Social media can be a gold mine for small businesses looking to connect with their target audiences. One recent poll by Sprout Social found that 55% of people use social media to discover new brands. But investing in social media as part of your business’s marketing strategy is about more than just connecting with your target audience. A strong social media strategy can also drive conversions. In fact, 78% of people are more willing to make a purchase after having a positive experience with a brand on social.
It all looks great on paper, so why, as a small business owner, can these much-hyped benefits seem so elusive? To answer this question, it helps to think about where the business value of using social media comes from.
The key to creating real value with social media is quality over quantity—not only in what you post but also in how you interact with your audience. The good news is that you don’t need a lot of followers to create engaging posts on social media—you just need to build authentic connections with the followers you do have.
In this post, we’re sharing how to create engaging posts on the social media channels that matter along with ideas to help you get started.
How to write engaging posts on Facebook
With nearly 3 billion monthly active users across the globe, Facebook is still the top social network around the world. And its users are engaged—adults spend more time on Facebook than on any other social media site, with an average daily engagement of 33 minutes in 2022.
You need to find creative ways to get users to see your content and engage with it. These days, Facebook is all about making yourself available to your customers.
1. Open up to your audience by hosting an ‘ask me anything’
Your current and potential customers are going to have questions about your business. Hosting an ‘ask me anything’ (AMA) session is an easy and engaging way to answer those questions with a personal touch.
As the name suggests, an AMA gives your audience the opportunity to ask questions about your business, your products, your future, or even about you as a business owner. Answering these questions in an informal, unscripted way helps your audience build a more personal connection to your brand.
Facebook’s live video tools make it easy to schedule and host an interactive AMA session from your company page. With a live video AMA, you will be able to see questions and comments from your viewers and provide answers in real-time. Businesswoman and author Barbara Corcoran has used the AMA format on Facebook to build a deeper, more personal connection with her audience by answering their questions about her business empire, her favorite books, and much more.
Not every AMA has to be live. Pre-recorded AMA posts are a good option when you want to engage with your audience in a more personal way without the risks that come with live video—like this fantastic AMA from the Mandai Wildlife Reserve.
2. Get your audience to participate in a contest
Contests get your audience engaged and don’t require a lot of work to set up.
There are many ways to host a contest on social media. The Indiependent Collective chose to offer cash prizes to its followers for the best short story. But Facebook contests don’t necessarily need to be as formal as that. You could ask your followers to submit anything from their best ideas for new products to fan art based on your brand.
3. Celebrate social media holidays
There’s something to celebrate or recognize almost every day on social media. From silly holidays like National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day (August 4) to important observances like Black History Month (February), there are plenty of opportunities for your business to increase engagement while highlighting a fun day or worthy cause.
Your social media holiday posts can range from serious and informative, like sharing resources from reputable sources about a cause you care about, to funny or lighthearted—like sharing your favorite place to grab a beer for International Beer Day (the first Friday in August).
How to write engaging posts on Instagram
Instagram gives people a chance to connect with friends and family, relax and unwind at the end of the day, or explore new topics and trends. What users don’t want is the digital version of a door-to-door salesperson invading their personal spaces online with one-size-fits-all ads. In fact, 74% of consumers surveyed believe there are too many ads on their social feeds. With numbers like these, it’s clear why generic Instagram ads and salesy posts simply aren’t delivering the results you’ve been promised.
Instead, small businesses should focus more on creating content that engages their users, drives organic traffic, and builds authentic relationships with their customers.
4. Get interactive with Stories
While the Home feed once reigned supreme on Instagram, additions such as user Stories and Reels have taken off in recent years. According to Instagram, over 500 million users use Stories every single day.
But the value of Stories goes beyond just the massive audience. The low-pressure format makes it easy for businesses to connect with a receptive audience and create a positive brand sentiment. Statistics published by Instagram show that 58% of users become more interested in brands they see in Stories—and half of all users report visiting a company’s website with the intention of making a purchase after watching a Story.
LEGO uses Stories to show off new creations, ask its fans questions, and share user-generated content with its followers. While much of LEGO’s target audience is children, its Instagram Stories tend to focus on an older demographic that will actually be making the final purchase.
5. Help your audience discover your content with Reels
Reels were added to Instagram in 2020—and have exploded in popularity ever since. According to Hootsuite, Google searches for Reels have grown faster than any other feature on the platform. And the Instagram algorithm appears to be heavily pushing Reels as a way to draw users away from its main rival for millennial and Gen Z attention, TikTok.
But what exactly are Reels? An Instagram Reel is a full-screen vertical video that can last up to 90 seconds. They can appear in a user’s Home feed, as part of a Story, or on the dedicated Reels tab. Instagram provides a variety of editing tools to help you create Reels as well as a wide assortment of audio tracks, filters, captions, interactive backgrounds, stickers, and more.
One thing that makes Reels stand out is the way the Instagram algorithm chooses which content to recommend. In addition to the quality, relevance, and other aspects Instagram uses to recommend content, the algorithm for Reels also places a heavy emphasis on their entertainment value, so this isn’t the place for your product pitch.
6. Promote user-generated content from happy fans
What’s better than telling your followers how amazing your company is? Letting your loyal customers do the talking for you!
There are plenty of ways to promote a healthy stream of user-generated content on social media. You can promote previously created content, hold contests for your followers to create exciting content, or even provide a full media kit to help your followers create branded content for you.
And once fans of your brand start posting about how much they love your product or service on social media, you should be doing everything you can to promote that content. Cosmetics powerhouse L’oreal promotes content created by its followers, including makeup tips and tutorials.
Of course, user-generated content can work great even when your product or service isn’t conducive to being on screen. Action camera maker GoPro, for example, is constantly posting content made by its customers even though its product is rarely seen on screen.
Engaging post ideas for TikTok
Users adore TikTok in part because of how well it connects them to relevant content. The strength of TikTok’s algorithm lies in how well it interprets users’ data and usage patterns.
Clips on this vertical video–sharing platform—originally limited to just 15 seconds—can now be as long as 10 minutes. But short-form content still reigns supreme on TikTok. In fact, TikTok’s guide to best practices for businesses recommends sticking between 21 and 34 seconds as the sweet spot.
Driving social interactions and engagement on TikTok is all about making the most of these bite-sized video clips. You may not have time to introduce your company, much less your product, before your viewer’s attention is drawn to the next viral dance video. So, you will need to lean into brand authenticity and expertise to make an impact. But the benefit of building an authentic presence on TikTok cannot be overstated, especially for businesses targeting a younger demographic.
7. Participate in challenges
TikTok’s focus on short-form videos and connecting users with the most trend-worthy content make it the perfect environment for challenges to go wild.
Challenges give users a common template for how to create their videos while still providing flexibility to add their own flavor. This is great for small business owners who may not have time to sit around brainstorming brand-new ideas all day.
Challenges can also be a great opportunity for you to show off your expertise in a certain area. Is your company in the cosmetics sector? Show off your skills with a makeup challenge, for example. Just remember, users want to hear from real people on TikTok, not corporations. So, make sure you play to your business’s strengths in a way that is natural and authentic. Challenges and dances are fun if you’re good at them, but viewers can tell pretty quickly when you are trying too hard to fit in.
One example of how to do TikTok challenges right comes from the clothing company Vineyard Vines. It took on a popular challenge known as the #BottlecapChallenge in a fun and entertaining way. The company didn’t try to force its logo or products into its video. Instead, the company simply completed the challenge—unscrewing the lid from a bottle of water with a roundhouse kick—while dressed up as its mascot.
8. Interact directly with customers using Duets
When creating a video on TikTok, users can use the ‘Duet’ feature to respond to other users’ content. Duets are split-screen videos that place the original and the duet side by side, allowing users to reply or react to another user’s content.
The sportswear company Puma knows how a brand can have fun with Duets. It has used Duets to connect with fans, like in this clip where the company shows off its barista skills alongside those of one of its fans.
Engaging posts for LinkedIn
Rather than focusing on personal interests and connecting with friends and family, LinkedIn is geared toward professional topics and connecting with colleagues and business associates. While this is a distinctly different approach than most other social networking sites, with more than 830 million monthly active users globally, LinkedIn’s business-centric formula seems to be working.
LinkedIn’s user base is also one of the most affluent and well-educated of all the major social networks—51% of LinkedIn users have a college degree, and 50% have an annual income of $75,000 or more. LinkedIn offers unique opportunities for businesses interested in connecting with a more professionally-minded audience.
9. Keep your audience coming back with recurring series
There are few things as important to building long-term engagement on social media as being consistent with your content strategy. In fact, engagement is twice as high for company pages that post weekly.
Keeping up with a daily, weekly, or even monthly series helps you drive engagement and stay top of mind for your audience. Start your day by sharing your daily goals, giving your followers a weekly update on your business, or discussing the most important trends of the month.
Microsoft uses a weekly series to share insights from its engineers and start a conversation with its audience.
10. Get creative with the reaction emojis
While LinkedIn does offer the option to create basic polls in your posts, you can also use the multiple ‘reaction’ options to create informal polls and drive engagement with your followers.
In addition to the basic ‘like’ option, your audience can react to posts with emojis, including ‘celebrate,’ ‘insightful,’ or ‘curious.’ Users ‘vote’ by selecting the reaction that matches their preferred choice.
11. Share business announcements and awards
Your audience on LinkedIn not only contains prospective customers but also your employees. To increase engagement on LinkedIn, make sure to also create posts that resonate with that audience. Posts like product announcements, case studies, awards, or employee features can go a long way toward engaging your audience.
Plus, your employees are likely to share these posts with their own audiences, which can increase engagement for your business and grow your reach.
How to write engaging posts on Twitter
Because of its fast-paced, news-based culture and engaged audience, Twitter’s 217 million daily active users expect a high level of interaction and see it as a place to discover new information. Its focus on short-form content often requires businesses to take a different approach from other social media channels.
Twitter is an excellent platform for your business to connect with new customers and drive engagement with the followers you already have. Research from Bain & Company shows that brands that include Twitter as part of their product launch strategy are 2.3x more likely to understand how their target audience’s opinions should inform their launch goals.
Focus on techniques that make responding easy to get the most out of Twitter and attract more views.
12. Use polls to learn more about your audience
Twitter makes it easy for businesses and other organizations to share news and updates with their followers. But Twitter also provides plenty of tools to help businesses listen and learn too. Twitter Polls are a great way to engage your network, involve your fans in decisions, and encourage feedback.
Businesses can use Twitter Polls to discover their audience’s preferences for new products. For example, Karla Cosmetics used this poll to get direct feedback from customers about future products. Now the company has concrete data to inform its development decisions.
Of course, Twitter Polls can also be a fun way to show off the lighter side of your brand:
Twitter isn’t the only option for creating engaging polls on social media. Businesses can also create polls on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and other social media sites.
13. Let followers ‘fill in the blank’
If you prefer a more open-ended prompt, ‘fill in the blank’ posts are a great way to take advantage of Twitter’s fast-paced, short-form format. The basic concept behind this type of post is that you tweet a statement, leaving a blank that followers can ‘fill in’ by commenting on the tweet. Each response is a new comment, making this an excellent way to drive engagement.
Brands can use this format to better understand their followers, what motivates them, or what their values are. Universal Music Group took this route when it asked its followers to comment on what influenced their love of rap music.
This format can also be used to encourage discussions within the community and show that your brand understands your audience. The British radio station Radio X did this by incorporating a common in-joke about rock band Oasis.
The ‘fill in the blank’ prompt can also be used to let your audience tell you how they feel about new products and trends, like when SLAM Kicks asked its audience how they felt about the new sneakers from Nike.
14. Get creative with hashtags
Hashtags are one of the core elements of Twitter and help drive conversations within the community. They’re one of the most powerful tools brands have for standing out and getting discovered.
Brands can use existing hashtags to join current conversations and engage with an audience that has similar interests and values. The Electric Bike Company used the #ebike hashtag to spread its message beyond its followers.
You can also create your own hashtag to make it easy for people to talk about your business, brand, or event. The popular music festival South by Southwest uses the hashtag #SXSW to communicate with its audience and to follow discussions about the festival.
Social media engagement is just the first step
Building meaningful engagement on social media is a great way to grow your brand and connect with a larger audience. But it’s only one part of the puzzle. At the end of the day, you need to convert your followers into buyers and brand advocates to truly see results from social.