Engagement is social media gold.

It can boost the reach of your social media posts under new platform algorithms that put highly engaged content at the top of audiences’ feeds. It leads to higher conversion rates to generate web traffic, downloads, signatures and sign-ups. Perhaps most importantly, it cultivates a community of supporters who care about your mission and take action.

We’re here to help you spark engagement with your audiences—online and off.

Read on for our best practices for maximizing engagement on the top three social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Best Practices Across Social Media

  • Post Visuals and Video that Motivates Your Followers to Share

Visuals and video are now the foundation for engagement on social media. But you also

need to build on this foundation by ensuring this content motivates your followers to share to their network to boost engagement and expand reach. Audience research is key to better understand what motivates your audience to share. But the general rule of thumb says that content should:

—Be useful to your audience’s network

—Tap into emotion, or make your audience feel something

—Tell a good story that your audience’s network will find interesting

  • Include Calls to Action

Calls to action are the building blocks for engagement on social media because they encourage your audience to get involved. What these calls to action look like will differ, and it’s important to tailor your CTAs to each platform and campaign.

  • Share Timely Content

Timely content around holidays, days and weeks of observance and seasons has been shown to boost engagement. People are inclined to engage posts that tap into a bigger conversation. A great example of that is the American Heart Association’s winter campaign asking followers to share their reason to join the fight against heart disease this holiday season.

  • Personally Engage With Replies

Replying to comments and posts will boost engagement rates and cultivate trust in your audience on social media. In fact, brand research shows that followers actually expect responses on social media. A study found that 42 percent of people expect companies to respond within an hour.

Facebook Best Practices

  • Make the Most of Photos

Rather than simply sharing a photo, share a visual that features a message, a call to action and a website. Putting your core information directly on the visual motivates sharing because users don’t have to click the link to see further content.

  • Ensure Calls to Action Have Clear Connection to Offline Impact

Facebook is the platform on which users catch up with their friends and families. In fact, Facebook recently updated the way it sorts content to favor friends and family over publishers and business pages. Users want to know how your call to action will affect the daily lives of those around them. Draw a clear connection to the community you serve.

  • Optimize Videos to Be Watched Silently

A recent study found that 85 percent of Facebook videos are watched silently. You can address this challenge in two ways. One, create stand-out visuals that tell a story without words. Two, feature a text overlay to get the message across. Read this blog post on six easy ways to hit video out of the park to learn more.

  • Boost Content That is Performing Well

Boosting content that is already performing well will dramatically expand your engagement and reach on Facebook because it puts this content higher and more prominent in your followers’ feeds. You can also target specific audience segments to reach with this content.

Twitter Best Practices

  • Participate in or Start Larger Conversations

This is really the key to success on Twitter. Organizations that do well on Twitter start or participant in larger conversations, whether they be Tweet Chats, trending hashtags or  seasons for change. Time and again, being part of these larger conversations motivates engagement.

  • Include Call to Action for Followers to Add Their POV

A recent study found that encouraging your audience to add their point of view by commenting on a retweet increases reach and quickens momentum. A whopping 84 percent of videos with a high ratio of comments to retweets achieved broader reach. Comments motivate users to share content because they feel like they are part of a popular conversation or are initiating an important discussion.

  • Feature One to Two Hashtags

While it’s been common best practice to employ two hashtags on Twitter, a recent analysis of more than 65,000 posts found that just one hashtag optimizes engagement. Tweets with more than two hashtags saw a steep engagement drop off.

Instagram Best Practices

  • Create Consistent, Themed Instagram Culture

Users expect your Instagram feed to be a curated and consistent board filled with high-quality visuals. Create your own custom Instagram culture that captures your organizational culture.

  • Tap Into Users’ Desire for Inspiration

A survey found that users look to Instagram to get inspired, find motivation and have fun. Aim to give users what they seek by providing content that inspires, motivates and uplifts your audience. If you are a social justice organization, consider featuring quotes from field leaders or historic change figures that motivate your users to make a difference. We love this example from National Council of La Raza, highlighting Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.:

Carry on the legacy of Dr. King this #MLKDay and refuse to submit to the edict of others. #martinlutherkingday #mlk

A post shared by National Council of La Raza (@nclr) on

  • Use More Hashtags

Hashtags are the language of Instagram. They are a key way that users search content, and users also like to have fun with them. Nine hashtags has been found to optimize engagement on Instagram, but we suggesting trying fewer to see what performs best with your audience.

Do you need a custom strategy for boosting engagement on your social media platforms? Let’s talk.