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25 Ways to Engage Your Social Media Following

If you have a company, product, or service to promote, then social media can be your best friend forever. Think of it like taking over the world—not in a bad way like Darth Vader or loom bands. People love to use social media. There’s no way around it. (That's why you see people staring at their cellphone screens wherever you go. If we evolve any more, it’s going to be with larger hands to hold bigger screens.)

Social media is a lot of fun, but it's not all about lining up different colored fruit, or laughing at the latest Vines. It's a great place to advertise your business as well. Are you using social media to its full potential? If not, then you could be left behind by other companies that are.

When you're writing for social media, it's important to consider who your target audience are, and how you're going to reach them. Here are 25 tips on how to engage your social media following, grow your business, and have fun in the process.

1. Take An Interest In Social Media. Simple, but a necessary first step. Do you love social media, or do you find it all a little baffling? If you aren't interested in it, then how can you expect people to be interested in what you have to say? A recent study shows that two people join up with LinkedIn every second, and that social media is the most popular activity on the Internet, overtaking 'adult browsing'. There's an audience of hundreds of millions worldwide waiting to be reached on social media. Are you more interested now? Take time to learn how it works, and how it can help you. Social media can be addictive, in a non Betty-Ford-clinic kinda way, so you'll soon find that you love it almost as much as I do.

2. Get As Many Friends As Possible. Social media is no place to be anti-social. Follow, like, or link up with as many people as possible. Social media is like a snowball near the top of a hill. It can be hard work pushing it at first, but after a little while it gains its own momentum, and becomes easier as easier. Remember, your aim is to get your social media postings read by as many people as possible, and to do this you have to follow lots of other people first.

3. Become A Posting Demon. Time to post it up. Some are saying 14 times a day on Twitter, twice a day on Facebook. How often do you post on social media? The chances are that it's not enough. You, or somebody working on your behalf, should be posting several times a day. If you only post once a day, how do you know your target audience are going to be online at that exact same time to see it? The more posts you put out there, the more chance you have of somebody liking and loving one of them. That can lead to lucrative re-tweets and shares. You may even find people becoming unpaid, and unwitting, brand ambassadors. They'll look out for your postings and share them every time. In effect they're an extra member of your marketing team.

4. Create Fresh, Unique Content. You need to get your content noticed, but how do you do this? Social media users are much like the Google algorithm, if slightly less secretive. They want to see fresh, unique and informative content. Make sure that every post you put on social media is exciting, even if it does have 140 characters or less. 'I just peeled an orange, some juice went in my eye'. Don't post that. 'Jennifer Lawrence just popped into the building for a coffee, she's brought us some oranges'. Do post that. Have you thought about hiring a professional social media writer? They turn out exciting posts like a machine gun turns out bullets, and their words can be just as deadly to your opposition.

5. Add Multimedia. People love videos, and not only if they have cats in them. Advances in mobile technology mean that people can watch videos on the move in higher definition than ever before. Take advantage of this. If your posts include video and multimedia content, they're much likely to be found and shared.

6. Use The Right Platforms & The Hot One. Make sure you have a presence on these platforms: Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram. What social media channels are you using? Facebook and Twitter? There's a bigger world out there, beyond the horizon. You need to post on all the big social media channels. Pay special attention to Google+. You want your posts, blogs and articles to show up at the top of Google's search results, right? Rumor has it that Google takes more interest in posts on G+ than on any other social media platform. It may or may not be true, but can you take the risk? Also, new social media channels are being created all the time. Keep an eye on which ones are becoming popular, and make sure that you have a presence there.

7. Post At The Optimum Time. Did you know that the time of day you post can have a big impact on who sees it? When you know when the optimal posting times, you'll have a big advantage over businesses whose posting habits are hit and miss. This handy blog in Social Media Today can help you choose when to post on social media, but always be flexible. If you find another time gets more interaction, go with it.

8. Add The Fun. Social media is a brilliant business tool, but if you're too blatant about it, you can turn consumers off. The best way to combat this is to bring a little fun to your posts. Have you seen a funny video that could be linked with your overall message? Include it in the post. Share a joke, or a meme that relates to the latest news or sporting event. You have a great sense of humor (you do, don't you?) so don't be afraid to show it. The majority of people are on social media to have fun, and if they find a great product or service on the way, that's a bonus.

9. It's Not All Work, Work, Work. Think of fun, non-work stuff. A lot of your posts will be about the work you do, and the products you're promoting, and that's fine, but it's good to show another side to your character as well. Non-work posts can be a great way to engage with people. For example, you could put a picture of a jar full of jelly beans sitting on your desk. The post could say 'It's a jelly-bean-eating kinda day. How many beans are in the jar? The closest guess wins a -', and use that to promote your product. Keep the interest going by referring back to it throughout the day. 'We now have six jellybeans fewer, Andie from accounts just grabbed a handful! Keep guessing!'

10. Aim For Hashtag Heaven. Hashtags are a beautiful thing. I like to call them the “SEO of Twitter.” Simply search a hashtag, and every post where everyone used it will appear. They originate on Twitter, but you can add them to the end of your post on all social media channels. ALS made a huge wave when they hashtagged their #ALSicebucketchallenge. Apparently, it had 4.4 million Twitter mentions!

11. Get Emotional. Whether you call them Emojis or Emoticons, people really do love the smiley faces in posts. I even find myself being moved by the sight of a grinning circle at the end of a good news post. There's a huge range to choose from. I have a friend who posts under the guise of their pet turtle (it takes all sorts), and every week a Twitter follower sends him a message saying 'Happy Turtle Tuesday', followed by a turtle Emoji. It makes his day. If you use these symbols correctly, it can make your posts look much more interesting and engaging.

12. Attribute Your Links. It's great to share useful information that you've found on the Internet, such as this article about how to post on different platforms, but always be sure to attribute your links and your sources. It's not only morally correct, it can lead to the original source of the content following you, and sharing your posts.

13. Become An Expert. You're probably already an expert on something, in which case you can simply show others the benefits of your expertise. People want to learn what you have to teach them, so don't be afraid of being a social media mentor, whether it's teaching people how to beat everyone at World Of Warcraft, or how to engage your social media following.

14. Take Part In Online Debates. One of the great things about social media is that it's truly interactive, and a two (or more) way form of communication. If you see people talking about something interesting on a platform, and you think you have something to concentrate, then join in. People will make a note of who you are, and look out for what you have to say in future. As in real life, steer clear of debates involving politics, religion, or Star Wars.

15. Use Numbers To Grab Interest. People love numbers, it grabs their interest. Use them in your posts, particularly if they're linking to other content. Use the numeral itself, instead of spelling it out. If you post '10 ways to increase your chance of becoming a millionaire', then people are going to click on the link that follows it.

16. Show Your Personality. Be bold, be sassy, be loud and proud. Most of all, be yourself. When using social media, you need to up your personality to the max. Tell the world why you're fantastic, your products are fantastic, and your readers are fantastic. It's all true, after all.

17. Put Your Photos Out There. Are you camera shy? It's time to forget your fears and get your face online. People like to see the person behind the posts, it convinces them that they're dealing with a real person rather than a robot. If a special event happens, for example if you're invited to speak at an industry meeting, then get the pictures up as soon as possible.

18. Use Bold Headlines. You know all about how important attention grabbing headlines are, but it's even more important when it comes to posts on social media platforms. Social media sites are fast paced, if you don't catch a reader's attention quickly enough, they'll move elsewhere.

19. Create Two Brands. You're learning all about how to use social media to build your business brand. Use it to publicize product launches, share positive reviews, or to tell others what you can do for them. You should also use it to promote your own personal brand. The most successful companies have a big name at their head, think Virgin, Microsoft, Apple. People recognize the leaders and associate them with their brand. You can do the same. Post on a personal profile as well as a business profile, and have the two complementing each other. You've now got twice as many chances to reach the people who matter.

20. Engage With Your Local Community. Social media lets you reach a global audience quicker than ever before, but it can also help you engage with your local community. It's important to get the backing of your hometown or city, where you have an opportunity to take your first steps at growing your own brand. Use your profiles to publicize local events and support local businesses. Once you've become a big fish in your local community, you have the perfect foundation to move onto a national and international level.

21. Become Passionate. People love passion, so talk about the things you really love. If you find something that's truly great, shout it from the rooftops (but remember the attribution). When you put real passion into your writing, it can't help but be exciting.

22. Cut Out The Acronyms. In any business there's a lot of jargon, and acronyms that it's assumed everyone will understand. As we all know, when you assume you can make an ass of you and me. If you use too many acronyms it runs the risk of making the writing look dull or disjointed, and it can turn off people who don't know what the acronyms actually mean.

23. Talk To Novices. Write as if you're talking to a complete novice in the field. They could be the people who most need your product or services after all. This doesn't mean that you have to dumb down, but you should never take prior knowledge for granted. Think back to when you were starting out in your business, would you have understood what you're about to post online? If not, take a fresh look and simplify things.

24. Use A Call To Action. What's the ultimate aim of your social media engagement? Turning it into dollars and cents, by getting people to buy whatever it is you have to offer. If you don't put a call to action in there, how are they going to do that? Whenever the opportunity arises, put in a 'ring us on...'. or 'email us today for...'. As with all social media content, it has to be natural rather than forced, and should be connected to an enticing offer that's too good to be missed. Put a time limit on the offer, to make it even more irresistible.

25. Utilize The Power Of The Cat. Make sure your content is fresh, relevant, targeted to your ideal customer, and fun and exciting. If all else fails, you can always include a picture of Grumpy Cat. No matter what you pair that with, it’s usually a #win.

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