Posted 10.19.2019 by Meghan Crawford
Engagement has become an essential factor for social media algorithms. How users comment and respond to your content influences what they see on their news feed.
These changes to the algorithm have improved the user’s experience: they now engage with content that is relevant to them, and only see posts that they care about.
Brands, however, are having a harder time adapting to these updates. Many are left in over their heads, trying to find ways to boost their organic reach.
So how can you beat the algorithms to reach your customers and promote your brand?
2. Embrace the comment.
Read on to find out the top strategies for driving conversation and comments on social media.
Let’s dive in! 👊
Every social network uses a different algorithm to prioritize content in your feed.
However, there are some commonalities.
Algorithms on social media seem to favor comments and back-and-forth conversation. If your post gets a lot of comments, it will get more distribution (reach). If your group gets activity, it will show up in the news feed.
Here’s how algorithms work for each major social channel:
In 2018, Mark Zuckerberg declared that Facebook would prioritize “meaningful interaction” in its news feed. What does that mean for brands? Facebook qualifies “meaningful interaction” as posts that generate conversation.
Here are the top-ranking signals that the Facebook algorithm takes into account:
Like Facebook, Instagram announced that their newsfeed would favor “the moments you care about”. The algorithm favors content that is most likely to interest the user.
Here are three major ranking signals Instagram’s algorithm looks at:
Twitter’s algorithm spotlights the “what you missed” based on accounts that you interact with most. It also adds extra recommendations of potential interest.
Here are the top-ranking signals that determine Twitter reach:
LinkedIn’s mission is to connect the world’s professionals and make them more productive and successful. How? By helping members actively participate in professional conversations.
Here’s how LinkedIn evaluates content:
There are other signals they look at to determine the topic of content you’ll find interesting, from hashtags to groups, but a high volume of quality comments clearly stands out as a powerful attribute.
In LinkedIn’s explanation of its “community-focused feed optimization“, the authors note the algorithm’s goal to surface more discussion.
“At the heart of the feed sits a machine learning algorithm that works to identify the best conversations for our members.”
One thing all of these social algorithms have in common? Conversations are king. So think of this way:
Today, your comment is the content.
There are two methods for harnessing the power of comments to boost your social reach:
Let’s start with the proactive method.
Proactive commenting is all about using OPA (Other People’s Audiences) to extend your brand’s reach.
When someone comments on your public post, a few things happen.
For the commenter, there are major benefits too:
Social media community managers and entrepreneurs alike have leveraged ‘strategic replies’ as a growth tactic for years. With paid ads getting more effective and organic reach falling, time-intensive activities like proactive commenting often fall by the wayside.
Coined by Gary Vaynerchuck, the $1.80 strategy is a methodical approach to growing your brand’s audience through comments and outreach. Simply stated, the method consists of dropping a comment (or your ‘two cents’) on 90 relevant social posts in your niche, as a strategy to attract quality followers by adding value 1-on-1.
Here’s how it works:
When picking accounts to target, remember that quality and relevant engagement is important — not just follower count. This isn’t purely an influencer relations play.
Here’s a 35-second explainer on how it works:
The first step is to scan opportunities for quality conversations. Keep an eye on the following:
Funny and appealing comments garner attention and show up in your followers’ feed. Here’s how to do it for each social platform:
How to get more comment engagement on Twitter?
Channel your inner-Wendy’s. Amazing replies on popular tweets get a compelling level of reach and engagement.
Are we going to have to buy you a new car?
— Ian from SeatGeek (@ianrborthwick) October 10, 2019
How to get more comment engagement on Instagram?
How to find more comment opportunities on LinkedIn?
Work in B2B? LinkedIn comment engagement is a great way to attract and nurture leads. Just be aware—the algorithm heavily favors individuals over brands (company pages).
This post by Red Bull’s CFO, Marc Rosenmayr, is a great example: it was posted by an individual, not the brand’s page, and made use of popular hashtags. Marc was also very engaged in the comments during the first several hours after posting. The result? Over 14k views on the video in under a day and 400 likes/reactions.
How to get more comment engagement on YouTube?
If you’re building an audience on Youtube, the comment section of related videos can be a powerful place to drive attention to your own channel. It is also a space for strong opinions, so choose your words wisely.
How to get better results on Quora?
While proactive commenting is powerful, it’s important not to forget about the audience you already have. That’s where reactive commenting comes into play.
It’s crucial to be responsive within your own comment section – and not just because of the algorithms. High engagement will boost your post’s reach, but it’s also great for getting to know your audience. Cement your brand in your customer’s minds as responsive, helpful, and engaging.
So, how do you create this magical content that gets good engagement?
Contests and giveaways inspire virality, expand your reach, and boost follower count within a short period. Here are the five best types of contests that generate the most comments and engagement:
Pearson uses comment contests to boost their engagement. To win $200 worth of back-to-school supplies, users had to follow Pearson’s account, comment on what they were studying and tag one of their friends to share their prize. They could also share the post on their IG story and tag the account as a bonus.
The result? Pearson generated 1,000+ likes and 600+ comments on their post.
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Many social platforms offer the possibility to host a live stream. Hosting live streams is cost-effective, boosts awareness, and creates real-time engagement. The best type of live video content to generate comments include:
Igniting conversation on social media doesn’t have to be difficult – ask your audience questions! Here are the top ways that brands can do this:
For FilmScene’s fundraiser campaign, we came up with a series of questions tied to their mission that we knew audiences could answer. By asking their audience to share their story, we helped generate great comment conversations:
Most social platforms have a poll feature. It’s a fast, easy way for users to engage and voice their opinions. Plus, they’re tons of fun. Try some of the following poll tactics:
Uh oh. You’re running behind. You need to get to work, but you also need coffee. What do you do?
— Starbucks Coffee (@Starbucks) September 27, 2019
Posting thought-provoking content on social media isn’t enough to drive comment engagement. You have to post when there are actually users around to write the responses. The best time to post on social depends on multiple factors, such as which platform you’re using, timezone, and the audience you’re targeting. To help you get started, CoSchedule aggregated the data from 25 separate studies to compile a guide for the best times to post on each social platform.
These aren’t hard and fast rules, though.
CoSchedule actually recommends conducting some research of your own. By using Google Analytics’ custom report feature to measure your traffic at specific times, you can get a pretty good idea of when your audience is active. Experiment a little with your posting schedule using that data to find your own best time.
Not only does it make you look spammy, but algorithms punish engagement bait. According to Facebook Newsroom, copy that’s used to artificially boost engagement will be detected and strictly downgraded on the platform.
As we’ve discussed, unique content is the most effective when it comes to driving comments. While it’s fine to ask your audience to share or comment on your post, the content itself needs to be genuine. If not, it won’t encourage authentic conversation.
For example, posts with only “COMMENT on this post if you love __” in their description will get disregarded by the algorithm.
In this case, adding a more compelling question such as “If you could interview anyone in your niche, who would it be?” would produce much better results.
Posting genuine content that resonates with your audience is key to meaningful conversation. Create content that’s relevant, useful, or entertaining to your follower base. Follow these steps to develop authentic content:
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A little over a month ago, we reached out to you, our community, and asked you to share your #boobtruth with us. We heard some incredibly powerful stories. One of those stories was shared by the founder of Inclusive Love @laurahesp. We flew her to Vancouver and spent a few days getting to know her while filming her truth. We were blown away by her vulnerability, bravery, and humour. From being outed for padding her bra by a kitten to the painful process of getting an explant, Laura brought the #boobtruth in a big way. And ICYMI, check out episodes 1-7 of the series on our IGTV.
Fail early, fail often, but always fail forward.
Testing new tools and strategies is crucial to keeping your brand fresh and competitive on social media. Of course, trying new things is intimidating – what if you fail? Well, if you fail forward, that’s not as bad as it sounds. A key part of failing forward is knowing why you failed to begin with. Instead of making guesses at what will work, use data to make informed decisions: define which metrics you’ll be tracking before you begin the experiment, determine what worked and what didn’t, and make adjustments as needed.
Social media is constantly evolving so your strategy should be, too.
By using both proactive and reactive commenting, you can define a strategy that will encourage conversation, drive comments, and boost your engagement on social media.
Let’s summarize what we learned:
Now it’s up to you to test it out and start growing! 🚀
Let’s keep the conversation going. What have you tested or tried to generate more comments?