Whether you’re a new influencer or have been blogging since the word “weblog” was coined (1997), you probably have this goal: more engagement.
You probably know it’s a good idea to respond to comments and emails, but then you’re doing all the work. There has to be a way to get your audience to engage with you first, right?
As Michelle Price of Honest and Truly says, “The best way to engage with your audience is to engage.” If you aren’t actively creating content that encourages your audience to engage with you, well … your audience might just stop engaging altogether.
Not only will this hurt your brand, but it’ll hurt your visibility, too. Most social media platforms have implemented algorithms that push accounts with high engagement to the top of the feed. Take Instagram, for example – many influencers have seen a drop in engagement since the algorithm update in 2018.
This new algorithm supposedly prioritizes engagement as a factor in choosing what posts to show your audience. If your engagement is low, then your posts might show up less in your audience’s feeds, which will only hurt your engagement more – an endless cycle eventually resulting in no engagement at all. *cue sad violin music*
Luckily, there’s a very obvious solution to this problem: proactive engagement strategies!
But before we get to that, let’s talk about reactive engagement. When people think engagement they usually think of reactive engagement – replying to comments, DMs, questions, etc.
This kind of engagement is essential to showing your audience you really care about what they have to say and the questions they have. It shows you’re not just out there to gain followers, but to know them, too.
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However, while reactive engagement strategies are essential to being a successful influencer, they have one problem: they rely on your audience to engage with you first.
All influencers know this doesn’t always happen as often as we’d like it to, especially influencers who are new to the game and haven’t yet built a large audience. So how do we fix that?
Proactive engagement is just that: engagement, not in response to your audience, but just because.
These strategies take engagement one step further to show that not only are you interested in what your audience is saying, but you’re also interested in hearing more – so interested, in fact, that you seek them out.
The awesome thing about social media, especially, is that platforms are getting more creative with the kinds of content they can offer. Twitter, Facebook and Instagram allow you to post polls. And now, Instagram also lets you post Q&A boxes. Just ask a question, watch the answers roll in, and then post them back to your Instagram Story with your answer. It’s a unique way to take what is normally reactive engagement (answering questions) and making it proactive (asking your audience to ask questions).
Your blog posts and YouTube videos should utilize this tactic, too. Just pose a question at the end of your video or post and ask your followers to reply in the comments.
Then, reply to the comments. Or better yet, do a regular Q&A video where you answer multiple questions at once.
Social media platforms have latched onto livestreams in the past couple of years. For one, live videos increase authenticity. They also allow for real-time engagement – followers can comment and ask questions as you stream so you can answer them immediately!
Humanize Your Brand
Speaking of authenticity, a study in the UK showed that over 43% of of people feel social media influencers are inauthentic. From this study, Creative Strategy Director Alex Clough of Splendid Communication concluded that people can feel exhausted by influencer marketing.
Whether you’re working with brands right now or not, this message still rings true: people are desperate for authenticity.
So how do you be authentic? How do you humanize your brand so as to gain the trust of your audience?
The key is to not be afraid to show the nitty gritty. Don’t just show the FaceTuned photos. Show the behind-the-scenes shots, the bloopers, the outtakes like Sheri of Cruise Tips TV.
“We use Instagram stories to film quick snippets before we start a YouTube livestream, showing what our set looks like from the other side of the camera, my computer setup, and all the rough reality that it takes to put together a YouTube video,” Sheri says. “We show the lighting, and how the space that we have turned into a ‘set’ is actually just a large corner of our house! … Our viewers like to see the inner workings of our filming set – the cameras and equipment we use – and we find it creates interesting dialogues in addition to humanizing us.”
Incentivize Your Followers
No, we’re not talking about money or products (unless you feel like hosting a giveaway). We’re talking about a less expensive incentive – say, attention.
From featuring audience content to showcasing your followers’ accounts for #FollowFriday, there are plenty of engagement strategies to give specific audience members attention while encouraging other followers to engage more.
Travel and style influencer Jeanne Grey does this well: she uses her Instagram Stories to ask followers to comment on a post and says she’ll be picking a few accounts to share. Other times, she offers to comment on her followers’ own posts.
She only features or comments on a few accounts, but thousands of people engage with the hope they’ll be picked. People love to be featured – especially by influencers they love.
Instagram travel influencers can use this approach to crowdsource ideas for new trips and brand partnerships!
Create Unique Content for Each Platform
Creating unique content for each platform could easily be categorized under “content strategy” rather than engagement strategies, but think about it … you produce content in order to entertain, educate or engage your followers. If you produce one piece of content for Instagram and click the “Share to Facebook” and “Share to Twitter” buttons as you hit send, that same piece of content gets shot out to your other channels, even though that content was designed specifically for Instagram.
Most influencers know it’s important to publish content regularly on your platforms, and to an overworked or overwhelmed influencer, reusing content on all your platforms is tempting.
But cross-platform content has its issues – formatting problems, for example. And, if you do some research on demographics, you’ll find that very different people use each platform. What works for your Instagram followers probably won’t work for your Twitter followers and vice versa.
Want your followers on Twitter to know you care about them and what they want to see? Create content specifically for that platform.
“Engage with likeminded people on various social platforms to create that feeling of knowing someone and wanting to support them,” says Michelle of Honest and Truly.
Now, if you’re thinking about how much content you might have to create and starting to panic, STOP! Take a deep breath, because we have a solution…
What if you could create 2X the amount of content with half the work without sacrificing quality? Good news: you can!
Collaborating with other influencers gives you twice the creativity and twice the resources.
So instead of creating all that content on your own, hop on Perlu. Here, you’ll find other influencers in your niche who are looking to create killer content just like you. From guest series to video collabs, Perlu members are doubling (or tripling, or quadrupling) their content production, growing their audiences and even making money!
Another bonus? Collaborating with another influencer puts your content in front of their audience, doubling your reach.
Narrow Your Focus
Another way to ensure you’re able to create unique content for all your platforms is to focus on only a few platforms. Ask yourself, “Where does my ideal audience hang out?” Check out stats about each platform to figure out what age groups, genders and niches use each platform.
“A lot of aspiring influencers can get burnt out quickly because they go crazy trying to conquer all the platforms,” says Chantell Collins of Adoration 4 Adventure. “Even if, by some miracle, you manage to learn how each social media platform works, you’ll find it difficult to keep up with constant algorithm and trend changes. Furthermore, many of your followers may not be active on each platform, which means posting there could be a huge waste of time … By choosing 2-3 platforms where your audience will likely be and producing relevant content, you are more likely to grow your following and engagement. ”
Have a Business Account
Our last piece of advice? Have a business account on every social platform possible. Switching to a business account gives you access to analytics so you can see what posts are most popular. Once you know what your audience loves and engages with the most, then you can create more of that kind of content!