HOW TO CONNECT WITH YOUR AUDIENCE ON SOCIAL MEDIA

Take these two businesses for example.
Business number 1: it’s been a few weeks since they last shared content online in an attempt to get their 10,000 plus followers more engaged. I mean, with that number of followers the likes, comments and shares must be streaming in yeah? Sadly, that’s not the case. The content that’s been posted has barely made any impact- save for a few likes here and there. Things are just not going how the business expected and they’re not sure what’s wrong.
Business number 2:  they are just starting out in the competitive entrepreneurship space. Their team knows the value of digital marketing and accordingly social media is a big part of their customer acquisition plan. They’ve set up accounts on several platforms but are not sure how best to go about nurturing an active audience online.
Possibly, you could relate to either one of the scenarios above. Known brands and new companies all experience challenges when trying to connect with their customers on social media. Read on to find out how having a social media strategy, understanding your audience and creating great content can ensure your interactions with customers online are meaningful and valuable for both parties.

Come up with an effective social media strategy.

I’d like us to first take a moment and discuss strategy. Do you have a social media strategy? I hope you answered yes! Having one not only goes a long way in preparing yourself for the ton of work it takes to maintain an engaging online presence, but it also allows you to be intentional about your connection with your audience. For those of you who might not have one, the good news is- coming up with a strategy doesn’t need to be a difficult task. As a starting point, you may use the following questions as a guide:
1. Why should your brand have a social media presence?
2. Who is your target audience?
3. What content are you going to share?
4. Where are you going to post your content?
5. When will you be posting?
Once you’ve answered these questions, it will be much easier to come up with a comprehensive strategy for your social media content and engagement tactics.
Aside from using strategy as a guide for your social engagement, it is also very helpful in performance assessment. By reviewing the progress achieved from a particular strategy, you are able to identify what works for your business and adjust whatever doesn’t bring you closer to your goals. This ensures your efforts are directed in the right areas.

Know your audience better.

With strategy out of the way, let us now focus on every business’s most important asset- your target audience. If you answered the questions above, I’m certain you had a chance to think long and hard about who your audience is. Why this is so important is because your audience is your prospective customers. The more interested they are in your brand, the more likely they will make a purchase from you. The motto when it comes to this should be ‘Narrow your focus to expand your reach’.
Consider the metrics below that may assist in identifying your audience:

1.    Average age– Are you targeting millennials? Or is your service more likely to be popular with older people?
This will help in crafting content that is most suitable for your audience as well as help in identifying which social platforms you will prioritize.
2.    Stage of life– Is your audience mostly teenagers? Young parents? College students?
Knowing this will help narrow down on the interests and needs of your audience. This will make you better placed to create content or have an online experience that is valuable to your customers.
3.    Spending power and patterns– Between what ranges are your customers willing to spend? Are they more or less willing to make purchases in your price category? What specific financial concerns or preferences do they have? And can you provide a solution to that?
Having the answers to these questions ensures you are focusing on the right group of people- those that can afford your product/service. Furthermore, if you can come up with a solution to their financial concerns, if any, then you put yourself one step ahead of your competition.
4.    Other interests– Besides your product/service what else do your audience generally like? For example, what sort of activities do they engage in during their free time?
Knowing this will enable you to come up with a variety of content that appeals to these other interests. For example, as a fashion business, you may notice that many of your female customers enjoy catching up with friends over drinks. You could then share trendy outfit choices for girl’s night using items from your shop. The point is to lure your audience in with things they already like rather than upfront marketing all the time which gets tedious.
5.    Competitor analysis– Another important task that relates to knowing your audience is researching what content your competitors use to connect. This will allow you to make an informed decision when it comes to curating content for your social pages.

Content is king.

You’ve come up with a killer strategy and have done the necessary work to ensure you know who you’re trying to connect with very well. The last thing I would like to go through is content- what are you posting on your social platforms? Is this content exciting your audience? Are you authentically representing your brand online?
Businesses and brands that successfully connect with their audiences understand how impactful the content they churn out is. This content provides an opportunity to educate visitors and provide valuable information to your existing customers. Additionally, it gives a chance for the business to tell their story which forges connections and builds relationships. Lastly, good content motivates an audience to act. This could be reflected in more impressions, shares or purchases.
Check out these five tips for ‘sticky’ content that will keep your audience always coming back for more:
1. Share content that authentically represents your brand– In real life, no one likes being around a fake and this applies to social media too. According to research, about 80% of users on social media follow brands online because they feel the content shared accurately represents that business. Accordingly, make sure the content you post aligns with your brand identity. This will make it easier for your audience to make a connection with you.
2. Talk about things other than your products or services– Keep things fun and avoid monotony by sharing content that speaks to other interests of your audience. For example, alternate your marketing content with informative posts that may be linked to your overall field of business. You could also post about social causes that your business supports, trending topics, motivational posts, etc.
3. Offer giveaways and special offers from time to time– We all like to receive gifts now and then, true? Similarly, make your customers’ day by putting together limited offers or giveaways. This should get people more engaged and excited about your offerings. It could also be an effective method for growing your audience by attracting new traffic to your social media pages. Some ideas on such offers include: flash sales on selected items, gifting based on who can get the most likes on a shared post, discounts on purchases made on certain days, etc.
4. Show love for your audience– Make your customers feel appreciated by resharing their posts which relate to you, commenting or liking their posts and acknowledging any reshare of your own content. This fosters a feeling of mutual engagement rather than having a one-sided interaction where customers are the only ones appreciating your content.
Furthermore, there is a high likelihood that your comments or likes will pique the interest of your followers and friends of your customers. The next thing would be that this person will navigate to your page and get introduced to your product/service. Sharing customer generated content is, therefore, also beneficial in attracting traffic to your social pages which may boost conversion in the long term.
5. Diversify your content– This may be achieved from a variety of approaches which include: sharing different kinds of content, specifying content to particular social media platforms or having guest posts
Sharing different kinds of content ensures that you capture the interest of and connect with the different groups of people visiting your pages. Furthermore, it makes it easier to be both educative and entertaining to your audience. Content ideas that you may consider include blog posts, eBooks, testimonials, behind-the-scenes photos/videos, how-to articles/videos, and infographics.
When specifying content to particular social media platforms, it’s important to keep in mind that each platform has one or two types of content that attract higher engagement. For example, if your preferred channel is Instagram, you will need to create and share attractive visuals. This could be in the form of catchy and fun videos, high-quality pictures or infographics. For a platform like Facebook, research suggests that live videos on Facebook have a higher engagement rate (4.3%) compared to non-live videos (2.2%). Therefore, it makes sense to leverage live videos in a bid to boost engagement and connect with your audience.
Guest posting is a great way to diversify your content as well as achieve improved exposure for your brand. When done effectively this may positively impact: acquisition of new customers, increasing the mileage out of your content and introducing your audience to new and possibly influential voices in your niche market. Guest posting generally creates more opportunities to leverage new relationships and connect with a wider audience.
In summary, the main takeaways from this article are:
1. Planning and having an effective strategy for your online presence is crucial to building an engaging connection with your audience.
2. Secondly, when it comes to social media engagement, it’s not necessarily about you and that’s okay. Take the time to know your target audience well so that you can cater to their interests and needs adequately. This will go a long way in fostering a lasting connection.
3. You are only as good as your content. Make sure you share compelling content that will attract and keep your audience engaged. 
4. Finally, if in need of assistance, you would be far better hiring a Social Media Manager or Agency depending on your needs and budgets/targets.

I hope after reading this article you feel better equipped to improve your connection with your audience on social media. 😊

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