How To Get A Captive Social Media Audience

Leveraging the huge potential of an engaged online audience is a daunting challenge faced by most businesses. Here are a few ways of building and retaining an audience on social media… 

There’s No Free Lunch!

Social media marketing is not really free marketing. While most of the platforms themselves are free, businesses must allocate a budget for social media, as everything is increasingly “Pay-to-Play”.

Last year, Facebook admitted that the average brand post is seen by just 16% of the page's followers, and paying to promote boosts your reach and thus your impact.

Point your Audience in the Right Diretion

If you can't compete on a paid level, then you should focus on building the right audience — this means getting your most avid customers to become a part of your social media audience and providing value for them once they're there. 

It's important to get the word out about social efforts by taking advantage of as many avenues as possible — add social media widgets to your company's website, put Facebook URLs or Twitter handles on business cards and email signatures and post flyers in-store that clearly direct customers to your social pages. 

Look before You Leap!

Not every social platform might be right for you. Look at pages you like to see what’s going on. Choose platforms that you’re comfortable with, and wisely select the ones that best suit your needs. 

Create Your Follower Community

Show your audience a behind-the-scenes look of your business. Interact with your followers individually to breed a community of people who feel comfortable and happy regularly engaging with you. Listen to fans and followers who take the time to follow you online. Address feedback and concerns. 

Social Media are not for Hard Sell

Social channels are not the place to force your brand messaging on unsuspecting fans. Online audiences are particularly wary of thinly veiled advertising labeled as "content." This can be a hard pill for businesses to swallow, particularly for enthusiastic small business owners that want to share their innovative new concept with as many people as possible. 

Adopt a content strategy that appeals to audiences' emotions. Focus on emotional analytics as well as numerical ones. Pushing out content that is strong, conversational, and that especially evokes an emotional response will build stronger engagement and audience growth. People are more likely to comment, retweet or share "feel-good" content that elicits memories or positive associations. 

Remember, it’s 24/7!

Your customers are likely going to be online during off-hours (nights and weekends), and the ideal social strategy doesn't shut off completely. If you’re not 24/7, you’ll miss opportunities.

Posting on social platforms on a daily basis — and monitoring comments, retweets, reshares, etc. — is one way to engage with the online community. That's not to say every small business needs to hire round-the-clock surveillance of its social accounts. But long silences for days may mean missing out on potential business, or fuelling the flames of an upset customer by seemingly ignoring his complaints.

Offer Incentives

One of the easiest ways to attract a social following is to offer your customers incentives to "like," follow or connect with your business. A contest or lucky draw can generate valuable buzz about your business, create brand affinity and entice potential customers — who might otherwise have never heard of your company — to check out your site. 

Everybody loves free stuff. 

And finally… 

There’s no shortcut to building an audience. It’s a long, winding road. And it takes a number of elements to succeed. But the rewards make it worthwhile!