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“Social media is the ultimate equalizer. It gives a voice and a platform to anyone willing to engage.” ~ Amy Jo Martin

The key to successful social media marketing is building connections and engaging your followers with captivating content. Consider these simple, low-cost social media tips to increase engagement with your followers:

Call to Action

One-directional broadcast social media posts are not always effective at fostering interaction with your followers. Every post you include on social media should have a specific purpose and provide a call to action. Be direct and tell your users exactly what you want them to do: watch a video, click on a link, answer a question, share a post or like a page. Research indicates that social media posts that contain a call to action have higher engagement rates than posts that merely inform.

Participate in Daily Trends

On any given day, there are  number of designated internet trends. For example, #ThrowBackThursdays encourages social media users to post old photos of life events on Thursdays. You can creatively engage your audience by posting content that corresponds with these daily themes. For content ideas, visit Digital Trends, which provides a list of popular hashtags for every day of the week. You can also post social media content focused around designated holidays. Visit Holiday Insights, where you can browse a list of all the various holidays that occur during the year, including notable dates in history, holidays around the world and unusual observances for content ideas.

Get Personal

Market research indicates that social media users engage more frequently with content that is visual. Why not create a video to help promote your product or reinforce your message? Twitter has a video app (for both Apple® and Android™) that allows you to tweet a video message using its platform. You can also create a Twitter link for an existing video. For example, if you work for a non-profit and your organization is launching a fundraising campaign, a personal, well-crafted video appeal from the Executive Director may be more persuasive than an impersonal email blast soliciting donations. Videos allow you to humanize your messages and appeal directly to the emotions of your followers more effectively than text alone.

Host a Twitter Chat

Twitter chats are events that take place on Twitter in real time.  These events are generally initiated by a moderator, who poses a specific question to participants in a live online session. Participants respond to the question by posting a comment and using the designated hashtag assigned for the chat. Inviting your followers and even your competitors to join a Twitter chat on a relevant topic is a great way to stimulate conversation and engagement on social media.

Pose a Question

One of the easiest ways to generate dialogue with your social media followers is to ask them a question. For example, a publisher may ask followers to help them determine which book cover to use for an upcoming release by asking followers to select their favorites. This strategy provides an opportunity for high engagement because users enjoy giving their opinions and commenting on the opinions of others. Note that placement of your question is important. Research shows that including your question at the end of a post, as opposed to the beginning, has a 15% higher engagement rate with users.

Sponsor a Contest

People love competitions. Contests are easy ways to generate product excitement, reward royal followers and drive traffic to your website. Trivia games, sweepstakes (drawings for prizes) and competitions among followers are all promotional gimmicks that foster engagement among followers. For example, you can ask your followers to submit a caption for a product photo and then offer a prize for the best submission. Get creative. HootSuite, the social media management company, offers some ideas and case studies of successful social media contests in one of their blog posts: 5 Awesome Social Media Contests (Plus How to Create Your Own).

Tweet Live from Your Event

Create buzz around your event by live tweeting from the venue as it is happening in real time. People respond to immediacy and the feeling of living vicariously through others. You’ll want to use a corresponding hashtag for the event in all of your tweets. Don’t forget to make your live tweet more appealing by including photos and videos with your posts. A recent study suggests that social media posts containing photos with special effects and filters have higher engagement rates.

Create a Google+ Circle

Google+ is Google’s social platform with a feature called, “Circles,” which allows users to categorize different people into specific groupings or lists. This feature allows you to share targeted content to specific audiences so that you can customize your messages. You can also join new circles and view content posted by users that you find interesting. Create a circle for your brand/product/organization and create dialogues with your members. You can join new circles and include those members in your conversation. Another bonus is that everything you post on Google + is immediately indexed by Google, increasing your search ranking.
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