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The coronavirus outbreak has forced all of us to slow down somewhat and break our normal fast paced routines. While this is a difficult time for businesses it can also present itself as an opportunity to stop and think about where the business is now, where you can to take it and ultimately how you will get there.

An element that a lot of businesses neglect is their social media and the way they build and engage an audience. If you are finding that your business has less work at the moment or if you are an employee at a company which has seen its workload reduce, this article is for you. Why not spend this time when your workload is reduced focusing on building your audience online so that when things get back to normal, you are in a better position to sell your product, service etc.

With this in mind, here are 5 top tips for growing your audience on social media.

Add Value

The most important thing to do when you are trying to build an audience on social media is to add value to your audience. We are all guilty of trying to sell too much online, buy this product, subscribe to this service, pushing out unengaging messages. While you need to tell people about what it is that you offer, being sold to isn’t what engages us.

An easy way to add value is to give out information or provide entertainment. If you offer a service you can demonstrate your expertise by giving out free advice online. Let’s say you are a painter and decorator, one thing you could do is give out one piece of advice each week, called Tuesday Tips. These could be anything from the best paint to use to a list of essentials for anyone renovating their home. Each post will give your audience value, allow you to demonstrate your knowledge and by using accompanying pictures of your previous work show what a great job you do.

This is just one idea for one industry, but it is possible for every business to add value to their audience. The problem is a lot of people worry that by giving away free information they won’t be needed anymore.

Look at it like this, just because someone can make a spaghetti bolognaise doesn’t make them a chef, in the same way that buying paint and a brush doesn’t make you a decorator. It’s about holding what you offer in higher value and understating that giving away ‘free’ advice won’t damage your business, only benefit it.

Consistency

Great, so you are now posting some content that adds value to your follows and not simply spamming their feed with posts asking them to buy things. A few weeks will pass by and for a lot of people then something will come up meaning you don’t post for a week, then another week passes, before you know it it’s been a month since your put anything on social media and you are back to where you started.

On social consistency is key. It’s no good posting twice in one day and then not for 3 weeks, hoping your audience will grow… it won’t. There are lots of businesses that neglect their social media or focus on one platform, leaving one with no posts for months. The problem is that, in the same way your website does, social media acts a first impression for your business. If someone finds your business via Twitter and you haven’t posted in six months, they may think that the business is no longer running or not doing anything worth talking about, not a good first impression for your brand.

Sometimes you will of course miss a day when you planned to post as other things come up, but if you can stick to a general rule of posting 2/3 times a week, that’s a good place to start.

Two way engagement

Social media is all about building relationships with your followers. This can be done by adding value to them as discussed above, but also can be done by engaging with them directly. This can be as simple as liking a comment or replying to a post, something that not enough businesses do. Most people will put up a post or a video etc, receive likes and comments from people that for businesses could be potential customers but then not make the effort to engage further.

Replying to direct messages is another big one. If people take the time to send you a direct message make sure you reply, even if they are asking an obvious question or just sending you a link to their website, page or business, replies go a long way for building the reputation of your brand. The last thing you want is to be known as a business that doesn’t reply to messages on social media.

It’s not only about replying to people who comment on your content, it’s also about engaging with other people’s content as your brand. This is a great way of getting more exposure for your business as it allows you to maximise content that is trending and get attention for your brand.

Paid social

The way to take your social media to the next level is through social media advertising. In a nutshell this will allow you to get your content seen by more people, whilst making sure they match the target demographic of your business.

Each social media platform has difference options in terms of advertising and cost etc, but to give an example, on Facebook you can advertise from as little as £5. Even at this cost your advert can still be seen by people who you have selected as your target audience. You can be as specific as you like with this creating a target audience by looking at location, age, gender, interests, family set up etc. Social media advertising is therefore a very effective tool from a marketing perspective and you can make different content to target audiences.

Social media advertising is a fantastic tool to utilise and great value for money but can be quite complex depending on the platform that you are advertising on. Due to this it is important to first test an advert using a small budget of £5 or £10 before putting a £100 advert on. This is just to be sure that the advert is working correctly and targeting the right people.

Whilst you can create and run social media advertising campaigns yourself, it may be best to get some outside help.

use an expert

Social media is something that does take commitment and time to get right and the greater knowledge you have of each platform the easier it will be to make progress. While this article covers some of the ways you can begin to build an audience on social media and create content which is likely to get more engagement, this is only the tip of the iceberg.

To really give your social media the love and attention it needs it is best to use a social media consultant or agency. In the same way you would outsource your finances or your HR, social media should be no different. The way we use our personal profiles is very different to the requirements of what our business needs hence the benefit of outside help.

However, if you are not in a position to get outside help at the moment, no need to worry, there are lots of resources that you can utilise online to help you in your production of better quality content. Use this article as a starting point but explore software such as Canva and Hootsuite to help with designing posts and scheduling content in advance. Both will help you improve your current social media output.