Social media has become a cornerstone in customer service engagement and exposure in recent years. A good question to ask, though, is: “Does my brand use social media effectively to achieve that goal?” Studies have shown that tens of millions of companies use social media for business purposes. For instance, 50 million brands have created Facebook Business Pages.

However, a lot of those pages are overlooked or ignored by customers simply because of a lack of consistent engagement. How can you make sure that your social media presence does not fall into the same trap?

Follow the steps outlined below to put your social media pages, profiles and posts on the right path:

Start Conversations with Interesting, Open-Ended Questions

Many brands and businesses forget that the cornerstone of social media engagement is conversation.

You should never use your social media presence as a billboard advertisement collection or just a catalog of your products and services. To create an engaging social media presence that excels in customer service, you must focus on initiating and participating in engaging conversations with your prospective and existing customers.

It is highly recommended for you to ask specific yet open-ending questions that will get this wheel spinning. Make sure that you time your posts based on when your customers are likely scrolling through their feeds and will have time to respond. This will also increase the chances your audience members decided to share your questions and comments within their own respective pages.

By initiating engaging conversations with your audience that are then shared with others in their circles, you are maximizing the growth potential of your own presence with a little bit of indirect and unsolicited assistance from others.

Connect the Dots to Current Events

Current events are always trending on social media – especially if they have made headlines with popular news outlets. With the millions of people scanning through Facebook and Twitter feeds each day, it is not surprising that most people find out about breaking news when it pops up on social media.

An effective way to boost engagement and improve the quality of your customer service is to connect the dots between current events and your content. Perhaps a recent headline addresses a topic that you covered in an old blog post.

Wouldn’t it be great for you to create a new social media post that references the current event along with a link to that post?

By doing so, you would be able to place your content on the accelerated train of trending topics and draw traffic to your online presence as a result. It will also reassure your customers that you are staying on top of everything related to your industry – not just your own products and services.

Respond to Your Customer Comments

You may remember “back in the day” before social media when you would reach out to a company with a compliment or complaint but not really expect them to respond to you. When they did respond, though, you likely felt valued and appreciated by the company – especially if it was tailored specifically to your concern instead of just a standard form letter, right?

Well, the digital age of social media has not taken away that “warm and fuzzy” feeling that customers experience when they receive timely responses from your company or brand. If anything, social media has only raised the bar of consumer expectation in this area.

One survey showed that 32% of consumers who try to contact a brand or company through social media for service or support expected a response within 30 minutes! What is your turnaround time?

In addition to responding to private messages, make sure that you respond to public comments as well. This will not only boost the organic exposure of your posts but spark a dialogue between you and your customers – bumping you higher in their personal news feeds and keeping them engaged in your overall online presence.

Share Quality Content from Credible Sources

A major trap that you must avoid if you want to engage your audience consistently can be referred to as the “Only Our Posts Zone.” When planning your social media posts, it is easy to exclusively focus on your content instead of paying attention to high-quality content from other credible sources related to your niche and target market.

Sharing content from other credible sources and experts will show your customers and clients that you are more concerned about their needs instead of your own. You will prove that your goal is to continuously provide them with relevant, need-to-know information regardless if you were the one who created it or not.

Diverse content will keep your audience interested and coming back for more. Why? They will never know who or what is going to be featured on your page next! That element of surprise in addition to a consistent track record of providing valuable content will keep your audience coming back for more week after week.

Give Credit Where Credit is Due

In addition to content created by credible sources, you should also make sure that you give credit wherever and whenever credit is due. It is very easy to find a post, infographic or article that you enjoy and share it on your brand’s social media page.

For instance, thanks to the “retweet” button in Twitter and the “Share” button in Facebook, you can quickly spread content from others within your feed with just a mouse click and keystroke!

However, the general rule of thumb that is frequently ignored is to credit the original source in every post. Not only is this professional and courteous, but it will also help you to build engagement in your own page. How so?

When you credit the original source, make sure that you tag them or use their handle (depending on the social media platform). This will essentially shine a light on their pages and get them to notice you right away. This type of tag/mention will expose your shared content to their audience of fans and followers as well – especially if they take the time to repost, retweet or even respond to your mention. Do this strategically and you can efficiently grow your own customer base simply by giving credit where credit is due through social media.