When you first set up a profile and don’t have an audience on social media the emptiness of it can be unnerving. Since there is little point doing any social media marketing or promotions unless you have an audience, growing a fan base is an essential part of the process. Yet few businesses address it and some still struggle to get much of a following after a year or two, to be honest, and it can end up looking like a scene from those old Wild West films where the tumbleweed blows through an empty clapperboard town. Not a great promotion for any company.
Why does this happen? Well unfortunately, the default position for most organisations is to just post their PR output on whatever social network they use. However, trust me when I say that people aren’t interested in 99% PR announcements, however wonderful the company believes them to be, and that building an engaged audience is never achieved this way. Social media is called social for a reason, and is the very opposite of bland, over-constructed PR.
People use social media to connect, to be entertained and informed, and to express their emotions. They want authenticity, transparency, news and your views (bland gets you precisely nowhere on social media – I did say it was the very opposite of PR!), and they want to feel the love or the outrage. So emotion and authenticity is what you have to aim for if you are to win people’s attention, as well as being very visible and likeable.
Ok, here are 10 points to help you grow your audience on social media:
1. Follow people
First and foremost identify who is your audience, which network(s) they prefer and what they share. Find them and follow them, and add the to lists on Twitter. Sometimes they will follow you back but don’t assume that everyone will. You have to earn your stripes first.
You can thank people on Twitter for following you as long as you do it manually and it’s authentic, but DO NOT set up an automatic tweet or DM unless you can be incredibly witty and entertaining. It’s a complete turn off for most people most of the time, as it seems so false and lazy… ok, because it IS so false and lazy. Especially so if you then beg them to like you on Facebook, you know, before you’ve even built a relationship, engaged, made any connection, shared anything… I mean, you wouldn’t do that in real life so why do it on social media unless you want them to immediately form a dislike of your brand and unfollow you.
2. Be likeable
See above. In addition, be polite and good tempered, funny if you can manage it. Be generous. Find things to share that would interest your audience. Share their posts that would interest everyone else. Thank people who share your stuff (that’s everywhere by the way, including Facebook and LinkedIn) or mention you. Have an opinion. Write your own stuff and share that. Content marketing is an art in itself and can be very time consuming, however, the good thing is that one piece of good content can be shared in multiple ways on different platforms, and for quite a few weeks or months if it’s evergreen content, so it can be quite time-efficient. Post daily and post well.
Don’t just push out your own announcements and content, and then ignore everyone else – it’s not just rude, it misses the point of social media, which is to connect and build networks. Take time to like and comment on other people’s content (in your niche, obviously) and engage in conversation. By showing interest you not only become more likeable and magnetic, you are also more likely to make friends (and friends lead to clients) and to build a mutually beneficial relationship (again, that leads to clients).
Yes, it’s called social media for a reason…
4. Add social networks to your website
Make sure visitors to your website know that you are on social media and have the icons prominently displayed, with a sign asking them to like or follow (yes, it really does help). Make it easy to share your content too – and test that by trying to do it yourself.
5. Tell your email list
Don’t assume people will notice you are now on, for example, YouTube or Instagram, because they won’t. Tell them. Ask them to connect. Tell them you always connect back (and make sure you do). Give them other good reasons to follow you – exclusive information, behind the scenes insights, live chats (on Facebook, for example), and competitions…
Everyone likes to the chance of getting something for nothing. Nothing new there. However, by setting up a social competition with simple entry competitions (like and share to enter, for example) or something more interactive, such as photo sharing, it also becomes a good way to grow an audience on social media.
7. Use hashtags
The best tool for getting found on most social networks. Just make sure you use the right ones and in the right combinations. Do NOT make up a stupid one off hashtag unless it’s incredibly funny, witty and appropriate – and don’t trust your own judgement on that, road test it first before posting.
8. Influencer marketing
Find your advocates and see if they will be interested in doing some promotions for you in return for discounts, special perks or freebies (some may do it just for the love of you). Contact prominent bloggers in your niche and ask them to write a blog about your product. Just remember that you will have to supply the product at the very least, and probably pay them as well, and that the blog and any social media posts will need to carry a disclaimer.
9. Cross platform sharing
So you have a LinkedIn page for your business and Twitter, and now you have Pinterest too. Brilliant. Just make sure you share posts across and signpost it so you can cross pollinate your fan base.
Social advertising is brilliant because of all the data it can access, and it works very well if you get it right. Just make sure your adverts are attractive, informative and/or educational, clean with a strong single message, and a obvious call to action. You also need to target the right audience, and the more targeted you can be, the better, else you risk wasting a huge amount of money.