Have you ever wondered how to gain a significant advantage with social media? Not just in terms of growing a following but growing an engaged following?
I have too, and so have countless others.
The truth is that you can, and it’s easier than you might think.
If you’re serious about growing a more engaged following, you’ll find this post helpful. You’ll learn how to focus your efforts, boost engagement, monitor your progress and ultimately start seeing real growth.
Ready? Let’s dive in!
1. Get to know your audience
Your audience should be the focal point of your entire blog and everything you do should be based around helping them and solving their problems.
In order to do that, you need to know as much as you can about them.
Once you learn more about your audience, you will be able to use that knowledge to guide your social media efforts and create a more personal experience.
Start off by putting together personas for different segments of your audience.
Consider the following:
- Questions they have
- Problems they’re facing
- Their dreams
- Preferred social networks
- Preferred content types
You can conduct surveys and other types of research to find out more about your audience. There are plenty of tools you can use as well.
The important thing for the purpose of social media is that you get an understanding of which social networks your audience prefers, and what they prefer to share.
It’s worth having a read of Darren’s post on creating reader profiles to more tailor your content to fit the needs of your audience.
2. Identify when your audience is most active
Have you seen any of those infographics floating around the web saying when the best times to publish social media messages?
There are a bunch of them and they look smart, but the reality is that they were created using someone else’s data – not your data.
Everyone’s audience is different, so if you want to truly know when your audience is most active you need to use your own data.
Using tools like Tweriod (for Twitter) and Timing+ (for Google+) you can get a good idea of the times when your audience is most active. You can also check the “insights” section of your Facebook dashboard to find out when your audience is online, and also what types of posts they are interacting with the most.
This is an important ingredient in any effective social strategy.
3. Help people instead of selling to them
The point of social networks is to be social, and real success means helping others without asking for anything in return.
Your followers are real people and should be treated as such.
By helping people you’ll be able to stay top of mind, so when someone does need a product/service you offer, chances are that they’ll still come back to you – because you helped them.
“If you sell something, you can make a customer today. If you help someone, you can create a customer for life.” – Jay Baer
4. Focus on building real relationships
The key ingredient to making social media work is a focus on building real relationships.
This quote from Ted Rubin explains it best:
“Relationships are like muscle tissue. The more they’re engaged, the stronger they become. The ability to build relationships and flex that emotional connection muscle is what makes social so valuable.”
Instead of focusing on getting as many followers as possible, focus on creating fewer and more meaningful relationships.
Sure, you won’t get the same social proof that having a massive following will give you, but you’ll find that you get more engagement and a more loyal following. That’s what will make the difference.
This comes back to my previous point on helping.
Help people without asking for anything in return, and you’ll start to build up goodwill. In the long term the impact of this can be huge.
5. Engage, engage and engage some more
You could leave social media on autopilot – but you shouldn’t.
If you’re serious about building a loyal following, you need to engage with as many people as possible, as often as you possibly can.
Don’t just wait for others to engage, kick start the process yourself. Start a conversation.
6. Go visual and get more traction
Visuals are a powerful social media tool.
For example, Buffer found that tweets with images get 150% more retweets. And there is data to confirm this on other networks.
Before you share a text-based social message, consider whether you could share an image instead.
Thanks to free tools like Canva, it’s now incredibly easy to overlay text onto an image or create unique graphics. A great example is the use of quotes and images.
7. Monitor your progress with the right tools and find what really works
Monitoring your social media efforts is important for a few reasons:
- You’ll find additional opportunities to engage and build relationships
- You can monitor your competitors and understand how their strategy fits together
- You can monitor your own growth and gain insights into what’s working for you
There are several tools you can use to monitor your social media presence more effectively.
Cyfe makes it easy for you to setup custom dashboards to track the metrics that matter to you.
You’ll have access to plenty of widgets which you can add to your dashboard. There are tons of other widgets that can help you with a variety of other things, not just social media.
Price: Free to use for up to five widgets, paid plans start at $19/month.
Mention is a great tool that is purpose built for monitoring across social networks and other websites in real time.
It’s easy to use, and you’ll get straightforward alerts whenever you get a new mention.
Once inside the platform you can respond to mentions directly so there’s no need to jump over to another social tool.
Price: Free for up to 250 mentions/month.
Oktopost is a solid all-round social media management tool but the way it groups social messages together is extremely helpful from a monitoring perspective.
You can use the platform to share your social messages and engage with your audience directly.
The twist here is that when you add social messages, they’re added to campaigns. Those campaigns are grouped together in the reporting tab to show you the progress of each campaign.
This makes it incredibly easy to see how campaigns are performing from a birds eye view.
Price: Starts at $49/month.
Using BuzzSumo you can search for your competitors, topics and more – the results will show you which pieces of content are getting shared the most.
You can also find out who is sharing that content and engage with them from within the platform.
It’s a great tool to find out the key influencers in your niche too.
Price: Starts from free with limited results, paid accounts with reporting/analysis features start at $99/month.
If you want to get ahead on social media you need to focus on building lasting relationships.
Your focus should be on long term, sustainable results rather than looking for an immediate payoff.
Keep the focus on helping your audience and you will grow an engaged following.
Do you have any tips or insights to add? Let us know in the comments below.
Adam Connell is the Founder of Blogging Wizard, a website devoted to helping bloggers grow their traffic, email subscribers and online presence. If you want to get ahead on Twitter, download this free checklist to learn how to rapidly grow your following (the right way).