Simple ways to boost your social engagement in 2017

Jessica Thiefels

Jessica Thiefels has been writing and editing for more than 10 years and spent the last six years in marketing. She recently stepped down from a senior marketing position to focus on growing her own startup and consulting for small businesses. She’s been featured on Forbes and has written for sites such as Lifehack, Inman, Manta, StartupNation and more. When she’s not working, she’s enjoying sunny San Diego with her husband and friends or traveling somewhere new. Follow her on Twitter @Jlsander07 and connect on LinkedIn.

Engagement is the elusive ghost of social media management—everyone is always chasing after it, yet few businesses ever actually see it. That’s because it’s hard to get people to act on social media, where every other business is striving to get their attention and focus.

Despite the crowded party, there are ways to stand out and boost social engagement in 2017. With live video, the right hashtags and a keen eye for data, you won’t just see a jump in reach on Facebook or Twitter, you may even start driving leads and traffic back to your site.

Here’s what you need to know to make 2017 your year of engagement.

Dive Into Live (And Regular) Video

Facebook users watch 100 million hours of video every day and 82 percent of Twitter users watch video on that platform as well, according to CoSchedule. That’s not even counting YouTube, where 300 hours of video is uploaded every minute.

Add something of your own into the mix to get your followers’ video-focused attention. Start by choosing your platform and type: Facebook (Facebook Live or video share), Twitter (video share), Instagram (Instagram stories or video share), YouTube or Snapchat.

All of these options are possible for businesses of all sizes, regardless of marketing budget, but there’s a benefit to choosing live versus standard video upload: people spend 3x more time watching Facebook live videos versus video that’s no longer live. Why? The live factor is intriguing—Who will come on camera? Will the host fall while walking and talking? What will they say if someone catches them off-guard with a question?

The same factors can be said for Instagram Stories, a new feature that also allows you to post live videos, in addition to Snapchat-style videos (take the video and upload it to your story, where it lives for just 24 hours).

To boost engagement, start small, with Facebook Live video or Instagram story. Be sure to track all of your testing to optimize for even greater engagement. For example, you may want to track popular topics, average watch time, and peak engagement times, both in the video and in general.

Branch out to YouTube as your budget allows, and share those videos on social media for further engagement opportunities.

Promote Special Deals With the Right Hashtags

Social media is a smart platform for distributing offers and driving sales and new customers because access to exclusive promotions is the number one reason why people follow brands on social media.

Free offers are naturally engaging; people are looking for this, you just have to give it to them.

Nowhere is this more prevalent than Twitter, where a whopping 90 percent of users say they follow brands for this very specific reason. The key is choosing the right hashtags because Twitter is a hashtag-centric platform.

The goal: to combine a mix of popular and frequently used hashtags, with those that are more specific to your business. Here are a couple of examples:

  • Today ONLY: FREE market analysis for interested sellers #realestate #sellers
  • Back by popular demand: FREE interior design consultations in July! #SmallBusiness #region [I.E. #SanDiego #BTV] #interiordesign

Follow the Data

Data is everything, which is why every social platform offers analytics that tell you when your followers are active, which posts got the most engagement, who your audience is made up of, and more.

If you don’t use this information, and simply post whatever and whenever you feel like, you’re not just missing out on engagement, but you’re likely missing your followers altogether.

To boost engagement in 2017, turn to your data. If you don’t have the budget for a tracking tool, use each platform’s proprietary data dashboard, all of which give you a general overview of what’s working and what’s not.

When digging through this information look for basic patterns, starting with:

  • Timing of posts: Which day and time seem to get the most engagement?
  • Type of post: Were the highest engaging posts with photos or videos? What about link shares?
  • Topic: What topics generated the most engagement, between reach, impressions, and clicks? Which generated the least?

Download a CSV of the last 30 to 60 days of posting for each network. Comb through, considering the questions above. Write down the patterns you see and then come up with a plan to test all of the new potential opportunities.

With social media algorithms and features changing so much, this should be a quarterly, if not monthly practice. Document all of your tests and the results so you can prove increases in engagement, in addition to boosted follower counts and traffic back to your site.

There are dozens of ways to boost engagement on social media and these are just a few simple ideas to try—without spending any money in your budget. Test, research, and test some more to keep learning about what drives the most engagement for your ever-evolving social accounts.


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