I see so many profiles across the social media domains that have huge followings and audiences, but when I have dug a little deeper and analysed the followings, I have noticed the majority are built up with random, meaningless audiences that have no bearing on the account.
After giving some advice to a business in the events industry recently, and after some initial research on Quora and in my LinkedIn group, I thought I would share my insights and advice on how to build strong targeted audiences within your social media accounts.
I would like to begin with some general advice. Social media is all about being social.
I hear of many individuals and businesses using third-party software like Twiends or Increasr to increase their number of followers. After asking a few key questions, this ‘fast-track’ approach should be completely ignored…
Do you really want a bloated following of meaningless contacts ‘Liking’ your Facebook page or following your Twitter account? Do you really think they will be interested in your products/services and take the time to engage with you, comment on your blog, or even buy from you?
Firstly, you must do your homework and identify the kinds of people you want to associate with. What kind of people would be interested in your products and services depending on geography, age, sex, income etc. If you don’t know who your target audience is, how can you locate them?
In fact, you want to define your ideal target audience before anything, then build a social media marketing strategy around that group. Typically, a business might be interested in connecting with one or more of the following: existing customers, potential customers, partners, affiliate businesses, industry experts or thought leaders. A short mention should also go to optimising your content to align with your target audiences. You can read a great post by Social Media Today about this.
A good place to begin building your followings is with your existing contacts. Your Facebook friends. Your email lists. Your business contacts. Your collection of business cards. Even your phone book. Depending on your business, this could be a substantial beginning to a valuable account.
I would recommend using digital signature applications to ‘sign’ emails and provide links to your social media pages. This is a great way of providing all your email contacts with the ability to connect to your pages. I love WiseStamp because it is so customisable and easy to use.
Also, remember to highlight links to your other social media pages, in each of your profiles. When a relevant visitor connects with one page, they should be able to connect to them all.
Here are some of my account specific tips that will help you on your quests for super relevant and engaging audiences…
To target and build professional audiences, no other social media platform is as effective as LinkedIn. B2B companies especially benefit from focusing on audiences that are solely targeted in particular industries, sectors and job descriptions.
Here is my list of tips and advice on how to build strong targeted followings on LinkedIn:
- Create a LinkedIn profile for your business, with links to all your social media pages and website
- Join groups where your potential customers are present
- Be actively involved with group discussions – comment and engage with other group members
- Invite relevant contacts within your groups to connect (do not use generic invites)
- Create your own LinkedIn group and invite all your existing contacts who might be interested to join (again, do not use generic invites) You can also upload your address book to invite trusted contacts to join
- Start discussions within your own group, ask questions, post advice, engage with your members and facilitate value to your members
- Use advanced searches to locate specific people within niche markets or industries
- Frequently check your network updates to spot potential opportunities
- Write recommendations for the contacts you trust and communicate with the most
Using a fan page or group on Facebook is a very effective way of marketing products/services or engaging with a highly targeted niche. Take the time to make sure you are networking with your potential customers or people who share the same values.
My tips and advice includes:
- Create reasons for people to ‘Like’ your page or join your group. Provide rich content that will add value to them and make sure it is relevant to your audience. Do not stray from your business principles and post irrelevant or personal information on your wall.
- Maintain activity or people will lose interest. You will not steadily build your following if you are not frequently posting up-to-date content
- Send personal messages to potential customers
- While you are logged onto your Facebook page, you can post to other pages as your page. This is a huge advantage to businesses as now people can link to your page from the posts you write. Actively seek other relevant pages and profiles that your potential customers are present in, get involved in discussions and engage with their audience. If your posts appear to add value to someone, they will likely connect to your own page to further the conversations.
- Promote with engagement Ads
I see many businesses and individuals focusing their efforts on the wrong activities to build followings. I provide my main guidelines and advice on how to target and build strong communities on Twitter:
- Create value for people to follow your account. Do not spam or try to sell to people.
- Use advanced searches to locate and follow relevant accounts. Also use relevant hashtags in some of your posts for wider visibility.
- Get involved and engage with discussions. Retweet influential articles contacts post, favourite posts to follow the current discussions, ask questions and provide answers.
- Monitor trending topics to get maximum exposure at super relevant times.
- Be helpful. If someone who you believe is not relevant to your target audience, do not ignore them. Take the time to offer them advice and others will take notice.
- Actively manage and monitor your account. As you successfully progress in your Twitter campaigns, you will find more and more mentions, retweets, favourites, direct messages and engagement. Make yourself available for immediate interaction or engagement as much as possible. You can download a Twitter App for your phone so that you are always accessible (this goes for most social media platforms now).
- Ignore the auto-response software that is available – do not take the automation route and send everyone who follows you a generic message. I hate seeing this approach and I would never click a link they send or take notice of the same old “Thanks for following, check us out here…” Instead, take the time to write a personal message, one that strays from thanking contacts for following you. Use this space wisely to ask questions, provide value or to begin conversations.
- Participate in #FF (Follow-Friday). People use this function every Friday to signal their most interesting contacts or the contacts they have talked to most during the week. It is almost like recommending people.
Social media is not an overnight solution to marketing and this particular activity is by no means excluded. It takes time to build relationships, provide value to your audience and give them reasons to follow and engage with your business. Only then can you translate your social media efforts into meeting your goals and objectives.
The main mistakes that is so frequently repeated in building social media followings, is following competitors and not following your target market. This is especially noticeable on LinkedIn.
It is likely that the next time you view a LinkedIn profile, the person will be actively following groups that consist of their competitors and not their potential customers. Why would you focus on creating content or engaging with your competitors over your customers? It is so basic, yet I bet you are checking your account now to see if you have made the same mistake!
Is there anything you can add or I have missed?