increase social media engagement

You have a new and exciting business, just picked up all of the latest social media “how to” books, and have followed all of their techniques on point… after day for months upon months. You are so excited to see the influx of social media activity and the fruits of your hard earned labor – and the results are in! After 3 months you gained …….59 followers. Yep, that is it. 59! So what went wrong? You followed every step, used the right hashtags, and perfected every post. This HAD to work…. but the truth is in the reality, and it did not. What gives!!!

Can I tell you a little secret? Social media is not a cookie cutter platform. Industries are different, customers are different, YOU are different. With all of these elements of uniqueness, one approach simply cannot work for everyone. Now let me tell you the real secret of this social media self-help business – it is exactly that, a business. You see, these social media “guru’s” need to sell books, and members-only content, and $1,999 consulting packages marked 75% off if you “hurry” and subscribe in the next 3 hours. They need a one-size fits all approach to maximize sales and scale their business. You can follow every step they provide and still fail, because your business is unique!

So now that I have become the ultimate downer (I have a habit of playing that role at times with my honesty), how do you fix it? The answer is in one word….people. The problem is you are focusing on the wrong people. Yep, you are. The vast majority of entrepreneurs post content they want to post – and most of the time you sound like a desperate used car salesperson on the last day of the month. Are you so focused on fulfilling YOUR goals, making the sales YOU want to make, and positioning the content YOU want to post that in the process you forgot about the people who really matter…your customers. So let’s hit the pause button, forget everything these “experts” have taught you, and let’s start from the beginning. In this blog, I want to walk you through the inner motivations that make people tick, the inspirations that influence the actions we take. Because if you can identify what truly motivates your target audience, and identify not just what they do but why they do it; then you will have the ability to create engaging content that is geared specifically to them and is unique to your business. Sound good? Great!! Let’s begin….

The 4 Motivations

So what makes us tick? What influences the actions we engage in? There are endless studies on human motivation, however, when you read them all (and yep, I did….for my doctorate dissertation), there are four basic motivations that are the core influencers in how we act. They are the need to belong, to be individualistic (or unique), altruistic, and curiosity. But here is the important thing, these motivations will impact different groups of people on different levels. This is why your social media is not working, this is not a cookie cutter approach. What you need to do is identify how these motivations impact your target audience, and then create engaging content based upon this. So let’s take them one at a time.

The Need to Belong

By nature, we have a desire for family, friends, and community. This is the need of belonging, we long to be in contact with groups of people. So now apply this to your business. Below I have a couple of brainstorming questions. What I want you to do is think of our target audience, and try to answer the following questions. This will help you to create content in line with this motivation:

  1. Is there a particular community your target is longing to be a part of (family, friends, social group, professional group, sports team, ect)?
    • What type of content can you share to make them feel as if they are a part of this group?
    • Or, how can your brand actually help them be a part of this group?
  2. How can my brand make people feel they are a part of something bigger than themselves?
    • Is there a movement you can associate your brand with (Political, Social, Charitable, Religous, ect) that is popular with your target market? What type of content can your brand share that revolves around these movements?
    • What is your target passionate about? Is there a movement your brand can create around this passion?
    • What are your target’s interests? Can you make your target feel they are a part of a special group that connects these interests with your brand?
  3. How can my brand connect and bring people together?
    • What type of experiences can you create as people engage your brand with others
    • How can your brand foster Group Communications?
    • How can your brand share content the portrays people coming together?
    • Can your brand create a live event?

Unique / Individualistic

Not only are we motivated to be part of a family, a group of friends, and a desired community; but we also have a motivation to be a unique, distinct, and an accomplished individual in this group. We are our own person with unique personal preferences and ambitions. We all have a desired self-image that we often portray to others through the fashions we wear, the car we drive, the social settings we are seen at, and the accomplishments we aim for. In this motivation, you want to position your brand as a tool of self-expression to help your target audience portray this desired self-image. Here are some brainstorming questions to help you accomplish this:

  1. How can your brand be a tool of self-expression?
    • What self-image is your target seeking to portray? What content can you post to help your target portray this image?
    • What is your target audience passionate about that they would like to portray to others, how can you create content around this?
  2. How can your brand help enhance the image and status of your target audience?
    • What content can your brand provide to help enhance the status or prestige of your target?
  3. What recognition or validation is your target seeking? How can you give them this validation?
  4. What does your target audience truly want to achieve?
    • How can your brand actually help your target accomplish something they desire to do?
    • How can your brand help your target obtain something they truly want?
    • What problems are they facing? How can you resonate with these problems? How can you help them overcome these problems?
  5. What is your target truly interested in?
    • What content can you create that are in line with your target’s interests and hobbies?
    • What form of entertainment does your target audience enjoy, what type of entertaining content can you create?
    • What does your target have strong opinions on? What type of content can you create that is in line with these opinions?
  6. What moments, events, or memories are important to your target?
    • How can you help your target relive memorable experiences and events?
    • How can you help your audience relive nostalgic experiences?


As humans, we are not always self-centered. In fact, we are charitable by nature. Altruism means acts of self-sacrifice, doing things for the betterment of others. We are motivated to help others, this is why it feels good when we engage in acts of charity. It is satisfying to know we made a difference, this is how God made us. As far as your business, this is the most challenging motivation to apply. Here is the deal, if you post content based on altruism, it needs to be sincere and authentic. I cannot stress this enough, if your audience feels your altruism is in words only and you are being “fake”, it will backfire. However, if you truly have a desire to help one in need, or there is a cause that is dear to your heart, then run with it. Spread the word and take your audience along for the ride! Here are some brainstorming questions to help you:

  1. What causes or charities is your target market compassionate about? What acts of charity can your brand engage in with your target market to help these groups?
  2. How can your brand inspire compassion and display a concern for others?
  3. What element of spirituality or purpose in life is your target seeking? How can your brand help them reach this element of spirituality?


Curiosity is the gap between what we want to know, and what we actually do know. If there was something you truly wanted to know, but you did not know the answer, this creates an uncomfortable dissonance that influences us to take action to find the answer. For example, what happens when a friend says, “Can I tell you a secret, oh, nevermind, I cannot say it.” This would drive us nuts, wouldn’t it! This is because we want to know what the secret is. The same concept applies to your target audience. They have a ton of questions they are searching right now on Google seeking answers for. Here is the good news….you are the expert in your field! Will you agree right now there is someone seeking an answer, or looking to solve a problem that you have the expertise to solve? Well, if they have a problem and you have the answer, then create content that gives it to them while positioning you as the local expert at the same time! This is very powerful. Here are some questions to help:

  1. What does your target need to know in order to accomplish their goals, but do not know?
  2. What is your target audience fascinating about? What type of information can you provide around this fascination?

Now go motivate your customers

If you stop looking at social media as a one-size fits all process, and you instead look at it as an effective tool to engage with the motivations and desires of your target audience, I am confident you will be able to increase your results. I know this may be difficult at first, and it will take some practice. But every day when you are creating content, run through these brainstorming questions really quick until you find one that will truly resonate with your audience – then run with it. Then the next day, try another brainstorming question. What you will find is in time, this will help you get a gauge on what influences your target audience. Some motivations will work great, these are the ones you want to focus on. But other motivations may flop, but now you will know what ones to stay away from. The results will be different for every business, but at least you will now have a guide to help you be unique to your clients, and yourself!

If you run into any challenges, or have any questions feel free to reach out. I love hearing how entrepreneurs are killing it in the marketing place, and am happy to help if I can.