From 2008 to 2012, the number of Americans using social sites daily grew from 12 million to 58 million.  As the use of social media continues to expand, companies are increasingly looking to these mobile and web-based technologies as a way to connect with new and existing customers. While many of today’s brands have a presence on popular social sites, simply sharing information about a product or service does not necessarily lead to sales or customer loyalty. Here are a few tips for taking social media engagement to the next level:

1. Create engaging content to drive your social media. In 2012, Google’s Zero Moment of Truth research found that the average number of information sources used by customers doubled from 2010 to 2011. Not only are modern consumers using more information to drive their purchasing decisions, but they are also being exposed to more content than ever before. With the growth of social media, companies are now able to easily produce large amounts of content explaining why their product or service is the best, shifting the focus from which companies are the most engaged on social media, to those that have the most engaging social presences.

In 2013, as part of its “Look Up” campaign, British Airways set up digital billboards in London that respond to planes flying overhead. When a British Airways flight passes overhead, the billboards depict a child running and pointing up to the sky, chasing the airplane as the billboard reflects the flight details, like “flight BA475 from Barcelona.” Combining the childhood fascination of flying with the technological wizardry of the billboards, “Look Up” was shared widely across social media platforms and set British Airways apart from other airlines.

Engaging content not only separates you from the crowded social media arena, but it communicates the message of your brand. While customers may visit social pages to learn about the newest deals or to be entertained, they are also soaking up your company’s message and learning what it stands for. By creating content (articles, videos, podcasts, blog posts, etc.) that not only commands attention, but creates a personal connection with your customers, you can build loyalty for not just your products and services, but also for your brand.

2. Be social with your followers. Too often, companies forget the “social” aspect of social media. While social media is a great platform to feature new products and services, it is important to remember that social media is a forum for interacting with existing and potential customers, not just an online advertising space. If you go to the Twitter accounts of companies like J. Crew (@jcrew) or Nike (@Nike), you will see that they frequently reply to tweets by customers about their products or related topics. While this does not mean that you should reply to every Facebook post or tweet – choosing what to interact with is a science all its own – interacting with your viewers, whether it is through direct responses, sharing posts by your audience or by posting content that engages your audience, shows your followers that you value their feedback and are interested in what they have to say.

3. Promote sharing. Last year, insight community technologies provider Vision Critical conducted a survey, From Social to Sale, on the relationship between social media and sales. They found that about 40% of social media users have purchased an item after sharing it on Twitter, Facebook or Pinterest. When managing your social media accounts, the goal should not only be to share information about your company and its products and services, but to encourage your customers to share information about your business as well.

Babolat, a French sports company best known for its tennis equipment, promotes the hashtag #TennisRunsInOurBlood on its Twitter and other social media accounts. This hashtag is used to share Babolat’s products, highlight the results of the players it sponsors, and, most importantly, promote customer sharing of Babolat products. Throughout the Babolat Twitter (@Babolat) page you will see tweets by customers about how much they enjoy playing with Babolat equipment, all featuring the #TennisRunsInOurBlood hashtag. Users can also search the hashtag to find tennis-related posts from other people, interspersed with messages from the Babolat corporate account. While corporate and professional social sharing are important, customers themselves are often the best promoters of your brand.

Do you have any tips on effective consumer social media engagement? Please let us know in the comments – we’d love to hear them!

Contributed by Account Executive Michael Glen. Send him an email: