Social media has irreversibly changed how companies do business, but many still fail to see the potential in front of them and treat platforms such as Facebook and Twitter as a passing fad.

Newsflash – they aren’t, and if you’re not engaging with your audience online, you’re missing vital opportunities for profit.

Users of the big sites will notice an enormous difference between the activities of various firms – some might employ social media managers to hammer out content continuously, while others might post once or twice a week.

It depends on the business of course, but the old trope of quality over quantity can help a significant proportion of firms sail the choppy waters of Facebook and its ever-expanding contemporaries.

And if time is an issue and there is no social media manager to take the strain, then the answer to great online engagement isn’t, in fact, an answer at all…it’s a question.

Many questions, to be precise, as asking followers for their thoughts and opinions is a sure-fire way to get reactions that will spread across friend networks, carrying your company’s name along with it.

As users of Facebook and the like will tell you, people love to share their opinions, so why not steer the conversation to your organization’s benefit?

Instead of just posting links and hoping for likes in return, ask your followers for their thoughts on a subject directly related to your business.

Product sellers have caught onto the power of presenting two items and asking followers which they prefer – a classic method of provoking loyalty. According to Dave Kerpen, CEO of Likeable Media, huge brands are finding such questions an increasingly cost-free form of marketing.

He explained how Starbucks posted a picture of one of their beverages, with a message stating it was a staff member’s preferred drink of choice for that all-important mid-afternoon break. Then came the magic words…“What’s yours?”

This seemingly simple post earned the coffee giant over 20,000 likes, almost 300 shares, and sparked over 2,000 comments as people flooded the page to promote their preferred drink.

Dave explains:

If social media is a conversation, then if you put content out there without asking a question, you’re a lot less likely to get a response.

“If on the other hand, you actually ask questions on Facebook and Twitter…they are going to be much more inclined to actually answer you.

“And you can ask all kinds of great questions about your community, what they want to see, your products and services, how you could be doing better. Or just funny questions that inspire answers.”

One example Dave provides is Home Depot, whose question of whether people preferred their toilet roll to roll over or under its holder prompted floods of replies, shares, and of course, those precious likes.

He added:

“Now, notice this has nothing to do with Home Depot, but it’s a question that is sort of funny and it inspired hundreds of answers.

“Ultimately, it’s all about asking simple questions that make it really easy for your community to answer.”