12 Ways For Small Businesses To Generate Engagement On Social Media

How Things Have Changed For Small Businesses

Back in the early days of social media, you could get away with “Follow us on” being the foundation of your social media marketing strategy. You could pop on and post whatever and see a huge return for very little investment of time or effort.

It’s not like that now.

Social media is a critical component of any effective inbound marketing strategy for local or small business owners and professional service providers. Not only do you have to produce quality, industry related content and optimize it to rank on search engines, you’ve got to figure out how to repurpose it as a value-add on your selected social networks.

Without engagement on your social media posts, you may struggle to get a decent flow of quality leads to your website. Without enough engagement on social media, it’s hard to get those ideal clients and customers to take buying action.

Being a Good Host is Good for Business

Social media is just that. Social. As a business owner, you wouldn’t invite friends and colleagues to a networking event and not say a word to them. You also have the obligation, as the host, to spark conversations among the like-minded – and even the not so like-minded.

Pro tip: It’s always smart to have compliance guides and moderation policies that reflect your internal policies or specific industry’s requirements.

Showing up regularly on social media gives your ideal prospects the impression that you are present in the community and taking market share. But social media isn’t a popularity contest. You want to make meaningful connections that will eventually lead to business. While providing value in advance is a tenet of social media marketing, this is business after all.

You’re on social media to connect with current and future clients.

If your pages and profiles aren’t seeing the engagement rate that delivers ROI (return on investment) and increases revenue, try one (or all!) of these proven tips for boosting engagement with your social media content.

1) Post Less Often

What? Yes.

There are two benefits to posting less often: increased post quality and algorithm advantage.

If you’re posting multiple times a day, ask yourself if everything you’re putting out is high quality. If it isn’t, you’re diminishing your brand’s value to your audience.

People connect with content and posts that answer their questions or capture their attention by addressing their problems.

It’s better to post once a day with great content.

Also, when you have a post that is performing well? You may want to wait until the engagement begins to slow before posting again.

On LinkedIn, you can throw water on a hot post by making a new post. You’re better off to ride the algorithm advantage by replying to responses. That will keep bringing your post back to the top of the feed where new people will have a chance to engage with it.

If you can maintain quality while posting many times a day, don’t feel you have to change a successful strategy.

2) Post When Your Fans are Online

You can Google for the latest intel on “best posting times” but here’s the real truth. If you want your followers and fans to engage? It’s smart to post when you know they’ll be online. Think about your ideal customers. When are they likely sneaking a peek at their phone to check their socials? At what point in the day can they be online to really relax and consume content?

If you serve professionals, you might want to post your best content at noon or at the end of the workday.

But the great news is, a lot of your platforms will provide you with this data. This will let you know when most of your followers are online.

So basically, your ideal posting time is when your people are active users, online and ready to engage.

3) Give Video A-Go

There isn’t a single social network that isn’t prioritizing video these days. When Instagram, the original photo sharing network says it’s no longer a photo sharing network…you need to take notice.

Video is getting reach and of course, reach drives engagement.

Upload your videos directly to the platform. I’ll explain more about why later.

Quick Tips to Get the Most Engagement from Videos

  • Create for the platform. While landscape is best for website, on social media keep it vertical. Vertical video renders better on phones.
  • Add captions. A lot of people are consuming video on the sly. Give them the opportunity to read along and get your message.
  • Selfie videos are fine in most cases. Save high-production values for more permanent, evergreen videos.

5) Go Live!

There’s something powerful about live video. Additionally, Facebook and other platforms are giving it a boost by pushing it out to more of your audience. Live videos are also comment drivers. Most people who tune in will leave reactions and comments.

And live video seems to have other benefits. Live video seems to encourage followers to check out your other content on your page.

Social Media Examiner discovered that when they go live on their page, new people are exposed to their brand even if they don’t watch the live video. Just going live seems to encourage people to check out content on the company’s Facebook page.

If going live sounds like something you could do consistently, try hosting an “ask me anything” session, give some insider insights into what’s happening at the office, demonstrate how a procedure or product works, discuss a trending topic, or share a tip or trick.

6) Link in Comments 

One thing you might be doing that is suppressing your reach is posting a link in the body of your post. While it makes sense to try to move your followers to a YouTube video or to your website or blog post, on some social sites, you’ll be penalized.

After all, the platform makes its money by keeping people on its site. It doesn’t appreciate you trying to send their customers somewhere else.

The Algorithm Doesn’t Patrol Links Posted as Comments The Same Way It Does In The Post Itself.

A work around for this is to say “link in the comments” and then to post your link in the comments. The algorithm doesn’t patrol links posted as comments the same way it does in the post itself.

By moving the link into the comments, you may get more eyes on a great post that didn’t perform as well initially.

7) Recycling is Smart

Recycling popular posts allows you to get more value out of your content. Re-posting a piece of high-quality content may generate as much (or more) engagement as the original post. It’s like getting doubled value for your efforts.

Also, if you have a piece of content that by all accounts should have performed better, try running it again.

Don’t re-post a top-performing post the exact way you did the first time. Breathe a little new life into it by changing up the caption, the creative, or by adding a video. All these little things make that content feel fresh again.

And don’t worry about repetition. It’s unlikely everyone in your audience saw the post the first time. And repetition is powerful for building confidence in your brand.

8) Go Native

Repurposing content is a smart move. Posting it without paying attention to the preferred posting format for that platform is not. If you’re posting Instagram content onto Facebook without making modifications (like removing excessive hashtags) you’re going to inadvertently depress your reach.

If You’re Posting Instagram Content onto Facebook Without Making Modifications You’re Going To Inadvertently Depress Your Reach.

And without reach, you’re going to struggle for engagement. Make sure you know the rules of the road for each platform to get the best performance and highest potential engagement for your social media marketing efforts.

9) Curate Someone Else’s Content 

If you’ve been handling all the content creation yourself, it might feel a little strange to share someone else’s content. Not suggesting you swipe content wholesale, but content curation is a strong play to increase engagement and reach potential customers.

When you see a post you really like from a brand, share it and put your own spin on it. Use that caption to connect your brand’s value to that piece of great content.

Borrowing from others is a great way to test what resonates. Always make it clear that the content isn’t yours and give credit like you did in school.

Another curation opportunity is user generated content. When fans tag or share to your social media accounts, don’t be afraid to pick that ball up and run with it. User generated content has a lot of the same qualities as online reviews and testimonials. It shows potential customers that you get results for people just like them.

10) Ask for Audience Opinions

It might seem obvious now, but giving people the opportunity to engage…helps engagement. Your fans and followers have something to say, so let them have a forum to say it.

Ask questions or, if the platform has a poll option, use it.

Getting opinions from your audience can also help you meet your business goals by giving you even more insight into your customer’s needs, goals, and pain points.

Share some relevant news or a blog article you’ve read and ask your audience for their opinions. For professional service providers, it might be smart to serve up an article that speaks to a controversial industry practice. For others, you might ask lifestyle questions.

A caution on controversy: Keep your eye on a post if you think it could heat up. Or, if heated debate isn’t your brand style – feel free to avoid politics or any other polarizing subjects on social media. Be the place your audience can come to get away from all that.

Just Give It a Try.

11) Be an Innovator

When new things roll out on the platforms, they tweak the algorithm to reward people who use the new features.  If you get access to a new option, take a chance and push out some innovative new content.  Everyone else is in learning mode too, so don’t fret about getting it perfect.  Just give it a try.  You might be surprised how much reach you see when you embrace what’s new.

12) Try Giving Your Top Posts a Boost

When you’ve got a top-performing post on your hands, consider putting a little money behind it. If you have a budget for social media advertising, boosting a few high-quality posts can give you an idea of what results you might get from a long term advertising strategy.

If you’ve got posts with good engagement it makes them great test candidates. Add the right ad targeting and these posts should continue to engage and reach even more people.

Each social platform has its own advertising options. Even a small budget, used strategically, can get you great results.

In the end, getting quality engagement on your social channels is what matters. You want your posts to reach your target audience. Visibility is the key to success online.

However you choose to increase your social media engagement, you’ll soon see more sales, visits to your website or storefront, and requests for consultations and appointments.

Prefer to have a professional manage your social media accounts?  Let’s talk about your goals and opportunities to increase your social media and sales success.

Marc Apple

Marc Apple

Digital Strategist

I like inbound marketing strategy, creative design, website development, analytics, and organic and paid search. That's what I write about.