How to engage your audience on social media? It's easy if you care.

How to engage your audience on social media? It’s easy if you care.

Which social media accounts delight and inform you? That cut through the noise and engage you – that stop you scrolling? I ask because, according to the annual industry report recently published by Social Media Examiner, the one question that social marketers want to answer above all others is…


What are the best ways to engage my audience?


People selling things on social aren’t as concerned with how to grow an audience, as to how they can get one that listens. Why? Because those engaged followers are the only ones worth having. Who might buy from you. And because that’s what algorithms (the pesky programs that order and prioritise our posts) value – content that is being engaged with most.

This is my area

Why listen to me? I know how to engage people on Instagram. My posts attract likes and comments from 6% -10% of my followers (typically, we all bomb). Which is around twice the level that’s considered ‘good’ on Insta.

Click for a post from Hootsuite that explains how to calculate social engagement rates.

Yes, I have a small account where engagement is generally higher and yes, it is easier for me than a corporate brand to connect with individuals. But my account works – click to have a look. It is followed by real people, who are in my right audience, and who respond to the content I post.

Engagement is not a dark art

It boils down to this. I care about what people have to say, and I’m polite and generous with my time and comments. I don’t try and sell stuff that often and I share my expertise. Stick up some nice images and video and that’s pretty much it.

This a link to a post I have written about how to create a social account worth following.

So marketers, here are my quick fire answers to your question.

15 ways to engage your audience (not piss them off) on social media

Reply to comments (engagement 101 – but amazingly lots of accounts just don’t – engagement goes two ways, would you ignore someone who spoke to you in real life?).

Use people’s first names – it takes less than 10 seconds to find out someone’s first name when you are engaging with them (read this – a person’s name is the sweetest sound in the world) and the value is golden.

Stick to the 80:20 rule – so only 20% of your posts should be selling something – if that.

Credit properly when you post user-generated content (it’s a compliment, it’s polite and it the right thing to do).

Create brilliant, properly generous offers, prizes, and giveaways – that have no strings attached.

Don’t copy other people’s ideas.

Invite people into your conversations, we all have views and like to be asked for them. Don’t be the World’s Greatest Living Expert all the time, find out what people think.

Tell the truth.

Businesses – give your social media management over to someone who is good at it. Your digital marketing shouldn’s be part of the office admin, and people who do it well deserve to be paid more than babysitters wages.

Use real images. Catalogue and cold professional lifestyle photography can seem remote. It’s a turn off on social.

Be funny (check out Lego).

Ask whether you would follow this account – seriously?

Talk about your people – and your people’s people. Stories about the humans in your businesses make great content and will connect with your followers. If you are a business of one – talk about yourself.

Remember that it’s not about you. REMEBER that it’s not about you. It’s about what you can do for your follower!

Appreciate that building a decent rate of engagement involves time. Make the investment, or don’t complain about it.

Look out for people who are actually doing it

You will meet knowledgeable digital marketers who create – sorry guys – incredibly bland online content. There are plenty of brand accounts with tens of thousands of followers – that are total graveyards when it comes to engagement.
If you need inspiration, seek it where it’s working. Look for the talent. I asked my friend Ade Evans who runs a Facebook page for the Thames Lido what his secret is. Ade’s grown a much-loved page, organically, at a time where the FB algorithm makes it virtually impossible for businesses to grow without using paid advertising. It brings in customers and spreads good will.


“All too often people are looking for shortcuts to social media success.  They tell me about an app that makes posting easier. They tell me about some website that helps you create graphics. I’m not really interested. None of that matters if you don’t TALK to and LISTEN to your audience.”

Ade says that doing good business with your followers on social means leaving your business-like at the door.

“Ask them questions.  Ask their opinion and get conversations started.  Talk to them as if they’re your friends, not like you’re a bank telling them they’ve gone overdrawn.  Stop acting all “business-like” and start building relationships. People almost never go on Facebook to buy something.  They go on to keep in touch with their friends and to be entertained.  Do that as a business and you’ll not go far wrong.”

So, what engages you on social media, I’d love to know your views?

What's your View?

6 comments on “How to engage your audience on social media? It’s easy if you care.

  1. Ashley Cramp on

    Great post Helen as usual.
    I must say I cringe when someone uses my name but is a total stranger on ig.
    However, that’s probably just me?
    Great advice re 80 20 for selling, I’ve made a note of that for my blog posts.
    I’m always amazed at how little engagement there is on the larger accounts.
    Have a super week
    Ashley x

  2. Alice Johnsen on

    Thanks, Helen, this is a really helpful article. I am enjoying building up my Insta account slowly and steadily and learning lots (and making loads of mistakes) on the way so this is all brilliant advice.

    Hope you have a great week,


  3. Helen on

    Hey Ash, thanks for the read. I’m taking on board your feedback regards names – thank you!!! Some have very, very little engagement – perhaps they are not seeking it – or to go back to my first point, they don’t really care? Helen

  4. Helen on

    Hi Alice, I’m so pleased you found this helpful. Every day is a school day for me on social media – I’ve learned to embrace the mistakes or I’d give up! Keep enjoying it. Helen x

  5. Ade on

    All great tips H.
    I think the big problem is business think of their posts on Facebook as the ads on tv. They’re not. They should be the programmes….interesting, entertaining, engaging.
    If you’re watching a programme and some ad comes on about the latest jaunty hat, you’ll probably ignore.
    The minute the Phil “the silver fox” dons said hat, EVERYONE will want one!

    It’s about building trust and relationships. It works for us at The Lido anyway.

  6. Helen on

    Hey Ade? Thank you for popping by, and for contributing. Another golden quote in your comment that I will be borrowing; think of your social content as prime time TV, not the latest ad for washing powder. I think businesses struggle to get out of the sales mentality – if that’s the case you need to find someone else to do it for you. It words for The Lido anyway 😉

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