Vanity metrics simply don’t cut it anymore. It doesn’t matter how many followers you have online if none of them are engaged, or if you ‘bargained’ for them by buying them, trying the “follow, unfollow” method, or if they simply don’t care what you’re selling.
Sure, the more followers you have, the easier it is to land brand sponsorships and book deals. But, if those followers don’t actually engage with your promotions or buy what you’re selling, the vanity metrics can and will backfire. If a brand invests big bucks in a promotional post from you only to see minimal results, they won’t be happy. And, you’ll lack the satisfaction of having engaged buyers when you post about new products if the bulk of your ‘followers’ aren’t real or engaged. Janet Aronica writes, “Flashy analytics are… satisfying on paper, but don’t move the needle forward for your business goals.”
So how can you ensure that each of your audience members is engaged and devoted so that they are moving your business needle forward? Here are four tips to building an audience (and rebuilding your current one) for optimal influence.
1. Engage With People Online Who Match Your Customer Alias
To do this, you first have to understand who your customer is. Chandler Amoroso encourages creating a ‘customer persona,’ which is a fictional character who exhibits the traits possessed by a typical member of your target audience. In a social media sense, this should go further than just their age and background. What does your ideal customer persona do on Fridays after work? What are their values? The more specific you can get, the better. Perhaps this could be modeled by one of your current customers.
Then, search for these personas by the use of hashtags. If your customer persona plays tennis on Friday afternoons because your company sells custom tennis balls, search for tennis related hashtags to find accounts. Then, genuinely engage with thoughtful comments (not just emojis).
2. Be Authentic In Your Content
Authenticity counts, too. In the saturated world of social media, people can tell when an account solely exists to sell without genuine connection. Josh Forti is the founder of Think Different Theory – a podcast and Facebook community intended to help listeners and members think differently about what they want out of my life. With nearly 100,000 audience members across his social media channels and 1,000 listeners per podcast episode, he’s learned one valuable lesson about building an audience: authenticity is everything.
“It’s all about being consistently authentic,” he shared. “By ‘authentic,’ I mean I don’t shy away from the personal and vulnerable content. Instead, I show up as a whole person every time I post or share content, and I give value with no expectation of return.” He’s found that this helps people who have never met him in person feel a sense of kinship with him, and start to view him as a close friend. “I treat them as my close friends, too,” he added. How can you add this dose of authenticity to your content, and do so consistently?
3. Ask Your Audience What They Want More Of
As Act-On wrote in a recent blog post, “the very best way to boost engagement is to give your audience more of what they wanted in the first place.” It seems obvious but isn’t done nearly enough: when a certain type of post attracts more followers or more engagement than your other posts, that’s a clear analytical signal that you should be posting more of that type of content.
However, if you haven’t noticed by now, the algorithm makes engagement tricky. It’s very possible that one of your audience’s very favorite posts didn’t perform as well as other posts – and there’s no way to know this unless you poll them. Add a poll on your Instagram story or create a Facebook post to ask: “What do you want more of?” Answers could even include topics or types of content you’ve never content that your audience is vying for. This type of market research is crucial.
4. Host Giveaways Or Partner With Similar Audiences
Finally, it’s important to be reaching other accounts at scale. The best way to do this without buying followers or blindly going after engagement from accounts that don’t match your customer persona is to partner with accounts similar to yours. Are you a female digital marketer who loves to add a comedic twist to your social media content? Awesome. There’s probably another funny female digital marketer out there on these social media profiles who would love to partner for a joint giveaway of a must-watch digital marketing course. Both of you will gain followers from each other, creating a win-win for both of you.