Build a Brand that Listens: Why Instagram is All About Asking Questions
Nowadays, Instagram has become a place where about a quarter of the content we are served consists of advertisements. While some companies are becoming more creative about how they structure their ads or their language, I think there is still a lot of potential for organic growth through genuine engagement. This article argues why you should stop talking at your audience and instead start talking to your audience.
Just like in real-life friendships asking a good question and listening naturally brings people together. Brands can build stronger relationships by learning how to leverage social media platforms to listen. Instagram and particularly the Stories function offer lots of opportunities for brands to find creative ways of staying in touch with their following. Here are three reasons why I think at least one-quarter of your company content should include questions:
Reducing the gap between the brand and the audience
This is the difference between brands that talk at their audience instead of talking to them. By asking questions, brands show that they are open to discussions and not only to monologues. Of course, the type of questions should be aligned with the brand values, tone, and personality. As one of the new trends in marketing is to leverage communities’ power, learning how to engage with your audience through well-crafted questions can be a good first step in building an engaged community around your brand.
The audience feels heard.
After a few instances where we see a brand on social media asking open-ended questions, we might face the ‘aha moment’ when we realize that the company really cares about our opinions. Indeed, just asking questions is not enough for this feeling to arise. If you asked a question in a post on the feed and your followers share their answers with you, make sure to like and respond to as many shared perspectives as possible. If you are using functions like “Questions” on Instagram Stories, be sure to share some of the responses that stand out. Moreover, if you asked your audience for any ideas, give them credit if you end up using any of their inputs.
Asking the right questions is a great first step. For my teams and me, the work starts after the responses start pouring in. We see open-ended questions as a tool for identifying the potential “superfans” within our community, and we want to nourish the relationship with them. Instead of just liking their responses or sending a standard copy-paste response, we try to start conversations whenever possible. Here, it is all about active listening skills, and the result could be a conversation that brings out customer sentiment, motivation, and feedback. Many companies have to pay a lot of money to gather such insights. You need to realize that you can leverage social media to capture this information free of cost by setting some time aside.
Personally, I love using Instagram Stories to get feedback on current or potential offerings of my pages/brands. While some people might argue that debates about potential offerings should happen behind closed doors, there are creative ways to ask questions that can keep the secrets under wraps while still gaining valuable insights. Instagram offers great ways to gain quantitative and qualitative data from the audience. The amazing thing is that Instagram Stories that ask people to vote/rate/answer questions have higher engagement than regular Instragam Stories posts.
I hope that this list is a conversation starter for you and your social media team. I would love to learn more about your perspective on leveraging questions to build engagement. What worked well for you in the past? What questions will you avoid forever? Let us know in the comments below.
Cristi Dragan – Brand Management and Psychology student at Minerva Schools at KGI