The Facebook Effect: How To Grow Your Community Of Social Media Followers

It's the leading global social network, but are you using it correctly? Here are a few tips to maximize engagement and tailor your messages strategically.

20Apr

In the realm of digital marketing, social media is king. Arguably nowhere else do you have such instant access to a worldwide community of listening ears, ready to receive your message whenever you press 'post.' The only problem? You’re not the only one clamoring for their attention. At the time of writing, there were more than 65 million local businesses using a Facebook page alone, meaning that competition is fierce to be king of the virtual landscape. As such, making sure that web visitors land on your profile can be somewhat of a shot in the dark, but it doesn’t have to be.

By deploying the right tactics, you can encourage more traffic to your social media posts without changing up your marketing strategy. The key is to focus on engagement and responsiveness above all else, keeping the customer front of mind at all times. While that sounds simple enough on paper, how does it translate to real life? Using Facebook as an example and standard, let’s take a look.

1. Analyze and Identify Your Audience

Sure, you could put out a vague post, make it public to all of Facebook’s one billion active users, then sit back and hope for the best. Or, you could target your message to those most likely to respond to it. You can’t do that until you perform a little audience analysis, determining who precisely you’re marketing to. Is your product or service usable by everyone, across every demographic, age range, gender, profession, and interest? Chances are, the answer is 'no.'

Determining who your audience is can help you craft smarter, more alluring messages that appeal directly to its members. You’ll also discern the ideal times to boost your Facebook content. Is your ideal an adult, aged 40-65, who lives in the United States? If so, you likely don’t want to invest money boosting your post at 3:00 a.m., regardless of the time zone you’re in. Tools such as Facebook Audience Insights can help you jumpstart this process and reveal which demographics most closely match your offering.

2. Narrow Down to Niche Interests

Once you’ve identified your target customer, narrow that range down even further by identifying niche interests. For example, your target customer might be a male, aged 18-25, in college. Taking that even deeper, you might be focusing your product or service on a male, aged 18-25 who enjoys watching televised sports. Or, someone interested in a particular genre of music.

Humans are complex and what appeals to one might not work for another, so being as specific and pointed in your social media messaging as possible can help you ensure that the right person is receiving it.

3. Leverage That Information in an Initial Post

Using the data gleaned from your audience analytics, make an initial post designed to target your specific niche customer. For example, you might run a coffee shop targeting college students aged 18-25, with a space in the back for video games and comedy club nights. Your target customer is, therefore, someone who drinks coffee but ideally, also likes gaming and taking in a show. Your first post might read along the lines of 'It’s early, but we’ve got fresh java flowing. Come by and fill up before class, then stop by later tonight for our Halo 2 dueling challenge in the back game room!'

In that post alone, you’ve touched on all three of your niche focuses: college student, gamer, coffee drinker. Chances are, you’ll hook at least a few people who will come to check out what you’re up to.

4. Keep Branding Minimal

Visitors will see your profile and your name as soon as they click on your post. You don’t have to inundate them with blatant advertising and branding messages right within the body. Each post you submit over social media should hold some kind of relevance and helpful information for your readers rather than serving as a simple way to get your name out there. Keeping your posts informative and beneficial is a key way to establish yourself as a transparent brand, which is a top way to earn customer trust and turn one-time visitors into repeat followers.

Along the same lines, resist the urge to fill your post with tons of emojis, GIFs or other response tactics that can muddy up your content. Stick to what you’re trying to say, deliver it clearly, and the words will speak for themselves. Keep in mind though, that one or two strategically placed emojis can inject a little fun and personality in your posts, so consider the context before moving forward.

5. Prioritize Engagement

Once your post is live, monitor it often to see if there are any comments you need to respond to. Moreover, don’t forget to follow or 'like' other similar pages in your category to expand your reach. If someone reaches out to you over social media, make sure engagement is top of mind, and avoid leaving someone hanging for too long. Chances are if you do, that person will quickly move onto a more responsive competitor.

If someone reacts to your post, even if it’s just a like, you can always initiate a conversation with him or her by tagging their name in the comments section of the post. Asking a question is often a good way to get this back-and-forth started. Using the post described in #3 for example, if someone named John Smith likes your coffee shop/gaming post, you can respond with a comment along the lines of 'Do you dominate Halo 2, John?' That simple inquiry reveals you’re taking note of who’s checking out your post, you’re interested in their interests, and you’d like to learn more. Once users are engaged, you’re in a better position to invite them to like your page, check out your website, or view your blog posts.

Learn and Listen To Your Social Media Followers

Growing your social media community won’t happen overnight, and it shouldn’t. It takes time, studying, and practice before you can begin seeing the kind of growth you desire to build. In the meantime, study up on your target customer and identify your niche client base. Then, craft compelling messages that speak directly to their interests and encourage them to take action. Over time, they’ll respond accordingly and you’ll see the momentum swing back in your direction. 

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