Forget about like counts; focus on engagement.
I can hear sighs of relief from some (“Finally no more race to hundreds of thousands of likes”) and some disgruntlement (“Ugh, now that I spent all this time, money and effort, you say it doesn’t matter?”).
Engagement as a metric of value
The like counts still matter on a psychological level, because we as consumers believe the popularity of a given product to be correlated with its quality. We as entrepreneurs also look at the like counts as a metric for reputation of the company and as a metric for effectiveness of social media marketing efforts.
However, the real metric for success of our digital marketing efforts lies in engagement rates. Would you choose to have 100 followers, 50 percent of which visit your site and purchase regularly, or 5000 followers, one percent of which visit your site and purchase regularly?
Engagement is a much better prediction of the quality of your content, which, after some time, builds loyalty in your audience. If you continuously pump out amazing, insightful information people love to read and share, you are in the gold, because they will eventually develop a habit to look out for your next piece.
The second reason to focus on engagement rates is because, eventually, your high-quality content will earn you more followers. Most social networks now have an algorithm in place that decides what posts deserve to be pushed out into more feeds. So, if you’ve built a small but loyal following, your engagement rates will signal networks that more people will find this post interesting. This is how you become a leader in your niche.
How can you maximize engagement of your posts? While creating and publishing stellar content is key, there are a few tactics that will give an additional push in terms of being seen and action-provoking.
One tactic that will work in 2017 is creating native content. Most social networks give preference to pieces hosted right on their platform over links to other sites or, especially, other networks.
While your website should be the hub for all key information, important blog posts, photos and videos, strive to create an immersive presence on each individual platform as well. If your social profile is a compilation of self-promotional links to your site, no one will care, or engage, with it. Be authentic and interesting on any platform you choose to be on.
However, it’s not enough to merely post “something” and hope “someone” will read. Content marketing becomes a sort of a battlefield; and supplying consistent value becomes the main winning strategy in this battle. Think of content as a kingdom with its ground rules and principles. Now you see why quality content is king?
Upload (or record) your videos natively on each platform. Take the time to engage your followers on Youtube, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram separately to see your reach skyrocket. Create Instagram and Snapchat Stories. Go Live on both Facebook and Instagram.
Quality content increasingly involves multimedia, which is not surprising: people love to experience things through a variety of senses. Video is the most interactive and engaging type of content to date, appealing to hearing, vision and giving us a sense of motion.
As an entrepreneur, you probably have limited resources in time, people and budget you can spend on yet another social media site. But, hear me out – don’t bother with another social channel until you leverage the power of video content on the platforms you’re on already.
Facebook, Twitter lead the pack
Not so long ago, the social media giants made adjustments to their algorithms to push video content into more feeds. Plus, videos enjoy greater prominence on these sites through increased resolutions, player sizes and so forth. Facebook is encouraging businesses to have a featured video on their pages.
Take advantage of it by uploading your videos natively to every platform you’re active on. The organic reach for video posts is usually a little higher than simple text and image updates. Also, over time, you can build an extensive multimedia library on all platforms, improving and enhancing brand experience away from your website.
Go live on Facebook, Periscope, Meerkat
Don’t want to spend time creating content? Just go live for a few minutes! Share latest company updates, create sneak peeks of new products or host a short Q + A session! Video marketing doesn’t get more exciting than showing your human side because you remember, of course, that people want to do business with people, not logos.
It might be intimidating the first couple of times, but you’ll quickly get a hang of it. You can also designate one camera-loving person who will appear in live videos and act as a spokesperson on these platforms.
New-ish sites like Instagram and Snapchat
The relatively latest additions to the marketer’s toolbox are making a push for videos as well. Instagram recently increased its video length limit.
In fact, your videos don’t have to be long to be engaging and informative. People these days don’t like to spend too much time on a piece of content anyway. Case in point, Wistia analyzed video length and compared it to audience engagement and percentage watched. Unsurprisingly, the definitive result stated “the shorter – the better,” with videos under a minute performing the best. While the study was performed in 2012, I’d guess that people in 2016 have even less time and shorter attention spans.
The video giant YouTube
Finally, no one denies the power of YouTube. It is still the second-largest search engine in the world after Google. If you want to demo your products or create a short how-to piece of content, video should be your format of choice. It’s faster, easier to understand, and more effective in getting the job done. Plus, hosting video on YouTube has a positive effect on SEO of your site.
The choice is clear: video content is the king. You can upload your video files to multiple networks, creating a more immersive and engaging brand experience. People are visual creatures, so stop boring them with your text-heavy updates and start having fun with multimedia.
Keep it interactive
Make your posts interactive: encourage conversations, use calls to action, don’t be afraid to push boundaries and get the discussion going.
Social media industry is going all in on the interactive piece. While you may not be able to create a virtual reality experience for your updates, going live to answer questions or to simply chat with your followers will get you far.
Publishing native content that is also interactive is one of the best ways to gain traction with algorithms this year.
Boost it (a little)
Now, I am not saying you have to sit around and wait until your audience builds itself organically. You can surely give it a push with paid promotions. However, again, keep in mind engagement. If you created an amazing post that deserves way more attention than it’s getting, boost it. Yet, promote it only to those people who will find it relevant and fascinating. It’s not a secret that once you put some dollars behind an outstanding piece of content, it gets more organic traction as well.
Want to succeed this year on social media? Forget about buying followers, paying for bot services, and promoting your page to “everyone in the United States ages 18 to 65.” If you strive to build a meaningful community that regularly contributes to your bottom line, get to know them, engage them, and provide immense value in informational form first.
What do you think? What is your strategy for winning 2017? Let me know in the comment section below.
This article originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com.