Social media engagement is a cornerstone of a digital marketing strategy. By prioritizing it, you can grow your business and generate meaningful conversations with your customers. But figuring it out can be tricky—social media engagement success looks a little different to everyone who seeks it.
Here’s how to increase social media engagement and what social media success might look like for you and your brand.
What is social media engagement?
Social media engagement measures how your audience interacts with your content on various social media platforms. You can quantify how interactive your audience is through a handful of engagement metrics, such as follows, likes, saves, shares, comments, and mentions.
However, there’s no standard number of likes or shares you should aim for; success on social media differs from brand to brand. For example, 150 comments might be high engagement for a small clothing brand but low for a company with a wider audience. Instead, as industry experts suggest, try to reach a 1% to 5% engagement rate.
Why is social media engagement important?
Establishing an online presence is essential for businesses. It makes it easier for customers to find you and it’s an opportunity to foster meaningful connections beyond the point of purchase.
When your engagement rate is high, your social media marketing strategy is working—your content is resonating with the right audience at the right time. And because social media platforms want to keep their own engagement rates high, they’re more likely to promote well-performing content. Social media managers are at the whims of the algorithm, but these platforms have the power to substantially benefit your business and build brand awareness.
By generating positive interactions through your engagement efforts, you can increase customer loyalty, an invaluable resource for recurring revenue and word-of-mouth referrals.
How to improve social media engagement
- Take stock of your current social media channels
- Identify your goals
- Know your audience
- Create a social media engagement strategy
- Encourage engagement
The beautiful thing about social media engagement is you can always improve it—no matter your starting point. Here are five strategies to boost social media engagement:
1. Take stock of your current social media channels
Assess where you are by using built-in tools on your social media accounts and third-party platforms (like Hootsuite and Buffer). Determine how many followers you have across platforms, what content performs well, what hasn’t worked, who your natural champions are, and when your audience tends to show up the most.
Then, use an online engagement calculator—which divides your interactions per post by the total reach—to find your current engagement rate. (You can use Hootsuite’s calculator to get your rate). Once you know your starting point, you can map out where you want to go. If your engagement rate doesn’t meet the 1% to 5% threshold, then you know you have room for improvement. If it falls within that number, you can decide if your strategy needs tweaking.
2. Identify your goals
Before setting a plan in motion, narrow down what metrics you want to improve and why. There are myriad ways to gain more followers, but if your strategy only attracts unengaged users who aren’t liking, commenting, or sharing your posts, it won’t improve your rate.
Take time to outline what you hope to achieve. Ask yourself if engagement means comments, the ability to generate leads from your social media posts, regularly conversing with followers, or something else. By answering these questions, the specifics of your ideal approach can begin to emerge.
Social media strategy and planning templates
Ready to get started with your social media strategy? These free, customizable templates give you tools to plan and execute a strategy that connects you with your target audience while keeping your content calendar organized.
Get your social media strategy and planning templates delivered right to your inbox.
Almost there: please enter your email below to gain instant access.
3. Know your audience
To make meaningful gains in audience engagement, identify your target audience—the people who are most likely to enjoy what you do and tell all their friends about it. Once you know your target demographic—where they live, their age, occupation, income, style—analytics tools can help you find the best way to reach them, including posting when they’re most likely to be online and tapping into the content that already resonates with them.
4. Create a social media engagement strategy
After identifying what you’re working with and where you want to go, sketch out your social media strategy. Remember: A social media strategy evolves. Give yourself time to assess a new approach, and if it doesn't yield the desired results, don’t take it personally. Switch it up, and try again.
Here are a few tips for crafting a well-rounded social strategy:
Pick your channels
It’s a common misconception that a brand needs to be anywhere and everywhere all at once. Each social network has its own audience and particularities, so determine the best fit for your brand and focus your efforts on a dedicated selection of social media pages.
Create content that best suits each platform
Visuals and video content are a must for Instagram Stories, TikTok, or YouTube, while snappy written content is a better fit for X (formerly Twitter) or Threads. Facebook is a great place for community announcements like in-person events. When you customize your content accordingly, you play to the strengths of each platform.
Partner with like-minded brands
Brand partnerships can be a great way to access new audiences, either by cross-promoting product links or hosting a joint giveaway.
5. Encourage engagement
Authentic conversations propel engagement rates; a platform is more likely to promote content that prioritizes these interactions. Here are a few ways to encourage social media users to connect with you:
When you post every day, your followers become accustomed to seeing you on their feeds and are more likely to engage with what you show them.
People are more likely to engage with a brand that engages back: Respond in a timely manner to comments and questions with a natural, friendly tone.
Host interactive campaigns
Anything that requires a response in the comments, tagging a friend, or branded hashtags can be a great way to spark conversation.
How to measure social media engagement
Social media engagement reflects your social media traffic across various social media platforms. You can easily measure social media engagement with automated tools. While most platforms have their own social media engagement reporting functions, there are also third-party sites dedicated to honing your social media efforts with analytics tools, such as Sprout Social and Brandwatch.
These websites gather common social media metrics like website visitors, follower count, likes, saves, shares, comments, click-throughs, mentions, and branded hashtags to determine the overall success of your social media efforts. Tracking social media engagement goals with these daily—and even hourly—snapshots allow you to tweak and perfect your output for individual platforms.
Social media engagement FAQ
How do you build engagement on social media?
The best social media engagement ideas require a multifaceted approach involving trial and error. Experiment with interactive campaigns to stimulate conversations while staying true to your brand’s essence, or post during your audience’s peak activity times and promptly engage with comments to humanize your online presence.
What are good social media engagement metrics?
Various engagement metrics determine your social media performance, including follows, conversions, likes, comments, mentions, and reshares. Together, these reflect how well your social media content resonates with your audience.
What is the most important factor that drives engagement to a social media post?
If you’re looking to boost engagement rate overall, consistency is the one factor that can drive results. What drives engagement to any given post is a bit closer to alchemy: It takes a combination of authenticity, value, and brand voice. If the content is a true representation of your brand and it’s clear what you bring to the table, people will likely notice.
Can paid promotions improve engagement?
Yes, paid promotions can increase engagement. By showcasing your social media marketing efforts to a broader audience, you can naturally increase engagement rates. This is especially effective when using tactics like branded hashtags or friend-tagging giveaways.