Building a social media following is hard work. Retaining your fans and followers is a sustained effort, much like social media marketing. A solid plan, attention to detail, and consistency are necessary to acquire and keep fans/followers who’re passionate about your brand. Here’s a look at seven social media audience retention tactics that can create long-term, involved communities.
1. Post regularly
There are two features of social media that make it an effective brand marketing platform : one is immediacy – the speed with which you can respond unobtrusively to comments and criticisms – and the other is the bond that quality content can help form between your audience and your brand. To utilize the value of these features, you need to have a dedicated presence on social networks, and that starts by posting on a daily basis or at least a few times a week.
What kind of content is your audience most likely to read and share? Will they appreciate exclusive content or giveaways/deals? Would they be interested in learning about the new, ‘just in’ products at your ecommerce store, or can you devote more energy to creating alluring photos of your work to share with younger people on Instagram? If you’re in the services sector, tips, tricks and useful reminders on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter or Google+ will enhance your credibility and make you a reliable source of niche, relevant information among a targeted audience. Once you have an idea about the best type and style of social media content for your brand, creating an editorial calendar and setting the content creation process into motion will become easier.
A tool to manage multiple social media accounts can make regular or customized posting at pre-decided times and time intervals extremely quick and hassle-free. It is especially helpful when you want to schedule posts in advance or track your campaign easily when you’re out of the office or at a day-long business event.
2. Don’t ignore employee advocacy
Though employee advocacy is typically pursued to engage new audience on social media, it can also keep the momentum on your pages/accounts going. Effective social media marketing is a sustained efforts, taking months or years to build a brand’s presence and reputation online. Positive word-of-mouth and active engagement by employees on their company’s social media pages will certainly contribute to overall credibility and trust, encouraging audiences to continue interacting.
Employee advocacy works best when employees have a chance to share something they would actually and genuinely wish to share. For instance, they’re less likely to share a post on your financial results or news of your sponsorship of an event (unless it is a really cool music event, a city marathon, or a heavily promoted fund-raising gala). A majority of your employees may be inclined to share photos of an office outing, contests, movie nights, Wii/laser tag tournaments or community service projects. Anything that engages and entertains your employees is fodder for social media shares, and sends out positive messages about your company.
3. Create a content series
Content series are increasingly being leveraged by content marketers and YouTubers to keep their audiences hooked and coming back for more. A mini-series sets expectations around the content and attracts interested readers/viewers to continue engaging all through the series. Those who’ve started from the middle can always visit Part I of the video or earlier posts.
Another advantage of a content series is that it allows you to discuss one or more ideas more deeply and thoroughly without taking up too much of the audience’s time. By breaking down content into bite-sized chunks, the message is also more likely to be fully and more easily absorbed. Creating a series of blog posts around a single theme also alleviates some of the challenges of continually identifying new topics. By covering all aspects of a particular topic of interest to your community, you can creating more content with a narrow, focused approach.
4. Keep the social rewards coming
An old, proven tactic to retain your audience is by rewarding them. Even if they don’t participate in a contest or redeem an offer during a current campaign, they may engage in the near future if you run frequent deals and competitions on social media. The promise of a reward can make them stick around for a long time, keeping your brand front-and-center in their minds. On the other hand, if you don’t offer social rewards, it won’t be long before a competitor’s exclusive offers or giveaways lure fans/followers away from your brand.
Plan creative contests linked to your brand identity and personality. Leverage social media analytics to understand what’s more likely to appeal to your audience, and solicit feedback from them to validate the effectiveness of your social rewards strategy.
5. Respond to fans and followers
Interacting with your social media community is the easiest way to humanize your brand and build relationships. To win at social media, you must naturally be social, and it isn’t at all hard even if you’re a somewhat introverted solo entrepreneur! Reply to comments, retweet comments, and don’t forget to thank all your fans/followers.
As a best practice, avoid responding with an automated message. Authentic and original messages are perceived more favorably, persuading your community that you’re the real deal and you actually care.
6. Act on feedback
Examine the comments your blog posts attract and the engagement rates of contests and polls. Use the feedback to understand how you can improve your content calendar or engagement tactics. Most importantly, implement the tips, suggestions and constructive criticisms into your future posts and campaigns. It also helps to evaluate competitors’ successful campaigns and identify which elements drove interest and prompted the healthy response.
7. Be interesting!
It can be a bit difficult to objectively assess how interesting or entertaining your social media content is, but here’s a good tip to consider : share authoritative, share-worthy third-party content that delights fans/followers. Curate content, follow the best blogs in your niche, stay on top of the latest industry news, and don’t hesitate to try out social media trends that are gaining traction on social networks. For instance, live streaming is super-popular among engaged audiences seeking in-the-moment updates. Check out how you can engage audiences using Facebook Live; some tips to explore include Q&As and conversations, product introductions, interviews, live events, and behind-the-scenes glimpses.
Some retention strategies may not deliver the expected results, while others may work swimmingly well. If things don’t go according to plan, there’s always a valuable lesson learnt and the data to pursue better campaigns in the future.
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