Social secrets: how to build your online audience

Research shows that those marketers who usesocial media in the right way can generate more exposure for their businesses,increase online traffic and develop loyal fans. So does your social mediastrategy have what it takes to help your business to deliver results in theseareas?

Read on for tips on how to use your social platforms to drive engagementand boost your online reach.

Aim to connect with the right kind of follower

If your number of Twitter followers and/or Facebook page likes is on theincrease, it’s easy to automatically assume that your social media strategy isheading in the right direction. But that’s not the whole story. Remember thatyou’re not setting out to be popular just for the sake of it; your aim is toconnect and build relationships with the right kind of followers - i.e.those businesses or individuals who have the potential to eventually become actualcustomers.

To ensure you’re reaching the right audience on the right platforms, aimto understand who those individuals are; the platforms they use to getinformation, the type of content they are interested in and how that contentshould be presented to best ‘hit home’ with them. Buyer profiles can be usefulfor this; portraits of typical customers, their demographics, habits andplatforms of choice. To create these profiles, take the data you have on yourexisting customers as a starting point and supplement this with externalresearch where necessary.

Avoid the hard sell

The end-goal of having a social media strategy is ultimately to drivesales, but that’s not to say that social platforms themselves should be treatedprimarily as direct marketing and sales vehicles; the focus instead should beon relationship building.

It’s ok to use your social channels as a way of promoting specialevents, sales and competitions from time to time. Equally, as our article onsocial sellingdemonstrates, social platforms can also be used successfully for directinteraction between sales reps and prospects. But no-one wants to be sold toconstantly via social media, and if each and every one of your posts is aboutyou and your product or service, your audience is likely to become disengaged,uninterested and will drift away.

For building an audience, the 80/20 rule can be a handy guideline; i.e. use 20%of your content for brand promotion and dedicate 80% to non-salesy content thatinterests and engages that audience.

Provide useful information

Drive interest and grow your audience by providing the type ofinformation, news and commentary that actually speaks to their interests.Rather than relying on guesswork, refer back to your buyer profiles forintelligence on what these interests are.

Focus on the wider concerns of your audience. For instance, if somethingnewsworthy relating to your business comes up, consider flagging it up viaTwitter, give your own perspective on it via a Linkedin article and invite youraudience to comment. This way, you’re putting an original slant on setting outyour stall as someone on top of the latest trends and as a thought leader; inother words, you’re someone worth following.

Provide image-rich, “snackable” content

Tweets that incorporate images get 18% moreclicks and 159% more retweets than those without. It’s about presentinginformation in the most accessible and digestible way possible to get youraudience to engage with it; by summarising a complex new set of regulations ina slideshare presentation perhaps, showcasing a video walk-through of yourlatest service on YouTube or presenting a roundup of statistics in aninfographic.

The character limit on Twitter can also work to your advantage here.Let’s say the results are in from your latest customer survey, for example. Oneway of stimulating interest in it could be by by tweeting the most eye-catchingfindings in individual bite-size chunks, linking back to the full findings.

Learn from your successes and be responsive

Refer back frequently to your analytics data to see which of your postswere most successful in driving engagement in the form of likes, shares,retweets and click-throughs to your website. Use this as a guide for creatingfuture content.

Be aware that a successful strategy involves more than just postingitems and sitting back. Monitor your pages for comments and questions and besure to respond to them. Remember also that some customers will regard yoursocial platforms as a sounding board for complaints, and if you’re not seen asresponding to those complaints in an appropriate manner, this can cause yourwider audience to question your trustworthiness.

When representing the image of your customers’ organisations or yourown, remember that your professional indemnity insuranceneeds a specialist approach.  For riskmanagement advice relating to building a social media strategy, speak toour Bluefin Professions team or requesta call back today.