No one likes the guy at a cocktail party who talks endlessly about himself without letting anyone else get a word in edgewise. Not only is he annoying and rude, he’s usually not all that interesting to boot!
Unfortunately, many businesses are guilty of the same lack of etiquette when it comes to social media. Perpetual self-promotion without any attempt of trying to encourage social media engagement or conversation is one of the most common and detrimental mistakes that can be made when trying to build a community.
Of course, the objective of any business that leverages social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter is to expand brand exposure with the ultimate goal of increasing sales. However, social media isn’t advertising. Rather, it’s relationship building. With an engaged, loyal online group of followers, you’ll cultivate an audience that will want to buy from you. And, here’s an even bigger benefit – they’ll share information about your brand with their communities, too!
So, let’s get down to the business of how to be the organization that people actually want to engage with at the “online cocktail party” known as social media. Here are 10 great ways to start and sustain the conversation.
Online audiences are perpetually searching for something that piques their curiosity. If you can give them something that propels them to find out more and combine it with a question, you can generate initial interest and start building valuable engagement.
Example: Would you like to know how John increased his online network from 40 to 4,000?
The questions you ask can be generic and broad-based or focused on your industry or even on the products and services you provide. You might be surprised just how much social media engagement you’ll generate from a single question. These types of questions can even serve as an informal type of market research.
Example: What’s your opinion of ________?
3. Yay or Nay
Yes or no questions are quick and easy for your audience to respond to. Yet, they can still encourage social media engagement, and you may find answers that are far more extensive than you expected.
Example: Do you own an iPad? Yes or no?
4. This or That
Like the yes or no questions, you can quickly encourage engagement by asking a question that gives your online audience two choices.
Example: Sneakers or flip flops?
5. The Survey Says…
Why not conduct a one question survey to learn more about your audience and their preferences? You’ll get them pondering the question, and their answers might spawn others to share how they feel, too!
Example: What is the single most important thing about ______________?
6. Photo Feedback
Posts you share that include photos will almost always generate larger numbers of responses. By combining a question and a photo, you have a winning combination that can spawn significant engagement.
Example: What are your thoughts on this photo?
Questions that encourage your audience to dig a little deeper can often be interesting and insightful.
Example: Why is _____________ important to you?
8. Play Favorites
Another strategy for generating more social media engagement is to ask questions that give your audience the chance to share their favorites. These can be serious and industry-focused or just for fun.
Example: Where is your favorite place to spend a summer vacation?
9. Cause and Effect
You can create a thought-provoking scenario to spawn some creative ideas.
Example: What would happen if ______________?
10. Fill in the Blanks
A fun type of question that often generates a large number of responses is the “anything missing.” There are endless options that you can toss out that will start a conversation.
Example: My three top must-haves in my desk are ___________, ___________, and _______________.
11. Did You Know?
Have an interesting fact or figure? Instead of phrasing it in a form of a sentence, make it a question for others to answer.
Example: Did you know TYPEWRITER is the longest word that can be made using the letters on only one row of the keyboard?
Yes, questions are fundamental to building up an online community that actually engages with your brand. Social media platforms are designed to encourage sharing and conversation. By doing so, you’ll have much more success than those organizations that simply post one-sided content that inspires little more than a quick glance.
Do you have a favorite type of question that works with your community? Feel free to add it below in the comments.