How to Be Relevant
and Engaging on Social Media

How to Be Relevant and Engaging on Social Media
By Jessica Oaks

Social media can be an incredibly powerful marketing and self-promotion tool. It affords you the unique opportunity of being able to market to individuals who have voluntarily opted in to your information stream. This allows you to take advantage of engaged followers who are already partial to the product or service that you provide. In most cases, there is no need to “win the customer over.” They’ve already been won over, otherwise they wouldn’t follow your social media account. And yet, as powerful as it can be, it’s an easy tool to abuse as well.

We’re all well aware of the concept of talking someone’s ear off because they’ll readily listen to what you have to say. Who doesn’t like a captive audience, after all? However, abusing this privilege on social media accounts such as Facebook and Twitter is ill-advised (it’s probably ill-advised in person, too). Over-saturation, irrelevant posts, posts that fail to engage and captivate your viewership, and other similar bad habits can all lead to a reduction of followers—your marketing base, in other words. With so much information at the ready on smartphones and tablet devices, readers have to be given a reason to engage with your account. So how to achieve this simple yet at times seemingly impossible goal? Well, put simply, with engaging content.

Optimizing Your Facebook Strategy

Though some may lament this statement, if you run or operate a business in the 21st century, it’s imperative that your business have a Facebook presence. Quite simply, Facebook is one of the most visited websites in the world, and on-page interaction is greater there than with almost any other site. Users not only visit Facebook, but they engage with it. They leave comments. They “like” and “share” information. And these individuals are your customers. With Facebook, you can market to them in a manner that’s agreeable to them.

Give Them Something to Talk About

How? By engaging them and providing them with content that gives them reason to return. It is important to remember that individuals have opted in to your information stream. If someone is a fan of your business or personal page on Facebook, then presumably he or she is interested in learning more about you or your business and the services or products that are being provided. Make your business’ Facebook page the resource they are looking for. Promote your products. List directions and contact information should your business be brick and mortar. Engage your fans through contests and sweepstakes. Promote relevant content that will engage users outside of a strictly business-oriented approach. Be original.

When it comes to promoting your business on Facebook, you should take a couple of things into consideration: 1. Would you want to read or view what’s being posted to your business’ Facebook page? 2. Are you providing your fans with sufficient reason to stay engaged? Your content stream should be diverse and active; posts should contain not only links back to your company’s website, but photos, videos, polls, questions, comments, and outside links. Keep track of fan engagement (through Facebook’s internal virality statistics) and adjust accordingly.

Joining the Conversation: The Dos and Don’ts of Twitter

Twitter is a different type of platform than Facebook. Think of it as being more conversational. You want to engage your followers through personal communication whenever possible. However, it’s also important to realize that with Twitter, you or your business should be thinking beyond mere self-promotion. Does your business need a new employee? Do you need to address grievances? Are you trying to build a relationship with followers? Or are you simply hoping to give your followers some juicy content that will give them reason to pause while scrolling through their feed on their smartphone or tablet? You should have a keen understanding of what your goals are before taking on the task of self-promotion on Twittter, as it can be an easily misunderstood tool.

If used correctly, however, Twitter can be incredibly powerful. Posts can achieve virality incredibly quickly should your network be sufficiently sized and engaged with your content. And because individuals are on Twitter nearly constantly, you can reach your audience quickly. Are you a musician playing a surprise gig? With Twitter, you can make such announcements to your followers and expect to receive a response. Is your business launching a new product? It’s far easier to make the announcement on Twitter than it is to redesign or add this information to your existing website. Twitter is dynamic while much the rest of the Internet is static. This is what makes Twitter so powerful; instant communication, instant feedback.

Keeping Everything in Perspective

Perhaps the biggest thing to take away from social media is that it is the quality of your followers that matters, not the quantity. Don’t feel beholden to arbitrarily increasing your followers on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, especially if such an approach comes at the expense of your existing fan base. Remember, these individuals have voluntarily opted in to your information stream. Your account pops up on their smartphone or tablet because they decided they wanted it to. Respect that, provide them what they are seeking, and take steps to make their experience a worthwhile one, and you are on the right path—whether you’re an individual or a multi-million dollar business.

Jessica Oaks blogs on a variety of subjects for