Over the past few years, it has become apparent to many business owners, non-profit leaders, and government entities, that one of the best ways to reach their target audiences is through social media. While it’s clear social media is necessary in the modern economy, what isn’t clear is how to use it and what kind of interaction they can expect from their social media channel.
Like most things in life, what you get out of social media relates directly to how much you put into it. Here’s a list of what we have identified as four levels of social media engagement, some of the tactics associated with each, and what kind of interaction you can expect.
Level 1: Basic Engagement
As the name suggests, this is the simplest level of social media engagement. It involves writing posts to increase awareness about the organization or information about the products and services the client provides. Anything that would interest the target audience would also work within form of engagement.
The overall goal is to build a community from your fans. That community can be used to spread the word about specials or new products, to gather market research, or to gauge public opinion about the organization. Even when you’re just posting things that your target audience finds interesting, you position your page as a place your customers go to for information, humor, inspiration, etc.
This is the most inexpensive form of engagement since it only requires someone to write posts and to monitor activity on the social media channel. While basic engagement can boost a company’s bottom line, one has to remember that since basic engagement targets people who are already customers, the results may be less than a campaign that targets new people (see Level 3 Engagement).
Level 2: Customer Incentive Engagement
This level of engagement is based on using your social media channels to give customers incentives to use a product or service. Loyalty program, discounts, and fan-only coupons are examples of ways to use social media to drive business.
The costs involved can vary and depend on factors such as the choice of platform (e.g. Living Social, Groupon, Punchtab, OfferPop, etc.); the costs the business incur from selling items at a discounted price, and any promotion through the social media itself (e.g. promoted posts on Facebook or Twitter). This level of engagement appeals primarily to current customers (they know about the product and desire discounts for it) but it can also be used to reach new people who are looking for deals.
With this level of engagement, you can expect to see your more of your clients becoming fans of your social media channel, and they will hopefully be sharing information about the incentive with their friends or other who they think can benefit from the incentives.
Level 3: Expanded Audience Engagement
Social media is an effective tool for keeping in contact with your current customers but it takes additional effort to reach people who were unaware of your organization. This third level of social media interaction focuses on using tools on the social media platform to reach new fans and potential customers. Each social media platform (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIN, etc.) has a service where users can pay to promote posts on the platform. By paying for placement, you can get your posts seen by the friends of your fans or you can advertise to specific demographics.
Since this form of advertising is the primary source of revenue for social media platforms, they provide multiple options starting from the relatively inexpensive. For example, simply promoting a post for $10 on Facebook can get your message seen by several thousands of the friends of your fans.
This level of interaction is especially useful when integrating social media into a traditional marketing or advertising campaign. The friends of your fans are a key target audience since people tend to like what their friends like. By using sponsored posts to expand the reach of your message, you can get your marketing message seen by your target audience at a low price. In many ways, reaching new customers is essential to the success of a traditional promotion campaign, because you need the increased sales volume and the acquisition of new long-term customers to offset the price of the campaign.
Level 4: Promotional Engagement
The final level of social media engagement involves aggressively using social-media based promotions to energize your fan base and to reach new new fans. There are a lot ways to use social media to run a promotion, such as photo contests, sweepstakes and drawing, or activity-based challenges.
This level of engagement encourages people to become fans of your social media channel and it gets them to come back often to check on the contest. Another benefit of promotional engagement is that it appeals to your current fan base (who are rewarded for following your social media by being the first to hear about the promotion), it appeals to customers who aren’t fans, and it can even draw in people who haven’t even heard of your brand, but are willing to follow your social media channel for the chance to win the promotion.
This is the highest level of engagement and as such it is the most expensive. Besides the cost of the prizes, you usually have to pay for a third-party app (e.g. Wildfire App, OfferPop, etc.) to run a contest through a social media channel (a third-party app is required to run a promotion on Facebook).
At this level of engagement, the amount of interaction you see depends on the type of contest. Sweepstakes and drawings are the easiest because contestant need only to fill out and entry. On the other hand, photo and caption contests encourage people to talk about your brand and it encourages them to share the contest with their friends so they can get more people to vote for their entries.