Unless you just like wasting a lot of your time, one of the only reasons to be on social media for business is to engage your audience. Maybe you could also argue that it’s to build a larger audience. If that’s the case, engagement is still where you must start. Social media platforms have become increasingly sophisticated and selective in what they show to whom. For that reason, without engagement (or money), you can’t build an audience.
Social media is social. So, before you start wondering how to get more engagement, think about how you would get the attention of someone you wanted to meet and become better friends with offline. First, you would need to create the chance for a meeting. That generally means being in the same locale as they are. The same is true of social media. If your ideal audience is on Facebook, you better be too. If they love Snapchat, guess what your new favorite site is?
After you’ve arranged a meeting, whether scheduled or accidental, you would want to ensure you have an enjoyable conversation. You would do that by doing your research and discovering what things you might have in common and you’d ask them questions about their preferences, likes, hopes, and dreams. The same is true on social media. Asking people questions is the easiest way to get them to engage with you. After all, most people like to share their opinion and long for the validation that social media comments provide.
But what questions should you ask? Certainly not political or religious-based ones (unless that’s crucial to your business). But these days, those types of questions seem to alienate and draw trolls more often than these crowd-building ones I’m about to share.
Have You Ever?
Yes, this type of question comes from a sometimes rowdy party game but it’s also a crowd pleaser. We’ve all seen the memes that list ten or so activities and ask participants to give themselves a point for every activity they’ve never done. They’re fun and often serve as conversation starters. You can do the same with a question. Ask things that won’t start fights like: have you ever watched the sunset and the sun rise during the same 24-hour period? Have you ever binge-watched a whole season of a TV show?
What’s the <Insert Superlative>
Another good type of conversation starter is asking people -est questions. People tend to enjoy topping one another. Questions like: What’s the farthest away you’ve ever traveled? What’s the most embarrassing thing your parent ever said to you? What’s the nicest thing anyone has ever done for you?
This or That?
These questions easily lend themselves to image posts. Ask a comparison questions like pancakes or waffles? Summer or winter? Beach or mountains? Not only can they be engaging but you can also gain some valuable insight from your audience about what they like. You can use this information when creating images and subject lines. Just keep in mind this information is indicative of your social media following and may not reflect your buying audience. Still, it’s a good place to start.
When you begin to build up an engaged audience, you can start asking them self-disclosure questions like what advice would you give your younger self? These types of questions require a little more trust in your site because they dig deeper, but they can also give you good insight into the personalities of those who share.
Remember, questions are a fantastic way to get your audience to engage with you. If you’re asking questions and they aren’t responding, encourage people to use GIFS and emojis. They’re still interacting with you but they’re able to do it in quick ways that don’t require the major time commitment of a lengthy written response. In fact, it’s one their boss may not even notice.
Christina Green teaches small businesses, chambers and associations how to connect through content. She’s a bookish writer on a quest to bring great storytelling to organizations everywhere.