"Engagement" may be one of the most overused words in marketing right now as brands strive to tap into the more than 1 billion Facebook users.

At its best, though, engagement in a community such as Facebook opens up the potential of a shared and "human" social experience between a brand and its fans, and then extends that connection from fans to friends of those fans.

So how can brands encourage social sharing? Beyond creating interesting News Feed posts—every day—brands can deploy social engagement apps to showcase campaigns and content in a way that is more immersive than a single News Feed post.

Apps come in many forms—from simple pages that allow browsing of product content—to complex integrated activities such as games, quizzes, sweepstakes, contests, live-streaming events, and more.

How to use apps to cultivate a deeper connection with fans

The best social apps have a few things in common: They engage, entertain, and invite participation from the user in ways Facebook pages and other forms of online media cannot. They invite a deeper connection with a fan than can be achieved with a simple post to the Facebook News Feed.

Indeed, in our research, we have found that posts generated by social engagement apps are seven times more engaging than regular content in a brand's News Feed. The posts generated by social engagement apps are simply more likely to be commented on, shared, and Liked by fans than other News Feed content.

Through our experience with hundreds of leading consumer brands, we see that basic best-practices for boosting engagement on Facebook fall into three main categories.

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image of Roger Katz

Roger Katz is CEO of Friend2Friend, which offers social media tools and software that enable brand marketers to engage consumers on Facebook and LinkedIn. Reach him via roger@friend2friend.com.

LinkedIn: Roger Katz