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Audience engagement: What it is and tips to improve it


Audience engagement is all about the connection your audience feels with your brand and the actions they take as a result of it. In general, audience engagement, and social media engagement in particular, isn’t easy to come by. Social media users’ feeds are flooded with content competing for their attention. But when you hit the right chord, you can expect increased brand health, higher-quality leads and an active social following.

In this article, we’ll explore audience engagement benefits and strategies. Plus, we’ll show you some shining examples of what audience engagement looks like.

What is audience engagement?

Audience engagement is any interaction between your target audience and your brand. When an audience is fully engaged, they don’t sit back and passively scroll through your social posts. An engaged audience takes action, which can include clicking on a link or sharing content with a friend. This action furthers their connection with your brand.

If your audience doesn’t engage with your brand, it may be a sign that your content does not resonate with them. It’s vital to track audience engagement so you can be sure your content interests the people who matter most to your organization.

Types of audience engagement

There are several different ways audiences can engage with your brand on social media. Some forms of engagement require little effort, while others are much more involved. Here are some examples of common types of audience engagement:

Likes and reactions

Likes and reactions are one of the simplest ways for an audience to engage with your brand on social media—all your target audience has to do is click or tap a button. But when your audience does so, their followers see it in their feeds, which exponentially increases your brand’s visibility. That’s why likes and reactions are important metrics to consider when analyzing your content performance.

Reviews and mentions

Reviewing or mentioning your brand is more involved than simply liking or sharing your social media posts. It shows that your audience is actively engaging in a conversation about your brand. They are passionate about what you do and want to tell people about it.

Comments and replies

Similar to reviews and mentions, comments and replies show that your target audience wants to engage in a conversation about you. They may converse directly with you by replying to your brand’s posts or comment on another post relevant to your brand. Either way, they’ve got something on their mind and they want to share it with others.

Shares and resharing

Sharing and resharing brand content seems like a simple form of audience engagement. However, it’s actually more complicated than that. When your audience shares or reshares your content, they are taking things a step further than just passively enjoying it.

Website interaction

If your target audience clicks through a link to your website from a social post, it shows they are committed to learning more about your brand. They liked what they saw on social enough to go off-platform and hear what you have to say.

Why is audience engagement important for your content strategy?

Audience engagement matters because your brand doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It’s not possible to have a successful digital marketing strategy or social media strategy without it. Here’s a peek at some of the many ways audience engagement can benefit your brand:

Increase brand loyalty

When your audience engages with your brand, especially more than once, they are more likely to stick around for the long term. Your target audience feels that your brand understands them and their needs, which leads to brand loyalty. An engaged audience will also learn about your company’s mission, vision and core values, and see how they align with their own. This further builds their connection to your brand.

Boost visibility

Social media algorithms reward audience engagement on your social posts by displaying them to more people. It tells the social platform that your content is interesting and that other people may also want to see it. By increasing audience engagement, you also increase visibility for your brand to new audiences.

Gain feedback

Tracking audience engagement helps you learn how your target audience feels about your brand. If they don’t engage with your content very much, it’s a sign that your posts aren’t relevant to your followers. You need to go back to the drawing board and see where you went wrong.

If they engage positively by commenting, sharing or liking your post, you must be doing something right. However, if you see negative comments, it’s time to scan through their feedback to determine what is causing the issue. Social listening tools like Sprout help brands surface the big issues, from customer service hold-ups to product defects and more.

Improve user experience

When an audience engages with your brand, they actively interact with you through likes, shares, comments, clicks and more. These actions give you insights to further tailor your content to your audience, and so creating a better user experience for them.

How to engage an audience

Getting your audience to engage with your content takes time and effort, and begins with your social media marketing strategy. With the right tactics and tools, you can be on your way to capturing the hearts and clicks of your target audience. Here is a list of strategies you can use to engage your audience better:

Understand your target audience

The most effective way to engage your audience is to get to know them. Your target audience shares specific characteristics, so a best practice is to look at commonalities within, such as:

  • Demographics
  • Geography
  • Behaviors
  • Psychographics
  • Buying intent
  • Subcultures
  • Interests, hobbies and values

This will help you determine what your audience cares about most, what day-to-day challenges they face and how you can best support them.

Knowing your audience will also help you determine which social channels to focus on. If you want to increase engagement, it’s best to move your resources to the channels your audience frequents.

Leverage AI and social listening

Social listening gives you access to the unfiltered opinions of your target audience. Social media management tools like Sprout help you conduct sentiment analysis with artificial intelligence so you can easily review and measure what people are saying about you—and topics related to your brand and industry—across social media.

These insights help marketers and larger teams understand exactly what needs to be improved, such as products, price, store locations, customer service or anything else you discover through social listening. Thus, helping you gain a competitive edge over the rest of the industry.

Preview of Sprout’s Sentiment Summary dashboard showing Net Sentiment Score and Net Sentiment Trend.

Define the metrics

How do you know what success looks like? You must determine how you’re going to measure audience engagement to track it. There are several metrics you can track, including:

  • Likes
  • Comments
  • Shares
  • Video views
  • Click-through rate (CTR)
  • Followers
  • Time on page
  • Conversion rate
  • Video completion rate

Track the metrics over time to spot trends or anomalies. For example, you may notice when you post about trending topics, your likes and shares go up, and when you plug your product, your comments go down. Tracking metrics enables you to adjust your social media strategy to increase audience engagement.

Sprout’s 2023 Content Benchmarks report is a good resource for understanding how you stack up against industry benchmarks. For example, the average daily inbound engagements per post in 2023 was 14. How do you compare?

A data visualization that shows that the average daily inbound engagements per post in 2023 was 14 across all industries, per the Sprout Social 2023 Benchmarks Report.

Use modern audience engagement strategies

We’ll get to modern audience engagement strategies in a bit, but the main message here is to understand what audiences want today.

Online trends move quickly, and brands have to keep up with the evolving tastes of their target audience. What may be popular one day could quickly drop out of favor the next. Keeping tabs on the types of content your audience wants and engages with most will help your brand stay relevant.

Track performance

Tracking performance using specific metrics, as we defined earlier, will also help you optimize your social media performance.

For example, if you get a lot of comments on your posts but take two days to respond to each one, you may be stopping a possible conversation. Track what happens when you respond to each comment within a day or within a few hours. Does that increase the level of engagement?

In this example, Wendy’s social media team does a great job of responding to audience comments, keeping the conversation going

A Facebook post from Wendy’s, with comments from the social team responding to audience comments and engaging in the conversation.

Try A/B testing

Conduct A/B testing to determine what your audience responds to most. You can test headlines, subheads, post text, images, post formats, post length, time of day, day of post and more. Ensure you only change one variable at a time. That way you will have a clear answer of what specific element caused your audience to engage differently.

Modern audience engagement strategies

How can you get your audience to consistently like, share and comment on your social media posts? Here are some of our favorite strategies for you to try.

Use visual storytelling

Users respond more favorably to posts that include visuals like graphics, videos and photos. However, it’s not enough to include just any video and image from your library. Curate the visuals so they signal the brand’s identity to your target audience without them ever seeing a logo or brand name.

Chanel’s Instagram account provides an excellent example of visual storytelling. The visuals are so consistent in style that any Chanel fan can spot them as being associated with the brand.

Chanel’s Instagram account photo grid as an example of visual storytelling.

Share personalized content

Social media users don’t react to generic content. They only engage with content that speaks to their hobbies, interests, values and other characteristics. Use attention-grabbing content tailored for specific groups of your audience. Personalizing content is one of the most effective audience engagement strategies because it shows your audience you understand their needs.

In this example, Nike appeals to soccer fans by using a specific hashtag and tailoring the copy and image to soccer players.

Be responsive

Social media is not a one-way communication tool, especially if you want to increase audience engagement. By being responsive to user comments, reviews, shares and other forms of engagement, your brand can address potential issues, build relationships with customers and foster loyalty.

For example, Coca-Cola responds quickly to all user posts about their brand, whether positive or negative, so its audience always feels heard.

A social post from Coca-Cola with quick responses to user posts about their brand, both positive or negative, so its audience always feels heard.

Engage influencers

Influencer marketing is an audience engagement strategy that can help connect your brand to new audiences who are already highly engaged. Influencers have a dedicated social following of people who trust and value their opinion. If an influencer vouches for your brand, their audience sees this as a form of social proof.

Zoe Sugg is a lifestyle influencer and entrepreneur with 9.2 million followers. She often posts about the products and services she uses in her day-to-day life which are also products that she thinks will appeal to her audience.

Build a community

Create a place where your target audience can gather online and connect with like-minded people. Online communities, like forums and private groups, strengthen your audience’s connection to your brand through the people they meet in the communities. For example, The Arboretum, Sprout’s online community, serves as a gathering place for 10,000 social and marketing professionals to connect for support, ideas, questions and industry updates.

Sprout's community channel, The Arboretum, that serves as a gathering place for 10,000 social and marketing professionals to connect for support, ideas, questions and industry updates.

Leverage user-generated content

What better way to get your audience engaged than by using their content in your social media posts? Try reacting to the original post or resharing the original post. Or, ask users to create content based on a specific prompt and share their content on your social channels. User-generated content makes your audience feel like they are a part of the brand and that they have a platform to share their experiences.

For example, Away uses content that customers of the brand have created. This makes Away’s audience feel special while providing social proof for potential customers.

Include interactive elements

Many social channels come with built-in interactive elements, such as quizzes and polls. These are useful for increasing engagement with your target audience and getting their direct feedback. Simply ask your audience a question and give them a couple of responses to choose from. This provides your audience with a voice and tells them you are listening.

24 Seven Talent makes excellent use of LinkedIn polls because they ask questions related to topics their audience cares deeply about.

An interactive poll from 24 Seven Talent to engage audiences.

Try contests

Sometimes, your audience needs an incentive to engage with your brand on social media. A contest is a great way to offer them a prize for their engagement. Social media contest entries can include liking or commenting on a post, tagging a friend or creating a video or photo entry, for example.

Take a look at this post for a giveaway contest from Nuba, which asks followers to enter by completing a number of actions, such as liking the post and tagging their friends. These actions increase visibility for their brand, in addition to engagement.

Audience engagement examples

Check out some of the other ways brands can get their audiences to engage beyond social media.


Webinars are an excellent medium for Q&A sessions. Get your audience involved by asking them questions during the session, and open it up for them to ask questions too. You can also solicit questions from your social media followers to answer during your webinar, and spur excitement about the content you’ll cover.

A post about Sprout's webinar as an example of how to get your audience involved by asking them questions during the session, and opening it up for them to ask questions too.

Social media presence

Make your social media presence unique by establishing a distinct voice, tone and brand personality. If your social media personality aligns with your target audience, they will likely want to interact with you online.

Check out how Innocent Drinks uses its quirky personality to get its audience engaged by using humor and tying into timely topics unrelated to its products. This creates an authentic social media presence that stands out from other brands.

A post from Innocent Drinks that uses its quirky personality to get its audience engaged by using humor and tying into timely topics unrelated to its products.

Online reviews

Social proof, which includes reviews and testimonials, helps build trust with your target audience. Ask your customers for reviews after they interact with your brand. Then, share those reviews with prospects to build credibility. You’ll need an online review management strategy to ensure you maximize the benefits of any reviews.

WPX Hosting regularly posts customer reviews on X (formerly known as Twitter) to show potential customers how its audience perceives its products and services.'s social post that shows social proof, which includes reviews and testimonials and helps build trust with their target audience.

Conferences and events

If your organization hosts live events, increase engagement online by asking attendees to post during the experience with an event hashtag. Be sure to post event updates and ask followers to join in. The hashtag should be short, unique and memorable.

Apple often uses the #applevent hashtag for its different conferences so fans of the brand can follow along live during the event. The hashtag is used in hundreds of thousands of posts.


Surveys and polls provide a range of engagement opportunities. Ask your audience about product or service-related preferences, get their feedback on your customer support offerings or ask a question about the mundane parts of their day.

For example, we use polls at Sprout Social to get customer feedback because we value their opinions and want them to share their thoughts with us.

A post from Sprout Social with a survey to get customer feedback as a mean of building audience engagement.

Get your audience engaged

Whether you want to have better conversations with your followers, improve the quality of your leads or enhance overall brand health, increasing your audience engagement will help you get there. And, with higher audience engagement comes stronger brand loyalty.

While you can get audience engagement on many different marketing channels, social media in particular is a good one to start with because users are naturally inclined to engage on this medium. If you’re having trouble understanding what your audience thinks about your brand, sentiment analysis may be the answer.

Mine the opinions of your audience to get a contextual understanding of their engagement to enhance your brand. Learn all about sentiment analysis and how it can benefit your brand.

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