5 of the best social media engagement tools for brands
Social media engagement tools are necessary for the modern-day marketer and social media manager. Their core value proposition is that they give a lot of the time and effort back to your team so it can focus on things like community building and outreach.
Imagine you are getting thousands of comments and hundreds of DMs across social media channels every day. It is a clear sign that your brand is making an impact in the market and people are loving it. However, you must engage in conversation quickly to form a direct and meaningful connection with your community, who will eventually be your best brand advocates both on and offline.
According to Talkwalker’s Social Media Trends 2022 report, this year is the year of the ‘now’ consumer. Consumers are increasingly using social media to reach customer support, and brands must react swiftly to seize those opportunities to showcase their empathy and proactivity. Time is of the essence.
Sounds like an impossible mission? Almost. Luckily there are several social media engagement tools on the market that help you build, manage, and measure your social media engagement, and channel insights to other teams.
Most social media engagement tools offer a suite of automation and monitoring solutions that save you time and allow you to find business-critical insights in conversations. Also, by leveraging the reporting capabilities of these tools your team is able to proactively connect with audiences and inform future strategies across the organization, specifically when it comes to your ROI.
The evolution of online conversations around ‘pizza’ and ‘burgers’ shows that consumers are far more likely to engage with pizza-related content, especially around lunch or dinner time.
What is social media engagement?
Social media engagement is a broad metric that encompasses:
Liking a post
Commenting on a post
Sharing a post
Hashtagging a post
Retweeting a post
Saving a post for later
Clicking on a post’s link
Viewing a video
Mentioning a page on any post
A social media engagement tool allows marketers to measure how, when, and where their community is interacting with social media channels and messages. Having an engaged audience is a key indicator of how well the content you are posting is resonating with their interests. The number of followers is an important indicator of how popular your brand is, however, the number of engaged followers tells you if you have their attention: quality over quantity.
Social media engagement is only one touchpoint that customers have while interacting with a brand. Overall, the brand experience must remain consistent and continuously offer value either in the form of education or entertainment.
In a nutshell, social media engagement is not about having the biggest crowd around you, but instead, it’s about having a proactive community that is willing to go that extra mile with your brand. This, of course, comes after establishing a trusting relationship between stakeholders.
Why should you care about keeping social media engagement up?
Organic reach is at its lowest in years, especially as more social media platforms are operating on a pay-to-play model. According to Hootsuite, the average reach of an organic post from a Facebook page is only 5.2%. The most effective way to increase reach and sales from social media is by boosting your advertising budget.
Brands, as a result, have prioritized their advertising efforts over bolstering their organic marketing, given that the latter requires more work and nurturing. However, it is evident that at the heart of every successful advertising campaign lies a robust social media community that organically increases reach and click rates, while creating long-lasting relationships and a sustainable brand.
The two must co-exist: organic marketing and advertising.
Plus, with ad budgets being down, brands are competing for organic reach, something which requires creativity and a human-centered approach.
Maintaining a high rate of organic social media engagement must be prioritized because:
It gives signals to the algorithm that your content is valuable to the audience
It allows your customers and fans to have a stronger connection to your brand
It gives you a signal to know what content performs better
People love brands that are similar to them. According to Talkwalker’s Brand Love Story, the key to a relatable social media engagement strategy is to talk with your audience as friends, and the rest will follow. This will result in increased brand advocacy and loyalty. Answering customer complaints on social media is one way to show that your brand actually cares about their needs.
By publicly acknowledging your shortcomings and responding to them in a timely manner, people will react positively. An average of 80% of people between the ages of 18-34 have a favorable view of brands responding to customer service issues via social media.
The health and wellness brand Fitbit recently had to recall all its Ionic watches due to a technical error, and the community was flaring up until Fitbit responded to their concerns.
A message to our users: Customer safety is always Fitbit’s top priority and out of an abundance of caution, we’ve announced a voluntary recall of Fitbit Ionic smartwatches. Please visit https://t.co/1p0SOTzgQy. Thank you for your continued support. pic.twitter.com/IvVtYs53md
— fitbit (@fitbit) March 2, 2022
One key reason why social media engagement is critical for a brand’s sustainability is that it creates better relationships. Brands can leverage listening to social media conversations to learn from the audience and improve the experience. Also, having a direct and transparent relationship showcases your empathetic side to your audience.
Lastly, having an engaged audience means that they’ll do a lot of the work on your behalf, your community starts to become self-fulfilling where they answer each other’s questions and help with known issues. It becomes easier and faster as more of your audience engages with your social media content.
How to increase your social media engagement rate
The social media engagement rate of your accounts will go up or down depending on a number of factors. What’s important is to interact with your audience in a genuine and active way, and not wait for them to just get chatty and sociable all of a sudden.
One simple analogy to think of is a virtual birthday party, where you’ll be the center of attention and the heart of the party. You will have to respond to comments, engage in small talk, and spontaneously make people like you. This will not only turn your company into a brand, but will also make you money down the line as they turn from fans into paying customers.
The first step towards increasing your engagement is knowing where you stand today. Analyze your social media channels and see what has previously worked to increase comments, likes, clicks, or whatever metric you care about. You will need to keep an eye on the fluctuation of your engagement across time, this will help you know what makes people tick.
Talkwalker’s Quick Search tool is a powerful and versatile tool that allows marketers to identify topics that resonate with their audience. Above we see how US-based audiences have engaged with two topics ‘soccer’ and ‘basketball’ during the past year.
Secondly, you have to know why you are posting on social media and develop your strategy based on that. Different businesses have different goals and audiences, and thus their messaging will also differ.
If you compare messaging of Louis Vuitton’s and Netflix’s Twitter accounts, you’d notice that they adopt two different approaches to drive engagement. Louis Vuitton builds on the popularity of Selena Gomez who is wearing an LV dress designed by Nicolas Ghesquiere, whereas Netflix is deeply rooted in pop culture where they post trailers of popular shows like Heartstoppers, and let their audience do the rest.
#SelenaGomez in #LouisVuitton at the 27th #CriticsChoiceAwards. The actress wore a custom dress by @TWNGhesquiere. pic.twitter.com/S3LgmxtpVa— Louis Vuitton (@LouisVuitton) March 15, 2022
Get ready to fall in love.— Netflix (@netflix) March 16, 2022
At long last you can finally watch the teaser trailer for Heartstopper, an eight chapter story, premiering.... April 22!!! pic.twitter.com/BRO93rmEVO
Both tweets are engaging in their own ways, just different tactics.
Identifying the goal behind your social media strategy helps you remain consistent and able to sustainably drive engagement. For example, your goal from posting on social media could be to generate business leads, shape the narrative around your brand, or educate your audience about your products.
Going back to the virtual birthday party analogy, if you don’t know your audience, then you are simply shooting in the dark and hoping for the best. Understanding your community’s background in publishing valuable content that resonates with their interests and drives them to engage.
Publishing content just for the sake of publishing is worthless if it’s not always providing value to your audience. Meaning, your content must directly address their pain points and needs – have a conversation, not a monologue.
Furthermore, keeping track of what your audience is talking about helps your brand remain topical and relevant. Whether it’s a global event, an awards ceremony, or even a meme – joining the conversation on current events gives you the opportunity to connect with and engage your audience organically.
More importantly, knowing what conversations your audience is having helps you develop a brand voice that’s similar to theirs. Behind your brand account is a human being, and consumers love when they feel the warmth and connection. It’s 2022 so it’s socially acceptable for your brand to respond with a GIF, a behind-the-scenes view of your company, and even a sincere apology. One way that social media managers are humanizing their social media responses is by signing off every tweet with their name.
Not only that, knowing where your audience is living their digital lives helps you strategize and focus on that particular social media platform. You don’t need to be on all social media platforms just because everybody else is doing it.
What is a social media engagement tool?
A social media engagement tool is a platform that allows marketers to monitor conversations, respond to customer requests, publish and schedule content. Even more, these platforms automate a lot of the monotonous tasks that free up time for teams to focus on creating content and making a genuine human connection through community building.
Having such a social media engagement tool has been a critical element in increasing customer happiness and loyalty on social media. However, the tool alone does not guarantee an increase in engagement; a tool is merely a tool.
Most successful social media teams leverage an array of tools to ensure they are constantly relevant, topical, and human. For example, the martech stack could include a social listening tool combined with an analytics and publishing tool.
The point is that social media engagement tools help you put the ‘social’ in social media. They help social media teams do a better job of getting more traffic and sales, as well as creating a sustainable brand for the future.
How to compare social media engagement tools?
If you’re on the lookout for social media engagement tools then there are a number of factors you should consider when choosing one to suit your needs:
Customer support: The ability to chat with someone via DM or live chat in order to help you find answers and resolve an issue.
Modularity: Each business has its own needs and objectives, therefore the tool must be flexible and customizable to meet those needs.
Data security: When using a social media engagement tool, you are required to connect your accounts to that platform which gives them access to private conversations and sensitive information. You need to ensure that the provider has robust data protection policies and infrastructure
Coverage: Not all social media engagement platforms are created equal. You need to look at the data sources, platform integrations, and the languages it allows you to interact with.
Features: You need to look at whether the tool allows you to schedule content, have a centralized view of customer conversations, analyze and visualize trends in a way that you can extract insights from, and any specific features you might need for your business
User interface: An important factor is how easy the platform is to use on a daily basis. Given the nature of social media, it is also important to see if they have a mobile application that accompanies the desktop version.
Price: With marketing budgets being decreased in recent years, price to benefit ratio is also a critical factor to consider while choosing which social media engagement platform to buy.
The key thing to understand is what value the tool will bring to your business and how it will maximize the impact of your community-building efforts.
5 social media engagement tools
Below is a list of some of the best social media engagement tools on the market that’ll improve your online presence.
Talkwalker – Consumer intelligence for the world’s most impactful brands
Screenshot of Talkwalker’s consumer intelligence platform where we see a bubble graph surrounding the top themes on bitcoin and dogecoin.
Talkwalker offers social media managers a great opportunity to have a holistic view of what their audience is saying online. The platform gives visibility across 187 languages, in 190 countries - making it a powerful tool for international brands aiming to maximize their impact. An exciting feature that Talkwalker offers is the ‘image recognition’ solution which empowers social media managers to track any hidden brand mentions in videos and photos.
For example, brand managers could keep an eye on where their logo is appearing even when their brand isn’t mentioned.
Another cool feature that Talkwalker has is its AI-powered sentiment analysis. This enables social media managers to not only understand the sentiment of their audience around a particular campaign but to do so at scale.
Reporting and data visualization are also strong features of Talkwalker’s platform. The screenshot above shows a bubble graph surrounding the top themes on bitcoin and dogecoin; in this case the bigger the circle the more recurrent it is. The platform offers a multitude of ways to visualize data in order to extract insights like conversation clusters, geographical heat maps, and bar charts.
You can check out Talkwalker’s platform in action here.
Hootsuite – Social is your superpower
Screenshot of Hootsuite’s social media engagement platform, enabling you to respond to customers’ requests from all channels.
Hootsuite is a multipurpose social media management platform that helps teams maximize their impact and engage their community. The platform offers a centralized suite of tools that allows teams to better schedule their social media content, as well as analyze their performance.
One of their strong features is the ability to promote organic content and manage paid ads. However, what social media managers love the most about Hootsuite is its ability to offer personalized customer care efficiently, without risking the dismissal of any request.
Khoros – Unified, enterprise platform for digital contact centers
Screenshot of Khoros’ data dashboard, giving social media managers a holistic view of their performance KPIs.
Khoros is a centralized platform that allows social media teams to establish and maintain a human connection with their community. Khoros helps brands to modernize their customer support experience and makes it easier to use social media as a support channel.
As a customer engagement platform, Khoros gives teams the ability to personalize and humanize each touchpoint a customer has with a brand. Social media teams can leverage Khoros’ tools to create AI-enhanced agents to auto-respond to DMs, streamline conversational marketing, and optimize the overall customer journey.
Buffer – Chart your path. Share your story.
Screenshot of Buffer’s publishing tool where social media managers can schedule Instagram stories to go live at a certain time.
Buffer is a versatile tool that allows businesses to publish content, analyze its performance, and engage the audience. Its minimalistic UI makes it an attractive tool for beginners or professionals who don’t want to get too much into the details. The platform recommends to users which content had better engagement and the factors that contributed to that success: timing, type, and messaging.
Sprout Social – A powerful solution for social media management
Screenshot of Sprout Social’s publishing platform, allowing teams to manage their content pipeline across channels.
Sprout Social is a comprehensive social media marketing solution that allows teams to increase audience engagement and have a better understanding of the target audience. The platform allows you to track your social media ROI, track customer feedback, measure audience sentiment across time, identify trending stories as they happen, and to analyze all this in real-time.
At the end of the day, social media engagement is both an art and a science. It requires a tremendous amount of experimentation and learning from your audience. Brands that manage to embrace their authenticity and establish a direct relationship through their social networks will win big in the long run.