In theory, more followers means more eyes on your content…
But savvy marketers know that doesn’t always work out. To be effective, you need engaged followers, people who are so interested in your content they will read it, comment, and share with their audience.
In other words:
It’s not the size of the boat, it’s the motion of the ocean.
To get your boat a’rockin, you need to build an engaged audience. Fortunately, people on social media self-identify, and you can harness that.
Finding your audience
Each social media channel has tools and methods you can use to identify interested people. If you follow them, and they are interested, chances are pretty good they will follow you back.
Here are some tools and tactics to speed up the discovery process by social media channel.
You can follow 1000 people per day, but how? Twitter has its own search tool that I never found particularly useful, so I turn to online tools.
One easy and effective answer is Socedo.com. I used the Socedo app to run an experiment for a post I wrote here on Jeff’s blog.
On Monday morning, I set up an autoDM response, chose keywords that identify my ideal audience, and approved the 250 recommendations generated by the app. It took less than 5 minutes. The result was 40 extra new followers in one day.
Even more interesting was the response to the autoDM.
[First_Name], just wanted to say hi and thanks for connecting. If you’re interested in content marketing, here’s one of my recent posts, “7 Tactics to Write Quality Content Your Audience Will Love”
I chose that post because it’s been up for a while and not getting a lot of attention.
Here are screenshots from Monday morning and Tuesday morning.
That’s 2,955 tweets on Monday, and 2,979 tweets just 24 hours later.
Mock autoDMs all you want (we all hate them), but that’s a nice spike on a post that’s two months old… 24 tweets from 40 new followers is better than a 50% conversion rate!
Another really simple way to find and engage new followers is through Twitter chats. Active participation in industry-related hashtags not only allows you to communicate directly with people who might not otherwise respond to you (influencers with large followings), but you can also observe who responds to others. The people who retweet and respond to industry influencers are your people.
Don’t be shy. Show your expertise and avoid cliches. Then followup the next day with a clever comment, and join the chat again next week. Don’t worry if you seem to be talking to yourself at first, they’ll warm up if you join conversations.
Be sure to keep an eye on your Twitter Analytics. You can learn all kinds of cool stuff about who your most engaged followers are and what your most popular tweets include.
Scaling it back
To keep up your follow count, you have to keep up on your ratio. There are many tools online to help you manage your followers. I use Crowdfireapp.com to weed out inactive accounts and unfollow people who don’t follow me back (after a proper grace period).
Facebook has advanced search tools built into its program. Enter a keyword in the search field and you’ll get a wide range of results: People with your keyword in their profile descriptions, professional and business pages, groups, events, and even videos and photos about the subject.
Promoting your business on Facebook is tricky. While you can connect directly via a personal page, you’re limited to enticing people to follow a business/professional page. Depending on your industry, one good way to build an audience is to let your people be the face of the business. Paid promotions can help you get noticed, but nothing beats personal engagement.
You can really uber target ads and boosted posts, though. Get local by specifying country, state/province, city, and language, then specify age, sex, and interests.
Target got my attention recently by featuring items I’d left in an abandoned shopping cart. Brilliant!
And also effective; I went back and finished my order.
To analyze and optimize your page impact, Facebook offers Insights, a collection of reports that shows you such things as who your followers are, where they are located, and what they respond to.
Linkedin is the go-to social site for B2B, and just like the other sites, the key is engagement.
In 50 Ways To Get More Linkedin Page Followers, Jayson DeMers says “Growing your LinkedIn presence all comes down to two main strategies: promoting your page and producing engaging content that drives shares and increases your visibility.”
The same advice holds true for all social media sites. Even if you’re writing a simple tweet, make it a good one. Find ways to promote your content without repeating the same post over and over – choose bullet points from the post or report, ask a question, use a different graphic.
Ground floor video opportunities
The live-streaming trend is blazing hot right now, and it’s still early enough to grab a big share of the audience. Pick your poison: Meerkat, Periscope, and Blab are all gaining traction. Just remember, trends come and go, and audiences are fickle. Don’t get too invested in any one social site that may not last. When was the last time someone mentioned Vine?
Got the hang of if? Good.
By this point, you have figured out that you can’t just build it and they will come. You have to search for your followers, reach out, and give them a reason to follow you. No matter what social media site you’re targeting, your content has to be on point, your bio has to be interesting, and you have to interact quickly and cleverly.
Tips on improving your social media strategies
Beef up your bio
Consider your profile bio a personal ad for social media sites. It helps people find you and influences them to follow you. Use searchable keywords and make it interesting. It doesn’t have to be a dry list of qualifications. Include some personal details and make it personable. You can fit a surprising amount of information in a short paragraph.
Show some love
Here’s the part a lot of businesses don’t seem to get. The more you spread the love, the more you get in return. It’s a little bit thrilling when a big name or a brand with a ton of followers responds or retweets an ordinary person.
Brands that really engage in conversations and reshares tend to be talked about and written about. My current favorite social media account is @Applebees, and not just because they tweet mouthwatering bacon cheeseburger pictures at me. Their social media team is clever, responsive, and funny.
Lure targeted followers (AKA inbound marketing)
Targeting people on social media isn’t always about finding them. It can be about helping them find you. The same tactics used for linkbuilding can be effective for audience building. I do a lot of blogging on high traffic sites (like this one, for example), and each one has a bio with my contact information.
It’s a win-win. I write about what I know best – writing, social media, marketing, and all things associated. People who read it and like what I have to say connect with me… and that grows my audience.
It has other perks as well. You build authority by sharing your knowledge, make friends in the blogging world who are likely to help spread your fame and put your name in front of a targeted group of dedicated readers. All very worthy goals.
Deliver the goodness
Building a targeted audience becomes easier over time. The more exposure you have, the more people find you, it’s a natural progression. That doesn’t mean you get to relax. Instead, you should turn up the heat. Your goal is not only to find a new targeted audience, it’s to provide the content that keeps them interested.
As you get to know your audience, you can better understand what makes them tick. What content they are most likely to read and share, what they want to know from you, and where to find them.
Targeting your social media audience is all about answering their needs, sparking their interest, and being a resource they can count on. When you engage enthusiastic followers, they are all too happy to help you spread the word – and your fame.
Guest Author: Sherry Gray is a freelance content writer from Key West, FL, currently suffering the burbs of Orlando. She’s a science geek, a business and marketing writer, and an unapologetic fan of all things bacon. Connect with Sherry on Twitter@sherisaid or on Linkedin.