Social Media: Earning an Online Audience

Are you building an online social media platform from the ground up? You’ll want to gather an audience who is willing to follow your words, sign up for notifications, and participate in your vision. But in order to do that, the very first thing you have to do is earn your audience’s trust. Don’t settle for short-term goals, like a one-time sign-up. It isn’t enough to entice readers with nifty tricks your platform can do that the other guys can’t (although that helps). You’ll also want to get them excited about future endeavors, and keep them coming back for more. You want them to visit your platform every single day, and then tell all of their friends to sign up, too. Essentially, you want to earn their trust and then keep it. Here are five ways to gain an online audience’s trust through social media marketing:

1. Stay Engaged. Update your own platforms regularly (at least once a day). Then, use other networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook to keep subscribers informed between updates. Give them reasons to reply back (such as a prize incentive for participation), or provide interactive media such as widgets and polls. Build personal rapport by answering every reply you receive. Weekly newsletters, personalized emails and geo-targeted updates will also help your network feel connected as individuals.

2. Write Directly. You aren’t creating this platform for you; you exist for your audience. Keep in mind that you’re providing a service to them, and that rewarding their loyalty is a first priority. Write short, engaging articles that will keep their eyes on your page. Provide content that is of interest to them. And be completely frank and honest—speak directly to your audience, in a friendly and familiar (not fake) tone. Remember to make sure you are communicating with them, not speaking at them.

3. Get Personal. Let your readers and subscribers know who they’re talking to. Put up a picture of you (or something that represents you—not just a static logo). Set up a profile or ‘about me’ page that’s much more personal than A/S/L. And always be transparent about your social media agenda. “We’re trying to reach 1,000 fans on Facebook!” is much more relatable than “Sign up for us on Facebook!” Give everyone access to you, with multiple revenues to communicate (a comments section, phone number, email address, and physical mail address).

4. Limit Yourself. As with any marketing campaign, you’ll only find success with social media marketing if you target your audience. Although it’s easy to get giddy at the thought of how many people can be reached via online marketing, if you create a campaign that’s generic enough to appeal to everyone, you’ll probably never make a connection with anyone. Your images, words, and product features should have one specific recipient in mind. You’re far more likely to retain a loyal audience base if subscribers feel you’re addressing their particular needs.

5. Be the Best. The only way to be the best at what you do is to become very familiar with what else is already out there. You don’t have to sign up for all of your competitors’ products, but sign up for some of them. You don’t have to read all the books on your subject matter—but learn which book has gained the most attention in your industry (the one your competitors and audience might be reading), and study that one. That’s how you can find little untouched crevices of opportunity, dig yourself a niche, and really stand apart. No matter how competitive your industry, you can always be the best at something—even if it means picking one area to dominate (such as above-and-beyond customer service). Subscribers will feel confident that you’ll always satisfy them in your specialty area. Of course, if you can be the best at everything—well, that’s even better.

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