Mastering Social Media in Japan: The Key to Instagram Engagement

The Key to Instagram engagement is not necessarily in the amount of money you put in your ads but instead how deeply you can connect with your audience. My social media marketing experience has taught me that the are 3 steps that marketers should follow when trying to step up their engagement game. 

Step 1: Differentiate 

As I have another sip of my morning blend coffee, I notice that it has started to snow in Tokyo. From a distance, each snowflake looks like a white particle of nothing. However, if you look closely, you will find that each snowflake is entirely different from one another. Each one imperfect but perfect in its own way. Each particle has a different dream, a different desire, and a different need. When I look at my audience on Instagram, I see them as complex, three-dimensional beings with hopes and aspirations. Engagement deepens the relationship between the audience and the brand. 

To answer every comment with care, like every comment with delight and to make the audience feel like they are part of the family, is one of our core duties as Social Media Managers. Being assisted by a person who empathizes with you and caters to your needs in a professional yet personal way is very lovely. The key to engagement on Instagram is not hashtags and paid advertising, it is human connection. When your audience senses that you are not authentic and that you are in it for the likes and the money, they will leave. The attitude of a marketer should not be "do whatever you can to bring me more leads so that we can make more money," but "How can I help my audience to reach their highest potential?" and "how is my content helping my audience?".

Step 2:Align

What is it about us marketers that make us successful and loved? Is it the amount of revenue we bring into a company? Is it the content that we make? What is it? I have contemplated it so many times that I lost count. My previous manager was very interested in the number of people we introduced into the company. For her, data was holy water, leads her bible, and money her salvation. Whenever I did a project that exceeded the target of required leads, I could see the dollar sign in her eyes with the register machine sound that we hear in Looney Tunes. When I listen to Pink Floyd's Money, she comes to mind like a muse inspiring a Greek artist waiting for a tragedy. Like the famous song said, "money, it's a hit. Don't give me that goody good bullshit". Are we here only to drive traffic? Make more sales? I don't think so. 

We exist to provide a valuable service to our audience while aligning to heir goals and needs. Have you ever thought about your leads? Who are they? Are they random data on a spreadsheet? Or are they real people with hopes and dreams? The second key to improve your Instagram engagement is to create content that will allow your audience to achieve their goal. Understanding that value and quality matter so much more than quantity. The day you start seeing your audience as three-dimensional people rather than data, your engagement improves. 

Step 3: Relate

There is a very famous saying here in the Land of The Rising Sun that goes like this "お客様は神様です, "which translates to "Customer is God." While some good points can be made using this phrase, there is something that does not allow me to agree. If the customer is God, how the fuck do I relate to them and understand them? How can I connect to God? Customers are not omnipotent and omnipresent beings, they are people like you and me. People who cry, fear, get hurt, scream, hope, and dream. To improve our engagement, we have to relate to our audience and see them as an extension of ourselves. When someone asks you a question on Instagram or Facebook, don't use a fucking chatbot, have an actual human being send a message that relates to the person. Whenever I get a question or comment on Instagram, I go into the person's profile and look at their reality. What is important to them? How can I speak to them in a language that they understand? How can I immerse myself in their existence? This is how you find the answers. 

Let me give you an example. I'm doing the content and social media management for a TV and media personality with tens of thousands of followers. Every day we get hundreds of questions, comments, compliments, complaints, etc. When a person reaches out to me, I value it. Instead of giving them a generic answer that is prefabricated, I take the time to look at their Instagram, see what matters to them and respond in a way that feels, caring, personalized, and genuine. "Thank you for the message" is not enough, something like, "Hello, Liz! Thank you for your message! I'm so glad you like the new wallpaper and so happy to have you as a fan! I saw your work Instagram and thought you are very talented! Why don't you start your interior design agency? I'm sure you'll do an amazing job!". A message like that is inspiring, genuine, and empowering. Enter their world, first, so that they can enter yours. 

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