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How To Build An Audience Through Social Media

Updated: Mar 14, 2023

Can you think back to a time when we didn't have social media in our lives? If you're of a certain age, you probably can't. It might have been a part of your life for as long as you can remember. For the rest of us, social media is a relatively recent introduction.


Social media hasn't just changed how we connect to people we know (and those we don't), for many people, social media is also how they search for what they need online, often more than Google and other dedicated search engines.


In fact, according to Google's own internal data, nearly 40% of those identified as 'Gen Z' (i.e. those born between 1997 and 2013) prefer searching for what they want on social media to using search engines.


Whatever your thoughts on the likes of Twitter, Instagram and TikTok and their place in the wider societal and cultural landscape, if you're running a business, social media will have become an integral part of your SEO strategy, but how do you reach your audience through social media? Which platform do you focus on? What kind of thing should you post? We're glad you asked!


We've put together 5 ways you can reinvigorate your social media strategy, embrace what it can bring you and reach a whole new audience of customers, champions and connections that can take your business to greater success.


1. BE ACTIVE

As a business, if you're on social media, then you need to be ON social media. Just having an account which sits dormant from one day to the next isn't enough. For it to be successful and work for you, you need to be an active participant on whichever platforms you're utilising.


That doesn't mean you have to be active on EVERY platform, that's just not sustainable in the long- (or even short) term, but you do need to be fully engaged on the platforms that your audience is.


If your business audience is more of a LinkedIn and Twitter crowd, then that's where you should focus your energy. Don't waste time on platforms that aren't working for you or those that you prefer to use in your personal life. This is business and you'll have an audience for your product and service, so find out where they are and focus there.


Being active also doesn't mean posting 10 times a day every day. That's not sustainable either, nor is it needed.


If you're a small business owner, then you'll have more than enough on your plate to worry about creating post after post after post, day-in-day-out. The trick is to find your own pace and a rhythm that works for you.


Even if you only post once a day, that's fine, find a routine and stick with it as best you can. As long as you are posting something and those posts are genuine, engaging, and entertaining, people will relate and connect with you regardless of how often you post.


For those times when you're unavailable, going on holiday, or there's going to be a gap in your posting schedule for any reason, then let people know.


If you prefer, you can always schedule your posts before you leave so they appear automatically when you are taking a break, so you never miss a beat.


2. CREATE CONTENT THAT ENGAGES

For all the reasons people log in and connect to others on social media, one of the most overlooked is that they're there to be entertained.


You might feel like you have to follow your friends, family and work colleagues, but ultimately, whoever you connect to, you do so to be informed and entertained by their content.


When you're trying to build an audience on social media, then you're going to have to create social media posts that really engage with those same people to encourage them to gravitate towards you.


Depending on your strategic marketing goals on social media, posts will need to hit a number of targets. To be successful they'll need to be:

  • Structure; Before throwing out a post, think about the structure of the post itself. Make the most important, or main part of the post is the first thing people see and make it captivating!

  • Engaging; this includes creating appealing copy beyond the headline within the posts that you use to draw people in.

  • Visually Attractive; use eye-catching photos/illustrations to make your posts more visually engaging for those scrolling through their news feeds and cause them to stop on yours. Also, make sure the images you use show a diverse range of people; not every photo should be of a white, middle-aged, heterosexual man in a business suit staring into the middle distance with a blank grin!

Whilst we obviously can't create the posts for you and your business within this blog, there is a formula that works well when composing engaging posts on social media to create the engagement you're hoping for:


Hook + Pain Point = Solution (x Call To Action)


Crafting your post with this structure works as the 'hook' is what grabs their attention, the 'pain point' is the thing your followers are struggling with or are looking for help on, which brings them to your post. That then might link to your new blog, your latest product page, a photo showing your new service or a short-form video on your YouTube channel, whatever it might be that gives them the answer they're looking for (even if they didn't realise at the time they were looking for it).


Add in a sprinkling of CTA asking them to do something (follow you, sign-up for your newsletter, etc.) and an eye-catching image and you're onto a winning post!


The consequence of posting regularly and having an engaged, interactive audience is that you're going to get comments, so it's important that you monitor them.


Whether you get comments on the posts themselves or the blogs you're promoting, you're going to have to deal with them.


Whilst some (hopefully most) of those comments will be positive and encouraging, that won't always be the case, but it's how you deal with them that will help define who you are in the eyes of your audience.


If you get comments in the form of questions, make sure you answer them in a timely manner. Any compliments? Say "thank you" to them all!


However, if there are any spammers, hostile comments or people who start trolling you for a reaction, then make sure you stay professional. This is the public face of your business after all.


Spammers can (and should) be deleted and blocked immediately (but you'll never get rid of them completely). Trolls should be dealt with quickly so that your comments section doesn't become a toxic cesspool of negativity, not least for the sake of your own mental health.


If people do have genuine grievances with a product they've bought or a service they've paid for, then deal with it reasonably, and professionally. Ask them to engage with you directly via email, web chat or telephone. Not everyone will always have a good experience, but if people see that you're offering great customer service, then they can be much more forgiving.


Regardless of where you get them, or how you deal with them, comments are a good indicator that your audience is growing, engaged and actually having conversations about you and your business.


3. MIX IT UP

As we touched upon previously, social media is an entertainment medium, your followers want to be entertained, so posting the same thing time after time will mean they'll soon get bored and go somewhere else for what they want, so you need to mix it up.


Your posts across the social media platforms you use regularly should be diverse, in other words, they don't all have to look the same, work the same or drive the same type of engagement.


Sure they're great at helping you promote the publication of your latest blog or the launch of your newest product, but there are so many more ways your business can use social media to its advantage.


You can use it to:

  • Discuss the latest news / events / developments happening in your industry.

  • Promote links to your accounts on other platforms.

  • Share customers' stories, recommendations, reviews, etc.

  • Post photos of your staff on birthdays, anniversaries, first days, etc. (obviously as long as they're happy to be part of it).

  • Videos showing deliveries of stock or your business at work 'behind-the-scenes'.

  • Short-form videos to highlight innovative ways to use your product.

  • Quick guides on how to get the best from your products or service.

  • Sales, promotions and offers.

The more creative, engaging and unique the content, the higher the chance your audience will connect with it and you'll begin to build an audience around what you do.


When looking at your content over the coming year via your content calendar (you are using a content calendar aren't you?) , try breaking down the posts you have planned into different content 'categories'. This ensures you've got a good mix of content in different styles and formats and they're spread evenly throughout the weeks and months ahead. But that's not the end of the story.


Over time, you might find that one particular type of post does well, or posts about a certain topic connect with more people more often. It's time to analyse why.


Once your posts are live, take time at the end of the week or month to analyse them all in terms of engagement; how many views did it get, how many comments, likes or reposts did it attract? Did posts on a particular day or time tend to work better? Are people more interested in certain subjects or topics more than others?


If you find that you've struck gold on these posts, then factor in doing more of them in that style or on that topic (without repeating yourself). Give the people want they want, but keep monitoring regularly. The more you understand about what they like, the better place you'll be in to deliver it.


Incidentally, we've previously written a more in-depth blog about the social media metrics that are worth tracking, which you can read here.


4. BUILD A COMMUNITY

On social media, think of your followers as a community, because that's what they are. They may not know each other, but they know you and, as such, you've got your own growing community who care about what you do.


We appreciate it can be disheartening, especially when you first start a social media account, to only have a handful of followers, but you can grow a community into hundreds, if not thousands of people relatively quickly by giving them what they want.


That growth starts with you being an active part of it. As your community grows, you need to be there at the centre of it cultivating it.


Again, we're not talking about it spending hours and hours online (we know you have better things to do) but you should be talking to your followers regularly, engaging with them and, where relevant, asking for their feedback and input.


If you have some passionate customers, think about making them into brand ambassadors and turn those invested in your products into allies to help spread the word within their own networks.


You'll soon learn that within that growing community will be some incredible people who care about your brand. They'll have stories to share about using your products, and how it's helped them.


They will have a wealth of knowledge about how what you do can be made better, so use them and let everyone know they're welcome to be part of it too.


You can also reward their loyalty with discounts, early access to product launches or tickets to events. People are at the heart of any strong community, so make sure they are at the heart of yours.


5. USE METADATA

As we mentioned earlier, social media platforms are their own little search engine at times. How many times have you checked your Facebook feed and seen people looking for recommendations for plumbers, electricians, restaurants, etc?


They're posting that on social media and looking for information instead of going to Google or any other search engine.


To ensure that your accounts are being found on social media you need to make use of the metadata inherent in those platforms. You might know them better as 'hashtags'.


The use of hashtags on almost all social media platforms is a great way of helping you grow a community. Posting without them means that, chances are, the only people who will see it are those who follow you directly, and if you don't have many followers, then won't be many people. It'll be like shouting into an empty room.


By using relevant hashtags, however, you can increase the visual range of your posts as those interested in them will see your post as they're searching for those hashtags.


There are also accounts that set up automated retweets/reposts when they're detected (which also helps the reach of your post).


Any word or phrase can be a hashtag, just put a '#' in front of it and Bingo, it's a hashtag, but that doesn't mean every word SHOULD be one. Hashtags are designed to be those relevant keywords within a post.


When you're posting anything, think about what the important keywords are within that post and make those hashtags.


Whilst it might be tempting, don't overuse them and make every word a hashtag or your post will just look like a messy assortment of nonsensical links and you'll turn people off reading it, especially if they have to decipher what it means.


Anyone can create a hashtag. You can create your own based on your business or brand, but you can also utilise pre-existing ones. If you're at an event, there will be one to connect those attending. If you're part of an existing campaign, there will be one everyone taking part will use.


There are also many hashtags based on interests, technology or business sectors. If you're unsure, go to any social media and search them out. See how often they're being used and by whom? Find the most popular ones or those that garner the most interest and use them provided they're relevant to you.


There will also be new daily hashtags based on what's going on in the news. Keep an eye on the current 'trending' topics to see what's currently popular. These will also change over time based on the country you're in or topics you're interested in following.


SQUARING THE CIRCLE

Whatever you might think about social media, whether it's an essential part of your online existence or a necessary evil to navigate around your working day, the positive impact it can have on your business and your wider off-page SEO efforts shouldn't be ignored.


We also appreciate that developing a social media strategy will take time (that you might not have) or knowledge (which you might not have) and it can also be a daunting experience (which can put many people off), which is why we wrote a blog about that too! You can find that here.


Whether it's been a part of your life forever or you're just beginning to understand it, social media isn't going anywhere so it's time to embrace it, get comfortable with it and make it work for you. For everything else, we're here to help you.

 

We hope that this post has given you some understanding of how social media can help you grow an audience around your business or brand. Is there anything you think we've missed? Have you got any tips of your own that have helped you in your own business? Let us know in the comments below. We'd love to hear from you.


If you liked this blog, please give it a 'Like' and consider sharing it with family, friends or your own business network on your socials.


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Original blog photo courtesy of Prateek Katyal on Unsplash

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