This past weekend I took a trip to New York City with a couple friends, and we decided to go see an Off Broadway show—a new musical comedy that, judging by the synopsis, sounded like a lot of fun. Unfortunately, the show was not everything it had been cracked up to be and many of the cast’s jokes were met with silence from the audience: an actor’s worst fear. After putting so much time and effort into their performance, the cast received very little viewer engagement, which doesn’t bode well for word-of-mouth advertisement. This is often the case when businesses utilize social media. A company may work very hard to update their social outlets regularly, but without audience engagement, their efforts yield few results.

So you have Facebook fans and Twitter followers…

Now what? Post 3 times a day about your products, your services, the weather, what you ate for lunch, anything, right? Wrong. Just because you are putting information out there does not mean your target audience is paying attention to it. When using social media to increase brand awareness and bump sales, it is important to make sure your posts are capturing the attention of your followers so that they want to reply to posts, share your content, and become brand advocates. While it is important to update your social media accounts regularly, it’s not as much about quantity as it is about quality. Whatever you post, make sure it is unique and relevant to your audience. You want your followers to feel like they are missing out by NOT engaging in your message.

Some Helpful Tactics

  • Giveaway: It may sound counter-intuitive, but people love freebies. Try offering potential customers a free product, service, or download in exchange for a Facebook “like” or a retweet. If you are working with a limited budget, you can offer a select number of items to giveaway. For example, you may advertise via Twitter that the first 75 users to retweet your post will receive the giveaway item.
  • Contest: If you are not able to offer a product giveaway, you may want to try a little bit of healthy competition. For instance, if you are promoting a carpet cleaning business, you could award a free in-home carpet cleaning to the person who submits the best video showing why they are the most deserving of your services. For increased social engagement, have other fans and followers vote on the best submission.
  • Exclusivity: People love feeling like they are a part of a group, like they are “in the club.” By offering your social media followers exclusive deals, you make it harder for those not in the club to ignore your brand. Some ideas for exclusive offers include promo codes to receive free products, free shipping, or a special discount on a given purchase.

Using the above tactics effectively will increase your brand awareness, strengthen customer loyalty, and result in sales growth over time. With any of these social media promotions, it is important to follow up with your audience members once the promotion has ended. Don’t give them a reason to forget about your brand. Continue to post engaging content that your followers want to share with their friends. After all, no matter how advanced we get in this digital age, word of mouth is still the best way to gain loyal customers.