When you have customer engagement, you’ll grow your business with social proof, but more than that, you’ll be able to design your business in a way so that it caters to the needs of your audience.It used to be that you could engage your audience by sending out an email, but that’s all changed. Customers aren’t interested in a one sided relationship anymore.You can’t just have an online presence. You have to be interactive. You need to engage – and if you think this something that only small businesses do, you’d be mistaken.Big businesses have learned that social proof matters and they’re engaging with their fans. It’s especially important if you’re a solo entrepreneur who doesn’t have the same branding as a big company does on a global scale.Where to Engage Your AudienceYou’ll have plenty of opportunities to engage with your audience online. Depending on the social media platform that you’re using, how that engagement takes place might differ.If you’re using Facebook, then you need to have a variety of posts. One mistake that entrepreneurs make is to post the same kind of stuff day in and day out. You need to shake things up a bit so they don’t grow stale.People don’t want to see the same things all the time in the same format. By switching it up, you can see what kind of posts your audience reacts to the most. Use posts of videos, photos, links, pose questions and more to draw your audience in.You can create quizzes, share articles and other content that’s related. You can also do things like asking the audience to caption a photo or have a throwback post.That’s where you post a picture from years past – like funny 80s clothing or old technology to stir up the conversation. Make sure that you post consistently and that you when you do, you’re available to interact with the audience.There’s nothing worse than a drive-by poster. Use a Pinterest account to interact with your audience. You can do things like holding a contest where everyone has to share a photo of something.You can offer prizes and other perks to increase interest. Use the site to offer consumers deals where, by sharing what you pin, they can have access to some type of discount.Have more than one board because this lets you have more content and the ability to share more topics, which offers a wider range of appeal to your audience.Re-pin what your audience posts. This causes consumers to submit topics and feel like they’re part of the inner circle. Twitter makes if pretty easy to engage with an audience fast.Make your Twitter account personable. Don’t use a fake profile or avatar. Talk about things that you’re passionate about and share pictures. Talk back to others.Respond, thank people, and share their news to give back. Your audience will feel connected to you. When sharing content that’s not yours, don’t just pass it along, say something even it’s just “love this” and don’t use all the 140 characters.This allows people ease of use for when they pass it on. Get involved in chats that your audience is part of. Keep your sentences short. It’s okay and even eye-catching to not have the sentences on the same line. Use hashtags (#) and @mentions to engage your audience.If you use Instagram, keep your attention on the personality behind your business rather than the selling. Make sure that you take advantage of re-gramming a post.That’s where you will repost something your audience shared. Make sure you acknowledge where the original post came from. Don’t ever share things just to share them – make sure you support or are intrigued by the idea.Use videos and offer promotions such as telling the audience if they comment, they’re eligible to win a particular prize. Keep an eye on the influencers on Instagram and engage with them.This helps build your audience, too. Take advantage of the hashtags like #follow or use the emotion ones like #happy. Interact with the audience by commenting on the conversations they’re in.How Often Should You Post and Interact?People handle social media in two ways. They either bombard the site or they use it every now and then. You must be consistent with whichever social media method you use.But being consistent doesn’t mean posting so often that people get sick and tired of seeing your stuff. There’s a fine line between sharing and spamming and you don’t want to cross that line by not understanding how social media should work.It’s true that you should post frequently. No one can get to know you and you can’t engage with your audience if you’re never around. At the very least, you should post something every day – and those posts should be done often enough so that you build a relationship.How often you should post is going to depend on which site you’re using. If you’re using Pinterest, it’s okay to spread out your posts up to 4 times a day. Just don’t do one giant post.Post in the morning, once in the afternoon, once in the evening and once at night. Each time you post, you can engage with your audience. For Twitter, don’t post more than three times each day.You’ll actually find that your audience starts to grow tired of seeing your content if you post more often than that unless it’s highly useful or relevant. Instagram analytics don’t really show that audience engagement lessens with multiple posting as long as you interact.Facebook interaction should be done once in the morning and once in the evening, minimum. If you post all day long, it looks like you spend all your time there, and you don’t want to give that impression as a leading expert.You can engage more often if you use Google+ because this site actually sees audience engagement boosts when you post more often. Still, you want to spread it out through the day and stick to about 3 times each day.What to Post for Increased EngagementYou might sometimes feel like you don’t have a lot to say on social media. Maybe that’s why you haven’t posted as much as you should. But coming up with something to post is a lot easier than you think.When you do post, make sure that you post something with a picture. Studies have shown that if there’s an image with whatever you post, it gets a higher response rate and people tend to share pictures more than other types of posts.People love to be inspired – and a great way to engage with your audience is to share quotes that inspire them. You can use ones that have a special meaning to you.When you run across something that you really like, save it to your computer in a folder so that you’ll also have a supply of inspiring quotes on hand to share. These quotes can range from business inspiration to personal motivation to quotes that make people stop and think about life in general.The good news is that when they see that quote later, more often than not, they’ll remember that you’re the one who shared it before. If you think that you have trouble knowing what to say on social media, keep in mind that other people do, too.They might see a post they really like but won’t comment on it because they’re too shy or don’t know what to say. You can stir up more engagement by asking questions on your social media sites.People will answer questions because it’s more of a group effort. When they see others responding to the question, they’ll jump in. It’s okay to share posts about new products that you like or even your own products.Just make sure that you don’t let the post come across as a pushy sales post. Instead of hawking the product, you can post it and say something like you just finished working on it and you’re so excited.Then it comes across as you letting them see behind the scenes rather than you turning into a sales person. Share personal stuff, too. This doesn’t mean that you showcase embarrassing things or any family drama.It means sharing a picture of your garden or your vacation. You can share the latest antics of your cat or dog – or an event that you attended. What this does is it makes you come across as a human being rather than a business – and people connect more when they feel like they see the person behind the brand.Reward Your Audience for EngagingWhen you reward your audience for engaging, it helps build loyalty. People love to be rewarded. They love to get something that they weren’t expecting. It helps them feel appreciated.When people feel appreciated by someone, it makes them feel as if they know you and that you’re someone they can build an online relationship with. It’s easy to find ways to make sure you regularly reward your audience.You don’t want to do it so often that people only show up and only interact because they think you’re giving something away every time. But you want to do it often enough so that it makes a difference.Small giveaways throughout the month are appropriate with bigger giveaways spaced out through the year like a grand prize. You can arrange it so that when someone in your audience comments on something that you’ve posted that get access to information or maybe a beta version of a product before anyone else does.If someone shares one of your posts, you can reward them with the same deal. What this does is it creates a kind of street team of loyal followers who will gladly promote you to other people on their own social media sites.People love to have the chance to win prizes too and you’ll see your engagement soar when you offer specific prizes. Gift cards are extremely popular. You can offer coffee store gift cards, bookstore gift cards, ones to restaurants or Amazon gift cards.Some people will use Rafflecopter to handle the entries in any type of contest they have. But that’s not the best course to take because you can have people sharing just the link to the Rafflecopter widget.That means that it won’t increase views or interaction. It also means that people who don’t have the slightest interest in you or your brand will enter the contest multiple times in hopes of winning.What you want to do is to pay attention to the people on your social media who actively engage with you. When you see this, reach out to them and offer them some exclusive perks.Maybe you can give them some new software you created or a special report that’s usually only available in your membership forum. There are endless ways you can go above and beyond with your audience!Use Data to Make Your Engagement SoarKnowing when to post something on social media is just as important as knowing what to post. You don’t want to spend time and energy focused on creating engaging posts only to have them disappear unnoticed into the cyber void of social media.This void is what occurs when interest and engagement is at its lowest point – your audience is offline, sleeping or doing other things. If you know when those times are, then you can avoid it.You can also make your posts more audience specific if you learn who they are. Posts that are directed to a narrower audience will hit their target more than a broad, all inclusive post will.It’s just a fact of life that not everyone is going to be interested in what you have to say. So why not gear your interaction toward the people who do want to hear what it is you share?You can use data to make sure that you’re posting during the times that your audience is most active. By posting during these times, what you post will end up at the top of their feed rather than buried at the bottom.For example, if you use Twitter and you tweet during the week, you don’t want to tweet first thing in the morning. Most people don’t hop right on. They take care of a few things first, then check their social media.So you would want to put your tweet out there in the mid morning. You would also not want to engage in posts on Twitter late at night because that’s when the site is the least active and your tweet could end up getting missed by your target audience.This information can also help you redefine your marketing campaigns when you do those. By knowing when and what to post, you can create content that’s tailor made and hits the mark.Most social media sites have analytic tools that you can use. Plus, there are outside ones that you can use to check on how well your posts are performing. You can use Facebook insights to see what demographic was interacting with your page.You might see something that shows that 65% of your demographic were women while 35% were men. You’ll also be able to see age and relationship, language and the size of their household.You’ll be able to ascertain how often your audience is active on the Facebook site. If you check out page insights, you’ll see the number of people who shared your posts or engaged on your page.All of this information and research into your social media experience can help you build a rabid fan base of people who not only like what you share and teach, but feel compelled to get others onboard, too.