I often work with clients who desperately want to increase their brand exposure in the social meda world and are stymied when it comes to understanding how to do it.
The very first thing I want you to realize, memorize, and repeat is this:
Without an audience I have no voice, no presence; no power
This means that your brand’s message does not even have the opportunity to touch people if you are not consistently generating more likes, awareness, and user engagement.
So how do you do that?
If you are using the social web and want to increase your exposure than you must begin by building yourself an audience so that you may be seen, interacted with, and over time purchased from. Here are a few steps I want you to consider before you go out seeking your audience.
Answering these will help you understand where to go to find your audience – yep, that’s right, in the beginning YOU find them… not the other way around.
- STARTING CONVERSATIONS: What “conversation” are you trying to create with users? It doesn’t matter if you are a writer, a consignment store owner, a sticker collector, a lawyer, or a stay-at-home mom- everyone who has a brand or voice is wanting to engage people in a particular “conversation” that is at the very heart of their passion or offering.
For example: If you are consignment store owner, the conversation you are wanting to create with your audience might be about:
How to be thrifty, stylish, and connected.
So what do they get out of it? ( always be thinking this way!)
- Learn how to cultivate an amazing wardrobe or furnish a house on a shoestring budget while Introducing newbies to all of the amazing ways consignment shopping can be used to enhance lifestyles while spending less.
- Be a part of a large and growing community of followers who love consignment shopping, and become aware of resources that will offer you endless value! Post interesting products, updates, articles, how to’s, and other great ways to make their lives easier and more affordable without sacrificing style.
- Learn how to use various pieces/ styles and DIY ideas and tutorials that will give you a fresh look, and make you feel like a million bucks!
So… this is a conversation worth having for MANY consignment shoppers – right? You can see clearly- what’s in it for them.
ok, great… now… how do you begin to find them and start building? For the purpose of example I’m just going to keep it simple and use two social media platforms but this will give you an idea of how to begin.
- BEGIN WHERE YOU ARE: Start by identifying social media platforms that make sense for your brand. For example; Pinterest is a visual pin board where users can pin images and posts of their interests. If you are a lawyer, this is not going to be a good investment of time for you because images are not the best expression of your profession. If however, you are a consignment store wanting to “expose” an audience to your brand then Pinterest is a perfect place to begin.
Some potential pin boards might be:
- Vintage Style: (Pin all kinds of vintage style ideas so that women can begin to re-pin looks that you think are important or relevant for style) How to wear belts: Ok, raise your hand if you have no idea how to wear belts? This is a great pinboard resource to have!
- Repurposed Furnishings – Perhaps you don’t sell furniture but it’s still a great resource for your audience because chances are if they enjoy consignment clothes shopping, they would also enjoy consignment furniture shopping. REMEMBER: your goal is to be a resource to keep your brand top of mind, and to give your customers a sense of your own style, and offering.
- Repurpose Clothing: Show her how to update her style with a quick DIY tutorial.
- Blog posts: Pin posts that other bloggers have written about style, consignment shopping, special events, or promotions (Begin searching on blogging platforms for style bloggers and using the dashboard pin download, you can pin almost any content you find to an existing board)
- Special Promotions Board: Create a graphic coupon for $5.00 off in store – and pin it. This incentivizes users to follow the board so that they will be aware of seasonal promotions, coupons, or special events.
As you fill your boards with interesting content and resources, you will find that as users “search” on things that interest them- your boards will now become available for them to “follow” – it’s wise at this point to begin searching on the same and finding individuals who have created pin boards that are aligned with your message or “conversation.” Eventually as your following grows, you will find that your voice, and your ideas do as well.
Facebook- begin where you are;
If you have an existing Facebook account, then try leveraging this existing audience by requesting that they “like” or follow your new business page. You can do this on your facebook admin page through the toolbar where it says “Build Audience.”
It’s a two way street: One of the most difficult things for my clients to remember is that there are two sides to facebook:
- The side where you post on your own page
- The side where you comment on other business pages by “using your business page” to engage with like-minded businesses.
In addition to inviting people to follow and “like” you, it’s critical that you search for local businesses to “like” that can help spread the word about you. As you work to develop a “familiar” online voice with them, you will find that they refer you or mention you in posts to their own audience. Here are some other businesses you might want to search on and like, so that they might potentially help spread your “conversation”:
- Local Chamber of Commerce, clothing stores, grocery stores, community centers, bakeries, etc.
- local and national style bloggers, DYI crafters, design/home decor companies, etc. This is where you will find and share content with your own audience.
Mention a local business in your post by using the @ sign in the status bar, and this will hyper link their own page so that your audience can also like them, and so that the company you give the “shout out” to, might also respond in kind- introducing YOU to their own audience, further growing your audience base.
Stop Being so Selfish!: I’m joking- i know you are not selfish, but all of us tend to be a little one-sided about our own needs so one way to really get attention is to truly help another business.
So, just like you have a conversation that matters to you, so do other businesses. Each time you engage with another company is an opportunity for you to help spread their message as well. By taking a look at your local businesses perhaps you can find one aligned with your own message in some way. For instance, perhaps you notice that Joe’s Bakery is posting about a special offering for every Tuesday that gives 20% off all baked goods. It’s likely to think their message of value and savings and good food would totally appeal to your audience, so you might target a message that piggybacks on Joe’s by offering a special announcement and tagging the bakery.
Now that you’ve generating more awareness and likes about who you are and what you offer, it’s time for you to think engagement.
- KEEP THE CONVERSATION ALIVE!: Each time you post, share, tag, or otherwise shout out on behalf of another business you must always be aware of how your audience is engaging with your brand.
Always acknowledge a comment by responding, and encouraging them to interact. Get to know them, and try to learn more.
Users who engage with you are the exact people who usually become your ADVOCATES.
Advocates are the users who start to mention you, talk about you in social circles, and want to “share” your content with their own audience.
Like attracts like - and in the social media world, birds of a feather truly do flock together, which means that it’s likely that if a user “shares” your page with her friends, it’s because she has friends with the same or similar interests that will thank her for the introduction.
Building audience is critical for any brand, and is easy to do, once you get the hang of it. Don’t get discouraged, and just continue to go back to the thrust of this post:
- Start a conversation that matters to your customer
- Create and share content that helps convey your message
- Find other likeminded or local businesses to “like” and align with
- Begin where you are and leverage existing audiences
- Engage and keep the conversation alive, get to know users, and share content that your users will find useful and share worthy with their audiences
- Don’t give up, this can take some time- it does not happen over night, but it sure can happen, and be incredibly effective.
For extra credit, or additional assistance, just email me if I can help you identify your unique conversation. As always please comment… I’m a junky.