Building an audience is essential but requires a lot of time and effort, which leads most people to look for shortcuts. Unfortunately, they don’t work.
Digital maketing today gives us more ways to get in front of as broad or as focused of an audience as you want, but even that unprecedented power doesn’t enable us to buy an audience. Sure, you can buy fans on Instagram, views on YouTube, and even put your content directly into the Facebook feed of potential customers, but that doesn’t mean they’ll ever engage with or buy from you.
Its not a numbers game. Simply reaching people, no matter how large the audience, is no longer a recipe for success.
I’ve seen this mistake first-hand, even from so-called professionals in the digital marketing industry. For example, the founder of a PR firm I had the displeasure of crossing paths with had fooled his clients into believing he was competent by purchasing thousands of followers for his social media profiles. An inexperienced client might see his “audience” and think that guy must know what he’s doing, but in just a few seconds, you can scan his feed and see that he has no engagement. Despite having 50,000 “followers,” no one is commenting on or retweeting his posts, nor are they talking about him. And for obvious reasons—they aren’t real people.
Building an audience—the kind who will talk about your company, share and/or link to your content, and even buy from you—that takes a different approach. Today, it’s essential to get in front of the right people, engage with them by creating and sharing amazing content, and communicate with them rather than at them.
So how do we achieve this?
The first step is understanding exactly who you want as your audience, and despite what some people think, your audience is never “everyone.” This is critical because it enables you to create the kind of content that will really resonate with them. Before creating this content, you need figure out both why it would matter to visitors, and what would motivate them to share and/or link to it.
The next step is to get this content in front of a that audience. Generally, the smaller your niche, the better you can connect with them—both because your message will be more precisely tailored, and because you’ll be able to achieve more repetition.
Let’s say you are a general contractor who specializes in building homes between $400,000-$600,000. Rather than simply targeting people based on geography and income, you might further refine your audience based on additional interests.
For example, someone who watches Duck Dynasty and buys their clothes at Bass Pro Shops would probably prefer a very different style of home than someone who watches Billions and wears Calvin Klein suits. By targeting your audience based on other interests that align with your products or services, you’ll be better able to get in front of the the right people.
Finally, you’ll need to communicate with your audience, not at them. Too many people today treat. social media like a megaphone, often using a program to automate their posting and considering their work done.
There’s nothing wrong with these programs, in fact, we use one called Edgar to manage posts for ourself and clients, but they should play a minuscule role in your social media efforts. That’s because in addition to posting great content consistently, you need to also engage with other real human beings. This means following relevant people and brands, commenting on and sharing their posts, and responding to their comments on your posts.
The key here is to add value in every interaction and treat your audience like human beings rather than just a number.