5 Ways to Build an Online Social Media Audience
Your social media audience is everything in PR and marketing, it’s the largest open focus group you could ever hope for right at your fingertips. Build it, nurture it, participate with it, listen to it and direct it.
A loyal audience is the key to a successful brand and you will face a lot of competition. There are so many places people can go for their content these days that you have to be creative, consistent and courageous. Oh, and human.
This is a slow burn. You have to first figure out who your audience is, and unless you want to buy millions of fake accounts, it’s going to take time to build up a solid following. It’s more valuable to have a small, solid, core of people who care than a mass of unengaged names.
But it’s worth it. Their feedback will be invaluable and having an engaged audience will put you into the coveted expert/influencer category, which will help your business grow.
Here are five ways to do it…
Find Your People
Before you start throwing out content seek out others in your field and take a look at what they’re doing.Initially, you should head to where the people you want as your audience are already active. Scour the most popular websites and blogs in your arena, or check out the accounts of like-minded Instagrammers, Twitter accounts or Facebook pages.
Immersing yourself in the conversations that are already being had is the best way to spot trends and learn about what works and what doesn’t. What are they not doing that you can do? What can you do better? Got a secret sauce to add to the mix? What about a few special offers or unique point of view?
This kind of research will give you a huge advantage when building your own audience.
Be Creative With Your Content
It’s not enough to be half-hearted about your social media, it’s the equivalent of receiving a limp handshake, yuck – doesn’t make you want to go much further.You need to create compelling content that will grab people’s attention, and a great blog post will be far more effective than one written in haste and with no thought behind it.
You don’t need to reinvent the wheel but you will be onto a winner if you can put a new spin on an old topic. After a while your audience will be your guiding light and it should become apparent to you what they enjoy the most.
Remember to add great visuals. With technology these days there’s no reason why you can’t be providing your own fantastic images.
You don’t have to post every day but start with a commitment to posting once a month, week or day at a certain time.This will get you into the good habit of thinking about what you can post next (from this moment forth you will always been on the lookout for great ideas).
Pick a date in your calendar and stick to it. Pick and stick.
Once you’re comfortable with one post, add more to your calendar until you have reached the limit you can successfully cope with.
Just make sure that whatever date or day you choose, you’re consistent. Your audience will appreciate it and will show up for you. People translate consistency in business to trustworthiness, it’s essential to get right.
Be Someone’s Guest
It’s early days and your audience is small so look at ‘borrowing’ another’s audience.Writing guest blogs on other sites with a link back to your own social media is a great way of flexing your social media muscle, and will be a great advertisement for what you do, while raising your profile.
Another idea is to seek out relevant podcasts that you listen to and ask if you can be a guest contributor.
Not only will it be great fun but it will force you to hone your brand message while you spread the word.
Start Small, Stay Focussed
Don’t try to have a presence on 20 different types of social media, as you’ll spread yourself too thin.
Stick to one or two platforms that your audience already engages with and go with it. Master the platform, produce content that speaks directly to that platform and honor each platform along with it’s users. Dig into some of the special features of each platform and see if you can make them work to your advantage. Got a local business? Try using location tagging, hashtag your region, scope out other users in zip code. Hone in. Technology allows you to geo target with ease now.
Work with building an audience on these couple of platforms, be it Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, until you start to see results.
But be aware that you will need to constantly refine your ideas. This is not a sprint. You’re not going to have a million followers after a month (not unless you’re a Kardashian!).
However, if after a while you can’t see progress then be okay with asking yourself, ‘What can I do better, what can I change?’
Maybe you need to be on a different platform, or provide better content?
At that point, your audience will be able to show you where you’re going wrong thanks to their ‘likes’, shares and re-tweets or re-posts. Give them what they want. And don’t be afraid of asking, “How may I best serve you?”
Ultimately, keep your mind open to the process and be willing to change course if necessary.
Think slow and steady, and you can’t go wrong. With a loyal audience your brand will thrive. And when it happens, be sure to blog about that too!