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Building a social presence

Building a social presence

Let’s get active

We’ve covered the best channels to use and how to get to know your target audience. Now, we’ll look at how you can build your social media presence with these things in mind. Establishing a strong presence is important when it comes to building relationships with new, and existing, customers.
Social media by its very nature is about being social – that means connecting with people and building relationships. So, the best way to build a presence on social media is to create content that engages as many of your target audience as possible. The more people “like”, comment on or share your posts, the more regularly your posts will appear in their social feed. This can increase your exposure and help to build awareness of your business.
Let’s take a look at some of the things you can do to build your social presence from scratch.

Some useful expressions

A follower – A term used to describe someone who chooses to receive updates from your business on social media. Someone becomes a follower when they take specific action to do so, i.e. by “liking” your Page on Facebook, by “following” your business on Instagram, or by “subscribing” to your channel on YouTube.
Organic reach – This refers to the number of people you can reach for free using social networks like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram by publishing posts, encouraging people to share your posts and engaging in conversations.
Paid reach – This refers to the number of people you can reach as a result of using paid-for advertising on social media.

Step 1. Invite your friends to follow your profile

Asking friends to follow your business profile can quickly increase your social following when you’re starting out. Be sure to invite friends that are interested in your business and fit your target demographic. The more closely aligned your friends are to your audience, the more likely they will engage and interact with your content. Their social activity will pop up in their friends' feeds, so this is a great way to naturally gain exposure and grow your organic reach.
Top tip: As your friends interact with your content, it will appear in the feeds of their followers. If someone new engages with your post, respond and invite them to follow you!

Step 2. Promote your online presence

A business communicates with its customers in a number of different ways – from email and websites to leaflets and posters. To promote your social media activity, include the details of your social presence (your custom URL, Facebook Page name or Twitter profile, etc.) on all of your promotional material, including email signatures, business cards and even your WhatsApp status.
Try offering exclusive content, promotions or discounts alongside these details. Incentives can be an effective way to encourage people to visit your social profile.
Top tip: Some social platforms also provide QR codes, so you can get technical and add your QR code to promotional materials as well. A QR code is a type of barcode that, once scanned by your mobile device, redirects a user to a particular URL – in this case, your business profile.

Step 3. Regularly post engaging and relevant content

Sharing great content is an effective way to organically grow your social following. When a post resonates with a user, they are more likely to explore your profile to find out more.
Think back to the previous lesson, “How to define your target audience” and remind yourself:
  • What are your audience’s needs and interests?
  • What type of content will resonate with them most?
  • Think beyond just sharing content with your audience. Consider how you can effectively build a two-way conversation.
For example: Dental surgery owner Janvi uses Twitter to share tips and cutting-edge scientific news with his patients. But his most popular posts are where he lets customers ask him questions. These “Question and Answer” posts have improved customer engagement and increased the number of people following his account.

Step 4. Engage with other organizations

Another great way to grow your social media presence is to look at the social media profiles of other relevant businesses, publications or organizations that your audience follow. Through liking and commenting on their posts, you create an opportunity for their followers to notice you. Facebook Groups is one place to give this a try.
Facebook Groups allow people to come together around a common cause or activity to express opinions, post photos and share related content.
For example: Sai owns a menswear store and she wants to use Facebook to increase her reach. After visiting Groups that her target audience interact with (e.g. “Men's Fashion Mumbai”), Sai begins to get involved in the public discussion around the latest seasonal trends, making sure to post from her business account. Her posts highlight her keen eye for style and quickly inspire people to click through to her Page. The more she engages in public conversations on relevant topics, the more responses she receives. Since trialling this way of building her social presence, her follower count has grown significantly.
Top tip: No one likes to be spammed! Always be interesting, relevant and authentic when interacting with people on social media.
For example: Discussing the top trends for men this season in the “Men's Fashion in Mumbai” Facebook Group is an effective way to inspire visitors to follow Sai’s business Page. On the other hand, simply commenting “Follow me for cheap men's clothes!” is unlikely to appeal to her target audience.

Step 5. Build relationships with your following

Retain your new followers by keeping them interested and engaged. The more you listen to them, the more they will feel valued. Respond to people’s comments on your posts and create your own comments too. This can spark a conversation and engage even more people.
For example: Imagine you run a restaurant business. Posting your opening times and prices is not very engaging content. But if you share a new dish, ask for opinions or encourage audience participation through polls, discussions and competitions, this could lead to a more engaged, and potentially bigger, audience.
Make sure to spend time with your online community to gain valuable insights on your audience's needs and interests. This information can also help you shape your business and the products and services you offer to ensure you remain competitive. Consider your followers as a focus group from which you can gain knowledge that will inform both your business, and your social media strategy.

Over to you

There are many ways to grow your social media presence – and there is no such thing as one, correct path.
Grab a pen and paper and try to think of some ways you can grow your social following. We've mentioned a few ideas already, such as including your business profile's custom URL in your marketing materials, and inviting your friends to follow you. Feel free to refer back to these to make your list as detailed as possible.

Let's recap

  • The more people click, comment, “like” and share your posts, the more often your content will be seen by potential new followers
  • There are a number of ways to grow your following on social media: inviting your friends and existing customers, promoting it across traditional marketing materials, regularly updating with quality content and engaging with users on other relevant profiles
  • Your following on social media can act as a great focus group which can give you useful insights to inform your business and social strategy
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