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Engagement is being social on social media. On the scale of social media success, engagement must balance out the news and information you push out about your organization. Engagement means entering conversations. It means taking the time to care and converse. Engagement is the opposite of a direct pitch or plug to promote something.

These 8 tips will grow followers and add meaning to your personal or organizational brand on social media.

1. Hashtags matter. Identify the hashtags that are central to your business, cause or brand. Search these and take notice of the accounts who are having these keyword conversations.

2. Respond to posted photographs, graphics and infographics. Tell someone it was a great shot (but only if it was).

3. Thank those who posted useful resources, such as a link. Let them know it helped.

4. Participate in organized chats or “Tweetups.” These are normally scheduled for a set hour or two during the week and revolve around a specific hashtag. Most are moderated, with the moderator posting numbered questions that visitors respond to. For example, search #gardenchat to see how it works.

5. Thank people for retweeting or following you.

6. Flesh out your profile. Let others see you are a real person with diverse interests. They are more likely to strike up a conversation with you if you are not mysterious. The more authentic you are the better.

7. Use handles. It is like tapping someone on the shoulder and saying, “hey!” Beginning with a handle, @username, will only be seen by you, that person and your mutual followers. Putting a dot or period before the handle at the beginning broadens the view of the shoutout, and you will see people beginning a tweet with .@username for that reason. But only at the start of a tweet! Using a handle in the middle or end of a tweet also works – the user will get a notification that you have mentioned them and they will likely be curious, if not flattered, and check you out!

8. Let your personality emerge and be conversational. Think of a tweet as a mini-email. Either private or public, if you have a question, a comment or a legitimate, authentic reason to say something, do so! It might not get you anywhere with celebrities, but one or two tweets and mentions can help bridge the gap to a future relationship. Don’t be spammy or nag. If you have something meaningful to say or contribute, don’t hesitate. Not everyone will respond, but most will.

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