Engaging “Neutrals” on Social Media

social media

If you’re reading this, you may also be a member of the Student Organization Leaders Facebook Group. (If you aren’t, do me a favor and request to join.) Our goal with this group is to create a place for people who have seen our Dance Floor Theory program or follow our work to continue the conversation of how to create communities where everyone feels welcomed, connected, and engaged.

Every once in a while, someone will post a question to the group about running events, meetings, or other leadership topics. Sometimes, people answer the questions I post weekly to start a conversation. Sometimes they comment on our links. But, guess what type of content that gets the most traction?

Contests. I can ask the most interesting question ever, but at the end of the day, as frustrating as it is, contests get 20 comments, and questions get one if I am lucky.

Why? Because we simply ask everyone to guess a number and win stickers. And it’s a whole lot easier for someone to write “42” than to tell me what their favorite meeting activities are.

This is one great example of engaging “Neutrals” on social media.

Before I get into the rest of the how, I want to do a quick crash course on what I am even talking about.

What is a Neutral?

Neutrals are people in your community who are completely disengaged. At work, they may be the people who just do their job and go home, and never huddle up at the water cooler. On campus, they are the students who go to class and then go back home or to their residence hall. Or maybe they are your one friend who never joins the conversation.

On social media, Neutrals are the lurkers. You know, the ones in that group or on your friends list that you forget are even there, because they never so much as “like” a post. When you are trying to build a connected online community, these are the people that you need to coax into the discussion.

Meh! To Hmm

In Dance Floor Theory, we talk about getting these neutrals “from meh to hmm.” This means that before someone will really start to engage with others, you need to catch their attention. Your tactics need to involve almost no effort for them to interact. You can’t expect someone who never talks to anyone to simply tell you their deepest fears if you asked. Online, this becomes even more true, because it’s much easier to ignore a post than some weirdo asking to your face about your dark secrets. A Facebook post with less than 250 characters will get 60% more engagement. In other words, hard-to-read posts are ignored because nobody wants to put in that much effort.

(For more DFT lingo, check out the Dance Floor Theory Glossary.)

We often talk about Blender Events to bring people from Meh to Hmm in person.  You can use this same concept online to create stronger digital bonds and get those Neutrals in on the conversation.

Today, getting people to hear your story on social media, and then act on it, requires using a platform’s native language, paying attention to context, understanding the nuances and subtle differences that make each platform unique, and adapting your content to match.

– Gary Vaynerchuk

Simple ways you can engage Neutrals on social media

Like or comment questions – For example, “Like this post if you use Android, and comment woohoo if you use an iPhone.”

I need help… – Can’t decide on a new pair of sunglasses? Ask your audience, as Melissa did once. People love to feel like their vote counts.

This or That – Summer or winter? Jeans or khakis? Book or movie? These are risk-free and quick to weigh in on.

Post your last picture… – These are always super fun and silly. Ask people to comment with the last photo on their camera roll. Other variations include things like “Your future is the last thing you texted” or “You’re stuck on an island with the cast of the last show you watched.”

Post a gif that describes… – Another fun game: ask people to post a gif describing how their day is going, or what their weekend/holiday was like.

Polls – It’s super easy for anyone to check a box next to one of a few pre-set options.

Porter Haney, CEO of a social polling company called Wedgies,  says that “the flow (on average) is something like this: 20 percent of readers vote on the poll, 15 percent of those voters share the poll, resulting in a 2-3 percent share rate of the page.”

Contests – Get those “what’s in it for me” people engaging!

The more Neutrals engage on easy stuff, the more they see your content and remember your name.  They might then be more inclined to answer deeper questions, and interact with others on the thread once they get used to seeing and commenting on your posts. Eventually, they may be your most vocal members.

What do you do to engage the neutrals in your networks? Comment below!

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