With the current shift online, it is more important than ever to connect with your followers. No matter the number of followers or the type of brand that you are, there is always an opportunity to engage with your community.
From a social media perspective, high engagement is fabulous for the algorithm. If you're able to get people to engage with your product or service offerings, Instagram will recognise this and push your profile to more people. This my friends is a basic rundown of the IG algorithm.
From a business perspective, creating a community is a great way to build customer loyalty. People who love and follow your brand are statistically more likely to purchase again if they had a good experience (also known as client retention). What's more, they are also more likely to share your brand with people they know (a.k.a the power of word of mouth). If you can get them to create content on your behalf, for your business, this is your greatest asset. UGC (user-generated content) is an important factor for brand succession and growth.
But, how do we get it from zero to hero? Well, here are 5 tips to get you started.
1. Humanise yourself
Chances are this tip might terrify you. But it is more important than you realise.
I worked in retail for a while, and one of the greatest lessons I learnt was the importance of sharing yourself (so your personality, mannerisms and uniqueness) with everyone that walks through the doors. While it is terrifying and sometimes draining, it ultimately helped build relationships with shoppers. But, when your online this means posting photos of yourself, showing behind the scenes and sharing your experience and knowledge. This not only solidifies and strengthens your experience within the industry but highlights and asserts your superiority and authority.
There are many marketing models I could share, but I think we would both find that a little boring so I'll summarise. Most models suggest that to generate leads, you need to share yourself and make people aware of why you are the best. Now, this does not mean sharing why you're the bomb diggity. This does mean sharing knowledge, tips and tricks (this is awkward) and posting photos of you in action. Without being over the top, you want to communicate to your audience as to why you are the best at what you do. Of course, you don’t bad mouth anyone else in the process of coming across as the know-it-all teacher's pet that we can all remember from primary school. Always keep in mind that your audience is forming a perception of you and your business based off of the information you share. ALWAYS.
What we're trying to say is, if you're willing to make it personal, it will create an emotional connection between you and your audience. Whether you're sharing recommendations through stories, asking for feedback through a conversation-starting caption or giving business updates on stories - it's all important to start building a relationship.
Wanna know what the other fabulous thing is? Once you've started, you'll know what works and what doesn't because your newly found community will tell you. It is just up to you to keep it up once you’ve started with the magic.
2. Get to know your audience.
Your target audience should always be at the forefront of your business model and strategies. But, never assume what they want. It makes an a** - out of - you and me.
So, how do you get to know them? Simple, ask them! Don't be shy to start conversations that are not about work. Instead, possibly look at conversation starters that are about what their plans for the weekend are, what their favourite colour combinations are and what products/services people want to see next.
Through this, you'll get a more in-depth persona of your audience. You'll also have content for days. Sometimes we run out of ideas. We're human - it happens. But, if you know what your audience wants, you'll have the inspiration, and it will be directed to your community.
A simple way to do this is polls and questions on stories. Sometimes people don't reply to caption questions. But, starting a simple click promotes engagement and will start the relationship with your audience.
Once you’ve started conversations with your audiences, you will see whether or not they are aligned with your ideal target audiences. We are not ones to say that can’t be one in the same, however, it is important to note that degrees of variety can occur across the two groupings.
3. Invite your audience
A fancy word for this tip is a user-generated strategy. All this means is posting content from your users. Some brands like Airbnb, Adobe Photoshop and Glossier do this well. They tag, re-share and spotlight their audience members. It is beneficial for new followers to see the type of people who use the product, how they use it and why they use it.
Some may participate in pushing their personal accounts, and some may want to just because they want to share a product they love. No matter the intention and motivation, your audience are the people who use the product. Who better to model your product than those who use it?
This again goes back to our loyalty. If we can highlight and show loyalty across the board both from us and to our clients, we will enable stronger relationships and others will want to be in on the action!
Stories are a great way to incorporate tips 1, 2 & 3.
While feeds are essential, stories have great features that enable you to engage with your audience, humanise yourself, listen to your audience and boost the algorithm. Some fabulous features we've seen in action are questions, polls, DM us, lives and sliders.
Some fabulous examples we have found are:
5. Say thank you to your audience
A thank you can go a long way. But, the bottom line is, it makes people feel appreciated. If you're going to build a community and use their ideas for content, you need to thank them and give credit where it is due.
You may have noticed on YouTube, users celebrating when they fit a certain milestone. These types of videos are not for themselves; they are for the audience. Who's going to miss being thanked? Sometimes these videos are their most popular because their audience is more inclined and willing to listen as it's about them.
As long as it seems genuine, giving your audience a sense of gratification can act as a reward for what they have done and promote more engagement in the future.
Talk soon, Maddi 👊