Brevity! Clarity! Dialogue! Easy tips for increasing engagement

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by Sarah Milam, Manager, Media Development

There is no escaping the reach of social media giants Facebook or Twitter. As an independent publisher, you likely already have the obligatory ‘follow me’ or ‘like me’ buttons on your blog - but now what? Have you spent time cultivating the audience you are trying to build?

Navigating the crowded world of social media can be confusing and time-consuming, but you should be paying attention. Facebook is noisy – very noisy. Over 30 billion pieces of content are shared each month** and users are engaging with this content in a variety of ways. 230,000 messages, 95,000 statuses, 80,000 wall posts, 65,000 photos tagged, 50,000 links being shared and 500,000 likes or comments on all of that are happening every 60 seconds*. As a publisher, you are competing for real estate and attention at an overly crowded party. Facebook content must be engaging to assure it is amplified through the fan network you have worked to create.

We read through some of the latest studies and hand-picked a couple of best practices that can be easily integrated into your social media strategy. While we can’t guarantee these changes will make yours the #1 fan page on Facebook, these tips provide ways to boost your social presence and ultimately drive people back to your site. According to the experts, the following tips should result in increased engagement:

1. Keep it short – posts 80 characters or less have a 27% higher engagement rate

2. Use Full Length URLs – This may sound contradictory, but people like transparency and want to know where you'll be sending them

3. Direct Your Readers with Clear Actions –If you want the ‘like’, ask for it

4. Engage Your Readers with Questions – use "where", "when", "would" and "should" as question starters. These words result in higher engagement rates than others.

While Twitter and Facebook are different social media outlets, the rules are pretty similar - priority number one is knowing your audience. New information shows that Twitter profiles with the largest number of followers don't necessarily have the most influence. Instead of focusing on increasing followers, make sure your content is relevant and conversational. Get your followers to interact through Retweets and @ mentions. The value of each is a little different and knowing this difference will help you fine-tune your Twitter strategy. Retweets show the value of your content while @ mentions show your ability to engage others in conversation***. By engaging with your followers, you encourage them to follow links back to your site to consume even more of your content.

There are plenty of tools out there that can help in understanding social impact - these tools may not be perfected yet, but playing around with them can help you better understand the mysterious workings of social media.

*Fast Company

**Buddy Media

***Measuring User Influence in Twitter: The Million Follower Fallacy