There’s so much social media being thrown around…

So much that people often forget the important things. Damn! When it comes to hitting the bull’s eye on the social web, you definitely want to pull off a killer social media engagement strategy.

Getting the right objectives, ideas and tools of the trade is how it has to start. You can’t just jump right in and start posting anything and sharing everything!

It’s absolutely easy to foster engagement on Facebook pages as well as increase your Twitter following, but you need to have a solid, workable plan to act as a support base. In this article, I’ll focus on what you need to do/understand to come up with an effective social media engagement plan right off the hook…

Know your Audience, UNDERSTAND their Necessities

Knowing your audience is really important as it helps you decide the people whom your product or service is meant for. More importantly, ensure that you address the needs of your audience to help you connect with them all through.

For instance, if your website is all about ladies’ shoes, make sure you inform them of the latest trends of shoes, designs, what shoes are comfortable, the materials they are made from, etc. This way, you have got a real shot at impressing them as well as boosting your sales figures in the process.

1: KEYwords are KEY

Keywords are an absolutely essential social media engagement tool. If you’re starting off from the wrong road, chances are that you’ll never get to your intended destination. Social media managers who’re excellent in search engine optimization know well what people are looking for when they find their business on Google.

You can use the right keywords to direct the targeted audience to your services and products. Use the Google Keyword Planner and Wordstream to find reasonable keywords for your online presence/website. If you need help coming up with some real kick-ass keywords, check out this Hubspot guide on keyword research.

Remember that the battle starts with the keywords…

…so if you are targeting the wrong terms, it might just as well not be easy to rank anywhere near the top with your social media content.

If you find that some of the keywords you have in mind are too competitive, go for long-tail keywords as they are easier to rank for (basically, longer keywords have lesser competition in the search engines).

2: Look for Gaps and Opportunities

Looking for gaps and opportunities can be quite a tiresome and time-consuming task, but it’s something you definitely want to do for your social media goals.

Identifying social media engagement opportunities is all about trying to estimate search and referral volume. If you have content on your website/blog but the social referral volume is lower than the search volume, then you have a gap. On the other hand, if there’s substantial search volume for content that relates to what your target audience may be interested in, you have an opportunity you can leverage.

Make use of analytics data related to your social media presence to see what’s going on behind the scenes, so that you might be able to identify gaps that need to be filled in.

3: Meta Tags

Yes indeed.

Meta tags do play a very crucial role in both SEO and social media engagement strategy. The title and description of any content you post to your blog, social media profiles or anywhere on the web needs to be optimized in line with your best keywords.

The key to a long-lasting social media strategy is to pull people from elsewhere on the web and direct them to your social profiles.

This way, you’ve got a real hold on them. People often check out their Facebook and twitter profiles several times a day. And if you can get them to voluntarily follow you through content you’ve provided elsewhere on the web, you have a real shot at developing a relationship with the.

4: Understand the Competition

Of course, you are not ranking at the top of Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn because you have competition. Finding who the ‘other guys’ are is an important part drafting a strategic social media engagement plan. You’ll need to use the search engine results pages to identify your competition. Create an excel worksheet and make a tab for each of the competitors you are researching on.

What are they doing on social media?

Can you be able to track their social media activity using any analytics platform?

Are they fostering enough social media engagement?

How often do they update their Twitter and Facebook account?

What are you doing differently with them, and how?

Who’s who on Google when it comes to ranking for the same keywords you are interested in?

Ideally, answering these questions will open up your mind as well as enrich you with key information for the laying out of your social media strategy.

Another great way of getting to know your competitors is to use the SEOMoz ( keyword difficulty tool. One of the best social media engagement tool around anywhere, the keyword difficulty resource gives you a pretty good idea on your competition as well as keywords.

Using this tool is simpler than might imagine…just type the keyword you are looking for and click to search. The difficulty score and authority comparison will give you the top-listed results and at the bottom you can be able to shift your results to an excel sheet.

You can also target 3 or 5 competitors for each category. The more competitors’ sites you pick the more work you will have to do. This will help you understand who the front-players in your niche are and what they’re doing to play the top-game!

5: Content is KING

As goes the popular truism…’content is everything’.

Search engines are increasingly becoming quality-content conscious. Indeed, high quality content is the best way you get to create an affirmative user experience as well as rank for keywords you are targeting.

Sharing absolutely powerful content one of the best social media engagement ideas you can actualize for better visibility and increased referrals. I recommend that you follow the “80-20” approach, which means that 80 percent of the times, you are providing useful content, while 20% of the time you are promoting your products/services.

Find helpful articles that your audience might like and post them on your Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn profiles. See what they comment about it…what type of content do they seem to like? Can you fine tune your sharing of information based on what works?

As you keep interacting with your fans on social media, you will get to understand their needs better, and thus be in a position to fine tune your posts to match these needs!

6: Learn from your Competitors

This important social media engagement strategy tip works like magic, all the time!

When it comes to the competition, you don’t just leave it at defining them. Track your competition to know what makes them successful and milk some social media engagement ideas out of that!

Go beyond the comparison of title tags and look deep into their products and services, or how they present them to their audience. The idea is to identify those unique qualities that make people visit their social media profiles as much, and emulate them!

Once you get a good idea of what there are doing to ‘look good’, try to be more creative than they are.

Carry out a content-and-feature comparison with your competition that includes resources, widgets, tools for social presence and promotion, landing pages and content. Find out what people like about your sites feature and also what they dislike.

Bear in mind your buyer persona (the profile, needs of the people you are targeting), and what their aims are. Success is only realized when your social media engagement activity crosses paths with their aims and goals.

Make use of the following search and social media engagement tools to collect essential data: –

  • Website Grader
  • SearchCLU
  • Covario
  • SEOMoz Crawl Test
  • InLink
  • Competre
  • AttentionMeter
  • comScore
  • Hitwise

7: Expand your Connectivity

The question of how many social media platforms you should subscribe to – in order to effectively advance your business as well as professional marketing interests -has been a constant issue of debate. Nonetheless, for the good of your social media engagement strategy, I recommend that you set up shop on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube. An active and well-planned participation in all these five networks can generate enough buzz to get the right information out there.

Once in a while, it’s also important that you leverage social bookmarking platforms such as Digg, Delicious and Folkd when sharing content, you’ve created on your business website or bog. If you use an attention-grabbing title, such platforms can help generate a widespread audience across the World Wide Web.

8: Measure Results & Refine your Social Media Engagement Strategy

Take a break after about a month and measure your progress. How well are you doing?

  • How many new likes have you accomplished for your Facebook page?
  • How many new LinkedIn connecting have you acquired?
  • Has your Google+ circles expanded, is twitter becoming more accommodative for you?

If you don’t like the answer to any of these questions, you need to take a break and think about where you’re going wrong with your social media engagement strategy. Are you posting the wrong content? Think about your target audience and what exactly they might be looking for on the web. This way, you can fine-tune your activity to perfectly address their concerns. There are dozens of both free and paid social analytics tools that you can use for this.

9: Images do Matter

If you have in your mind that images of your products do not contribute to the success of your social media campaign, you might want to re-think that. When clients are searching for products, they not only consider the results given but also the images on the product on your social media profiles and website. As goes the popular marketing adage, ‘consumers are visual’. Share fantastic images of your products on your social media profiles and see how many people pay attention.

Use just clear product images and give them appropriate names. However, avoid coming across as too ‘salesy’. A good idea is to use images when you’re doing discounted promotions or offers.

Kissmetrics states that photos attract 53 percent more ‘Likes’, 84% more click-throughs and 104% more comments.

10: Multiple Postings, Multiple Timezones = More Engagement

If you have an international following, this is a major social media engagement strategy. Some of the best-known people in the social world, including Guy Kawasaki, often post the same content several times. The reason behind this is so as to reach followers in different time zones. This can greatly enhance the response generated by your social media content. Consider posting some of your best content several times within the length of the day. This however does not apply to YouTube, as you might not want to post the same video twice.

Just Getting Started? Consider Some Advertising

What if you just created your Facebook page or Twitter account?

Chances are that you aren’t going to be getting hundreds of likes by the day. As part of your preliminary social media engagement plan, you ought to get people to boost your presence. Make sure that you invite your friends, existing customers as well as colleagues. If you still have the numbers to make new followers feel at home, consider paid advertising. Paid advertising works fantastically for Facebook pages, and you can get as many likes as you want per day. Basically, all you do is setup a daily budget and configure a sponsored ad. You can filter to target your audience appropriately. Facebook shows the ad to the right people and gets you started on the right footing.

Today, social media is a key aspect of the online success process. Of course, you need to promote your products or services, as well as create brand awareness. Implementing the strategies covered in this post should get moving in the right direction. You’ll be able to take your LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, Facebook and Video Marketing campaigns to a whole new level.