If you’re a new business, or relatively new, I’m going to take a guess that a big social media following is high up there on your to-do list.
I get no points for guessing that. It’s no secret that a prominent social media following can do wonders for a new business. Given the right circumstances, it can change the fortunes of a business overnight.
The problem is, how do you grow a social media following when you’re just starting out?
Growing A Social Media Presence From Scratch (When You’re Just Starting Out)
Well, there’s a wrong way, and a right way to build a social media presence. Especially when you’re relatively new. Which path you take will determine how social media will work for your business in the long term, so now is the time to get it right.
When you’re starting out, the big temptation is to see it as a numbers game. Get those follow numbers in the hundreds, and eventually in the thousands, and you might start to feel like a real business, right?
However, take that approach and you’ll fall into a dangerous trap. Let me explain why.
The wrong way to boost your follower numbers
Yes, there is a right way and a wrong way to boost numbers. And I’m not just talking about buying followers (which is a big no no, and hopefully you’ll have figured that out already. If you haven’t, just please don’t do it. It’s damaging, and will do nothing positive to your business).
Let’s go back to that dangerous trap I was talking about. And it’s all in that word – boost. Boosting numbers. What does that even mean? It means you are seeking more followers. Bigger numbers.
That’s the trap, you see. Big follower numbers mean little when it comes to successfully using social media for your business. Trust me. I’ve grown profitable Instagram accounts, for example, with as little as 1500 followers, and still attracted lots of high quality customers from them.
So that is the trap I want you to avoid. Forget the numbers. Forget that magic figure you’re aiming for in your head. A large following is no more than a vanity number. And I want to explain why.
Follower numbers isn’t the only metric you need to care about
Let me walk you through a scenario.
It’s 9am, and you have just entered a packed conference room with 1000 people sitting in chairs, waiting to listen to the speaker: you. It sounded like such a great opportunity when you heard about it. You’ve just launched your brand new product that you have spent the last six months lovingly perfecting, and now you have a chance to tell the world about it.
So you take a deep breath, a sip of water, and begin your carefully-crafted talk. Sadly, the audience in front of you aren’t listening. In fact, they are talking in whispered murmurs to each other. They aren’t even looking at you. No-one is taking any notice of what you have to say. They don’t care. They are just random members of the public, and they don’t really have any interest in the product you are trying to sell.
Let’s rewind. Now you’ve been given the same opportunity. But this time, you are only talking to an audience of 20. These 20 people actually signed up to attend the talk because they saw an advert about your product. An audience of 20: doesn’t sound as exciting as 1000, right? Nevertheless, you go along to that conference room, and stand there as 20 faces stare back at you.
This time, people are listening. Not only that, but people actually come up to you after the talk and ask you questions. They like what you have to say, and your product sounds really exciting to them. You even get a couple of hot leads, and your first sale a week after the event.
So what was the difference between the first and the second talk? It was all about engagement. The first talk might have been to a bigger audience, but they had no interest in the product. They were just random members of the public.
So what happens if an audience is carefully selected instead? What if they really care about your product? What if they have already expressed some interest? You might have a smaller audience, but you have a highly engaged one.
Building A Social Media Following – The Right Way
When people first start an online business, they often obsess over numbers. They want hundreds of Facebook likes, thousands of Twitter followers and millions of visits to their site. It’s the dream, right? If you gain a big audience, then surely you will succeed in the online world.
But this just isn’t true. Audience engagement is far more important than sheer numbers. If you just focus on numbers, all you create is noise. And what happens when there’s lots of noise? Your message becomes lost.
So if you are just starting out, you really don’t have to feel inferior to those businesses you see online with thousands of fans. Concentrate on valuing your small following. Focus on your message. Work on building a relationship you’re your audience. That is what will help your business to succeed.
Here’s my top tips for targeting audience engagement:
- Keep your content fresh, original and consistent
- Post new content daily. It can feel like a thankless task at first, but those efforts will pay off
- Keep your brand strong. Make sure you have a consistent message across all your social media platforms
- If you’re going to follow accounts with the hope those accounts will follow you back, target them carefully. Don’t play the numbers game; only follow those who you identify as your target customer
- Most importantly, interact and engage with your followers, even if you only have 20! Chat, like, comment, retweet, share. Remember: it’s “social” media.
- Be yourself. Make sure you – and your business – are 100% authentic and natural on your social media platforms.
So, confession time now. Have you ever suffered from audience size envy? Tell me in the comments section below.
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Want to learn more about building your business using Instagram? Check out this fantastic guest post from 6-figure Instagram entrepreneur Melissa Camilleri, as she walks you through her exact strategy for making money on Instagram