Going Beyond Vanity to True Social Media Engagement
How many times have you got excited about the amount of likes on your social media post? Did you think – this is great, we’re going to make a lot of sales, but it never happened?
While it can be exciting to watch, don’t let the numbers fool you. The superficial metrics don’t always tell the whole story or result in true social media engagement.
Wait. What? A popular post doesn’t mean people love my brand or organization?
In the early days of social media, many people were fixated on the number of followers and post likes. Lots of followers = strong social media engagement. But then social media got a lot more crowded, with millions of business pages competing for attention.
With the mindset of focusing on numbers, businesses looked for new ways to increase their followers – contests, advertising campaigns, anything to grow. Many did this (and still do) without getting clear on WHO they wanted to connect with (ideal customer or target audience) and WHAT engagement they wanted to have with them online.
The result was what I call vanity versus authentic social media engagement.
Going beyond the numbers
While this approach may look good (on the surface), it does little to translate into true engagement with your business or organization.
Here’s the thing. The people who follow you are following dozens of other pages. With only 3% of your followers organically seeing your posts (appearing in their newsfeed without sponsoring the post), there’s a good chance a large percentage of your followers haven’t seen any of your post in the last month. Or even year.
Social media algorithms are making it even harder to reach your followers – that is without spending money.
Let’s look at Facebook. The average user likes 70 pages and has 338 friends. This means your content is fighting for attention against content from 408 other pages, not to mention the sponsored posts.
If this wasn’t hard enough, your content needs to match your followers’ Facebook experience to appear in their newsfeed. An example – you are a community recreation centre posting about a yoga class. Your followers who have never once engaged with a yoga post on their newsfeed will not see your post, as it doesn’t align with their user experience.
Sure they follow your page, but when Facebook is scrolling through their user experience, determining what posts best match their interest, your post likely isn’t going to make the cut.
This is why focusing on vanity metrics – getting followers for the sake of followers – doesn’t work. True success comes with zeroing in on authentic social media engagement.
Taking a relationship building approach worries less about numbers and more about developing and fostering engaging and authentic relationships with your followers.
So how do you do this on social media? By first figuring out who is your ideal customer/target audience. If you’re a business, who is most likely to buy a product or service from you? Get as clear as possible.
Once you have this clarity, create content for these people, and only these people. That’s right – you aren’t creating content for every person who logs into social media. Instead, you are focusing on developing content that interests your ideal audience or customer.
If you’re still questioning how this works, think about your offline world. Your in-person, real-life relationships. Do you talk identically to your child, spouse, best friend, coworker or neighbour? Likely not. You tailor the conversation to their needs or interest.
The same approach works online. By seeing your ideal customers/audience as real people, you will start thinking about how to connect with them in a way that resonates.
It’s about quality versus quantity. Quality content, quality followers, quality engagement.
Yes this approach may not have the same wow factor as vanity metrics (growing followers for the sake of numbers), but if your goal is to generate sales or have people see, and interact, with your posts, feeling a part of your community, then it’s important you focus on relationship building.
This approach also takes more time and commitment as you can’t just run a contest (like our page and enter to win a prize) to measure success. Rather, like any relationship, you need to ask questions, listen and respond with content that is relevant to your followers, not just you.
The first step in moving from vanity to true social media engagement is being honest in your current approach. Do you judge success based on likes and followers? Or are you looking at the quality of comments on your posts and repeat engagements from your followers? Does your content spark conversation, or fall flat?
I encourage you to stop measuring success by the number of followers and post likes. I’ve known businesses who’ve had millions of likes on a post and zero increase in sales. There’s a big difference between people loving your photo and taking out their credit card and buying your product.
Instead, measure your success by the quality of relationships you can develop. See your followers as people with real interests, concerns, and desires. Create content for them and you will go from vanity to true social media engagement.
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