Dude, Where’s My Audience? 10 Top Tips to Build your Social Media Following
By Simon Brooks, 2 June 2015
The use of social media for marketing, as a customer service tool and to conduct market or opinion research would have been unheard of as little as ten years ago.
The real power of social media in the business sphere however lies with the consumer. Look at what happened to Thomas Cook in May 2015 as an example.
In all senses then, social media represents a seismic shift in the dynamics of marketing and customer relations, allowing new forms of interaction for business-to-consumer, business-to-business and – critically – consumer-to-consumer communications.
With such unprecedented levels of interaction, social sharing and opinion forming, you’d be forgiven for thinking that every company now sees social media as a bare necessity.
Yet that’s not the case for a very simple reason.
Many companies write fantastic blogs, post outstanding infographics and share tweets, posts and likes from likeminded businesses – to not very many followers at all.
If you’re currently struggling to get a foothold, build your “reach” and extend your community, what can you do? For starters, follow these top ten tips for building your social media following:
Share Shareable Stuff. Frequently
Two points in one here really.
Firstly, an empty page is a pointless page, and if you disappear from your followers’ newsfeeds for too long your audience engagement will soon drop dramatically.
To avoid fading into the shadows, ensure you’re posting frequently (at least a few times daily). Social media can be fickle, and it’s far easier to maintain a following than to rebuild one from scratch.
Secondly, don’t share any old rubbish. Sharing for sharing’s sake will get you nowhere, so pick and choose what you share, whether it’s your own or other people’s content.
Think that you’re building up a reputation and carving a niche. What you share will affect the perception that people have of you, and serve to build your reputation.
Be Useful, Interesting and Relevant
Further to this, try whenever possible to provide useful, interesting and relevant content such as advice or help for your audience. By so doing you’ll make yourself immediately valuable to them.
This is a massive asset when it comes to building your social media following, as people are unlikely to unfollow accounts that provide real, tangible value. They may also be more inclined to share your content when others pose similar questions.
People on social media have a short attention span and need to be constantly entertained or you risk losing them.
A judicious amount of humorous content can be highly effective in driving audience engagement and interaction, with humorous imagery in particular being excellent for getting shared and re-tweeted.
While education and information is valuable, entertainment keeps them hooked when fatigue sets in, and is also far more effective for your morning posts.
Follow Relevant or Like-Minded People
An easy way to get your content in front of the right people is simply to follow them. Many sites will notify them of this encouraging them to view your page, potentially following you back or sharing your content.
This gives you an instant and direct route to the relevant audience for your business, and can help to substantially boost your following, in the early days particularly.
Concentrate Your Efforts
With so many new and existing social media sites out there, the risk of spreading yourself too thin is a real concern. It’s not just about Facebook and Twitter anymore. New niche networks are appearing all the time, and it’s tempting to think you should be present in all of them.
But it’s simply impossible to focus enough attention on each and every one of them – at least in a way that does them justice and has the potential to reward your effort.
Better to focus your efforts on a few sites that fit with your brand well and where the people you want to engage with are also active. Facebook and Twitter are still expected, but a brand with a younger target audience may see substantial benefits from platforms such as Instagram and Pinterest. Not all companies need a YouTube account, but for others it can be essential. A bit of trial and error will soon identify which sites are best suited to your needs.
React and Respond
As much as social media is great for customer interaction, it can also be a potential minefield if not properly monitored and managed.
In a world where people are accustomed to having everything at their fingertips, and at a moment’s notice, these expectations extend to companies. So if a customer offers praise or references you in a good light, be sure to share it and offer thanks. It will present your brand in a positive way.
But if customers take to social media to complain, tread carefully. Complaints made on social media are up there for the world to see, and thus need to be dealt with efficiently. If someone posts a poor review on your social media, respond to it. Don’t insult them or tell them they’re wrong, simply reply in a calm manner, address their issues directly and offer to do anything you can to alleviate their concerns.
Social Over Sales
It is important to remember that your social media pages are social for a reason. They shouldn’t be used for shameless sales plug or for any overtly sales-related purpose.
While it is true that correct use of social media can generate business, filling your pages purely with sales pitches and promotional material will drive your audience away for the simple reason that people don’t like to be sold to.
Finding the right balance between value and promotional material is a must. If you can effectively communicate across social media sites you will get the revenue boost you need as a by-product.
Make Use of @Replies on Twitter
Twitter’s @Reply function is a valuable tool for building your audience. By communicating directly with another relevant individual or organisation, you can place your name in front of their already established audience. This can be extremely helpful as it gives you the opportunity to convert some of their following to your own.
Make sure when communicating using @Replies that it is a relevant point and that you’re not just spamming other peoples pages, as this will have the opposite effect.
Further to the above item on @Replies, being seen to be magnanimous across your social media channels can be very positive when you’re building your social reputation.
If an individual or organisation achieves something noteworthy or launches an admirable charity campaign, offer them praise for their successful endeavour. Clearly don’t apply this to your biggest or closest business competitors, but do apply it to businesses:
– Whose ethos and values you admire
– You are happy to be associated with
– That operate in the same sector but who are not direct competitors
– That have done something genuinely impressive or remarkable
This will directly boost your audience as praise posts tend to be shared or re-tweeted, again placing your name in front of their established audience.
Word of caution: be careful not to fall into a pattern of ‘piggy-backing’ unrelated campaigns as this will be detrimental to your cause.
Offer an “Exclusive”
People like free, exclusive or one-off stuff, simple as that.
If you can offer them something they cannot get elsewhere then all the better. Exclusive offers are a great way of not only establishing a following to begin with, but maintaining that audience across an extended period of time.
Followers will be reluctant to unfollow your page due to a fear of missing out, so this is another useful way of growing your community over time.
By using these top 10 tips, you should start to see success coming your way across all your social media platforms. Once you’ve got your audience, the next challenge is to keep them engaged so that they eventually convert into clients – when the time is right for them to make the buying decision.
For more help and advice on social media, blogging, content marketing and digital marketing, please visit our blog: https://www.c4bmedia.com/blog/