If you are a business or personal brand hoping to gain more followers on social media, then you need to interact with your audience. Expanding your online presence requires more effort than posting content and letting it sit on your page as if it will attract people like moths to a lantern. People are much more complicated than that. While it is possible to buy engaged Instagram followers, growing your audience organically means you must interact with people in ways they did not realize they wanted.
Think of it this way: who do you go to when you need clothes? You naturally turn to retailers with the best prices, but if the kind of clothes you are looking for is inexpensive and easy to find from multiple sources, then you go to the outlet that offers you the best customer experience. You feel more comfortable doing business with a merchant you know will take care of any issues and gives you some amount of joy transacting with them (whether by a friendly chat, an unexpected discount, or even a smile). This practice applies online as well, so here are a few more reasons to engage with your audience more.
You need to recognize them
When you imagine an enormous corporation, what comes to mind? You might conjure images of giant, plain buildings; memories of unenthusiastic customer service representatives; and even thoughts of data harvesting. While these companies have recognizable brands that seem to give their products and services legitimacy, doing business with them feels uncomfortable and even outright nerve-racking. You are just another identity-less customer to them.
You are more likely to be loyal to businesses that make you feel recognized—businesses that answer your questions honestly, are quick to fix any problems, and make you feel special when you purchase from them. Even with personal brands that do not sell products or services can make you feel appreciated. So, respond to your followers’ comments, accept their compliments with gratitude, and re-share user-generated content that they send to you. When you do, you’ll make your followers feel validated.
To increase transparency
While on the subject of impersonal corporations, interacting with your customers more frequently is an excellent way to make yourself more transparent. Some brands, for example, are quick to delete any negative public comments on their Facebook posts. If people saw the comment before it was removed, the organization or individual looks like they are uninterested in addressing problems or easily offended. If you respond to such remarks and criticism gracefully, though, you demonstrate that you are level-headed and are genuinely interested in followers’ experiences with you.
To attract more followers
People who do not follow you yet will see your behavior online. Even if they are not aware of it, they are assessing whether you are active, responsive, charming, and calm. If they see that you pass this test, they might deem you worthy of their continued attention and click the “follow” button. Because consumers seek acknowledgment from brands, you need to make it public to potential followers that they can find that with you.
To get to know them
Every successful business knows their followers well. Social media analytics tools can provide you with insights into where your followers live, what some of their online habits are, their demographics, and more, but it’s also good to hear this information directly from the source. What are their likes and dislikes? What do they like that you are doing, and what do they wish you did better? When you have a better understanding of what makes your audience tick, you can adjust your marketing strategy appropriately and give them what you are currently not providing.
To enhance customer service
Social media is a convenient place to handle customer service. Not everyone is comfortable making phone calls—and email conversations can take a while—but being available to answer questions through direct messaging on Instagram and Facebook makes you more accessible. The Institute of Customer Service reports that one in every three customers takes advantage of social media for communicating with a business (plus, it gives people the chance to make themselves more articulate, and they can look at past conversations if need be). When you host social media “office hours” (or even make someone available 24/7), you show that you are approachable and ready to fix problems.
Social media is a crowded landscape, but interacting with your followers encourages them (and new ones) to remain loyal to your brand instead of others. What additional reasons do you have for engaging with your followers more frequently?