You can’t build a brand without exposure, and nothing offers more contact points than social media. But the success of social media marketing campaigns is notoriously difficult to quantify.

Simply Measured surveyed 600 marketers about their top challenges with SMM campaigns. The data showed that 60 percent of companies said their top SMM challenge is measuring their ROI. Another study showed that only 13 percent of brands and 17.4 percent of marketing agencies are confident they can measure SMM-driven revenue.

But social media isn’t just about promotional efforts. It’s about interacting with your customers. If you’re going to use your social channels productively, you have to be sure they do one thing: engage. When you do this effectively, you build brand awareness, loyalty, and enthusiasm. This will transfer into long-term gains, whether they’re difficult to measure or not.

Let’s take a look at some of the superstars of social media marketing and the strategies they use to engage with their customers.

1. Christian Collins

With a personal and authentic vibe that invites audiences into his daily life, Christian Collins has amassed a following of more than 30M across social media platforms. Christian is mission-focused in his broadcasting efforts – in the past he’s been appointed a United Nations ambassador in observance of the International Day of Peace. His current Limitless Movement encourages young adults to uplift each other and transcend environmental boundaries to realize success.

Christian is an early adopter of an up-and-coming social media platform, Vero, that touts an ad-free user experience and enhanced customization options for users. Spotting user trends and adopting new platforms early has engagement benefits that may be reaped long into the future.

2. Ian Balina

Entrepreneurial wunderkind Ian Balina is a cryptocurrency evangelist, and he’s taking his social followers along for the ride. In addition to posting candid updates on the usual channels about the joys and perils of his investments, Balina turns to YouTube to host AMAs.

When a cryptocurrency launches, it has an initial coin offering (ICO), somewhat like an initial public offering (IPO). When a crypto of interest launches, Balina live streams a videochat with its founder, allowing his followers to ask questions directly. This helps them decide whether to invest or not, and strengthens Balina’s follower engagement. It’s a smart tactic that builds trust and keeps people coming back.

3. Josh Fechter

When you think of building a social media following, LinkedIn might not be the first platform that leaps to mind. But Josh Fechter has used LinkedIn’s strengths–and his own weaknesses–to build a big community with a lot of SMM momentum. By blogging vulnerably about his eight failed startup attempts and how he came out on top, Fechter connects directly to struggling entrepreneurs in need of inspiration and mentorship.

He recently told Forbes, “If we can show it’s okay to be vulnerable about your professional life, then we can inspire thousands of professionals to share their struggles and successes.” His success is not limited to one platform. He’s also created a marketers and entrepreneurs community on Facebook, and it’s grown to over 15,000 members.

4. Tim Queen

Speaking of leveraging LinkedIn, Tim Queen is bringing influencers together with long-form roundups of thought leaders to watch, spotlighting the women and men making online marketing splashes. The strategy is smart because it creates overlap: his followers get introduced to featured influencers, and as influencers share Queen’s LinkedIn posts with their own crowds, he gets exposure too. Everybody wins, and everybody learns something about creating valuable content for SMM and building community.

5. String Nguyen

Digital marketing guru-for-hire String Nguyen uses Facebook Live, Snapchat, and LinkedIn Video to share her thought leadership. Through her video work, she has changed the tone of LinkedIn, and conducted a number of interviews with prominent folks like Gary Vaynerchuk.

Where someone like Josh Fechter uses almost exclusively text for social content creation, Nguyen favors simple videos shot with her iPhone and a mic. Plus, she’s built a strong personal brand as a lover of fried chicken, and even hosts online fried chicken parties! Nguyen has taken her own advice and created something memorable.

6. Goldie Chan

Another pioneer of the LinkedIn video platform, pop culture brand aficionado Goldie Chan produces short-form #walkntalk videos exploring the history of brands like Harry Potter, The Simpsons, and Game of Thrones. Streaming live to create a more engaging audience experience, Chan peppers her monologues with interesting facts and data. And having produced fifty some such videos in the past few months alone, she is prolific at her craft. Continually producing new content keeps users engaged and coming back.

7. Brittany Hoffman

As a young brand manager, Brittany Hoffman helped Gary Vaynerchuk build up his personal image and following. Since then, she’s taken that knowledge and experience freelance to help others follow suit. As a master of social media across Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, she’s also quick to remind her followers that social media brand images can be misleading–or at least incomplete. Her hashtag campaign #morethanmysocialmedia is a reminder that we all, including influencers and lifestyle branders, are multidimensional people, not reducible to an online stereotype.

8. Ramit Sethi

Best known for his popular book, I Will Teach You To Be Rich, Ramit Sethi uses an oft forgotten tactic to engage his followers: he talks to them. Sethi replies to comments, responds to criticism, asks his followers what they think about it, and applauds their successes. Call it old fashioned, but Sethi understands one very simple thing. Follower engagement starts with you. If you want people to interact with you or your brand on social media, you’ve got to interact with them. That, after all, is what distinguishes an influencer from a celebrity.

9. Mark Normand

And speaking of the tried and true techniques, if you really want to get your followers engaged, why not try Mark Normand’s approach and use humor? Joking around is a refreshing tactic in the age of overly serious Instagram posturing and the moody 1,000 yard stare. Normand knows not to take things too seriously, and that encourages his followers to lighten up and joke around with him. If you leave your followers with a positive feeling, they will come back.

10. Michaela Alexis

Viral content creator Michaela Alexis started the successful #letsgethonest hashtag campaign, which she grew from a small creative project to a 26 million user force. She started working her LinkedIn magic back when people were telling her she wouldn’t be taken seriously if she posted images there. Thankfully, instead of listening to them, she’s helped make LinkedIn a brighter, less serious place. Alexis’s approach to user engagement? Help people. That’s more important than the rules.

11. Lilly Singh

YouTube star Lilly Singh combines the comedic approach with the Ramit Sethi technique of replying to user comments–especially some of the worst user comments, because these make for the funniest and most caustic video retorts. Sexist comments? She teaches men how to make a sandwich. Xenophobic ones? She replies with a geography lesson for racists. But behind the colorful sarcasm is a positive message of empowerment. Because it’s positive and empowering messages that keep followers engaged and coming back for more sass.

There’s no end to the number of strategies you can deploy for SMM success. In fact, the beauty of social media is that there are as many strategies as there are personalities. But whether you use text or video, LinkedIn or Instagram Stories, learn from the masters and keep your followers engaged. That will give your brand longevity and reach, and over time you’ll watch those returns start to roll in.


  • Adryenn Ashley

    High tech priestess turned award winning author/producer, interested in future tech, global trends, and the here and now.

    Adryenn Ashley is a serial entrepreneur, speaker, and investor. As a Startup Advisor her advice is sought after, whether for her abilities to viralize a global conversation, or increase a company's revenue while streamlining costs. Her expertise ranges everywhere from breaking into banks (security testing in the 1990's), to being one of the first females in AI in the 2000's, giving Ashley decades of experience in navigating the bleeding edge of what's next. Having immersed herself in blockchain, artificial intelligence, and augmented reality, Ashley's newest disrupt, Loly, aims to reinvent the way people meet, mingle, and make magic online. Funding Loly through an ICO is what inspired the content for her newest book, Minting the Future (Spring 2019). Recently named the #1 Woman in Blockchain, Ashley speaks around the globe from small elite audiences to jam-packed convention centers, using her signature style of humor to break down complex technologies into understandable bites of must have knowledge. In addition to being a tech entrepreneur, Ashley is a best-selling author and award-winning filmmaker. In 2015, she skillfully turned fan engagement into #SocialTV profits with CrowdedTV, the world's first crowdfunding platform for broadcast television. Going a step further than just raising funds, CrowdedTV also recruited sponsorship and secured distribution. Using the CrowdedTV platform, Ashley's first show, Wake Up!, went from idea to national broadcast television in under four months, and is in pre-production for a second season, as well as development for their first 360 sitcom, and a crypto-centric comedy news show.