Over the past few years, customers have slowly been shifting to social media as their primary means of directly connecting with brands. From customer support to questions about products, direct messaging has become a go-to for consumers to bring forward their inquiries, spawning an entirely new level of engagement. If you’re looking to capitalize on this recent trend, there are a few things you should know about how to make the most out of these interactions.

1. Create a Community People Want to Engage With

No matter the medium, if you’re going to increase customer engagement, you first have to create a community in which people want to participate. Although that might sound like stating the obvious, you’d be surprised by the number of companies that make the assumption customers will naturally want to engage with them. Even with the most incredible product or service, you’re still asking visitors to take time out of their day to communicate with you, which is a tall order in our fast-paced, overscheduled world.

Brainstorm some online community building methods you could implement, including the launch of a new social campaign/hashtag, Q&A sessions with your founder or other leadership, or even establishing a discord/telegram channel. The goal is to get a conversation started.

2. Know the Audience on Your Platform

When it comes to direct messaging, one important element to focus on is the audience you’re trying to engage and how people prefer to communicate on any given platform. For instance, while your strategy to get more Instagram followers or Facebook fans might be somewhat similar, there are some nuances you need to pay attention to that differentiate them. Some of these things are intuitive — like you can’t post on Insta without a good photo or graphic — but other ways you can tailor your content to each platform’s audience are less obvious.

Instagram, for example, attracts 59…