By Wendy Marx
With billions of active users, social media has incredible power to fuel your personal branding strategy. But a lot of that power depends on the size of your social media audience. Let’s look at how you can grow your audience effectively and make the most of your social media for branding.
You may have begun a social media and branding strategy. Perhaps, like many people, you initially attacked social media with gusto, only to taper off after a few months when the response was not what you hoped.
But don’t get discouraged. Growing your audience on social media is not impossible. And you don’t need loads of money to get noticed. When it comes to using social media for branding, you just need to know the right tactics.
In the end, the majority of social media audiences want quality content and engagement from the brands they follow.
Why Social Media Is Important to Your Personal Brand
Let’s hark back to something we mentioned at the outset: virtually everyone is on social media. Whether it’s Facebook, Twitter or another network, social media has become an integral part of life for the majority of people. This gives you unprecedented access to your audience.
Social media is also a hub for creating relationships. With the ability to comment, like, share, and message, you have hundreds of opportunities to interact with your audience. Not to mention, your social media profiles are a great, pressure-free space where your audience can learn more about you.
Lastly, as opposed to other methods, social media puts you in the driver’s seat of your brand image. You are in direct control of how people perceive you and what information about you is dispensed to your audience.
Now that we see why social media is important to your personal brand, let’s dive into the essential ways that you can use social media for branding and get real, palpable results.
How to Grow Your Social Media Audience
1. Strengthen Your Profile
While a piece of content may attract someone to your brand, the contents of your social media profile is what will make them stay.
Make sure that your profile is welcoming and conveys your brand’s personality. Fill in all information, including contact and website links so people can easily find you off of social media. Upload a profile picture that shows you clearly and professionally, without being overly stiff.
In many social media networks, you have space to share a brief bio. Use this opportunity wisely, sharing a little bit about yourself as well as your expertise.
Consider your social network’s banner or header image to be your brand’s personal billboard. Showcase your good work, your recent activity and your brand’s personality. Won an award? Create a banner that shows it off. Change this image around once a month to keep things fresh.
2. Know Your Audience
Social media is all about your audience — so the more you know, the better your social media strategy will be. Take the time to do your research. Learn what websites people visit, what kind of content they consume, and what networks they’re most active on.
While gathering this data might be tedious at first, it will position you for success. Knowing more about your audience will make you the kind of brand people are drawn to and want to follow.
3. Use #Hashtags
Hashtags are the key to organically growing your audience on many networks, including Twitter and Instagram.
But not all hashtags are going to help your personal brand. Some look impressive, with lots of reach, but when it comes down to it, they don’t have much power behind them. For instance, the hashtag #entrepreneur might have tons of follows and might get you a few likes, but so many people use it that you’re unlikely to get many followers with it.
Do your research to find what hashtags fit your industry and get the best overall results. The more specific the hashtag is, the more audiences are going to be genuinely interested and engaged.
4. Incorporate Video
Video is one of the biggest draws on social media — with video posts on Twitter gaining 6x more retweets as traditional posts. And on YouTube, there are 1 billion hours of video that is watched every day! That shows the size of the appetite that is out there for video.
Video is incredibly diverse and adaptable. You can use it for…
- News updates
- Product demos
- Customer testimonials
- Behind the scenes tours
Use your imagination and look for new ways to showcase your content in new ways via video. Numerous tools exist that can help you along the way — even tools that will convert your existing blog posts to video within a few minutes.
5. Use Visuals
There is no doubt that visuals make an impact on social media. Consider that posts with images on Facebook get 37% more engagement than posts without. And that tweets with images on Twitter get 1.5X more retweets than plain text tweets.
As you create your social media strategy, always seek ways to incorporate visual content. Whether it is a blog image or an infographic, it’s a great way to engage your audience and spice up your social media feed.
Using a free program like Canva opens up a lot of creative potential for your brand. With thousands of templates, graphics, and images, there’s no end to what you can create — and no excuse not to have visual content for social media!
6. Share Original Content
There are many different forms of content that you can create — from blog posts to infographics, podcasts and videos. No matter the format, when you share original content with your audience, it showcases your expertise and your interest in your audience.
But first, you need to choose topics that will feed a need, How can you know what will do this? Look at what kind of content your competition creates and the engagement it receives. Use a tool like BuzzSumo to see what content is doing well in your industry across all of social media. You can even ask your sales team what questions people ask most often.
Once you have a good idea of what your audience wants, it’s time to get organized. Document your content strategy and use a content calendar. Such a calendar will help you to visualize your strategy, see what holes exist, and help you to be consistent in sharing content.
7. Engage, Engage, Engage
Social media is nothing if you don’t engage with your audience.
Be ready to engage with people who comment on and share your content. Respond to all comments, even if they include some criticism. If someone mentions your brand, be the first in line to thank them for the mention or to offer a response if need be.
But you can also be proactive about your engagement. Look for brands that are similar to your own, influencers, and even members of your target audience. Follow them. Comment on posts with genuine interest. Share their posts.
This kind of interaction puts you in front of your target audience and is a nice way to show what kind of person you are.
8. Link to Your Social Accounts
There are many small, easy ways to publicize your social media accounts and invite people to follow you.
The signature section of your email and the header section of your website are both prime real estate to promote your social media account.
You can also cross promote your accounts. If you find that you have a lot of followers on Twitter, you can use that space to let your audience know about your other channels. A simple, “Go over to my Instagram channel to check out my video on _____” may be all that is needed to introduce your followers to a new channel.
9. Work with Influencers
Influencers are those on social media who already have a strong, loyal following. Working with such influencers is like getting a nod of approval from them, meaning that their audience is more likely to accept you.
The important thing is to find the right influencers. Do your research to find out what influencers your target audience follows and which influencers have a good record of engagement with their audience.
Once you have a short list of potential influencers to partner with, reach out to them. Follow them on social media. Engage with them. After some time has gone by and you have a sense for the kind of content their audience enjoys, you may reach out to them about a partnership.
There are a few different ways to work with an influencer. You could ask them to share your original content with their audience. You could guest post on their blog. You could even collaborate with them to create an ebook or video. Any of these are valuable strategies to grow your audience.
10. Participate in Groups
Many social media networks, including Facebook and LinkedIn, have groups for specific interests and industries.
Determine what groups exist in your industry and join them. In the beginning, just sit back and observe what goes on in a group. What do they talk about? What kind of content do people share in these groups?
After a little while, decide where you can provide value within the group. If someone asks a question, be ready with an answer. If you have valuable content that you genuinely believe the group would enjoy, share it. As people see your name, backed up with your expertise, they will be more likely to follow you outside of the group as well.
Your social media audience is crucial to your social media and branding strategy. We hope that these tips will help you to grow a loyal and supportive audience.
Let us know in the comments below what tactics have worked for you in growing your audience.