5 Ways to Engage Followers (and Avoid Advertising)

Editor’s Note: This post was written by guest blogger, Matt Powers. Learn more about him in his bio below this post.


Whether you’re running a social media campaign for a major brand, a small startup company or for your own personal blog, keeping the attention of your fans and followers can be a difficult task.  Advertising on social networks is viewed by many as the newest form of spam.  UNLESS IT’S DONE RIGHT.

Mindless self-promotions about a new product, service or blog post are often quickly scrolled over for other more personal, meaningful content.  And when I say personal, meaningful content, I don’t mean the answers to all of life’s questions, but rather cute baby pictures of close friends/family or yet another cat meme.

People tend to flock to more individual content, things that mean more to them.  Typical things that may interest them, stuff they don’t really have to think about, or take up too much of their time in order to get to someone’s next FourSquare check-in.

That doesn’t mean anything you post wont interest them though.  After all, the reason they are seeing your posts in the first place is because for one reason or another they took the time to follow you.  The goal now is too keep them engaged and hopefully attract new fans by sharing, liking and retweeting your content.

Here are 5 ways to engage with your followers without full blown advertising.

Get Personal

Social networks started out as a way to meet new friends, stay connected with old ones and let them know what’s going on in your life.  Obviously its evolved from there, but the concept is all the same.  Let your followers know more about yourself, your company and your brand.

Not every post needs to be a news release.  What’s going on around the office?  Pranks, parties, events are always a great way to show off your human side.  Post pictures and videos.  Prove to people that you aren’t all robots.


Contests are very tempting.  Everyone loves winning, but we can’t all be Charlie Sheen.  But it doesn’t hurt to try.  If it doesn’t take too much effort, most people don’t have a problem filling out a simple form, taking a survey, sharing content  or commenting for a chance at something big.

From a business perspective there are a couple things to keep in mind though.  What is the best way to accomplish your end goal?  Do you want to gain more followers?  Have people enter the contest by sharing something you’ve posted.  Are you looking for more subscribers?  Have them fill in their email address.  Looking to show off a new product?  GIVE IT AWAY AS A PRIZE!  Keep in mind what you want to accomplish before handing out your next iPad2.


This is my personal favorite.  I can’t get away from a good trivia question or riddle.  I can’t sleep at night if I don’t know the answer.  Trivia evokes all kinds of comments, people throwing out their best guesses to try and be the first with the right answer.  They may share or retweet the question to ask for help or test their friends’ knowledge.

It’s always nice if your trivia questions have relevance to your brand, but it doesn’t always have to be.  Get creative to arouse interest.  Trending topics, holidays and upcoming events like the Oscars or Grammys have tons of history and interesting facts.

What did the Wrigley Company produce before they sold gum?  Keep reading to find out!

Link Bait

Link bait is the holy grail of SEO.  Everyone in the online marketing world is trying to think of the next big idea that people will want to play, share, comment or link to to bring a mass amount of people to their site.  While we all wish to be the next big thing to go viral, it’s not necessary in building your audience.  A clever picture of pun-y saying that may get shared may be all that’s needed to get a few new fans.


You love your followers, everyone from the biggest bigwig in the industry down to someone’s 14 year old son who wants to follow their dad’s company.  Reward in some form or fashion or being loyal to you.  It can be as simple as a tweet or wall post thanking everyone for another terrific year to getting as personal as sending free gifts or coupons on their birthday.

This can help your brand build trust, which is key online when we aren’t working face to face.  Don’t be afraid to ask for help either.  If someone recommends new customers or fans to your website be sure that their good deed doesn’t go unnoticed.

 Answer: The Wrigley company sold soap and baking soda until they gave away promotional gum in 1891.

 How are you keeping your audience interested in your social activity?