Last week, we took a look at how you can determine your level of engagement on social media, but now it’s time to find out how you can improve that engagement with customers.

Know your target audience

This is fundamental. Who is your target audience? How can your product and/or service help with their needs? What are they saying about you? These are questions you should be asking before you consider any interaction with your customers. You might have a wide target audience with varying needs and attitudes, and so it is important to tailor different social media platforms in order to better cater to your designated audience. Different demographics utilise different platforms, so consider who is using what, and where. Keep a look out for what your customers do and don’t like, as targeting these areas can improve your overall marketing scheme.

Identifying your influential and loyal consumers is also a key factor in helping to spread the word about your brand. Take a look at how Local Measure helps you to achieve this here.

Ask and answer questions

One way to keep people talking about your brand is by initiating discussion. Pose thought provoking questions that customers will be interested in answering. Open ended, neutral questions relevant to your brand allow customers to feel like they have a say in what they’re buying, and potentially offer you feedback that could improve your product. Questions can also help you further evaluate the kind of customers you are reaching and what they want.

If someone asks a question about your brand, you should always address this. Don’t just provide the answer, but offer additional assistance too. Keep in mind the sort of tone you use as well. Different audiences should be addressed appropriately.

Acknowledge when someone mentions your brand

When someone expresses an opinion on your brand, make sure to acknowledge it, whether it’s with a like or comment, though actual text or verbal responses, when appropriate, are the way to go. That way they know there is an avenue for communication and they will be more inclined to invest in your product if they believe they will be heard.

Participate in Discussion

Comment on current trends and other discussions that are related to, but not necessarily about, your own business. Reblogging content or sharing can create rapport between other online presences, especially potential partners. Exploring other communities and participating in their discussions may be able to help you generate ideas and form connections that benefit your own company, while cementing your presence on social media.

Be Creative

Developing creative content and campaigns can generate discussion about your brand. Not only that, but it helps to maintain levels of interest in your product if you are successful. The more innovative your approach, the more attention you’ll garner. Make sure there is a mix in the type of content you produce. There are various multimedia options, videos, photos, podcasts and countless others that you could be using to reach your customers. Keep things interesting.

Be Prompt

Social media activity is fast paced and constant. Make sure not to fall behind, by responding to any questions or mentions about your brand. This is particularly important for customer service related businesses.

Constructive Criticism

In a social media environment, criticism is an inevitable reality. But this is an opportunity to turn something negative into a positive. Take into account what is being said and why; if a customer is unhappy, try to address the problem as quickly as possible. Identify and understand the perceived flaw, and communicate with the customer about how it could be better. If nothing else, criticism also allows you to empathise with the customer.

While it’s always good to be proactive, there are also things you shouldn’t do on social media. Repeatedly posting the same link, or posting too frequently often deters customers from following you. Social media managing app, Buffer has recently surveyed users on ‘how often is too often’ in terms of posting, and formulated an ideal schedule based on social platform.

Facebook: The Top Facebook brands averaged 1 post per day. Anything less than a post per week and people begin to lose interest, but multiple posts on the same day lead to a drop in commentary for every subsequent post after the first. A good posting rate would be 1 or 2 per day, but if you post more than once, make sure that these posts are made at different times of the day.

Twitter: SocialBakers study into Twitter research has revealed that engagement levels (taking into account replies, retweets and favourites) usually fall after the 3rd tweet. However, because Twitter is so fast paced and tweets are short-lived, frequent posting leads to double the number of clicks for tweets containing links. If that is the type of engagement you are after, 1-4 tweets per hour is the recommended rate for you. Small businesses are advised to keep their tweets to 5 per day to make the most of different engagement levels

LinkedIn/Google +: According to LinkedIn’s own site, 20 posts a month helps you to reach 60% of your audience. Varying opinions exist on Google+ as to what optimum posting frequency is, so the best thing to do is analyse and predict based on the information and feedback you get on your page.

Remember too that you should schedule posts for when your audience is online. If you are marketing to a global audience, it is important to take into account the time differences.

Of course, these are only guidelines to help you figure out how frequently you want to post. Reading your own analytics and formulating posting and market strategies based on your own needs will be the best way of determining when, where and what to post.