Capturing consumers’ attention within the first few seconds is important in today’s sea of noise. In light of 30 June being Social Media Day, here are some concrete guidelines on how to make social media content more interesting to increase engagement in a cost-effective manner.

Why bother about social media

With 90% of marketers saying that social media is important to their business, it is unsurprising that social media strategies are crucial in increasing brand awareness and building credibility. By engaging consumers through social media, firms can build a following and keep fans updated on happenings. With their small size, SMEs, in particular, need to be more community focused to increase loyalty. Social media is almost a pre-requisite for all firms in today’s interconnected world. It has the ability to enable firms to better understand their demographic’s tastes and preferences. It is a customer touchpoint which helps drive the customer acquisition funnel and push conversions and sales.

Additionally, social media is a good way to circumvent the limited resources faced by SMEs as it has a lower per unit cost, making it cheaper to reach out to people. In essence, it is an affordable form of advertising as opposed to traditional offline billboards or online banners on news media platforms.

Of course, the nature of the company, as well as its audience, will determine which social media platform is more suitable. For instance, LinkedIn and Facebook may be preferred for B2B firms targeting business professionals, whereas Instagram, Youtube, and Twitter can be more appropriate for B2C ones addressing day to day consumers about fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) such as food and beverages.

Look beyond the numbers

The number of followers can be a key indicator of success. However, it matters less than the quality of engagement for each follower. It is important to look at the different types of engagement, not limited to likes, shares, comments, frequency of posts, quality of content posted, and more. Make it a point to ensure a good mix of content from live streams, pre-made videos, photos, sharing of others’ content, and other forms of interactive media as much as possible. Learning what your following enjoys, and what they ignore is crucial to improving engagement.

Talk about others

Promoting yourself on your platform can backfire and seem unauthentic or pushy. To balance things out, remember to share relevant content from other brands and credible news outlets, or even repost or respond directly in a personalised (as opposed to automated) manner to followers’ content to excite them. This shows that you listen. In addition, you can also express your position as a thought leader by guest posting on other websites, which also improves your backlinks to up your SEO and website ranking game.

Let others talk about you

Many SMEs believe that there need to be costs tied to every promotion. However, this is far from the truth. You can generate buzz by knowing when and what to talk about. For instance, Domino’s Pizza asked their followers about the use of pineapples on pizzas by addressing a news article about pineapple being banned from Reading and Leeds music festival by The Telegraph. This timely and interesting conversation started a lively discussion amongst their pizza-loving audience. As evident, you can use existing trending articles as a springboard to talk about your brand. All you need to do is to figure out what makes your audience tick.

Be visually appealing

A Facebook post gets 120% less engagement without an image. As much as possible, try incorporating photos, memes, GIFs, videos, and even infographics into your posts. On visual platforms like Instagram, it is good to also add video content to prevent your page from looking static.

SMEs on a low budget who do not have an in-house designer or external vendor to produce original content have no excuses. With a lack of SME funding, firms can still explore subscribing to stock images or sharing content from others which are inexpensive. Smart phone photos of today are also of a sufficient quality for social media. Other ways to up the visual appeal can be done through the tasteful usage of emoticons, dependent on the tone that your brand is going for. Emoticons make your brand more fun, which can be great for lifestyle products and services.

Have a voice

Visuals alone is insufficient as a unique and consistent brand voice is fundamental. Social media is a platform where people want to rid their boredom and be entertained, and that cannot be achieved with hard-selling. Depending on your audience, you may even want to explore using Singlish or humour. Paying attention to spelling standardisation (American or British spelling) also goes a long way to show professionalism. It may be useful to develop a stylistics guide of do’s and don’ts in this regard. This way, the social media account managers will all speak in a coherent voice to present a united brand.

Be consistent

Being active on your platforms is key. The landscape that social media operates on is everchanging, and an image posted today can likely lose traction in a few days after being buried by all the new content posted by others. On Instagram Stories or Twitter, a lot more content will be pushed out within a short time frame as well. While it can be difficult to post daily, try starting with two to three posts a week and move on from there.

Hashtag appropriately

Hashtags help to track discussions surrounding a topic. It serves as a tool to connect yourself with both your followers and non-followers who are keen on the same issues. By using a relevant and trending hashtag, you improve the chances of people finding your content. Social media account managers can also plan ahead for seasonally trending hashtags such as Halloween, Christmas, Chinese New Year, and the ilk.

If you have been spamming your posts with hashtags, stop. It is unprofessional, messy, and damages your brand reputation in the long run.

Drop a poll

Polls and surveys help you consolidate consumer feedback, which can also be a useful marketing material in future. For instance, by finding out what new flavours your followers are looking for next, or by asking them about their favourite features of your product, you can learn how to improve. Be sure to choose an optimal time in which your audience will be most active.

In general, the best time to post on Instagram is from 12PM-1PM on weekdays. For Facebook, that is 12PM-3PM on weekdays except Tuesday and 12PM-1PM on weekends. The Twitter crowd is engaged at 3PM on weekdays, while LinkedIn seems to work better at 7.45AM, 10.45AM, 12.45AM, and 5.45PM from Mondays to Thursdays.

Measure engagement

Tracking and monitoring the effectiveness of your social media campaign is crucial. This gives you an insight on how to perform better. Analytical tools such as Google Analytics, Twitter Analytics and Hootsuite are available to help you. At this juncture, it is important to note the importance of engaging your followers in more than one platform for variety. Not only does it allow your brand to present itself in a slightly different light, it also prepares you for unexpected platform outages, such as the 14 hour one for Facebook and Instagram on 14 March earlier this year.

If there is a need to take up a small business loan to embark on bigger social media marketing projects, consider business financing platforms such as P2P lending which can help turn invoices to cash. If you know of an SME that needs such funding, refer them to Funding Societies today.

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