This article was originally written on June 24, 2015. The most recent update to this article was August 2, 2017.
Building your audience on social media is tough for entrepreneurs. Especially if you are in the early stages of your brand and have to toggle with other business tasks. If your brand is new:
Who are you?
You are the new kid on the block. You’re trying to break into an industry with or without the credentials to do it. You may share great content, but you’re most likely talking to an empty room.
How can you get people to take notice?
How can you get people to read your blog, share your content on social media, and ultimately, buy into your product/services?
Today we are giving you 4 simple (but effective) ways to grow your audience base, without having to spend thousands of dollars on ads.
Step 1: Create Your Buyer Persona
The first step to building your audience is first understanding who your audience is. Breaking down your target buyer into different buyer personas is crucial towards understanding who you are trying to reach. Try jotting down information about your ideal buyers, such as their age, marital status, income levels, hobbies, and demographics.
What are their problems?
What kind of content do they search for?
What social media sites do they use?
The better you can get into your buyers head, the easier it will be to deliver great content to them. Learn how to create a detailed buyer persona for your business over at the Hubspot blog.
Step 2: Social Media Listening
After you discover your target audience, take a couple of days and LISTEN to what your audience has to say.
Take note of common posts and what content is your audience usually share amongst each other.
Try to focus on the top performers (most RTs, Likes, Pins, etc), but try to filter out those pesky bots and spammers.
Do a little research and find social media influencers in your industry.
Ask yourself why your target audience is following this person. Then critically look into the type of content these influencers are posting.
Do they share bright and bold images? Or do they share clippings from their blog posts?
Understand what makes them an influencer and jot down some of the techniques they use. (My favorite tool to keep track of my research is Evernote.)
A great starting point for research would be on Twitter. You can target an influencer and read the articles they post on their timeline. You can also see what users are following them.
*If you’re a pro, you can already start following those users, because they are likely to follow you back.
Another great tool for social media listening is Mention.com. This audience discovery tool lets you easily set up alerts based on keywords or phrases that are important to your audience. By monitoring these alerts, you’ll start to key in on some people that may be interested in your brand.
Go ahead and follow them.
Engage with them.
Reach out to them.
BUT DON’T SELL TO THEM.
Building your audience on social media is about building trust. If you spend all of your time trying to sell on social media, you’ll probably end up blocked.
When you are comfortable with what you have learned…take the initiative! Go out and mention someone. Make a reply to posted content and otherwise give your opinion on a subject.
Try to keep it positive!
Many people don’t react well to negative feedback. Getting to know your audience this way takes you beyond basic demographics into a deeper community profile.
Step 3: Get Active in Your Local Community
After you find a few key topics your audience talks about, turn your head away from the digital world and start building relationships in your community.
Connecting and building relationships with your audience outside of social media is an old form of interaction that should not be overlooked.
How many times have you talked to someone who doesn’t use a certain social media platform?
“I don’t have a Facebook account.”
“I don’t use Twitter.”
Although it’s tough to believe, some people just aren’t social media savvy. This doesn’t mean they aren’t social people, this just means they prefer to interact face to face.
Check for local meetups and events happening in your neighborhood. You can even try searching for products that are complementary to yours and find out if they have existing communities in your target niche.
Build your audience by joining these groups, attending their events, and engaging with the people involved.
Talking to someone in person builds more trust than any amount of content you post online.
Get to know some key individuals and ask for referrals.
There’s nothing wrong with this old school approach =).
Step 4: Share What You Learn on Your Journey
As you research how to build your audience on social media, you are sure to learn some new info on the way.
Share what you learn about your audience to others! This can be via a blog, on your social media profiles, or an email newsletter.
Take notes about the interesting articles you come across and leave meaningful comments on blog posts whenever you can.
People will eventually take notice and start doing the same for your brand.
Building an organic audience on and off social media is not an easy task, but with a little research and patience, your 10 followers can blossom into 10,000. For a more comprehensive list on how to build your audience, check out these additional tips and tools by Buffer.
Do you have a preferred way to build your audience?
We would love to hear it!
Send us a tweet @QUIKSNIP and tell us your best tip or tool to grow your brand.
Marceel is the Founder/CEO of Quiksnip. He enjoys writing about social media marketing and productivity hacks. He enjoys helping startups grow their brand and find their target audience.