[345] How to increase your social media engagement - fast

Are you frustrated by the lack of engagement with your social media content?  

You’re publishing content regularly, but your posts aren’t attracting enough likes, comments and shares - leaving you wondering if it’s worth bothering with social media at all.  

If this sounds like you, the first thing you need to know is that it’s nothing to do with the algorithm and everything to do with the kind of content you’re sharing.

Which means there is a lot you can do to improve your social media engagement (without spending a penny on advertising).

In this podcast episode I share practical tips and strategies you can start using today to increase your social media engagement.

{Click on the player above to listen to the podcast episode and/or read on for a detailed overview. Scroll down to the bottom to read the show notes including all the links mentioned in this episode}.

Why social media engagement matters

Imagine you’re walking around an unfamiliar town or city looking for a restaurant for dinner. Restaurant A is packed with people, enjoying their food. Restaurant B is empty. You’ll likely assume (rightly or wrongly) that Restaurant A is better - just because it looks busy and popular.

That’s exactly how it works on social media. If I visit your profile and everything you post is getting just a handful of likes, I'm probably going to assume (incorrectly perhaps) that you're not very influential or authoritative in your industry/space.

If you’re starting interesting conversations and people engage with your content enthusiastically - with tons of comments, likes and shares - I'm going to get a very different impression of you. Which means I’m far more likely to remember you, trust you enough to want to work with you and/or recommend you to others.

If you’re not getting engagement on your social media content but you are getting inbound leads from your ideal clients (enough to keep you busy for a good 12 months), then don’t worry about it.

But if you’re not getting enough engagement on your social media content - and you don’t have enough clients, you need to do something about it.

Busting the algorithm myth

The way the algorithm works on all social media platforms is simple: the more engagement you get (i.e. comments, likes and shares), the more people will be shown your content.

If you’re currently struggling to get engagement,  this might feel like a ‘chicken and egg’ situation. If no one is seeing your content, how do you get people to comment, like and share?

The answer is surprisingly simple: instead of sitting back and hoping someone will comment on your content...you need to make it happen.

You can do this in several ways:

  1. Quietly asking friends/family/colleagues to engage with your content
  2. Creating an ‘engagement pod’ - a group of colleagues who are also looking to get engagement on their content and agree to engage regularly with each others’ posts.
  3. Commenting on others’ content (if you comment on other peoples’ content they often can’t resist coming over to have a look at your profile).

When I share this advice, people often try to tell me that this is not a good strategy because, in the long-term, you need Facebook (or whichever platform you’re trying to grow) to show your content to your ideal clients…not your friends/family/colleagues.

This is true, but when you’re just starting out, you can’t afford to be choosy. Your social media accounts are your shop window; if people look you up online and see you broadcasting to an audience of zero, they may assume (rightly or wrongly) your business is not successful. If they see engagement - in the form of likes, comments and shares (even if they do initially come from your best friend!) they’re much more likely to take you seriously.

In the early days, getting some engagement is better than none, so just do what you can to get your account looking busier. In the meantime, you can work on attracting more of your ideal clients.

It can feel embarrassing and uncomfortable  to ask people to comment on your content (believe me, I’ve been there). But not making enough money in your business because you don’t have enough clients is far more uncomfortable, right?

1.Publish timely and relevant content

When you’re scheduling social media content, the question you must always be asking yourself is: ‘why do people need to hear about this now?’ That’s why Anna Iveson - who helps small business owners find the perfect virtual assistant - had great success with this LinkedIn post on whether you should ration your children’s Easter eggs (which she published during Easter weekend).

Prior to implementing the advice in my LinkedIn Strategy Playbook  Anna was getting a handful full of comments on each post. At the time of writing, this post has attracted 64 comments and nearly 4k views.

Not only is this post, timely and relevant, it’s short, well laid-out, divisive and has a single call-to-action at the end - all key characteristics of an engaging social media post.

If you’re wondering how a post on this topic can help Anna find her ideal clients, consider this.

The more engagement Anna gets on her posts, the more people will be shown her content. The more people are shown her content, the more people will view her profile.  And the more people who view her LinkedIn profile, the more inbound leads she will get (as long as her profile is clear - which it is).

Remember also that people like to do business with people they like. So if you can create a connection - and some common ground - with your ideal clients, they’re far more likely to want to do business with you.

A great example of this is my recent social media posts about the London Marathon. Even if you’ve never run the London marathon - and have no intention of doing so - you probably know someone who has. This is why I believe my posts about taking part in one of the most iconic marathons in the world, got so much engagement.  For example, this 30 second video which shows me spotting my family 13 miles into the race attracted over 4000 views on LinkedIn in as many days.

2. Ask questions.

One of the easiest ways to get engagement on your content is to ask a question, as technical copywriter John Espirian does in this post on who has viewed your LinkedIn profile. 

There is an art to asking effective questions though and the key is to make it as easy as possible for people to respond.

The most important thing to remember is to ask closed questions i.e. ‘how long does it take you to write a blog post?’ (which requires a specific answer which can be given in minutes or hours) rather than ‘how do you feel about writing blog posts?” (which doesn’t lead towards a specific answer)

The more specific you can be, the better, which is why asking people to state ‘agree/disagree’, ‘yes/no’ or ‘true/false’ can work well.

If you want people to comment on your social media content, you need to make it as easy for them. This is why giving your audience clear choices e.g. A, B, C or D, yes/no, agree/disagree can be brilliant for encouraging engagement with your posts (I generally refer to these a short/two tap answers).

Not only does it make it super quick for people to engage, they don’t have to think too hard about what to say - which means they’re far more likely to respond. Asking questions that encourage debate is a great way to increase your engagement, as I found when I published this LinkedIn post on whether you need to ask your husband’s permission to invest in your business.

Again, you may be wondering how a post like this can help me attract my ideal clients. The week I posted this, my profile views went up 150% and my inbound leads increased too.

If you want to increase your social media engagement, the best questions to ask are those that don’t require any special knowledge/experience. For example, in one of my best performing Facebook posts, I simply asked whether people were for or against dogs in hairdressers - attracting 96 comments in a matter of hours.

3. Give a clear call to action in each social media post

If you want to get more engagement on your social media posts, you need to tell people exactly what to do. You can do this by issuing a clear call to action e.g. ‘Type A, B, C or D in the comments below', ‘Shoot me a DM if you want to know more’ or ‘post in the comments below if you’d like me to send the details' as in this example below (which generated several leads for my upcoming masterclass).

For example, I published my Social Media Engagement Playbook recently, I wanted to ‘warm up’ my audience - and get them interested in the playbook - before it was available to buy.

First off, I asked my Facebook groups which cover they preferred.

Next, I recorded this short video of me talking about the playbook, which attracted over 150 comments. I published similar posts on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

Remember that most people will be watching your video on a mobile device with the sound turned down/off. This is why it pays to add captions.

I recommend using Rev.com* which creates video captions for $1/minute. This generates an .srt file, you can upload directly to LinkedIn (look for the pen icon in the top-right corner) which will add captions to your video.

Personally I find using .srt files to generate captions on both Facebook and LinkedIn can be a bit hit and miss i.e. sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. This is why I prefer to add permanent captions to my videos using a service like Kapwing. This also allows me to easily repurpose my videos on other social media platforms.

4.Don’t overlook the importance layout of your social media posts

If the text in your social media posts is all bunched up together, if it's difficult to distinguish between the headline and your body text, people are unlikely to read it.

This is why using clear headlines and breaking up your body text with emojis, bullet points and even capital letters can make a huge difference to your engagement.

It can be helpful to think of your social media content as an article in a magazine/newspaper - if it’s not laid out with a strong headline and attractive layout, people will keep scrolling.

5. Keep your posts short

If you want people to read your posts, keep them as short as possible, and remove any superfluous words and phrases.

If you have multiple social media posts to write/schedule for different platforms, it’s worth using a tool that will help you write to a particular character count.  

If you tend to be too wordy in your social media posts, I’d recommend restricting them to 1300 characters (the maximum character count for LinkedIn). I’ve noticed that when I paste my Facebook posts this online character counter in here to reduce for LinkedIn, I end up removing a lot of words/phrases that don’t really need to be there.

And writing tweets (which must be 280 characters or less) is a great exercise for working out which words/phrases are necessary to get your message across and what’s just fluff.

For example, my ‘dogs in hairdressers’ post (example above) is just 56 words long, but got tons of engagement.

6. Create engaging content

It sounds obvious, but if you want to get more engagement on your social media posts, your content has to be interesting. Which means you need to choose topics that people actually care about - things they can connect with emotionally.

Sharing your own personal stories can be a powerful way to connect with your audience - particularly when you’re willing to share your vulnerabilities and weaknesses. As storytelling Marsha Shandur pointed out in our podcast interview on how to use stories to attract your ideal clients, when you show people that your life isn’t perfect, that you make mistakes - just like them - it’s much easier for them to connect with you.

It’s important to remember at all times that the content you create is never about you - it’s always about your audience. The question I ask myself all the time - even when I’m creating content about me - is ‘how can I make this about my audience?’

When I look at my clients who are getting great engagement with their content, this is exactly what they’re doing too. For example, I recently responded to this post from Facebook and Instagram ads experts Laura Moore. Laura publishes a weekly round-up of Facebook/Instagram updates. In her latest she talked about a new Instagram Stories sticker that allows you to ask ‘quiz’ questions. My daughter had shown me it, but I couldn’t see it on my own account, so when I spotter her post I asked Laura about it. I responded because she was sharing helpful, practical content that was relevant to me and my business. Notice also how she has a single call-to-action at the end of her post.

Another client, academic coach Lucy Parsons, recently achieved her long-held ambition to appear on BBC Radio 4’s Women’s Hour. While she shared a number of posts about her radio appearance, the one that attracted the most engagement was where she asked a question about the topic she was discussing on the show - children’s party bags. Why? Because she made her post about her radio appearance about her audience.

Business coach Fay Blakey - another client of mine - had a recent hit with a LinkedIn post in which she asked: do you rush to get your barbecue out when the sun starts shining. Not only was it timely and relevant (this was over the Bank Holiday weekend), it was also fun and easy to respond to.

In my Social Media Engagement Playbook, I break down the four types of content that guarantee engagement and give tons of examples. You can get my Social Media Engagement Playbook here.

Podcast shownotes

  • How social media engagement impacts on your business  (2:25)
  • Why you can’t blame the algorithm if you’re not getting great social media engagement (7:10)
  • The importance of timely and relevant content (13:33)
  • How asking questions can help you get more social media engagement  (19:50)
  • Why you shouldn’t give more than one clear call-to-action in a social media post (29:49)
  • The importance of layout in your social media posts (31:54)
  • Why it’s important to keep your social media posts short (33:57)
  • The four types of content that guarantee engagement on social media (36:03)
  • Why you must make your content about your audience (and not about you) (47:49)


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Episode 341:How to use stories to attract your ideal clients 

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Blog Post: How I chose the speakers for Build Your Audience Live

Episode 335: How to create a high-converting lead magnet

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