5 Ways to Fully Engage Your Social Following


Does the below statement sound familiar to you?

“I don’t understand why our followers aren’t converting into sales, we’ve spent a lot of time building our network but they aren’t buying from us!”

It does? Ok, if you are a business active on social media the above area of focus is one of the MOST important that you should be concentrating your analytics on regardless of the size of your business. Building a network that is engaged with you and that you can create a conversation with is absolutely critical. To echo what Chris Froio (Reebok Vice President of Western Europe) said “Just because someone likes you, it doesn’t mean you have a relationship with them”. So in a nutshell, 10 fully engaged followers is better than 100 dormant ones and engaged followers will therefore create sales.

Right so we’ve established that, I’ll push my soap box back under my desk now and get on with how you go about engaging that following.

First of all, we need to understand the difference between social networks and what value they provide your business.

If you’ve read one of my pieces before you’ll know that I like odd analogies, if I’m a new writer to you I’m crossing my fingers in hope that this make sense. So here goes…

Let’s imagine your social media channels are like your close friends, each one has a different personality and they behave differently, they have an independent friend group attached to them and they all have one main thing in common, they all link back to you.

A large amount of our clients at We Are Empire concentrate on building customers via Instagram and Twitter, so lets use those two social platforms as an example and evaluate the differences. Let’s imagine both social networks have different personalities, in fact why don’t we go all out! let’s call twitter Phil and Instagram Dave (bare with me).

Phil (twitter) is a fairly chatty guy, he’s outgoing and likes to mix with a lot of people. He’s the sort of person to have a smartphone filled with notifications from various News networks because he likes to keep up with what’s going on in the world, he’s connected to every social network going and loves to tell everyone what he’s been up too. His Snapchat’s, Vines, YouTube videos etc are more than frequent and he’s always wading in with his opinion when the gossip is flying around the water cooler at the office.


Dave, on the other hand, is just as outgoing as Phil but tends to have a tighter group of friends that he constantly interacts with. They all are into the same things, they all have the same ‘in jokes’ and he tends to constantly chat about trends and updates within those specific circles that he’s interested in. Most importantly Dave LOVES to photograph things, his dinner, his shoes, his friends, the sky, the floor… you get the picture (no pun intended).

Both Phil and Dave you speak to regularly but if met up with them separately you’d probably tailor your conversation differently. Right?

Ok, my point being that if you got together with Phil or Dave they clearly like spending time with you because you share similar interests, their friend group also feels the same because they also have the same things in common with them and ultimately you as well. So with that being the case, if you talk about irrelevant things that they have no interest in they’ll want to meet up with you less and less.

Making any sense? Good. In a nutshell, your social networks are filled with a specific type of person, it’s up to you to learn what they want hear and then engage them with that type of content.

Here’s 5 ways that you can make sure you are maximising that following by supplying them with the value they seek, I’ll tell you about some tools that can help you do that afterwards as well:

1) Be a Content Superhero

Your target market are looking for a brand that swoops in, engages with them and while flicking the hair out of it’s eyes presents them some real value. In other words, listen to them, understand what they want and provide them with something you can open up a conversation about. For example, think about how you can help solve their relevant problems, have you read their twitter stream and seen that they received bad service from a competitor? If you are watching your target market like a hawk then sooner or later they will give you a nugget of information that tells you how you can provide them more value than they are getting elsewhere.

2) Don’t laugh at a joke you don’t understand

Conversations between your relevant followers that are applicable to your brand are happening all the time, the trick is finding them and then inputting information that adds value. We’ve all seen it, in other words, don’t be that person that just walks up to a group at a party and laughs at a joke at the wrong place in an attempt to fit in, the same principle applies to your social media market, don’t just rock up to your followers and start blurting information at them, they’ll do the Twitter equivalent of raising their eyebrows and turn the other way, they’ll unfollow you.

3) Get the factory fully serviced before pitching on Dragons Den

Have you seen those startups on Dragon’s Den pitching for huge contracts that they can’t fulfill? When they get questions fired at them on infrastructure and numbers it becomes very apparent very quickly that they can’t service the potential demand. The same theory applies to social media, if a business gains a large following work out the metric that you need for resources to service and maximise it properly.
What customer service support do you need? How quickly can you react to relevant trends? and how are you going to engage that increasing audience to spread the word of your business?

4) Keep it Liam Neeson

Going back to our Phil and Dave analogy, you wouldn’t organise a party for Dave and his friends and then start playing music that Phil likes would you?! Keep your strategy on the applicable social media platform absolutely rock solid, focussed and relentlessly consistent. If you don’t, it may not be worth putting any effort in on that channel at all as it may be doing more harm than good especially if you are mirroring your social output on more than one channel (that’s a whole new blog in itself). Concentrate on the channel that is working 100% and if you can’t service the other supporting channels properly then don’t waste your time, make the jump to expand that message when you can… Good luck.

5) Have a secret weapon

The cherry on the cake as the biggest takeaway from this article should be ‘what other value other than your product can you provide?’. In a world where consumers are completely saturated what else can you and your business give people to keep them coming back? In most instances as a business you are looking to create a ‘lifestyle’ and your product fits into that ideal. Take a look at Larsson and Jennings Instagram as an example, along with their beautiful watches there are shots of high end coffee, beautifully styled clothing and high end care products. Larsson and Jennings’ followers on Instagram connected with the brand originally because of their watches but the brand recognises that their followers will also be interested in these other elements, by giving them insight and value into the ‘lifestyle’ they are creating the brand becomes stronger by clearly demonstrating how their watches can fit into that lifestyle.

So, “that’s great” you say, “I’ve read what you’ve got to say but I’ve had my break now and I’m going to get back into my mountain of work. I don’t have time to think about social planning as well as running my business” Well (as your content superhero) here’s some handy tools that can help you cement and manage the strategy I’m talking about above.
Followerwonk (don’t miss pronounce that one) and BuzzSumo are incredibly powerful twitter tools to help you identify who the influential people in your network are, both can also identify what content is creating a trend through shares in your network. You can also identify aggregators for your content and gather intelligence around what sites they link to. A similar tool for Instagram also exists called Social Rank

On the content side of things, Hootsuite is absolutely INVALUABLE, it allows you to track your social media strategy across a range of platforms including Instagram and Twitter. You’ll be able to track your posts, your reach, your follower activity and Hootsuite will also help you find the optimum times to be active with your market amongst lots of other useful things. It will also grow with you as you scale up your team and following.

So, in summary I can safely say that most problems via social are usually solved using the same human insight as if it the problem existed in an offline format, if your social media following isn’t converting then maybe in the same way that you’d organise an event for your customers, you wouldn’t just fill a room with a group of people you want to interact with, talk at them for 8 hours and at the end of it don’t give them anything to take away. The result will be that they don’t come back.

As Malcom Forbes said “The art of conversation lies in listening”, and he knew one or two things about creating content and building a successful following.


About the Author

  • Paul Gosling

    Paul Gosling is Commercial Director of Creative Digital Studio ‘We Are Empire’, graduating from Northumbria University with a Degree in Advertising in 2005 Paul went on to work within a range of different creative disciplines across London, Newcastle and Manchester including above and below the line campaigns for clients such as Nike, Puma, Vodafone, Microsoft and Nokia across experiential, digital and traditional media. Having forged campaigns for major clients in London Paul moved his creative expertise towards a more commercial direction by working with smaller creative businesses to grow and develop their propositions both from a client and agency perspective. Taking his understanding from larger clients and looking at the critical core elements of the success they were having he was able to transfer that understanding to campaigns fitting a full range of budgets and resources whilst maximising results, having built up London experiential media company Curb media to triple in revenue and capacity Paul moved in a more entrepreneurial role as 1/3 of Award Winning Manchester based animation studio ‘Young’. By the age of 30 he had tripled the companies turnover, capacity and created the studio’s interactive digital offering resulting in the animation studio attracting commercial representation from Cannes Lion Award Winning and global creative powerhouse Blink Productions. Paul then joined We Are Empire in 2015 to take on the ‘Business strategy and commercial bit’ of the studio to build on the stunning work the agency had done for clients including Olympian Anthony Joshua, jewel of the Manchester restaurant scene Rosso and urban streetwear juggernauts Fresh Ego Kid.

    Web: http://www.weareempire.co.uk

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