When you’re looking to build an audience, the most important thing to focus on is engagement – because you could have a million followers, but if they’re not invested in your brand, actively talking to/about you and sharing your content, it’s a completely meaningless vanity metric. 

What’s better is to have a handful of people that really buy into what you have to offer and become your brand advocates. In the words of Seth Godin, these people are your “Tribe“.

If you haven’t already done so, I highly recommend you read the book because it will radically change your perspective for what your ‘audience’ should look like. In essence, all you need to do is create a core group of followers, who in turn sell you to their personal networks – it’s all about QUALITY connections.

If I look at my Twitter network for example, I currently have about 1,500 followers. But of those connections, I’d estimate that about 30 actively engage with me on a weekly basis, and a handful of those I could rely on to answer the call if I was to send the bat signal up.

Unfortunately, this level of engagement isn’t something that can be achieved over night, it takes time and effort. But if you commit, I promise you’ll see the return on that investment.

I’ve always dabbled in the world of social media, but in January 2019 I decided to commit and become an active member of the community. In making this commitment it’s radically changed my business.

The following are my top 5 tips for building a meaningful audience…

1. Choose the right platform(s)

You don’t need to be present on every social platform – only the ones that will add value to your business. It’s better to invest on being present on 1 platform and commit to doing it really well, than to do several and end up spreading yourself too thin.

2. Have a strategy for each platform

Every social platform is different and requires you to adopt a different approach and a different tone of voice. For example, I adopt a more professional tone on LinkedIn where my focus is on proving my worth, whereas Twitter is reserved for engaging my peers and learning from them to improve my craft.

3. Regular engagement

It’s not enough to post if/when you have time – you need to post regularly. This means dedicating time every day to being present on your platform(s) to contribute to the conversation. I know people who schedule their content, and it’s something I’ve trialled myself. But even if you do this, you still need to make time every day to get involved – as a guide, I would estimate that I’ve spent about 2-3 hours per day over the last year to build my following.

4. It’s a conversation

The biggest mistake I see companies make is using social media as a promotional platform. They think that if they shout about their content, customers will go flocking to their door. WRONG! Social media is a platform for facilitating discussions. Think of it like a networking event – you wouldn’t leap into your sales pitch at every opportunity, you’d take the time to listen, ask/answer questions and share your experience. 

A good place to start is joining in the Twitter conversations by following the #hashtags that are relevant to your industry. You could also look to follow some of your industry leaders on LinkedIn and comment on their posts. Or Facebook groups are growing in popularity, in many ways replacing the LinkedIn groups that are now full of sales people shouting at other sales people.

5. Make it personal

Social media is also about making a 1-to-1 connection between you and the audience. So make sure it’s you they’re talking to. I’ve worked with companies that outsource their social media and others who hire in dedicated personnel, but those who do it best are where the individuals make the time to get involved. So if you’re going to have a personal social media account, make sure you’re the person behind it because that’s the person your audience is trying to get to know.

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash