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Why 2017 Will be the Year of Native Content and Engagement The raw number of followers you have is much less significant than the number of highly engaged followers you have.

By Lesya Liu Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Nick David | Getty Images

Forget about like counts; focus on engagement.

I can hear sighs of relief from some ("Finally no more race to hundreds of thousands of likes") and some disgruntlement ("Ugh, now that I spent all this time, money and effort, you say it doesn't matter?").

Engagement as a metric of value.

The like counts still matter on a psychological level, because we as consumers believe the popularity of a given product to be correlated with its quality. We as entrepreneurs also look at the like counts as a metric for reputation of the company and as a metric for effectiveness of social media marketing efforts.

However, the real metric for success of our digital marketing efforts lies in engagement rates. Would you choose to have 100 followers, 50 percent of which visit your site and purchase regularly, or 5000 followers, one percent of which visit your site and purchase regularly?

Engagement is a much better prediction of the quality of your content, which, after some time, builds loyalty in your audience. If you continuously pump out amazing, insightful information people love to read and share, you are in the gold, because they will eventually develop a habit to look out for your next piece.

The second reason to focus on engagement rates is because, eventually, your high-quality content will earn you more followers. Most social networks now have an algorithm in place that decides what posts deserve to be pushed out into more feeds. So, if you've built a small but loyal following, your engagement rates will signal networks that more people will find this post interesting. This is how you become a leader in your niche.

How can you maximize engagement of your posts? While creating and publishing stellar content is key, there are a few tactics that will give an additional push in terms of being seen and action-provoking.

Related: The Top 10 Highest Paid YouTubers

Go native.

One tactic that will work in 2017 is creating native content. Most social networks give preference to pieces hosted right on their platform over links to other sites or, especially, other networks.

Upload (or record) your videos natively on each platform. Take the time to engage your followers on Youtube, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram separately to see your reach skyrocket. Create Instagram and Snapchat Stories. Go Live on both Facebook and Instagram.

While your website should be the hub for all key information, important blog posts, photos and videos, strive to create an immersive presence on each individual platform as well. If your social profile is a compilation of self-promotional links to your site, no one will care, or engage, with it. Be authentic and interesting on any platform you choose to be on.

Related: 6 Tools To Turbocharge Your Content Marketing in 2017

Keep it interactive.

Make your posts interactive: encourage conversations, use calls to action, don't be afraid to push boundaries and get the discussion going.

Social media industry is going all in on the interactive piece. While you may not be able to create a virtual reality experience for your updates, going live to answer questions or to simply chat with your followers will get you far.

Publishing native content that is also interactive is one of the best ways to gain traction with algorithms this year.

Related: YouTube Superstar Jenna Marbles Reveals the Secrets to Her Success

Boost it (a little).

Now, I am not saying you have to sit around and wait until your audience builds itself organically. You can surely give it a push with paid promotions. However, again, keep in mind engagement. If you created an amazing post that deserves way more attention than it's getting, boost it. Yet, promote it only to those people who will find it relevant and fascinating. It's not a secret that once you put some dollars behind an outstanding piece of content, it gets more organic traction as well.

Want to succeed this year on social media? Forget about buying followers, paying for bot services, and promoting your page to "everyone in the United States ages 18 to 65." If you strive to build a meaningful community that regularly contributes to your bottom line, get to know them, engage them, and provide immense value in informational form first.

Lesya Liu

Social Media Strategist at The Social Media Current

Lesya Liu helps entrepreneurs create a meaningful and profitable Instagram presence that feels right for their creative businesses. Born and raised in Ukraine, she is a social media strategist and a photographer. Her passion lies in combining art and marketing to create compelling storytelling, both visually and textually. Most days she roams the Interwebs, looking for fresh, inspirational ideas or testing things out on her own social channels.

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