How to Optimize Your Social

By Engaging With Your Audience

We’re continuing to learn how to engage with our audience — the ultimate goal is maximizing opportunities for customers to find your business or brand. And like last month’s article (“How To Optimize Your Social,” Classes 1–3), there’s homework, so grab your smartphone and let’s begin.

As a refresher: The majority of the tips below are focused on Instagram, as it’s where I’ve found the best growth for our industry.

Also, I’m making some assumptions on your accounts, which are: 1.) You already have your Instagram and Facebook accounts as “Business” accounts and 2.) You’ve connected your Facebook to your Instagram.

Class no. 4 — Hashtags Are Mandatory If You Want To Be Found On Instagram

Hashtags are basically free advertising. Instagram allows up to 30 hashtags per post; I recommend trying to use this amount in every post. Your audience is searching for you using your hashtags, such as #YourStoreName, #YourBrandName, #YourName.

It’s “best practice” to CamelCaps your hashtags due to how certain screens read words.

Post all hashtags immediately, either in the body of the post or first comment. The placement of the hashtags doesn’t matter; what does matter is the algorithm finds hashtags by the time of posting. Therefore, waiting five minutes and posting in the comments just lost five minutes of potential customers finding you. Also, going back to old posts and adding them doesn’t help for this same reason.

Be sure to also use hashtags in your IGTV videos. Here, I like to put them in the comments mainly for aesthetics.

You can use hashtags within the post caption, post them all below the caption or use a mix of the two.

(Note: Hashtag searches were limited last fall due to the election cycle by Instagram on purpose. This doesn’t mean you should stop using them. They’ll come back around.)

Hashtag Breakdown
Use five that are image-specific to the photo and what you’re talking about.

Include 10 “niche” hashtags. (These have 25,000–100,000 people using them.)

Post 10 that are topic-specific. (These are used by 100,000–1,000,000 people.)
Finally, add five that are broad. (Used by 1,000,000-plus.)

Figure out the top four things you post about regularly and research hashtags in those areas following the formula above. Create a group of 25–30 hashtags per topic and save on your smartphone in the “Notes” section.

Class no. 5 — Create Thumb-Stopping Content

There’s something like 1 billion folks on Instagram and most follow at least 250 people. Plus, they’re getting ads pushed to them in both the feed and stories. So how does your brand or company get noticed in a matter of a few scrolls, or within minutes?

It has to do with how engaging you are with your account. First, you want to increase TOP – Time on Post. The more time your customer spends on your posts, the better. Instagram sees it as a strong connection and will push your content to their feeds more. The goal, therefore, is to “stop the scroll” so they’ll pause on your post and hit the “like” button, comment, save it or share it.

And how do you create thumb-stopping content? By following a simple formula:
Clear focal point
Direct eye contact
Pique customer curiosity

But Wait!
Even if you’re following all of the above, and you post the same type of photos/content over and over again, it soon becomes white noise. Think about those accounts that post similar objects using the same dark, grainy photo filter. At first you stop because it looks really cool. But your eyes are now trained to see it and it just fades into the background as you scroll through your feed.

Take a moment and really look at your feeds on Instagram and Facebook. Are you posting similar content? How can you change it up by following the content-building bullets above? Direct eye contact could be a selfie; unexpected could be a different camera angle, posting longer-form content or going live.

Class no. 6 — Be Engaging On Your Channel

Here’s a secret to ensuring your customers engage with you and not your competitor: Account engagement (how active you are with others) is the greatest predictor of post engagement. So really, it all begins with you.

Instagram and Facebook serve us posts they’ve determined you most want to see based on your behavior and activity. As such, you see posts from accounts you have interacted with most recently. You might follow 250 accounts, but of those, how many do you actually see? You might see only 10% of that 250 in one day. If you don’t like, comment, share with friends or to your stories, it means no engagement.

So how do you get people to interact with you?
The more of a “relationship” you have with your users, the higher the likelihood you will show up in their feed. This means you, at a minimum, “like” and reply to comments on your posts. To take it a step further, consider welcoming new followers by sending them a direct message, or share your post to your stories and add another level of engagement opportunity. The more time you spend building relationships on social, the better your engagement will become.
Think of your social feeds as the party and you’re the party host. Do you want more people at your party? Or do you want to be a great host and serve the people already at the party? (Those already following you.)

Putting it all together to increase engagement:
Add hashtags to every post (on Instagram only).

Share your feed post to your stories. Add to it with another level of engagement such as a slider or a question.
“Like” all the comments from posts before. Stay engaged within the comments, reply with a question of your own — start a conversation.

Final Thoughts

Unfortunately, the advertisements you’ve seen about growing your account in just five minutes a day are false. Be careful of companies that send you a direct message with software to grow your account or scheduling software, those are click bait. All professionals still email.

If it is your job to grow your account and your business, I recommend spending at least 60 minutes a day between all of your social accounts. The goal is to “touch” each account at least once a day. Yes, it’s a lot. This is why I always recommend sticking to one or two social accounts and doing those well.

Michelle Scheuermann is the principal of BulletProof Communications, a marketing communications consultancy specializing in strategies to increase awareness and participation in brands, events and more.

Click To Read More Shooting Industry February 2021 Issue Now!