Customer engagement can be defined as “an intimate long-term relationship with the customer” (Sashi, 2012, p.254). Companies can use social media to enhance relationships with their customers, increase customer satisfaction and drive profitability (Barger, Peltier & Schultz, 2016). Measuring customer engagement on social media is one of the most popular ways to evaluate a brands social media performance. By using social analytic platforms, companies can understand the levels of engagement on their social media feeds. Engagement in a social media sense refers to likes, shares, followers, retweets and comments, which are all common engagement metrics (Big Commerce, 2018).

How Can Companies Increase Social Media Engagement?

1) “Content is King” – Bill Gates (1996)

The quote “Content is King” came from an article written by Bill Gates in 1996. In terms of social media engagement, this quote still holds true. Ultimately, if your followers appreciate your content they are likely to engage with it. However, the hardest decision for companies is around the type of content they should produce. The best content on social media is where the emphasis is focused on the visuals, with images proven to be successful on social media posts. According to Rampton (2014), images can result in an 85% interaction rate on Facebook and increase retweets on Twitter by 35%.

Memes, GIFs and videos have also proved to be successful in terms of social media engagement. According to Ellering (2017), Facebook users watch a staggering 100 million hours of video every single day, whilst 82% of Twitter users watch videos on their Twitter news feed. The statistics that have been previously mentioned truly highlight the importance of using images, memes, GIFs and videos on social media. If companies want to produce engaging content on Social Media then these items are essential to consider when devising a Social Media strategy.

2) Use Competitions to Increase Engagement Rates

Competitions, giveaways and games on Social Media are deemed to be an extremely effective way to generate buzz (Rose, 2017). On average, when companies roll out contests on their social media feeds they see a 34% increase in their fan base (Allen, 2017). Companies may think negatively about giveaways and competitions, this is because they may think the customer is getting a prize and they don’t understand what they get from the deal. To address this concern, by using competitions, companies can generate buzz on social media channels and increase their customer base. By increasing their customer base they will have a bigger audience to engage with and convert them into loyal customers, thus having an impact on the firms profitability.

A company that has used a social media competition extremely well was Honda, who grew their social buzz by 1221% during a one-month social media competition (Smith, 2016). Click on this link to find out how Honda generated buzz from a Social Media competition.

3) Use Hashtags to Double Engagement Rates

It may seem obvious, but hashtags are an extremely fashionable way to increase engagement rates across social media channels. The infographic above by Lee (2016) highlights the importance of using hashtags. For a hashtag to be successful, it must meet the criteria, the hashtag must be memorable, unique and relevant (Ellering, 2017). Hashtags are not only popular on Twitter; Facebook and Instagram are also popular locations for hashtags. According to Ellering (2017) the perfect number of hashtags on Twitter and Facebook is between 1-2, as engagement begins to drop after 3 hashtags. On Instagram, the number is significantly larger, Ellering (2017) mentions that businesses should consider using 11 hashtags on Instagram which should meet the criteria that has been previously mentioned.

What Are the Risks of Using Social Media?

Social media can be an extremely hostile environment, when a company makes a mistake, thousands of people have witnessed it and recovering from a mistake can be difficult (DeMers, 2016). On the face of it, the #Represent campaign below by the National Lottery and British Athletics was a creative way of asking users to write a message of support for British athletes. However, facilitating user-generated content on social media campaigns is extremely risky and companies need to prepare for online trolls in advance, as the picture below clearly shows (Molloy, 2017; Smith, 2017).

The campaign was boycotted by trolls, who used this campaign as a platform to post offensive content which could be shared on the British Athletics Twitter platform. DeMers (2017) states 3 ways in which companies can prevent social media blunders. DeMers (2017) mentions that companies should double check everything, in relation to the British Athletics post, they should have been aware that a similar campaign by Walkers Crisps generated a similar response from users (Smith, 2017). Companies should also invest in better security (Smith, 2017), if they want to run a user-generated campaign (not recommended) then they should have a software which can filter out offensive posts. Finally, companies should admit when they make a mistake, this is essential to rebuild the trust and relationship between the company and consumer.

Please follow this link to my previous blog post on the effectiveness of using celebrity and athlete endorsements on social media.


Allen, R. (2017) ‘7 Creative Ways To Improve Your Social Media Engagement’. Smart Insights, 25th July 2017. [Online] <> [Accessed 1st February 2018]

Barger, V., Peltier, J.W. & Schultz, D.E. (2016) ‘Social media and consumer engagement: a review and research agenda’, Journal of Research in Interactive Marketing. Vol. 10, No. 4, pp. 268-287.

Big Commerce (2018) ‘What is social media engagement?’. [Online] <> [Accessed 30th January 2018]

DeMers (2016) ‘The 7 Worst (And Most Amusing) Mistakes Brands Have Ever Made On Social Media’. Forbes, 2nd May 2016. [Online] <> [Accessed 5th February 2018]

DeMers (2017) ‘The 7 Biggest Social Media Fails of 2017’. Entrepreneur, 30th May 2017. [Online] <> [Accessed 5th February 2018]

Ellering, N. (2017) ‘30 Social Media Engagement Tactics That Will Boost Shares And Conversions’. CoScheduleBlog, 6th December 2017. [Online] <> [Accessed 30th January 2018]

Lee, K. (2016) ‘How to Use Hashtags: How Many, Best Ones, and Where to Use Them’. Buffer Social, 7th November 2016. [Online] <> [Accessed 1st February 2018]

Molloy, M. (2017) ‘National Lottery Twitter campaign hijacked by trolls with vile messages’. The Telegraph, 15th August 2017. [Online] <> [Accessed 5th February 2018]

Rampton, J. (2014) ‘7 Free Ways for Boosting Your Social Media Engagement’. Forbes, 22nd September 2014. [Online] <> [Accessed 1st February 2018]

Rose, K. (2017) ‘10 Tips For Increasing Your Social Media Engagement’. Social Media Week, 3rd October 2017. [Online] <> [Accessed 28th January 2018]

Sashi, C.M. (2012) ‘Customer engagement, buyer-seller relationships, and social media’, Management Decision. Vol. 50, No. 2, pp. 253-272.

Smith, K. (2016) ‘How to Increase Social Media Engagement’. Brandwatch, 29th June 2016. [Online] <> [Accessed 29th January 2018]

Smith, R. (2017) ‘Didn’t they learn from Walkers? National Lottery campaign with British Athletics hijacked’. Campaign, 15th August 2017. [Online] <> [Accessed 5th February 2018]