16 Tactics for Building an Audience via Social Media

16 Tactics for Building an Audience via Social MediaThis Thanksgiving weekend’s post springs from something I’m thankful for: two recent social media strategy training presentations for non-profit organizations. Based on incredible turnouts for both social media training presentations, non-profit social media strategy must be a hot topic!

One question from both sessions was how to attract a follower base for your non-profit organization.

These sixteen ideas across three different areas should aid non-profits in growing a social media audience as much as they do other types of businesses and individuals as well:

Be a Good Social Media Participant

  1. Be human and socially intriguing – This applies both visually (depict a person in your avatar) and in interactions (demonstrate personality and let people know WHO they’re interacting with online).
  2. Interact with people – Engage with people on relevant topics. Talk, respond, and initiate conversations.
  3. Regularly share strong, intriguing content, especially news & interesting links – It’s easy to say, “Don’t be boring.” Work hard to make sure it’s also easy for your audience to see you really follow the advice. And don’t think you can share content onece and then stop! Be consistent in your presence and sharing.
  4. Share content from intriguing people – If you struggle generating enough rich content on your own, at least share and link to rich content others are creating.
  5. Don’t over-promote yourself – Nobody likes an aggressive salesperson in real life or online. Cool the sales pitch and attract followers at their pace.
  6. Follow first & manage your list actively – It’s okay and advisable to follow other people in your audience groups first. It’s also okay to weed out people who aren’t active. It’s especially good for organizations to have written guidelines on how and why they’re making these decisions.
  7. Have a place to point people for deeper understanding – That means a blog or website that’s “your property,” as opposed to a Facebook presence subject to what Facebook decides to do.
  8. Publicize your social media identity – Include links to your social media presence wherever you are online, particularly links to your home page.

Individual and Topic-Based Opportunities

  1. Ask for and incent connections – Request that people connect with you by liking, following, and linking to you – whichever is appropriate for the particular social network. Also ask your current followers who they think you should be linked to in their social networks.
  2. Follow back relevant followers – If someone has taken time to seek you out and isn’t a spammer, follow them back if they fit your target profile (then engage them to solidify the potential relationship).
  3. Identify strong people on topics of interest and follow who they follow – If there are key influencers or experts in your audience, it’s a good practice to follow the people they follow (i.e., the people influencing their content and thinking).
  4. Run searches on relevant topics and follow tweeters – Always have searches running on people active in social media talking about the topics relevant to your organization and take the opportunity to follow them. For Twitter, you can run the searches inside Twitter, do them at www.search.twitter.com (whether you are on Twitter or not), or have them going in a program such as Tweetdeck or Hootsuite.
  5. List your organization on popular directories under related topics – Wefollow & similar directories are structured by informational topics so others active in the same topics can find you. Similarly follow others listed in relevant categories on these same directories.

Take Advantage of Live Interactions

  1. Solicit social media identities from customers and prospects – Whenever your organization touches a target audience member, request other ways to stay in touch with them.
  2. Follow all attendees at events or using your organization’s Twitter hashtags – If other people are involved in events you sponsor or share the content you create, be sure to follow them.
  3. Participate in live tweeting to gain disproportionate attention – Participating in Twitter chats or live event social media efforts is a great way to grow your followers among others with similar interests and needs.

These are all diligent, steady ways to build a follower and fan base.

There are certainly automated, program-based ways to build followers as well, but quite frankly, I’m a “diligent, steady” kind of guy and like growing followers organically vs. through a purely automated online program.

But if you’ve seen success with these programs or other audience-building techniques, what’s been working for you?

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Mike BrownMike Brown is an award-winning innovator in strategy, communications, and experience marketing. He authors the BrainzoomingTM blog, and serves as the company’s chief Catalyst. He wrote the ebook “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation” and is a frequent keynote presenter.

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  1. Xavier, StateAidLaw

    Thank you for these terrific tips. I’m starting to build up some momentum in my tweet following – but not as much as I would like. I will apply these top tips and let you know if they worked.

    All the best

    Xavier
    @StateAidLaw

  2. Mike,

    Some of these tips are old hat for me, but several I haven’t been using at all. So, thanks for the list of tips. I noticed you didn’t include MediaFunnel http://mediafunnel.com in tips on monitoring. I use it to stay up to date on what people are saying about my sites.

    Greg
    @thecasualvegan

  3. Great tips Mike. We’re fully committed to developing Twitter as a viable source of leads for our business. I did not see much reference to your thoughts on “linking” accounts, such as Twitter and LinkedIn. Good thing? Bad thing? Case specific? Currently we have our account (@customprintwear) linked to my personal LinkedIn page, Google account, Yahoo account, and blog. I’d be interested to hear your thoughts. Keep up the great work!

  4. Xavier – Appreciate you giving the ideas a try, and look forward to hearing how they work for you!

    Greg – Thanks for the tip on MediaFunnel; I haven’t used it yet, but will check it out.

    Dan – Linking accounts can definitely be a big time saver. I’m not a big fan though of a blanket approach where everything you tweet automatically goes to LinkedIn, Facebook, etc. The paces and formats of each social media platform can be different enough that you want some human intervention to decide where content works best. In terms of blowing your blog feed right into Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc., it’s a big efficiency help to do this. But it’s still important to be active in these networks on a personal basis to really build an audience!

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