In the age of paying for followers and businesses breaking up with Facebook, it might seem like we’re draining the social out of social media. But that doesn’t change the fact that an engaged, interesting inbound marketing presence means a monitored and active social media presence.

For starters, social media is a rich source of data that you can use to inform your marketing strategy overall. Using new and expanded online tools, you can segment your audience based on sales cycle stages, work up competitor surveys, and track high-performing content and social influencers.

But there’s just one thing: you’ve got to actually have some socializing going on! The good news is that you can build a strong, meaningful social media following the old fashioned way and get the old fashioned results: brand recognition, real engagements, and high-quality leads.

4 ways you can make your social media more social

In order to turn your social media platform into a source of rich data and lead generation, it’s got to be more social than it is now. Here are four tips for increasing the engagement you receive for each social media platform.

1. Use pictures to tell stories

People that follow the top ten brands on Facebook engaged with photos twice as often as text updates. And now that Twitter has jumped on the photo-heavy bandwagon, it’s become a necessary engagement factor. Photos speak volumes, whether it’s a quick snap at a company tradeshow or a custom illustrated infographic. Create and re-share a mixture of both to give prospects an easy way to engage with your company’s social media platform without committing to a contact form or official connection.

2. Embrace the hashtag

A hashtag by any other name will smell as sweet, which explains why Facebook and Google Plus both use some variation of the classic Twitter hashtag. On each platform it works much the same, providing a single keyword that links your update to the global world of updates on that topic. This provides a massive amount of exposure and pushes you into the mix when readers look to get informed on a given topic. Use one or two hashtags or topic tags per update, and go slowly, as research shows that tweets with hashtags have 21 percent higher engagement than tweets with three or more hashtags.

3. Balance scheduled updates with genuine ones

Though scheduled updates often get a bad reputation, they can be particularly helpful for you and beneficial for your prospects. You can schedule your updates for when you know your prospects will be more active and interested, which is especially helpful when you’re on the opposite coast (think scheduling versus live-posting an 8am EST tweet when you’re in an office on the West Coast). Mixing scheduled updates with genuine, real-time updates will hit the middle ground between being a reliable news source and a real, live person.

4. Network actively and professionally

Social media power users meet and engage online in the same way your personal network meets for live events. In fact, LinkedIn, Google Plus, and Twitter are still growing in B2B networking engagement. The best way to get started is to login to your platform, update your photo, description, and background, and start searching for connections based on topics and location. Use Twitter’s Advanced Search to find specific users who will be valuable to you, and use LinkedIn’s Advanced People Search to seek out prospects based on relationships, location, industry. Upgrade to LinkedIn Pro to have access to users based on years of experience, seniority level, and function within a company.

If you take the time to understand your target market and provide the right opportunities to engage, you can have a truly captivating social media presence. Ready to roll up your sleeves and get started? Join us @RickWhittington or on Google Plus!

Is your social media presence as social as it needs to be? How are you going to improve it?

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