One of the best predictors for social media marketing success is your level of engagement—in other words, how often your followers are actively contributing to your social media presence. Rather than follower counts, which could represent an ambivalent audience, engagement counts tell you how involved your audience is in your brand, which is both a sign you’re doing things right and an increased likelihood of profitable activity among your followers, including visiting your site and buying products for you.
So what can you do to get more engagements on social media?
Before I dig into the actual strategies, let me define what I mean by a social media “engagement.” An engagement is any meaningful interaction with your brand from a follower or social media user. Generally, they come in the form of:
Let’s take a deeper dive into the tricks and strategies you can use to get more engagements for your brand:
1. Respond to every comment you can. First, go out of your way to respond to everyone who reaches out to your brand, whether it’s with a question, comment, or passing statement. This is going to have two positive effects on your engagement rates; first, the person you respond to will feel closer to your brand, and will be more likely to engage with you in the future. Second, you’ll establish yourself as a responsive brand, which other people will see and appreciate, prompting them to reach out to you in the future too.
2. Post frequently. Though the “best” rate varies by platform, you should commit yourself to posting semi-frequently on every platform you use; this ranges from several times a day to a few times a week. Posting frequently shows that you’re active, which entices more engagements, and also gives people more opportunities and prompts to engage you with.
3. Avoid spam. That being said, it’s a bad idea to go overboard with your posting frequency. Avoid spamming your followers with unnecessary updates; instead, make sure every post you make is valuable to your audience in some way.
4. Write in a personal voice. I’ve written before about the importance of designing and implementing a cohesive brand voice for your company, but if you want more engagements from individuals, you’ll need to make sure you write in a personal, approachable voice as well. Imbue your brand voice with some personality and charm from the individual writing with it.
5. Nail down a consistent tone. Consistency is another important element in your brand voice. Sharp deviations in tone (which can come from multiple people guiding your profiles in different directions) can alienate your followers, making them less likely to engage with your material, and sometimes dissuading them from following you altogether.
6. Cater to your audience. Know who your audience is, and create content that speaks specifically to them. It’s tempting to aim for a “general” audience to capture the greatest possible market share, but it’s almost always better to focus specifically on a single niche; do your market research, and load your feeds with material that your top demographics would like to see.
7. Customize your posts for your target platform. If you write a single post and distribute it across all your social media platforms, you’re doing something wrong. Users of different platforms engage very differently; Facebook, for example, garners lots of likes and reactions, while Twitter sees lots of shares (retweets), and sharing on Instagram doesn’t even exist. Make sure you customize your posts to take advantage of each platform’s strengths.
8. Diversify your platforms. If you only have one social media platform, the above strategy won’t apply to you, but you’ll have another problem to face: a limited audience. Make sure you have a strong presence on at least two or three different platforms to maximize your results and appeal to different segments of your core demographics.
9. Shake up your schedule. Though consistency is important, if you follow a set schedule too closely, eventually, you’ll start getting engagements from only the same group of people. Instead, contact new audiences and stimulate more conversation by shaking things up with unconventional content and unpredictable timing.
10. Summarize long-form content. Long-form content is some of the most successful for content marketing. However, it’s nearly impossible to reap its full value on social media, where most people want bite-sized chunks of instantly consumable content. Instead, try to summarize those posts, or reference important quotes; it will be enough to generate discussion, but concise enough to appeal to your audience.
11. Include share icons on your onsite content. It’s a small step you probably should have taken by now, but it could have a massive effect on your engagement rates: include social share icons on all your on-site posts. Even if it increases your readers’ share rates by a few percentage points, you could end up with hundreds to thousands of extra engagements over time.
12. Make people laugh. If you want people to respond to you or share your material, you need to evoke an emotional response. One way to do that is to make them laugh—tell them a joke, take them by surprise, or treat a typically serious aspect of your business with a bit of humor.
13. Make people excited. Similarly, you could encourage excitement in your following by giving them something to look forward to; tease the release of a new product, or tell them about an upcoming announcement that will benefit them in the near future.
14. Make people think. Emotional responses aren’t the only way to encourage more engagement; you can also make your readers think. Present them with new information, or with an inquiry that forces them to reflect or teaches them something new.
15. Give people something practical. People love to optimize their own lives; that’s how life hacks have come to be so popular. If you give them information or content that can improve their lives somehow, by teaching or showing them something, they’ll be far more likely to engage with you and/or share it with their own social circles.
16. Ask your audience a specific question. Don’t forget you can encourage comments and responses directly, simply by asking for them. Consider asking your audience a specific question, such as, “what’s your favorite thing to do in summer?” You’ll be surprised how many responses you get; people love to talk about themselves and their opinions.
17. Ask your audience a restricted-answer question. You can also get more answers by making the questions even easier to answer. Consider asking a question with a straightforward list of possible answers, such as true/false questions or yes/no questions; you’ll get more responses because they’re quicker to answer, but the responses may be less engaging.
18. Ask your audience an open question. If you want an even more intimate experience with your followers, try asking them an open question, such as a “why” or “how” question; this is especially useful if you’re collecting responses on how to address a certain problem, or the rationale behind specific consumer choices.
19. Probe your audience for personal experiences. Again, people love to talk about their own opinions and histories, so ask your audience to talk about their past experiences. It can be as simple as the last time they went to a restaurant or as complex as their first date.
20. Answer a question. Turn the tables by answering a follower’s question instead of asking one. If a follower asks you a question directly, you’ll have an easy opportunity to submit an answer; otherwise, use social listening to find questions being asked that you can easily address.
21. Ask an influencer a question. Influencer marketing is a fantastic way to build engagement with your followers. You can start by asking a targeted influencer a simple question; if the influencer talks to you, you’ll build your own credibility, and might earn some instant exposure with their respective audience.
22. Create content with an influencer. If you’re able to develop the relationship further, try to co-create content with your target influencer. The shared content will reach both your audiences, and will therefore have a higher likelihood of encouraging engagements; you’ll probably get new followers out of the deal, too.
23. Build a relationship with an influencer. Don’t let an influencer drop off your radar once you create a single piece of content with them; try to build a sustainable relationship. You may be able to exchange ideas, create more content together, and hopefully, both earn more engagements long-term.
24. Conduct interviews. Interviews are one of the most efficient ways to engage with influencers, and they’re an increasingly popular type of content. You can step up the audience engagement factor by asking them directly for question contributions; nothing makes a follower feel more involved than having one of their contributions used on air.
25. Start a poll. Similar to asking your audience questions, you can conduct a poll, collecting responses on almost any type of question you can think of. When the results are in, you’ll have a built-in conversation starter, which should facilitate discussion among all the people who initially responded, giving you two platforms of engagement.
26. Offer a quiz. People love to do quizzes, whether it’s to test their knowledge on a given subject or help them find out what type of pizza matches their personality best. The key here is getting them to share their results, which shouldn’t be hard, so long as your quiz (and its results) caters to your target audience.
27. Share followers’ content. A few times a week (at least), try to share some content that your other followers or peers have created. Curating content is a great way to save yourself time and provide followers with even more high-quality material, and it also shows that you’re an active part of the community, encouraging your followers to share even more with you.
28. Curate great content from influencers. You can use the same technique with influencers, picking some of their best material to share on your own pages. This will give your followers better material to engage with, and help you build your relationship with your influencers.
29. Balance original and shared content. You don’t want to flood your social media feeds with exclusively original content, nor do you want to lean too far into the world of sharing and curating content. Instead, strive for a balance; for some brands, that may be a 40-60 split; for others, it may be closer to 30-70 or 50-50.
30. Learn photography basics. Visual media has a higher reach and higher levels of engagement, compared to written content, but you still need high-quality material to see those effects. Take some time to learn the basics of successful photography, and put them to good use in your social media profiles.
31. Learn the art of writing a headline. Headlines are the most important part of any content-related share; for many people, engaging with a headline is enough. For others, the headline will determine whether they click through to the full article. Read up on best practices, including length, targeting, and wording.
32. Share doodles and graphics. Remember what I said about visuals? They don’t have to be professional-grade photographs to be engaging; you can also encourage more follower interaction just by sharing doodles and/or graphics. Sometimes, a simple illustration is all it takes to make a concept hit home with readers.
33. Offer competing visuals. Instead of relying on individual images or photos, try sharing multiple different, competing visuals—such as a set of 3 photos of a given landmark—and ask your users which they like best. It’s a natural prompt that encourages engagement, with a strong visual at its core.
34. Marry visuals with new information. People love visuals, and they love learning new information, so try using both together in the form of an infographic. It may take some time to develop a strong, original piece, but good infographics almost always get shares and comments.
35. Dip into the world of memes. As long as your brand voice isn’t exclusively super-serious, you can leverage the world of memes to generate more responses, shares, and likes. Take advantage of a budding meme, or use a classic layout to make your own—just make sure you understand the culture before you try to engage with it.
36. Create recurring themes, stories, and gimmicks. Try to create and maintain a recurring gimmick on your feed, whether it’s a catchphrase, a specific type of one-liner, or a familiar storytelling anecdote you repeat over and over. This repetition breeds familiarity, and will slowly build a community that naturally responds to it.
37. Challenge followers’ assumptions. Though most of us like to hear that we’re right all the time, you’ll generate more engagements if you challenge and/or question your followers’ assumptions. Present some new information that contradicts long-standing beliefs, or introduce doubt in an area that’s long been considered unquestionable in your industry.
38. Surprise your followers. For the same reasons, you should seek to surprise your readers with new information, or with content that’s unlike what you usually share. Any kind of surprise will make your followers more likely to share your material with others and respond with comments on their thoughts and feelings.
39. Share numbered lists. Write list-based content and share it with your followers; our brains are naturally wired to enjoy and absorb lists, and on top of that, lists give people a perfect opportunity to engage. Interested readers will point out their favorite list items, or recommend a different ranking order if they feel it’s unjustified.
40. Create short videos. Videos are the fastest-growing content medium in terms of popularity, but you can’t make full-length features on social media. Instead, stick to short videos, and make sure they either evoke an emotional response or teach your followers something new.
41. Optimize your posts for search. Consider optimizing your individual social media posts for search by including hashtags, keywords and phrases your target audience would search for. It’s a quick way to get more visibility and interaction.
42. Cite other people in your work (and tag them). In your blog posts and other on-site content, cite off-site authorities in your industry. Then, when you share the content on social media, tag them and thank them for their contributions; it’s a subtle form of influencer marketing, and opens the door to a conversation.
43. Include appropriate hashtags. Include at least some hashtags in all of your posts—these make your posts more searchable on each platform. Just make sure you understand what the hashtags mean before you include them.
44. Choose the right days. Publish your best posts on your followers’ most popular days; these vary based on your demographics, your brand, and your chosen platform, but weekdays are usually better than weekends.
45. Choose the right times. Similarly, you’ll want to choose the best times to post. Monitor your performance across multiple times, and learn which hours are best for interactions with your followers.
46. Automate with caution. Automation is popular in social media because it can keep you consistent and save you time, but automating too much can make your feed seem impersonal and pre-programmed. Try to maintain a balance if you choose to use automation platforms.
47. Take lessons from other successful engagements. Did you have a post that earned lots of comments? Do your followers publish content that earns lots of likes and shares? Take lessons from each of these instances and incorporate them into your own campaign.
48. Find and contribute to a discussion. You probably won’t have to look far to find a discussion on a topic related to your field of expertise on a given social media platform. When you find one, jump in the discussion with an answer or alternative solution; you’ll instantly engage with the participants, and may attract even more contributors.
49. Launch and support a personal brand. Sometimes, corporate brands come off as dull or untrustworthy, so compensate for that by creating a personal brand to support the corporate brand. Use it to share your core material further, start more discussions, and earn more trust—and responses—from your followers.
50. Encourage other personal brands on your team. While you’re at it, ask the other members of your team to create personal brand accounts for their own identities. You can each accumulate your own unique followings, and still engage with and support the core brand.
51. Cross-pollinate your accounts. If you have a presence on multiple different social media platforms, try to cross-pollinate your accounts by periodically announcing your presence on the other platforms. This will help you build your audiences, and therefore increase overall engagements.
52. Consider proxy accounts to start discussions. If you’re having trouble getting a conversation started online, consider using a proxy account (i.e., a fake personal brand) to get things moving. After all, that’s how Reddit got started.
53. Develop guest author profiles. For your personal brands, try to land a guest authorship spot on multiple off-site authority websites 56. by contributing content to them. These profiles almost always have a spot for you to pitch your social profile links; even if not, these represent new opportunities to meet and engage with new people.
54. Get involved in off-site forums. Similarly, you can use your personal brands to create new user accounts on off-site forums, where you can converse with similarly-minded followers and direct them to your content.
55. Earn more personal followers. People who know you in real life tend to be more likely to engage with you online, so try to earn more personal followers for your corporate branded account. You can do this by attending more networking events and making sure to connect online with each new person you meet in real life.
56. Track engaging followers and follow them. Pay attention to high-engaging followers on other accounts, such as active commenters on your competitors’ profiles. Follow them. Chances are, they’ll follow you back, and if they appreciate your content, they’ll probably engage with you as well.
57. Ask for shares. There’s no shame in including a call-to-action in the body of your social media posts. If there’s a piece of content you feel will be more valuable if it’s shared with more people, ask your followers to share it—just be careful not to do this too much, or you could annoy your readership.
58. Ask for likes. Similarly, you can ask your readers to “like” a post—especially if it’s a way of expressing an opinion (i.e., “like this if you hate Mondays!”).
59. Ask for comments. For posts and content that presents an opinion or announces something new, ask your users to comment about 61. their thoughts and opinions; it’s a surefire way to generate a discussion.
60. Ask for recommendations. You can also ask your followers for recommendations, regardless of whether you intend to take them. For example, you can ask them about their favorite movies, restaurants, tools, or electronics, depending on your industry and how informal you want to be.
61. Ask your friends, family, and coworkers for early support. It’s hard to get engagements during the early stages of development for a new account, so consider enlisting the help of the people you already know to get your first rounds of likes, shares, and comments.
62. Share personal experiences. Remember, people trust and want to engage with other people—not corporations. Stoke personal feelings and build personal relationships with your followers by sharing your own personal experiences, such as conferences you’re attending, or mistakes you’ve made in your career.
63. Offer in-the-moment visuals. Today’s social media users want to feel like they’re getting instant updates; if they know a post is retrospective, or has been scheduled in advance, they aren’t going to waste time responding to it. Try to keep your feeds as lively and in-the-moment as possible—especially with visuals like photos and videos.
64. Start live feeds. Live streaming became far more popular in 2017, as audiences demanded more instant visuals; 80 percent of online users would rather watch live video than read a blog. Live videos also give viewers the chance to comment and react to content as it develops, possibly guiding its development and attracting more viewers along the way.
65. Do a live Q&A. Consider doing a Q&A or an interview while live streaming; take guest-submitted questions to encourage more comments and make your followers feel like they’re involved.
66. Know when to advertise/sell. Few followers will engage with a post that is overtly selling something to them. Keep your advertising messages or hard sales pitches to a minimum, and release them tactfully if you want a chance to engage.
67. Get involved in the community. Get involved with local community events to capitalize on your local audiences. If they see you posting about the event, they’ll be more likely to reach out to you.
68. Do something good. Volunteer for a good cause, or make a post about sustainability or similarly noble initiatives that your business is spearheading. People will want to support you for making the effort.
69. Partner with a non-profit. Partnering with a non-profit is a hybrid strategy, combining the benefits of “doing something good” with the benefits of influencer marketing, earning you far more engagements along the way.
70. Engage with other local businesses. If you want people to engage with you, show how much you’re willing to engage with others; reach out to local businesses in your area, and exchange content and messages with them.
71. Talk to your competitors. Don’t limit yourself to local businesses, either; consider engaging with your competitors, even at a national scale. You have shared expertise and a shared audience, which means each of your interactions has roughly twice the potential to earn you both more customer engagements and more followers.
72. Use emails to attract more followers. If you haven’t already, make a concentrated effort to turn all your email subscribers into social media followers. These are people who are already interested in your brand, so it shouldn’t be hard to recruit them, and they’ll be far more likely to engage with you directly when you make updates.
73. Capitalize on interested audience. Include links to your profile everywhere, including in your other advertising, and your physical store (if relevant). Audiences who already know and interact with your brand will be more likely to interact with you online, so make sure they’re a part of your digital audience.
74. State a controversial opinion. Few types of content generate as many responses or as much discussion as a controversial statement (or article). Controversy means there are bound to be passionate people on both sides of the argument, and they’ll both come out to engage with your inciting material.
75. Start a debate. You don’t have to be controversial to get the same benefits of starting a debate; consider asking people what their favorite fruit is, or which Star Wars movie was the best. You’ll get similar results.
76. Find and flatter your top followers. Pay attention to which of your followers are doing the most engaging; chances are, you’ll find a handful who engage with your brand very often, and far more than average. Target these users and make them happy by continuing to engage with them; they’re super valuable for your campaign, and are more than worth keeping around.
77. Disregard lurkers. During your search, you’ll also find some followers who almost never interact with your brand. Though one-on-one interactions are usually a good idea, don’t waste time on these non-engagers.
78. Launch a contest. Contests have always been, and continue to remain, one of the best ways to earn engagements in social media. If there’s a prize at stake, people will be more inclined to follow your instructions, and your instructions can make people like, share, or comment on almost anything you want.
79. Give something away. You can get a similar result by staging a giveaway; give out free materials or discount codes in exchange for interactions, and encourage your followers to share the opportunity with their other contacts to keep it spreading.
80. Make a limited-time offer. Offer a discount, product, or service that will only last a limited amount of time; people will be more likely to engage with the post since they know they may not have another opportunity.
81. Use social listening to find brand mentions. Consider using social listening software to set up alerts for when random users mention your brand on social media; these are prime opportunities for interaction, but are easy to miss for brands that spend most of their time focusing on their existing followers.
82. Use social listening to uncover popular trends. You can use the same software to find popular topics and trends, and incorporate them into your campaign. Find out what hashtags, stories, and trends are generating the most engagements already, and put your own brand’s spin on them.
83. Newsjack (when appropriate). When you catch wind of a news story that is related to or directly affects your business, cover the topic in your own words; you’ll provide new information to your followers and simultaneously open up a platform for discussion.
84. Curate a library of top-performing content. When you notice a post has achieved more engagements than usual, archive it; set it aside and start developing a library of top-performing content. You can use this to learn more about the types of content your followers prefer to interact with, or use them as potential repost material.
85. Encourage development of a brand community. Followers become more loyal and more active when they feel they’re a part of a bigger community, so give them that opportunity. You can build them a forum, where they can interact with each other about your products or services, or connect them through the power of your brand, by encouraging them to swap brand-related stories or anecdotes.
86. Experiment with AB testing. If you want to find out more about your followers’ engagement habits, try testing two variations of a single type of content in a staged AB test. You’ll quickly learn which variables increase engagements, and which ones aren’t effective.
87. Try using social ads. If you have some extra money in your advertising budget, consider paying for some social advertising; you’ll instantly gain exposure with new segments of your audience, and are literally guaranteed engagement in some formats (such as a pay-per-“like” model). Just make sure you’re targeting the right demographics.
88. Jump on new platform features. When a social media platform unveils a new feature or new functionality (which is often), start using it right away; some followers will engage with you just to see what the new feature is like, and others will start to see you as more of a thought leader, since you’ll have beaten all your competitors to the punch.
89. Boost top-performing posts. In line with the advertising angle, consider boosting one of your posts if it starts generating engagement on its own. You have feedback enough to know it’s valuable, so you might as well spend $10 to $50 to get even more value out of it. One boost could feasibly introduce you to hundreds to thousands of new followers (and engagements to go along with them).
90. Measure your results and make tweaks. Pay close attention to your campaign’s performance, before, during, and after you use these other strategies. When you see your engagement rates moving in a meaningful direction, double down on your top tactics. If and when they start to decline, change something.
91. Gather and learn from fan feedback. Don’t just rely on objective measurements to tell you how your campaign is doing; ask your fans and followers for their subjective input. Ask them if they like the types of content you post, and if there’s anything else they’d prefer to see. This is a good way to generate engagement immediately, and can open the door to new topics and posts in the future designed to appeal to your audience.
If you’re catering to a Facebook-specific audience, try these special tactics:
92. Capitalize on reactions. As you undoubtedly know already, Facebook doesn’t just allow users to “like” a post; they can also use one of five different emoji reactions to “react” to a given post. Try to take advantage of this by using each emoji as representative answers in one of your polls, or by specifically asking users to use emoji to describe how a post makes them feel. It will encourage more engagements and add more diversity to your posts.
93. Get involved in groups. Facebook groups are good ways to connect with other individuals on a personal level, making them feel closer to your brand; the only caveat is you need a personal account to access them. Work your way in with personal brands, and don’t be overly promotional when building new contacts.
94. Start event pages. Events are a useful way to organize your company’s events and generate attention from the public. Earning RSVPs from the people you invite can count as a type of engagement, and you can usually get a decent conversation going on the event page itself.
95. Post sparingly. Facebook tends to have lower post volume and a lower emphasize on brand pages, so try not to post any more than 10 times a week. Less is often more on this platform.
If your audience is mostly on Twitter, these tips will help you earn more engagements from them:
96. Keep it punchy. Twitter recently doubled its character limit, but it’s still a platform known for its truncated messages and overall conciseness. Keep all your content short and to the point here, or your followers will disregard it outright.
97. Embed or pin your best tweets. Because of the short length and high volume, you should work to maximize your best tweets. Embed them in your site and/or pin them to the top of your profile to milk more value out of your efforts.
98. Use location- or event-based hashtags. Hashtags are especially popular on Twitter, so make sure you’re using them regularly—especially if you attend a local event or a major gathering that has its own hashtag. You’ll stay locally relevant, and become visible to a highly relevant audience—and you’ll naturally stimulate a conversation about that specific location or event.
99. Keep conversations going. Twitter conversations usually involve short snippets in a call-and-response format, so try to keep those conversations going as long as you can. Every new tweet is a new opportunity to be seen, and another chance for someone new to join in the engagement.
Instagram functions a little differently than Facebook or Twitter, so make sure you employ these techniques as well:
100. Prioritize core content over conversations. Comments are popular on Instagram, but they’re not conducive to real conversations. If you want more engagements, you’ll need to prioritize the quality of your content over the frequency of your direct interactions.
101. Find your best filters. Instagram has a bevy of different filters you can use, each of which conveys a different mood. Try to find a handful of filters that work especially well for your brand and style of photography, and use them consistently to build recognizability with your audience.
102. Fill your frame with colors. Color-dominated images perform far better on Instagram, earning 29 percent more likes than those with multiple colors or a high amount of background. Use the space in your image wisely.
103. Allow geotagging. Instagram allows you to share your exact location publicly, letting your followers know exactly where you are. Do this as much as possible; it will drive conversation with followers in close proximity to you, and serve as another potential point of connection to drive engagements in the future.
If you’re trying to build a thriving audience on LinkedIn, these are the tips you’ll need:
104. Go deep with content. LinkedIn is a place for more serious professionals and more in-depth reads, so this is the place for your more technical updates and your weightier content. The more original research and new opinions you can give your LinkedIn followers, the better.
105. Focus on individual accounts. Company pages don’t do especially well on LinkedIn (unless you’re specifically interested in recruiting). Instead of funneling resources there, focus on building up your personal brands and getting in contact with individual accounts.
106. Target experts. On LinkedIn, it’s better to get a few meaningful, in-depth interactions than it is to get low-value interactions with lots of people. Target experts in your field and engage with them one-on-one.
107. Go against the grain. LinkedIn is a stomping ground for experts and professionals, so you won’t stand out if you syndicate content that says what everyone else is saying already. Take a risk by going against the grain.
Not all of these strategies will work equally well for your brand; it’s going to take time and experimentation before you get the right rhythm and get comfortable with the best techniques for your brand.
If you’re having trouble coming up with compelling content, make sure to consult my guide on generating blog topics.