6 Proven Strategies For Building An Engaged Audience
So you want to build an engaged audience on social media and use it to drive traffic and generate sales?
You can, but it's not so straightforward as just jumping onto every social platform and blasting your links and content all over the social web.
Picking the right social platform, knowing which audiences hang out where, and which tactics work on these platforms - they all matter.
But what matters more is your strategy. Don't think of social media traffic in terms of numbers only or a one-way broadcast system where you just send out your content. Instead, consider this...
Social users are real people with emotions, likes/dislikes, fears, aspirations, needs, and problems. They're actively buying products online and social media has a HUGE impact on their purchase decisions (we all know social proof is important, right?).
For instance, look at this image sharing research by GlobalWebIndex below.
54% of customers use social media to research products (by asking for other people's opinions) meaning there's real money to be made from social traffic.
But again only when you think of these social media users as real people, not just traffic numbers on your Google Analytics dashboard or places to spam your links and content.
Seriously, only when you align your social media content strategy with the needs and wants of your audience, the magic starts happening.
Without a strategy, all the social platforms are useless by themselves.
No matter what platform you're using, you need to keep the following points in mind to succeed.
1. Determine Your Brand's Voice and Unique Selling Proposition
What makes you different from your competitors?
That's a key question that defines your whole marketing strategy. But it has an even greater impact on your social media strategy because everything you post on social media is there for public scrutiny.
If you come across as just another affiliate site selling shoes or electric shavers or any other product, you'll be easy to ignore.
To become memorable, your brand needs to have a unique voice and offer something that makes you different from everyone else in your industry.
It can be anything like the tone of your voice, the quality of your images, or the fact that you test every product thoroughly before recommending it.
Wirecutter, for example, frequently highlights this point in their social media posts as you can see below...
They're a hugely successful affiliate review site and people trust them because they only recommend proven products. That's their USP and it reflects in their social media content as well.
2. Invest in Visual Content To Stand Out from the Crowd
No matter what social media platform you're using, eye-catching visual content will help you stand out and generate more traffic to your content.
Just consider these stats.
- According to a study by Buffer, Tweets with images get 150% more engagement on average as compared to simple text-only Tweets (source)
- A study by BuzzSuo found that Facebook posts with images receive 2.3x more engagement (source)
- The same BuzzSumo study also found that articles with an image every 75-100 words received 200% more social shares as compared to plain text articles or the articles that had fewer images. (source)
Why are images, videos, and other forms of visual so effective on social media?
The following quirky image explains it quite well, look at this...
The human brain responds quicker to visuals than text which is why most of the top affiliate marketers consider visuals a key part of their strategy.
Look how much time and effort MinimalistBaker put into creating awesome images for their Instagram audience.
As a result, look at the engagement level on their posts.
With so much content being published on social media every minute, using more visuals is a proven way to capture the attention of your target audience.
3. Be Normal, Be Approachable, Be Human, Be Social
Social media is different from conventional media (like TV, newspapers, etc.) where the flow of information is one-way. Most marketers fail to drive any engagement on their social profiles because they use it as a broadcasting medium only.
You can't expect people to comment on your posts and share your content when you only post links to your product pages and blog articles.
Automation is important (I'll talk about it in a bit) but you should never come across as a bot.
Be social on social media.
Talk to people, ask them questions, answer their queries, have a good laugh with them.
Michelle of MakingSenseofCents is a wildly successful affiliate marketer.
She talks to her followers like any other normal person. She engages with them, responds to their questions, and is genuinely helpful as the snapshot below shows.
Most of her posts are about her life (aka the benefits of blogging) which builds trust.
As a result, her audience responds positively even when she posts about her products or new blog posts.
For example, below is a screenshot of one of her Instagram posts promoting a training program, do you notice anything?
Look at the number of likes and comments.
Her formula is simple.
Attract followers with relevant, enjoyable, and engaging content and pitch your products only once in a while when it makes sense.
4. Use Hashtags To Extend Your Content's Reach
Social media hashtags first started from Twitter but now work on almost all social networks.
This infographic highlights the key benefits of social media hashtags.
Hashtags are like search keywords on social media and can help you increase your content's reach by exposing it to the relevant social media users outside your immediate following.
Use relevant and trending hashtags in your social media posts to drive additional traffic to your content. But don't overdo it (2 to 3 hashtags are enough) otherwise you'd start resembling spammers.
5. Build Partnerships to Grow Exponentially
Want exponential growth in your social media following?
Build partnerships with other social media marketers and accounts in your industry to support each other.
Millionaire Mentor, the hugely successful Instagram account did exactly this to amass 1M+ followers in just a couple of years.
They joined hands with other Instagram accounts in their niche and other closely related niches that had a similar number of followers and started promoting and sharing each other's content.
As a result, all of them benefited and grew their audience very quickly.
You can do this on every social network.
However, a social media account that already has a huge following is unlikely to partner with an account that's just starting.
You have a much better chance of finding partners if you target the accounts that are slightly higher than you in terms of followers and engagement.
You can find them by either searching manually on your target social network or use BuzzSumo to search for relevant accounts in your niche, the screenshot below shows you where to click...
Sort the results by "follower count" and reach out to the accounts that are close to your level.
The more partners you can find, the better for your account's growth.
6. Automate Your Posts to Reach Your Audience When it Matters
You can't stay online all the time.
By automating some of your social media posts, you can post content at the right times of the day when your audience is online.
Automation will also help you share the same content multiple times on different social networks so that it gets the maximum possible exposure.
Here's a good illustration below of how you can share the same content multiple times using automation, can you see how powerful that can be?
You can use tools like Buffer, CoSchedule, or HootSuite to automate your posts on most of the top social networks.
Time To Open The Social Traffic Floodgates
Tens of millions of people around the world are addicted to different social media platforms. It's their window to the internet from where they find new content, build relationships, spend time with friends, and buy products.
By using the strategies of all the social networks I've featured in this post, you can easily align your marketing strategy with your target audience and tap into this unending supply of qualified traffic.
The question is whether you have the patience and the consistency required to succeed on social media, as it's usually not fast or easy and requires patience and time.
Because remember, cliches aside, all good things take time and good things definitely come to those who wait.
So be patient, be social, and be rewarded with huge volumes of engaged traffic.