By Syed Balkhi, the founder of WPBeginner

Most companies understand the value of being present on social media. In 2017, there were 2.46 billion social media users worldwide and that number is expected to continue growing. It's an essential marketing tool for your business. You can get your products in front of tons of new faces without spending a penny. 

But do you find yourself hitting the refresh button over and over again after publishing a new post on social media only to see the number of likes is still at zero? If none of your followers are commenting on or sharing your posts, you need to get them more engaged. When you increase engagement, you build relationships with your audience and in turn, increase your profits.

If you want to attract some attention and get more people involved with your brand, here are six ways to increase social media engagement.

Use Images in Your Posts

Images and social media are like two peas in a pod. With entire platforms like Instagram, Snapchat and Pinterest dedicated to sharing photos, images are crucial for social media engagement.

Sharing photographs of people interacting with your product is a good way to get noticed. You can also use free stock photos from sites like Unsplash if you want to share a quick message. We use cartoon pictures for our blog posts which can make sharing them more fun. You can have a freelancer create custom illustrations or browse Freepik's library.

When a user is scrolling through a wall of text on their social media feed, a captivating image is immediately going to make them stop to take a look, which will result in more engagement on your post.  

Ask Questions

Starting a conversation with your social media followers is a great way to get them engaged. When you post on social media, consider asking general questions at the end, like "How was your weekend?" That will encourage followers to comment.

You can also ask followers specific questions relating to your products. For instance, a clothing company could ask: "Do you prefer our new summer dress in pink or yellow?" That way you'll get engagement on your posts and as a bonus, feedback on your products.  

Encourage Reactions With Emojis

Tell users how you want them to feel by using emojis. Emojis are a fun way to get users interacting with your posts. If you want them to love something, add a heart-eyes emoji to the post and a laughing emoji can help to make sure your jokes don't fall flat.

It can be difficult to convey emotions through text so when you can clearly state the emotion you're feeling, your followers will be able to easily understand your message. Don't overload your post with emojis though -- it can come across as immature. Use them sparingly and make sure they fit your brand.

Have a Sense of Humor

A lot of people head to social media to wind down and have a little fun, so humorous posts tend to perform well and get engagement because they break up the monotony of social feeds. Brands like Wendy's and Denny's have become known as a couple of the funniest and sassiest accounts on social media.

Incorporate some fun, lighthearted humor into your social media posts if it fits well with your brand. If you think your funny bone is lacking, don't worry. Instead of writing your own jokes, you can share a funny meme that will get a laugh out of your followers.

Hold Giveaways and Contests

People love getting free things. So holding a giveaway or a contest can really skyrocket your engagement on social media. One of the easiest ways to hold a giveaway on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook is with a simple post announcing a chance for your followers to win one of your products.

Make sure to include an eye-catching image in the post of the product users can win and ask them to follow you, like the post and share the post for a chance to win. People won't pass up the opportunity to participate in a fun contest and it can significantly boost your follower count and increase engagement.

Social media is a valuable, free tool that you'll want to take advantage of in order to get your business in front of a larger audience. But you can't just publish a post advertising your product and expect magic to happen. Increasing engagement on social media will have you on the way to growing meaningful relationships with your followers as well as increasing sales.  

Syed Balkhi is the founder of WPBeginner, the largest free WordPress resource site that helps small businesses start their website.