It’s commonly understood in the social media/content marketing world: Ask questions to get a better engagement levels. Your audience is flattered that you’re asking their opinions. They feel more connected because they’ve given their input. They’re more likely to engage when you move the conversation towards a sale. It makes sense…but it’s not entirely true.
If you’ve used the “asking questions” approach to increase your follower levels, number of likes, etc., you’ve likely noticed how difficult it can be. I’ve worked at a social media marketing agency for two years. During those two years, I’ve always tried to implement the “ask questions” rule. I can definitively say that coming up with questions isn’t the hard part — the hard part is getting people to answer them!
Unless you boost your posts, only a small portion of your Facebook or Twitter audiences are going to see your question in the first place. The engagement you’ll supposedly receive by asking questions (comments, likes, retweets) should boost your “staying power” on your audience’s newsfeed, but how will your audience engage if they don’t see your content? It’s a never-ending cycle.
Does this mean the question asking should cease? Not at all; it simply means you need to rethink the way you go about it. In my two years at Shelten Media, the following mistakes always led to frustration. Avoid them, and you’ll get much better response rates from your audience.
Mistake #1: Only asking the question once
Like I said above, unless you boost your posts, only a small portion of your audience will ever see them. If you ask the question more than once, you’ll reach more people and you’ll be more likely to get a response. This doesn’t mean you need to ask it the same way each time; you can change it up by posting an image, a link or another piece of content to go along with the question (i.e. if you’re asking about SnapChat, post an article about SnapChat, a photo of your company using the app, a video of how SnapChat works, etc.). That way, you’ll be giving your audience value for their input. Also, be sure to ask the question on all social media platforms.
Mistake #2: Asking only thought-provoking questions
As silly as it sounds, I often get more engagement on a question when it’s goofy. We have a real estate client, and sometimes I’ll make a “Name that Raleigh resident” post with just a picture of a famous Raleigh native. Unless it’s super obscure, I always get a few guesses. If the goal is truly about engagement, not every question needs to be in depth. If an audience member can answer your question while walking down the street, iPhone in hand (a likely scenario), you’ve got a good question.
Mistake # 3: Asking questions in Hootsuite
Facebook’s algorithm relies largely on audience engagement in the first hour after you’ve put up a post. After that, unless your post has received a huge amount of engagement, it will likely not be seen in another news feed. If you pre-schedule your question a week in advance and then forget about it, you’ll lose an opportunity to get that crucial first-hour engagement. You can ask co workers to comment on the post to get the conversation started. You can tweet your question in response to another Twitter user (i.e. I liked your article, what do you think about program/theory/app?), which is far more likely to get a response. Small things like that encourage engagement, and they cannot be accomplished through Hootsuite. This leads nicely into the next mistake.
Mistake # 4: Forgetting to answer the question
By pre scheduling questions, I inevitably forgot to respond until the next time I prescheduled. After four days of inactivity on the Facebook post, the audience members forgot they even answered the question. The engagement opportunity was over. Wait about 24 hours. If the activity has died down, ask the question again in a different format, or (in the case of the goofy question) give the answer. We all have short attention spans.
Mistake # 5: Not explaining the reason for asking the question (if there was one
Sometimes, the question wasn’t simply about just engaging the audience. Sometimes, we really did want to know what the audience thought (i.e. What do you think about this idea we have for a service? How have you enjoyed our product so far?) This kind of question is thought-provoking, and people will be less likely to answer it on the fly. It always helped if I told people why I was asking the question (We want to make the product better for YOU!)
Keep these mistakes in mind when you go after more engagement through questions.