On January 11th, 2018, life for businesses on social media got a little more challenging. It was the day Facebook announced a major algorithm change. “Pages making posts that people generally don’t react to or comment on could see the biggest decreases in distribution,” read the official Facebook statement. Today, mastering this algorithm remains one of the key indicators of social media success.
The good news is that Facebook (which owns Instagram) gave major clues – and straight up advice – for ways that businesses could improve their chances of reaching customers despite the new algorithm. How? By boosting customer engagement and interaction. These 9 tips will help you do just that on both Facebook and the ‘Gram…
8 Simple Tricks to Boost Social Media Customer Engagement
1) Lights, Camera, Action…You’re Live!
When announcing the new algorithm, Facebook flat out told businesses to use live videos – stating they get 6x times the customer engagement as regular videos. As an added bonus, Facebook alerts your followers when you go live. Instagram also lets you record up to an hour of live footage, which you can add to your Instagram Story as well.
So, grab your smartphone, open Facebook or Instagram, and press “go live.” Use these ideas for live footage that will boost customer engagement.
• Pan the Crowd: If you’re hosting an event like live trivia (which is very popular right now everywhere from restaurants to breweries), show everyone what they’re missing at home. Announce to the crowd you’re about to go live so camera-shy patrons can stay out of the video.
• Announce Something Big: Run a contest and announce the winner live on Facebook or Instagram. Everyone who entered will tune in. Or, reveal a major product launch: TGI Friday’s used Facebook Live to reveal their Beyond Meat burgers for Meatless Mondays.
• Guest Streamer: Invite an influencer or one of your best customers to be the “guest” host of your live video. Most influencers know exactly how to boost customer engagement on social media, so tap into their knowledge.
• Go Behind the Scenes: 87% of customers want to watch live streaming video that shows “behind the scenes” footage.
Quick pro tip: because live videos are so effective for increasing customer engagement, you’ll likely have a steady stream of comments and reactions during the broadcast. Designate a second staff member to respond ASAP to comments.
2) Go Face First on the ‘Gram
Let’s say you run a restaurant. Before you decide to take a trendy overhead shot of one of your chef’s creations, ask your chef to stay in the picture for once! That’s because a Georgia Tech study found that photos with a person’s face drive more customer engagement on social media: faces are 38% more likely to get “likes” on Instagram, and 32% more likely to attract comments.
Another way that photos of people encourage customer engagement on both Facebook and Instagram? Folks love chiming in and saying “what’s up” to the featured person in the comments section.
3) Request “See First” on Facebook
This next customer engagement tip for Facebook takes a bit of work, but it can pay off…
Facebook gives users the power to control which people and businesses appear in their newsfeeds. How? By letting them select the “See First” button. Your goal is to give customers a reason to click that magic button! It could be offering Facebook-only specials only good for the first 5 people who claim them. Better yet, reward customers with a coupon or gift card while they’re with you for adding your biz to their See First list (here are the steps to setting up “See First).
4) Find Your Unicorn
Remember the Starbucks Unicorn Frappuccino of 2017? How could you forget. Everyone was posting pics of the rainbow-hued concoction on Instagram and Facebook.
To increase customer engagement on social media, your goal is to create your own unicorn. It’s an iconic product or service that becomes your “it” item. This product should be photogenic. If you run a bar, it could be a cocktail served in notice-me glassware like a retro tiki mug or a cobalt blue antique goblet. Layered – or even flaming – shots are always Facebook and Instagram gold.
Social media experts Kyle and Rachel Ford of FML Media recommend that this special item “create a sense of #FOMO, or fear of missing out. It’s like the rainbow bagel in Brooklyn. Tourists will wait hours to get that colorful bagel, just to post it on Instagram.”
By having a shareworthy product or service, people naturally create customer engagement on social media for you. You don’t have to do a thing, except maybe re-gram their posts. This leads to the next customer engagement strategy for social media…
5) Regram the Right Way
Social media is a conversation. You don’t want to do all the talking! Let your customers speak for you, by regramming their photos on Instagram – and sharing their pics on Facebook.
This sparks customer engagement with the original poster, by making them feel special that their photo was worth sharing. Chances are, their friends and followers will also take note and chime in with comments and likes.
The first rule of Instagram regramming and Facebook sharing is to always get permission from the original photographer. Send them a quick message asking if you can share their (awesome) pic. Once permission is granted? Go forth and share the post – and add your own commentary – on Facebook. On Instagram, use this quick guide to regramming. Don’t forget, you can also
6) Play Some Mind Games
Now it’s time to make customer engagement one big game. This strategy works best on Facebook. Share a post that gets people commenting with the answer to one of these fun questions:
• The color of your shirt and the last thing you ate are the name of your rock band. What is it?
• If you had to eat one of our menu items every day for the rest of your life…what would it be?
• Post a list of 10 items. Require your followers to pick 3 things they couldn’t live without!
7) Seek Advice
Show customers you value their opinions and ideas…by asking for them! On Instagram Stories, you can use the Instagram Poll feature to let them choose between 2 items only. For example, if you run a retail clothing shop. Drive customer engagement by asking them to decide which items to put on sale at 25%…jeans or sweaters?
Over on Facebook, the polling feature is another create way to drive customer engagement. You can set multiple options for customers to choose from. Or, simply use one of these (mainly free) text-to-graphic apps – like Canva – to create an image of your question. Ideas for questions that should get customer engagement going include:
• Input: We’re revamping our beer list…what cool craft brews do you want to see?
• Problem solving: If we offered delivery, would you order or do prefer coming in?
• Personal: Our owner is attending a black tie optional wedding…tuxedo or black suit? HELP!
8) Get Social…as Your Business
If you want to see more customer engagement on social media, jump in and start engaging with your customers! That means joining the conversation on other pages, as your business – not you personally. But don’t get spammy. It’s not cool to head over to a competitor’s Instagram or Facebook page and leave comments directing people to your page.
The right way to see a lift in customer engagement is to first start following people and other businesses on social media with similar followers to your ideal target customer. Like their photos and leave comments. People will notice your business is actively participating in the conversation, and you’ll likely build your followers list.
From photo contests to customer-of-the-month programs, there are many more ways to drive customer engagement on social media. These 8 ideas are just the start. Keep the ultimate goal in mind: to be seen on Facebook and Instagram, post and share content that sparks a conversation. Cheers to your success!