In our last Dispatch, we talked about the importance of owning your own content. The only way to build a defensible digital presence is to own your websites and permission-based mailing lists. But “rented” social media channels like Facebook, TikTok and Instagram are still critical.
Field of Dreams told us to build it and they will come. That doesn’t work in digital marketing today. You have to be where your audience is, and these days, the answer is often “on social media.” Facebook has over 3 billion monthly active users worldwide; even “smaller” platforms like X (formerly Twitter) and Pinterest have roughly 500 million users apiece. You will find your tribe somewhere on social.
Too many brands just use social media because they know they should. That’s a mistake. Done right, social media amplifies and enhances your owned content and builds your audience — but if you don’t do it with purpose, you’re just adding to the noise. Here are the five keys to building your audience through social media.
>1: Keep The Main Goal in Mind
The main goal is engagement.
Engagement leads to action. Action leads to sales. Sales are the lifeblood of any business, and without the engagement that pulls people through your sales funnel, you won’t be in business for very long.
Social media’s reach allows you to spread your net wide and talk to a lot of people who might never find you on their own. That’s great — but it doesn’t mean much if you’re not getting permission to talk to them through a permission-based list (email or SMS). Use social media to drive them to your owned channels. Likes, follows, and shares won’t grow your business.
>2: Curate a Persona
Every channel is a little bit different. You need to curate an authentic persona for each channel.
Those aren’t contradictory terms. “Authentic” doesn’t mean “transparent,” and “persona” doesn’t mean “fake.” There’s a difference between being authentic and oversharing. Share the parts of your brand your audience cares about.
As we’ve stated before, “If it works for your customers, it’s appropriate. Authenticity for a business doesn’t come from oversharing or boring your audience to death — it lies in doing what you say you’ll do.”
>3: Build Relationships
Just like in real life, if your brand wants to build “friends,” you need to talk with people. Social media is great for that.
It’s not enough to just post. There are a few basics that will get you started building the relationships you want with your audience so you can take them to the next level (your owned territory). These include:
- Responding to comments and engagements. If someone takes time out of their day to share your content or mention you, respond — whether it’s good or bad.
- Seeking out influencers. Find the people in your space who are 1) respected and 2) drive conversation. Those don’t always overlap; one or the other is good, but both is best. Then offer opinions in ongoing conversations when it makes sense.
- Giving credit where it’s due. If you enjoy someone’s work, post a link, mention them and give credit. Genuine appreciation and admiration can pave the way to a relationship down the road and turn that person into an advocate for your brand.
>4: Use the Right Platform
There is no “one size fits all” social media platform. You need to pick those channels where your audience is active. Don’t bite off more than you can chew, either; if you don’t have the bandwidth to post in the format that platform prefers (not slavishly copying and pasting), it’s not worth getting started.
We’ve written about this extensively before. You can find our thoughts in the article “The Right Social Media Platform for You,” where we go through a step-by-step case study you can use to figure out what’s best for your brand.
Don’t know where to start? If you’re a B2C company, Facebook’s the default option. 3 billion monthly active users (MAUs) is always a good place to start; it’s the biggest platform with the most reach, and you can find just about every type of B2C audience there. It also has very good paid media tools.
LinkedIn is the starting place for B2B businesses. It’s the “professional” platform; you’re not competing with cat pictures and memes. People log into LinkedIn to search for jobs, learn from thought leaders and make professional connections; it’s the perfect place to build a B2B social media presence because everybody’s there for business already.
>5: Play the Long Game
Even if you’re on the platform your audience prefers and you’re putting out good content in the right format, it will take time for you to gain traction. Be patient.
Just like building a relationship with people in real life, you need to become an authentic part of the community first. Be a good neighbor. Your authority will grow naturally as you prove your value to your community and treat others well.
There are 3 main ways to do this:
- Add value to conversations you’re involved in
- Create valuable content
- Help without a sales pitch
Consistently show up and do these things. They will provide you the foundation to build a purposeful, useful social media presence.
Put In the Work
It’s not complicated to do social media well, but it is hard work. Take the time to do it right. Don’t just do social media marketing because you “know it’s important.” Put purpose behind your posting by following these five steps and people will beat a path to your door. Need a hand? We can help. Just drop us a line, anytime.
Rainmaker Digital Services