Last month on the blog I talked about blogging as a useful part of your online marketing sales funnel, well the same is true of your social media efforts. Social media is a great way to build awareness and interest in what you do and it is a really useful tool for helping to build your brand’s following.
Let me share what I have learned from 11 years of online marketing for my business… Building the RIGHT following takes time and focus.
Audiences don’t appear overnight and they certainly don’t grow in numbers overnight either! It takes time and dedication to find your social tribe of dedicated followers. There are lots of different tactics out there on how to establish your audience, but the reality is that there is only one true core practise that will help you shine online and that is authenticity.
How to build an authentic audience
Why is an ‘authentic’ following so important? A truly authentic following is made up of fans and brand evangelists, they are the Passionate Teddy Bears that come to see you at craft shows, they are the people who turn up for most every Facebook Live session you host and reply to most of your newsletters. More important than this they are your most dedicated PAYING customers, the ones who will pay you for your products, knowledge and expertise.
Worry about a ‘quality’ following.
We all have someone we know who has thousands more followers than us online and we worry that we will never get that kind of attention, or that they must be doing so much better than us financially because of it.
If you are having those moments I want you to stop right there, that a deep breath and know this… quantity does not mean quality.
Success in social media is not built on how many followers you have and financial success is no relation to a higher social number either, instead success is built on the conversion of those followers in to a step further down your marketing funnel from awareness, to interest, to the decision to buy and finally the action of a sale.
In other words are you getting those followers to do what you want them to do… whether that’s visit your website, sign up to a newsletter, or whatever it is that you have designed to help peak their interest into making a future purchase from you.
You can do this with relatively small numbers, if you have the right type of people following you and you have a focused plan of content.
So my advice is do not buy followers for your social media site and do not swap details on ‘likes for likes’ forum threads in the hope to increase your quality followers. Although both tactics will increase your numbers, those followers will only sit there dormant never taking the action you need from them, in order to make a sale. Why are they dormant? Because they are not your potential customers.
Instead focus on ‘quality’ making sure that all of your followers are there because they are interested in what it is you have to sell. These are the followers who can be prompted to buy later on.
How do we find quality followers?
Understand who your customer is.
First of all you need to understand who it is you are selling too. To do this you need to think about your niche and the demographics of your potential customer… how old they are, where they live, how much disposable income they have, what products are they currently buying in your niche and how your product can help them. The list goes on…
Putting all of this information together we can create a picture of who it is we are selling too, we call this a Customer Profile, or a Customer Avatar.
Knowing your Customer Avatar can really help you plan your social content, because you already know what makes them tick, what worries them and how you can help.
Find the places they hang out.
Next we need to find out where our customer hangs out online. Are they part of the Instagram generation, or are they a quick fire Twitter wizard?
We can do this in one of two ways; we ask our current customers what social channels they use, or we can explore each social media channel for signs of their activity.
When you establish the hang out spots, you can start to set up residence there too, making sure that your profile is really clear about what it is that you are there to talk about.
Then ‘WOW’ them.
Now all that’s left to work on is the creation of content that will gain their following. I always like to remember 5 key things;
- Inspire – remember that people like to feel inspired about things, so make sure your content is inspirational.
- Engage – social media is all about being social. So make sure that you content evokes a response and that you also take the time to engage with your followers outside of your profile, or business page. You don’t always have to talk business, but keep things light-hearted and professional.
- Be consistent – show up regularly with fresh content, or engagement. Show them that you are part of their inner circle.
- Be useful, Be valuable – to really stand out make sure that your content and interactions are always helpful. This keeps you fresh in mind when someone has a question about your preferred topic later on.
- Call to action – Finally the most important point is that you need to establish what you want your customers to do when they find your content. Do you want them to follow you? To click through to a link? To buy something? To join in your conversation? Create your content in a way that shows a clearly defined ‘thing’ that you want them to do for you. This is more likely to elicit a response.
Over time you audience will naturally build with quality connections that matter and this is based on your intentionally created social marketing plan.