There are many articles out there that share ways to grow and engage a social media audience. There are long lists of the top software products and platforms that presume to take any guesswork (or hard work) out of the process.
But, if you step back and really think about what it means to authentically include folks in conversations about your brand or company, and to engage the most vocal among them in insightful, two-way conversations, you really don’t need to look any further than yourself for inspiration.
It’s simple. Social media audiences are made up of people, right? And, if you want to build meaningful, lasting relationships with those people, your brand or company must add value to their lives. You need to listen to what they are telling you and respond in a way that makes them know they’re important to you.
In short, treat them the way youwould want to be treated. If you give your social media audience the same (or higher) level of time, consideration, and value that you would expect from a brand or company, then you’ll be doing things the right way from the start.
That doesn’t mean that building and engaging a social media audience is easy. It isn’t.
In fact, it takes a lot of hard work and a lot of time. And, honestly, it can get messy. But, if you do it the right way, the end reward of an engaged audience who will be vocal advocates for your brand or company will be well worth it.
Here are five simple “right way” ways to grow and engage your social media audience:
If you want folks to engage with and share your content (more eyeballs = more organic awareness for you), you’ve got to give them something to work with.
Create and deliver content that is relevant and beneficial to your audience — something that adds unexpected value to their content feeds. Don’t be a “broadcaster” of content you think they need to hear.
Instead, really look at the types of content your audience engages with and develop a strategy to provide a more robust overall experience — the type of experience you would want when following or engaging with a brand or company.
Let your audience know there are real people behind your brand. Using “we” language instead of “I” language when posting content and replying to comments builds trust and provides a sense of community.
Another way to be real is by sticking around, by checking back in on all your social media channels a few times a day, and by making yourself available to engage should the opportunity arise.
Also, always try to put yourself in the shoes of the person or group of people who will be on the receiving end of your content or comment reply when you’re engaging. Think of how you would want to be spoken to. A little empathy can go a long way when it comes to building relationships —online and offline.
Maybe you already have a strong idea of who your audience is. If so, that’s amazing. But, whether you’ve got a good foundation or you’re just getting started, utilizing demographic insight and content engagement analytics (both available through most free social channel back-end tools) will help you better understand who your audience is, where they’re from, what types of content they engage with, and when they’re online. Knowing these things can help you develop a “sweet spot” delivery system for content and gain a better understanding for how to engage with your audience.
Nothing will grow and engage your social media audience more authentically than letting them know how much you value them. Look for ways to “surprise and delight” your audience (individually or collectively). Mention their names or handles in replies. Share their content with the group (retweeting on Twitter or regramming on Instagram are great ways to do this).
Sometimes just simply telling them you appreciate them by giving an individual shout out or delivering a “have a great day” post to the whole group is all it takes to make someone’s day. You’ve got to give positivity as a brand or company to inspire your audience to spread positivity about your brand or company.
Find authentic ways to engage in other conversations that are happening in the same social spaces where your audience participates. But remember to add value — don’t spam.
Some simple ways to do this are:
If you’re adding something to the conversation and not being self-serving, your social media audience will organically grow from your connections and conversations.
You’d better believe that if a person feels valued and important at the hands of a specific brand or company, that person is much more likely to share their positive experience with friends and family — both online and offline. Word-of-mouth is a powerful thing, and it can work to your benefit if you just treat your social media audience the way you would want to be treated.
Truth be told, there are many other ways to grow and engage your social media audience, but the five simple steps above should get you headed in the right direction and thinking about things from your audience’s point of view.
For more ideas for creating engaging content for your brand, check out Buffer’s article on 20 social media content ideas.