Maintaining a loyal base of social media followers is key to your online authority, and it also helps bring in steady traffic to your website.
Moreover, when your audiences are happy with you, they'll be more likely to speak kindly of you with their own networks. That word-of-mouth system will help your business gain traction.
Unfortunately, it's all too easy to ruin the relationships you have with your social media followers. To prevent that sort of breakdown, use the three strategies discussed in this article.
1. Research your audience's needs and interests
You're trying to attract and retain a social media audience, so your first step is to get to know them. Start with your current following, if you have one, and establish a baseline for who they are and thus whom to target in the future.
When researching your audience, it'll help if you get to know them by common themes. Find the themes underpinning your audience's needs and interests. Knowing that will help you create relevant, personalized experiences on social media, similar to how you might in emails.
How do you do this research and find those themes? The simple answer: check the available analytics.
Most social media platforms offer their own analytics to help you get to know your audience. Some platform analytics are more thorough than others. You can see what content you share is getting the most engagement or the least. You can also usually find demographic data. All of this information can help you create content that appeals to your following and keeps them around.
In addition to platform analytics, you can find plenty of third-party tools to get any information that may be missing from your initial research. Social Clout is an example of such a tool. It offers analytics and reporting features to help you see what you're doing that's effective and who your audience is.
Another way to learn about your audience is to ask them directly. Create a survey or poll to ask your audience about their interests. Ideally, you want to ask questions that do not require your audience to leave the site. A Twitter poll is a great example of how to get information within a social platform. You can ask a multiple-choice question and even ask for replies to allow for more answers beyond the options listed.
If you have multiple questions though, you might want to create a Google Form that you link to in a post or tweet. Other survey tools, such as Survey Monkey, can make it easier to learn about your social audience with its sharing options and integrations.
When you're using a third-party survey tool that you have to link to in your social content, you'll have a better chance of participation if you offer a reward or turn it into a fun experience. People are always asking this key question: "What's in it for me?" Give them a reason to participate that benefits them.
2. Make social selling about being helpful
Social media isn't a press release platform. Your audience doesn't want to see blatant sales pitches coming from your accounts. Yet, you still want to profit from your efforts. How do you sell without pushing your audience away?
Social selling is the common term for how you can build your business from social media. It takes the sales pitch approach and turns it into value sharing.
Use social media to establish your expertise in the industry by providing valuable information and insight. People will see and appreciate your efforts when it helps them with their own.
Don't restrict your social media engagement to just product relevance. Be helpful to those who reach out to you even when it doesn't directly relate to a sale. One brand that does really well at helping its audience is Buffer.
On Twitter, Buffer reps respond to their audience even when the question doesn't relate to their services. It helps the company build positive sentiment and word-of-mouth, which can bring in business indirectly over time.
Even though social media is about conversations and value sharing, you don't want to completely ignore your offerings. That's why it's so essential to know how to share in a way that takes product positioning and make it about how your offerings can benefit your audience.
When you make your social activity about helping your audience, you make them happy and increase the likelihood of keeping them around. People like feeling heard and want to see brands take the time to help them individually. That's one of the reasons you're hearing about social customer service all the time.
3. Give your audience the spotlight
User generated content is a highly effective way of appealing to your social audience because it gives them publicity through your accounts. It gives them a voice and grants them their own influence. Use this to your advantage, especially on Instagram and Facebook.
When you share your audience's posts, especially when they're using or mentioning your products within the shared content, you get dual benefits. First, you make your audience happy, which in turn will keep them loyal to your brand. Second, the content demonstrating happy customers will be far more effective at selling than if you pitched your products yourself. People trust customers more than brands, after all.
* * *
The simple conclusion to audience retention is this: Give your followers what they want, and they'll stick around. Alternatively, if you use social media to broadcast sales pitches and refuse to engage in real-time to help your audience, your audience will abandon you. You'll actually lose sales opportunities.
What strategies do you have for keeping social media audiences happy and loyal? Leave a comment with your ideas!