The “social” in Social Media means engagement or active participation in mutual interaction between you and other users belonging to the same social media sphere where you’re operating from. From a Digital Marketing point of view, Forrester probably provides one of the best definitions for it as follows, “Engagement is the level of involvement, interaction, intimacy and influence an individual has with a brand over time.”
For in using social media as a digital marketing tool to connect your brand, product or service with your targeted customer, engagement is an essential thing. Social media engagement is a most effective way of developing interaction and affinity between a brand and its customer. If social media engagement is prolonged or has become a regular avenue for interaction, brand loyalty and even championing may ensue.
Digital marketers should come to realize that Social Media Marketing all boils down to the basics of why social media networks were created in the first place – to provide a platform where people can interact with other people. These people are brought together through a particular point of engagement which is usually a published content in the form of a picture, video, or article. These are the main reasons why social networks like Facebook are very popular among online users – 1.2 billion monthly active users in fact.
Social networking has replaced email as the top Internet activity among online users in the United States, averaging at least 37 minutes a day on their favorite social network. These users access social media through their mobile devices 60% of the time, more than what they spend on their laptops or desktop computers. Facebook is still the dominant network for both desktop and mobile users, cumulatively spending at least 114 billion minutes each month in this social network – and those are just US figures!
If you’re a business owner or digital marketer wanting to get your brand awareness campaign across through the myriad social media users out there, then it is of vital importance to fully comprehend and understand what social media engagement is all about. For it is only through engagement where trust and credibility on a particular brand is developed – traits that would spell success for any social media marketing practitioners out there.
Social Media Engagement and the Right Type of Interaction
How you interact with your targeted audience is at the heart of social media engagement. The higher the frequency and quality of these interactions will not only develop a better relationship between brand and consumer, but will also get you higher visibility on search results as will be explained later. The key principle to remember here is that social media engagement is interaction, and interaction signifies a two-way communication – a fact traditional advertising is not capable of.
This is clearly evident in how consumers watch television. Notice how people tend to change channels when advertisements are shown, or how they complain about how long these ads are which, in more popular primetime shows, enjoy longer air time than the show’s normal segments. With their remote controls, people could willfully change channels if they find an advertisement not interesting (unlike the old days before the remote where they had to sit through ads forced on them).
Now, advertisers have to create more innovative, entertaining and thought-provoking advertisements just to capture consumers’ attention. People like stories, and would expect the same quality of storytelling even with advertisements. That’s why the quality of content you use for digital marketing is critical to the success of your social media marketing. It is through your content where interaction and social media engagement with your targeted audiences will take place.
Social Media Engagement and Your Targeted Audiences
As mentioned earlier, people have a natural love for stories. People are social beings and have a natural attraction to talks, discussions and interactions. One-way communication simply will not suffice in this world where social signals are becoming the focal point of marketing success. Social media engagement has emerged as one of the most important keys to connect with your targeted audiences.
- Engagement will let Your Audience Know More about Your Brand
Here at Digital Marketing Philippines, it was mentioned time and time again that your main website is basically the hub of your online presence, which can be considered the online counterpart of a brick-and-mortar establishment. It can exist on its own but will not generate revenues for you unless you draw in a stream of traffic from targeted audiences. This is where social media engagement can come in.
It’s just like meeting new prospects in a clubhouse or a networking event. The more you engage in a healthy interaction with these new prospects, the more they can get interested about your brand – which will eventually lead them to your website and more importantly, to your sales pages.
- Engagement will let Your Keep Your Audiences
Targeted audiences whom you’ve interacted with through your social media sites can become your fans. They would if your initial engagements can get their attention and become interested enough to be part of your brand awareness campaign. They would be willing to know more about your products or services and receive updates about special offers, promotions and other news about your brand.
However, to keep the “fire” of their interest burning, you need to maintain a healthy social media love on a regular basis or as the need arises. As consumers, giving them the value and importance that they expect through social media engagement can foster loyalty and championing – and in the process you can keep them as fans or audiences while they share and invite others from their own networks into the fold.
Social Media Engagement and Search Engines
In previous discussions about the advent of the Semantic Web or Web 3.0, the importance of social media engagement is highlighted as a key factor that will eventually affect how websites will be ranked in search engines that will become more social. Search engines continue to evolve, moving away from technical optimizations that involve keywords, meta codes, and markups into an environment where interaction and social influence is the key (but that is not to say that these technical things are not important).
Social Media Engagement that Will Influence Search Results
There are over 200 search signals that algorithms use as key factors to determine search results ranking. Although we really do not have the precise workings Google use in their search algorithms except generalized overviews, it would be safe to assume that with the upcoming socialization of the search engine in Semantic Web, social signals will eventually take center stage – and the following can be some of the key signals that should be part of your social media marketing efforts.
It is quite obvious that Google+ will take the highest importance when it comes to the future of search. It is Google’s answer to Facebook and Twitter and of course will use as main leverage when it comes to the socialization of the web. G+ profiles already appear in search results and G+ posts are appearing head-to-head with organic search results. Google Authorship, Author Rank and +1s are strong social signals that will be of highest relevance to search results.
Please note that the inner workings of social search are still not final and algorithms will continue to evolve on how social signals will eventually have an impact on search results. It is important for business owners and digital marketers at this stage to develop and maintain healthy social media engagements through their G+ profiles.
2. Social Votes
The relevance and influence of social signals will have a big say in influencing search engines. Every social action online users make through your social sites such as the “like” and “share” on Facebook, a social signal is generated and will be associated with your linked website. The more social signals come your way, the better your chances of getting prioritized by search engine as the site with the most social votes and therefor the site that will present a greater influence among online users.
3. Social bookmarking
Social bookmarking is another channel where relevant social signals are generated. Each time a link from your webpages are shared by your fans through their own social bookmarking profiles, a social signal is generated and associated with your site. That is why it would be wise to make social bookmarking easier for your targeted audiences by incorporating social buttons on your web pages and your posts.
How To Drive Social Media Engagement
Now that you’ve understood the importance of social media engagement, it would be fitting at this point to gain a rundown on how you can start and make engagement an integral part of your digital marketing campaign. We will discuss how you can drive social media engagement in greater detail later, but in the meantime jumpstart your social media engagement efforts with these following key elements:
- Controversy – People naturally love stories, but they would really go gaga over juicy controversies. Thought-provoking (and in many cases, unpopular) points of view will definitely incite conversations and engagements.
- Shared Resources – Consumers like to feel they are important and if you feed this by providing them with resources that you willingly share, they will really value your efforts. An article, a video or a presentation shared through your channels without asking for any return will surely solicit a health engagement from then on.
- Conversations – As mentioned earlier, the problem with traditional advertising is that it is a one-way street. People love conversations so spending time and engaging in conversations with targeted audiences will surely build relationships and strengthen your brand image.
- Personality – Even if your main purpose with social media engagement is to gain better brand awareness for your products or services, it would still be a plus factor if you develop a unique personality in the process. Personality develops trust and this is important if you want to maintain engagement and brand awareness.
- Entertainment – People use social networks because they enjoy doing it and are entertained with the many activities they can do there. Feed this need for entertainment by providing them with the content they need.
- Timeliness – Keep an eye on what’s going on around your locality, your country and the rest of the world, for your targeted audiences will surely do. Current events are great staging points for conducting social media engagements, particularly if such events directly affect your targeted audiences.
In a highly competitive world, business owners and digital marketers need to be innovative and at the same time effective in how they can conduct Digital Marketing that will bring results. The online atmosphere is evolving anew and trends point to a more social, more interactive marketplace where social signals will be the most important commodity. Take action now and grab your share of social influence by getting involve in social media engagements with your targeted audience – right here, right now.