘Nate, what are you doing?’ But I just kept finding myself coming back.”
– Nathan Kontny, CEO, Highrise
Engage Other Users
“Social media is about being social. When someone comments on your post, don’t let it sit there unacknowledged. When someone asks a question, don’t let it sit there unanswered. Social media is the best way to show the personality of your company. The answer is to simply use it like it’s supposed to be used and not turn your social media accounts into link cannons that just shoot links at people in the hopes they will click on one once in a while. Ask questions of your users, ask them to share things that are worth sharing and send you photos etc. Give them a reason to interact with your business and they will.”
– Rob Swystun, Business Communications Specialist
“There is no doubt that social media is saturated with businesses all clamoring for a piece of the pie. So how do you get your business/brand above the noise? Engage. So many businesses just throw up a post on Twitter/Facebook/etc. and expect users to come beat a path to their door. Unfortunately, this usually isn’t the case. These platforms are inherently built for interaction. Users aren’t going to want to engage with a brand that just regurgitates content day after day with no attention to other users. Some of the best examples of using social media effectively is with brands like Taco Bell and more recently Wendy’s with their response to the lifetime supply of nuggets campaign. Posting up your content is perfectly acceptable, just remember that you need to give people a reason to care. And engaging will give them that reason.”
– Andrew Elliott, Founder/CEO, GoDesignerGo
“If you want people to take an interest in you, the best thing to do is take an interest in them.. How do you do that? By following others. Commenting on their posts. Being a human, instead of a company mask, and treating social media like a conversation, not a broadcasting channel.
How do you maximize engagement? Looking back at our posts, we’ve found that the best performing ones have images. A still is better than nothing, but a video is even better. (Although on Twitter, an animated gif might be better still, because Twitter doesn’t autoplay video like Facebook does. The movement and fast pay-off of animated gifs really captures attention and shares.)”
– William Gadea, Founder & Creative Director, IdeaRocket LLC
Create Shareable Content
“We do utilize social media platforms (primarily Facebook and Twitter) but with several competitors using the same channels, we have had to strategize in order to have a unique voice within our industry. To do so, instead of promoting job postings or other standard offerings, we have used social media to orient ourselves as a site that specializes in resources for drivers, with daily news and informational blogs. In doing so, we have found that our content on social media is much more shareable, and that we see a great deal of traction without have to exhaust our budget spending it. We knew that our audience would be much more inclined to share something educational than overtly promotional – even if it is a potential job opportunity – and we have found success in doing so. ”
– Jake Tully, Head of Creative Department, TruckDrivingJobs.com
Make Your Content Timeless
“Creating evergreen content is easier said than done. A typical post on social media, especially on Twitter or Facebook, can have a very short lifespan. Ensure your posts are engaging. You may work in a boring or dry industry, but you can still find a way to make your posts stand out despite the subject matter. The bottom line is this: Don’t publish content with a short shelf life. Consider solving common and persistent problems in your industry. Even better, try to post something educational and funny. Humor, shock, or awe are great emotions to target with evergreen content.”
– Bradley Shaw, Digital Marketing Consultant
“As the saying goes, ‘Content is king.’ On social media platforms like Facebook, marketers are rewarded for posting quality content. The more interesting the information, the better chance you have of showing up in Newsfeeds. Your goal to get that boost in organic reach is for your audience to engage with your posts—liking, commenting, checking out your page. If you want your audience to be active, you need to be active. Don’t use you social platforms to solely promote your business. People don’t want to be marketed to, they want to feel inspired and connected. Consider posting content that is relevant to your mission, but also shows a human side such as photos of your company lifestyle and informative and inspirational tidbits.
On Instagram and Twitter, a great way to boost your reach is the use of hashtags. There are great resources out there to help you find relevant and highly searched hashtags. Proper use is three to five hashtags on Instagram and limit Twitter to two per post. Another great tool is to use your follower base. Contests that involve entrants to share your post is an easy way to reach a larger, untapped audience.”
– Andrew Woods, Co-Founder, Duckpin Design
“Social platform not a sales platform: People use social media platforms like Facebook for their interests. As a business, not every update you send out on your Facebook page should be about selling something. 80 – 90% of the posts you put out should be social, for example evergreen content, team photos, industry news. Be human. Start conversations with your audience. If you properly engage with people and reply to their comment, you’re going to build a great reputation that will spread. Get people interested in YOU!
Publish evergreen content: Also known as content without an expiration date. Make your social page a go-to for content that gives advice, makes people laugh, teaches people something new and helps people with a persistent problem. If you become a big player for good content, it will get shared and shared, and shared.”
– Emma Vince, Digital PR Lead, Tinderpoint
“One of the best overall strategies for building an audience on social media is to connect to something bigger than the brand. Dove’s Real Beauty campaign is basically the poster child for this approach: the campaign focused on empowering women to embrace new concepts of beauty that didn’t fall in line with traditional images. Buying or supporting the products, then, was just another way to support the message writ large.”
– Joe Goldstein, Director of Operations & SEO, ContractorCalls.com
Elicit an Emotional Response
“Getting organic reach on social media platforms is more difficult than before, but it’s still possible if you know how to do it right. With our website, we’ve focused on creating news content that evokes an emotional trigger (happiness) and people naturally want to brighten other people’s day, so they share our stories.
If you’re able to effectively trigger an emotion from readers on social media, it will increase the likelihood of them sharing that content. The emotion doesn’t have to be happiness either. It could be fear, guilt, exclusivity, or any other emotion that’s strong enough that the user instinctively shares the content.
Once people like or share your articles once, they’ll see more and more of you organically through social network algorithms.
Social media is nothing more than people connecting with each other and sharing things that they’re passionate about. Once you understand that and approach social media in that way, you’ll see much more success with your campaigns.”
– Ron Stefanski, Marketing Consultant, GoodNewsGum.com
“The best way to get organic engagement is by being an entertaining business to follow on social media. People use platforms like Facebook and Instagram to be entertained by friends and family, and therefore if your business is only posting promotional content, you will turn off potential followers. Instead, post interesting news stories, funny memes, and cute pictures of your staff and customers. Though you may feel like this effort is worthless if you are not directly promoting your company, the value is in staying top of mind with your potential customers and building your brand identity.
When you’re just starting out with a social media page, consider paying to boost a post that encourages users to “like” your page. This initial investment will pay off as it will jump start your following and win you followers in a much shorter time period then you could hope to gain organically. Plus, people are more likely to follow a page that already has tons of followers, as this is a sign to users that the business posts follow-worthy content.”
– Maggie Aland, Marketing Staff Writer, Fit Small Business
Establish Yourself as an Expert
“I like to do the majority of my social media outreach on social forums like Quora. Sites like Quora are a marketers dream, because they offer the opportunity to be genuinely helpful to the client base without being too self-serving.
Most companies handle their social media outreach from the perspective of their own company only. They are focused on promotion, while they should be focused on engagement and community building. People flock to the expert.. Use social media to show that you’re the expert. If you’re that good, people will want to learn more about you.”
– Augustin Kennady, Medial Relations Director, ShipMonk