Facebook isn't growing its teen audience as quickly as rival Snapchat. But does it matter? It's still attracts 71% of those aged 13 to 17 and boasts 2 billion active users. The more concerning issue is that Facebook engagement for brands and publishers is down 20% since January 2017. While it's easy to obsess over follower counts, views, or clicks, the real measure of digital marketing success is engagement. And research shows that questions, images and videos are more engaging than all other post types.
One thing traditional media companies have long known is that their most valuable asset is the customer relationship. While creating and delivering content is their day job, what they live for is delighting their readers, viewers, and listeners. Premium publishers value genuine engagement. And they're not alone.
When it comes to marketing initiatives, there are a wide range of business objectives that dictate KPI priorities. In particular, content marketing via social media naturally requires engagement. After all, what consumers genuinely enjoy about these platforms isn't one-way, broadcast communication, it's the opportunity to interact.
All right then, if what's great about social media is social interaction, then what's a business brand supposed to do? A recent article here on Inc. "These 31 Questions Will Break the Ice with Absolutely Anyone" offers excellent insights into a solid social strategy. Yes, the article is offering advice on how to approach anyone you encounter--from an A-list celebrity to a CEO or a stranger on a train. However, the tactic is one that translates from the boardroom or bar straight onto Facebook and other social media platforms.
Here are three tips on how to use questions to improve your social media engagement:
1. Make a great first impression. When you first interact with someone, you have the opportunity to make a lasting impression. Needless to say, you want that impression to be a good one. Would the first words out of your mouth be about you? If so, remind me not to sit next to you at a dinner party. So be sure not to make that mistake in your marketing. Questions provide the best way to start a meaningful relationship that is about your customer and their needs, not you or what you have to sell.
2. Crowdsource feedback, input, and even product creation. Your customers opinions matter, a lot. So, asking for their feedback on your products and services in an open forum shows confidence and caring. These are pretty attractive qualities in any social setting. An interesting extension of this strategy that has been highly effective for brands such as Doritos and Starbucks, is engaging current and potential customers in developing new offerings. Harvard Business Review research offers excellent insights into making this approach work. One socially-savvy tip is to be both proactive and reactive. Offer some of your own ideas and provide feedback to customer ideas.
3. Don't give up. Experiment instead. Sure, you can take no answer for an answer. But if you really want to get to know your customers and build engagement, you may have to work harder. Try different types of questions to see what works. As with social situations and different individuals you want to get to know, social savvy isn't one size fits all. From specific questions that clarify their needs and expectations, to timely questions that capitalize on current events tofun--even edgy--approaches (try"fill-in the blank" questions!) there are many ways to resonate with your customers. Most importantly, you must find the right questions to ask and remain consistent with your brand and identity.
Like social life, social media interactions aren't always easy. But like other genuine relationships, it's worth the effort. Content marketing takes a great deal of work in developing and delivering information that resonates with audiences. Questions offer a natural way to engage with your audience and can open the door to better products and customer experiences, and help to deepen customer relationships. So, go ahead: Question everything.