The core of all social media activity is not what you say, but to whom you are saying it. If you have the most persuasive argument, the most sellable product, and even the largest sales budget known to mankind, it means nothing if you haven’t built the network of people ready to listen to the argument, learn about the product, see those fancy ads you spent a fortune on designing.
Social media is dynamic. It’s exciting. It’s reaching beyond your wildest imagination – touching people, teaching them about what is important to you. It can also be amazingly frustrating if you haven’t taken that vital first step, which is building the audience.
And, not just any audience, but the right audience. You can get thousands of followers on Twitter, thousands on Facebook, and even thousands on LinkedIn and not move your business interests forward at all, if the audience was built arbitrarily and without careful planning. The analogy that we’ve often used to explain this involves comparing your social media activity without a proper network to shouting in an empty room with no one there to listen. No matter how perfect the room is, so long as it is empty – your message won’t go anywhere.
Clearly, before you spend the energy to promote your cause, your company, your product, you need to make sure that you have people listening. What this means, in practical terms, involves the following steps:
- Identify your audience:
- Who will buy your product?
- Who will support your cause?
- How will you find them? What tools are they using? (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn)
- How else can you reach them? Are there virtual groups or popular blogs which you can use to reach your audience?
- Who are the main players, the thought leaders, in your field…and is your target audience to be found among their followers or readers?
- Investigate your competitors, reach out beyond your borders, seek your natural alliances:
- If your competitors have been more successful in targeting the audience you believe you need to reach, on Facebook and LinkedIn– look at their friends and ask those people to be friends or follow your Fan Page; on Twitter – follow the people your competitor follows and consider following the people who are following them. Don’t retweet what your competitors are tweeting, but go to the source, the industry experts and retweet them directly.
- On Facebook and LinkedIn – find the groups where your target audience can be found and spend time taking part in the discussions, ask these people to connect with you.
- If your product/cause has a visual angle, consider looking on Pinterest and Instagram for similar avenues and follow people there.
- Consider natural alliances – complementary businesses or causes may help you find your target audience. In simple terms, it means finding “like.” Someone who would be interested in your offerings might also be interested in a related field. As above, follow/connect/comment there.
- Example: let’s say you have developed a generic phone app that uses the GPS to indicate the nearest place where you can do something. With an easy bit of configuration, your wonderful app can easily be programmed to begin alerting subscribers when they get within a short distance of a place that offers your client’s offerings and best deals. Your application might be generic, but your clients are not the end-users, the consumers, who use the phone but rather businesses. So, your target audience would be the those who want to direct that audience to their shops and businesses. You’ll want to reach out to cafes, car dealers, fast food chains, flower shops, etc. Specifically, you’ll visit Facebook groups for businesses, seek out those who manage or market products, etc. LinkedIn pages for small businesses, for food products, etc.
- Build and provide content:
- As you begin to build a network of followers, you need to also be providing them with interesting content so that you justify their joining your network. This means having a website and/or blog populated with interesting information. This means creating blog posts that are not solely focused on your services specifically, but offer valuable insight into the industry, conditions, requirements, and benefits. This means tweeting valuable information (and retweeting information as well).
- This means guest blogging and having guest bloggers. Enhancing where you spread your content and enriching the content you provide. It’s a good idea to balance your time between adding people (something that you’ll continue to do until, hopefully, at some point your audience will begin populating itself as others share and want to join your network).
Realistically, however, to some degree, you’ll always be enlarging your network and you will have to continue to provide valuable content. It’s a never ending process but it can reap amazing results.
To learn more about building a network and creating a social media strategy, consider taking our two day Crash Course on Social Media. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
Other courses coming up soon include:
- Crash Course in WordPress
- Crash Course in Blogging
- WritePoint Technical Writing Course
- eBook to Amazon Course
- Industrial Design Training Course
- And much more…