Engagement: it’s the buzzword of the digital marketing world. If we’re not careful, it’ll become the ‘synergy’ of our industry.
Which would be a shame because despite its overuse, the concept of engagement is still a crucial aspect of successfully executing a marketing strategy. Small business owners may have more tools than ever before to reach out to audiences, but the marketing rules have changed. Audiences have come to expect more from their marketing content than a catchy jingle or a celebrity endorsement.
Forget about the fact that thanks to the accessibility of digital marketing tools, every other small business in your city is vying for the attention of your audience right now. The real issue isn’t getting out in front of people – it’s connecting with them.
No two mediums are the same. But there are common threads that you can latch onto when crafting content that’ll ensure your content is engaging, shareable and impactful, no matter what medium you choose to use.
Everyone is Different
Let me preface all of this by saying that if you’re a small business owner that’s just getting started with digital and social media marketing, trying to manage 10 different social media profiles will probably be too much for you.
While social media may have made marketing easier, there’s no getting around the fact that social media platforms are each their own puzzle to be solved. Remember: knowing how to use Facebook on a personal level does not mean you understand Facebook marketing.
Given enough trial and error, you could figure out the intricacies of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat. But all of that takes time. Lots of time, actually. If you’re completely new to this world, stick to 2-3 platforms at most once you’ve decided what you want.
Whether you’re completely new to the world of digital marketing or you’ve been around since the beginning, you’ll want to avoid only having an online presence on one platform. Why? Because the chances of everyone in your community having the same favorite social media platform are slim to none, at best. Some people are going to live and die by your Facebook profile and nothing else. Others are going to focus on your Instagram and ignore everything else. People like to consume content from a variety of different places and the more points of access you have for consumers, the easier it’ll be to begin a dialogue with them.
And it doesn’t end with social media marketing. When it comes to the actual marketing content you decide to make, it’s important to understand that your content needs to speak to people’s different preferences.
Making exclusively text-based content because it’s expected of you might seem like the right thing to do, but you could be missing out on a golden opportunity to connect with your audience through Instagram Live Videos. The right infographic could massively impact your online presence. Connecting with your audience is about communicating with them. But before you communicate with them, you need to learn to speak their language.
All of this begs the question: how exactly can you decide what will work for your business?
Trust the Metrics
This is one of the most underrated aspects of engagement. Probably because the discussions on this topic are typically focused on realigning the thought process of small business owners. There are still plenty of small business owners that simply see marketing as another way of saying ‘exposure’. While exposure certainly has its place, thinking that marketing is just about getting your product/service/brand in front of as many people as possible is a recipe for disaster.
Since so much of the engagement content online is just about teaching people to connect with consumers, something that’s glossed over with frightening frequency is the importance of metrics in this process.
To be fair, the importance of metrics in the marketing world is hardly a cutting-edge concept at this point. The issue is that its relationship with engagement hasn’t been given the attention it deserves.
As a small business owner, you’re going to make a variety of choices with your marketing strategy. In an ideal world, you’d get immediate, crystal-clear feedback. Black and white. It either worked or it didn’t.
In the real world, you’ll notice that most of the feedback you get is seemingly grey. A marketing strategy might not have flopped, but it’s not doing anything particularly impressive for your business.
Metrics are the lens through which you view how effective something was or wasn’t. If your approach to making decisions when it comes to content creation is purely random, or amounts to ‘guessing’ what works, your marketing strategies will never maximize their potential. Just because you enjoy making video content doesn’t mean your audience prefers it to your blog posts. At the end of the day, the metrics don’t lie.
Becoming the Authority
Let’s take a deeper look at the concept of engagement for a second. Getting someone to engage in a meaningful way even once means creating an environment where they feel compelled to either share your content with others or interact with you directly.
There are a variety of ways to do that, but frankly, one of the easiest ways to do this is just by becoming an online authority. The more well-respected and authoritative your brand is, the more likely people are to pay attention and interact with you.
Of course, this is far from easy. It’s the equivalent of saying that all you need to do to beat Mike Tyson in a fight is punch hard. But while it might be straightforward advice, the reality of existing in the digital marketing world is that inevitably, you’re going to need to have a well-established online presence to consistently see engagement on your site/social media profiles.
An easy way to increase your online authority? Start curating content. Once you’ve zeroed in on the type of content that your community responds to, you can find similar content online and share that with them. Not only will it ‘lighten the load’ of having to post something valuable several times a day, but it’ll also turn you into the place your audience goes to for all the latest industry news.
All the engagement ‘hacks’ won’t save your business from this simple truth. If your videos aren’t entertaining or educational, they won’t gain any traction. If your blog posts are shallow, boring and uninspired, no one’s going to share them. If your photos aren’t impressive…you get the idea. Providing tangible, actionable value with your unique content is the most consistent way to ensure shareability.