Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
Social media has become a must for most businesses. Why are more brands than ever interested in engaging on social media? Because more than half of the world’s total population now uses social media. 3.96 billion people use social media today, accounting for roughly 51% of the global population. This means that more people now use social media than do not, and that number is growing. There are almost 12 new users signing up for social media accounts every second.
Perhaps because more people are working from home, we’re seeing more interaction on social media. Clients want to do even more on social, because they see a connection between increasing visibility, engagement and sales.
To be successful, it’s not just about posting. It’s also about actually engaging — you know, being social. That’s a GOOD thing, because when you engage with your followers on social media, that’s where the magic happens. That said, you can’t always measure the value of social media, and brands need to get comfortable with that. A lot of the value comes from lurkers. Some studies say up to 90% of your audience may be lurkers.
One of my clients measures the value of its social media program based primarily on the fact that the executives at its parent company have noticed its efforts there — without “liking” or “sharing” a thing — and that makes it stand out from the other companies it owns (who aren’t active on social media). It’s a differentiator for my client.
If you’d like to be more active on social media, what can you or your brand do to be more engaging?
It’s not enough to just have an account. You should post regularly. It’s disappointing to look up a company on social media only to find it hasn’t posted in a year. If you need help with consistent posts, tools like Buffer can be preloaded with content that you can schedule to post on your behalf. And remember that you don’t need to be active on every social media platform. That’s just setting yourself up to be overwhelmed. Choose the ones where your audience spends most of its time, and focus on those.
Related: The Business of Harnessing the Power of Social Media
Interact with others on social media
Be sure to follow other colleagues and industry leaders on social media, and respond to their posts. If they comment on yours, be sure to acknowledge that. On Twitter or LinkedIn, for example, you can engage in some thought-provoking conversations and obtain so much valuable information.
It’s better to curate some of the content you post from other sources. If you only post content created by your organization, your followers are bound to get tired of you constantly talking about only yourself. Instead, spend a little time each day or week checking trusted sources of information like blogs, trade publications and news outlets for stories that might be relevant to your audience. Add your brief take on each, and voila, you have some great content to add to your feed.
Related: 8 Social Media Hacks for Small Businesses
Ask a question
Pose a question to your followers to help spur activity. You can also use a poll to engage your audience. This can help start conversations and help you learn more about your audience. Additionally, you can ask people for their opinions on a specific topic, pose hypothetical questions, or even host a Q&A session.
Start a Twitter chat
I can’t stress enough how much I’ve gotten from Twitter chats. I’ve met people, made friends, found collaborators, stayed on top of trends, located sources for articles I’m writing and learned from every chat I’ve participated in. I found them so valuable, in fact, that I even started my own (#FreelanceChat). Participants look forward to “seeing” people at the chats they frequent — it’s one place they’re sure to run into each other. Now, Twitter has rolled out Communitieswhich, in Twitter’s words, “give people a dedicated place to connect, share, and get closer to the discussions they care about most.” And in this time of greater isolation for many, community matters more than ever.
Social media can pay off for your business, if you’re willing to interact and engage there. Remember, if more than half the population is hanging out there, maybe your business should be, too.
Related: How to Pinpoint the Best Social Media Platform for Your Business