The debate of which matters to a business more on social media: followers vs engagement, has been a longstanding one.
Even though any marketer would obviously jump at one of the two, I’d like us to first consider each.
Benefits of Followers Vs. Engagement
You will agree with me that there is this feeling of joy that overwhelms you when you realize that your followers are increasing.
Imagine starting with just one and before you know it, you have thousands, or even hundreds of thousands…
As your followers increase, it means that more people know your brand. You probably might even get more reputation among your competitors.
And anyone scrolling through your page believes you are a successful and prominent brand when you have a huge following.
Engagement on the other hand entails your followers responding to your posts.
It’s like having a conversation with your followers and they respond back.
They like, comment, and share your posts. They tag their friends and even visit your website.
So, you might not have the number of followers you desire, but the little followers you have are actively speaking to you – in the social media language, of course.
Which of them do you think matters to your business? Followers Vs Engagement?
On a surface level, a large following seems to be the best bet. But what is the use of a large number of followers if they are not interested in what you do?
Very few are paying attention, and most scroll past your post immediately they see it.
I have had my own share of the “large number of followers” craze.
As at when I was told to handle the social media platforms for our e-commerce brand, we had far over 10,000 followers on Facebook, which was more than what most of our local competitors could boast of.
But on Instagram, we were still struggling to reach a thousand followers. As expected, I created a calendar targeted at increasing our followers on Instagram. I paid more attention to Instagram naturally because I felt it needed more work to be done on it.
But after months of posting content on both pages, I realized that:
Our Facebook page had very little engagement. Very few people were liking or commenting on our post, despite the number of followers we had.
The same was happening for our Instagram page. Both pages were like silent rooms.
The consequences for this were:
- We couldn’t get customer feedback on social media.
- Ads were the only way we could increase reach.
- Though the ads were bringing in followers, our pages remained silent.
- The blog, email and other online outlets for the brand were doing better than social media.
It’s never enough to just have the numbers, you need your followers actively talking to you.
Here is why you need more engagement:
1. Ironically, and what most people fail to realize is, in your bid to get engagement, you get more followers. This is how it works…
When you get people commenting on your post, sharing and reposting it, some might tag their friends. People see their repost, like the content, check out your page and end up following you.
You get followers without having to work for them.
2. Engagement makes you aware of what your followers think about your brand.
They share their experience with your product or service. This helps you make adjustments to suit their needs. Your customers are happy and sales increase.
3. Engagement makes your followers involved in your brand.
They begin to think “we” instead of “you”. This builds trust and confidence, and ultimately, they want to be a part of whatever you do, even if that means buying what you sell (or even advertising it for you and referring people).
Moreover, posts with better engagement are likely to have more organic reach, especially on Facebook.
It’s no news that organic reach on Facebook is quite hard to achieve. Most of your large followers do not get to see your post. (Did you know Facebook, perhaps in a bid to encourage paid boosting, intentionally makes less than 3% of your fans see your organic posts.)
After realizing all the benefits engagement had in store for our brands, I decided to make some changes.
The question I had to answer was: How do I get our followers to talk to us?
How to Increase Social Media Engagement
Even though I’m not there yet and still have a lot of things to try, here are some of the things I tried out to boost our engagement, and hopefully, they help you too:
Go back to the books and relearn
The first thing I did was to go back and read up on social media engagement as if I knew NOTHING about it before.
You also should read every article and watch every video that you consider helpful. Relearn everything you have learnt. Search using keywords like “how to get engagement on social media”.
It took me days with my face in front of my laptop, but it was worth it, because at the end I had everything I needed to create a calendar targeted at engagement.
Know what makes your audience tick
It is never about you; its all about your followers. In everything you do, let that that be your guide.
Whatever you do, you need to know your audience.
What do your followers want? You will find different suggestions from your research, but you need to narrow them down to suit your specific audience needs and interests.
Once you find what they want, just give it to them consistently.
Also, post what your followers can relate with.
For example, if you are a food brand based in Nigeria, with Nigerian followers, a picture of milk shake and burger will not get as much engagement as a picture of Amala and Ewedu (especially if you’re in the South-West).
Too much branding makes it worse
Branding on social media is great. It makes people easily identify a post as yours. That is why we include logos, brand colours, etc.
However, when this becomes too much, you create a wall between you and your followers. You need to give them the “us” vibe.
I realized that well-branded posts were having very little engagement.
We (other members of the team and I) wanted to look professional, so we included our logo, used our brand colours, added our website and other social media pages underneath our posts but people just scrolled past without even acknowledging it.
However, when we posted content that had just our logo, we had more engagement.
And we’ve had even more engagement with content without a logo or any other form of branding. But hey, branding is still important; you just need to find a balance.
Your followers will never engage if they see you as just a company. All they think of then is: “this person wants to sell”.
But a post rich in content and with very little branding erases this skepticism.
Know what time works for your followers
Like I said, it’s all about your followers.
You need to know when your followers are online. Why?
When you make a post when most of your followers are offline, by the time they check their feed, they see the most recent posts first.
If you have a follower that is following numerous pages, that follower might end up not seeing your post.
Videos are bae!
Of all the type of content to post on social media, videos have the most engagement.
Videos usually tell a story, and this keeps your audience captivated.
Try creating videos that answer questions from your audience, tell a story they can relate with, or educate them about something new — obviously something they are interested in.
If you want to take things up a notch, go live. (This is the next thing I’m experimenting.)
Live videos make your followers see the real you without editing or filters. This makes them endeared to you or feel like they are a part of what you are doing.
Also, live videos give room for comments.
So, start up with an interesting topic, probably one that is controversial. You could also ask them to ask a question and you will answer.
If social media were to be a party, then videos are the life of the party.
Let your followers know you need their response
Don’t be shy to let them know you want their response.
In your caption, tell them to leave a comment, tag their friend, or share your post. Your followers are more likely to do these if you ask them to.
To make this more effective, you can start a conversation, and ask them what they think. You could share a story and ask them to share theirs if they have experienced something similar.
If it is something your followers are interested in, they will respond.
Don’t forget your stories.
I feel like I have to scream this.
Stories are becoming as prominent as feeds, especially on Instagram which shouldn’t be surprising. It is the first thing your followers see on their page.
While your feeds can be branded or serious, your stories should show the fun part of you.
There are rules that increase engagement, but your audience is unique.
Try out different things, make all the changes you can and while you do so, take note of what works and what doesn’t. (That’s basically what I do with BeauCrest.)
Not everything you read will work for your audience, so take note of the changes and the reactions they trigger.
In no time, you will be able to create content that will get your followers sharing, commenting and liking your posts.
Truthfully, there is a lot more you need to know, and I can’t stress enough how important it is to keep up with new trends and take every day to learn something new.
I just created my new calendar and implemented these tips and many more. Hopefully, in the next few months, I get to share the results. (So let’s call this post PART 1 😉)
But one thing is sure: YOU NEED YOUR CUSTOMERS TALKING.
Try everything you can to make them respond to you on all your social media platforms and experience growth on a totally different level.
However, if there are no followers, who then do you engage?
So while engagement is more important on social media, growing your followers is also very important.
Over to you: do you agree with me that engagement is more important? What has worked for you on your social media journey? Share with us in the comments, so that other readers, and even me, can learn from you and continue the discussion.