You need an audience for any social media strategy to work. The good news is, because of the “network effect,” attracting a few followers can often increase your potential audience exponentially—the very nature of social media makes it easy for your friends to spread the word to their own networks of friends, and so on. So how do you attract people to “like” your Facebook page, follow your Twitter feed or subscribe to your blog?
It should go without saying that if you want people to pay attention, post something they’ll find useful and relevant. This is true of all communications, not just social media. If you’re launching a new blog or Twitter account, start out by posting a few interesting things—even though no one is “listening” yet—to show the audience you hope to gain that your resources might interest them.
How do you know what will interest the type of people you’d like to follow you? Ask them. Find a good representative sample of your desired audience and start a discussion with them, through conversations, phone interviews or a survey, about what kinds of posts they’d like to read.
No one is ever drawn to an empty restaurant, no matter how good the food. Social media is similar—even with brilliant content, it’s difficult to attract supporters to a site that no one else is following. Reach out to your staff and other core supporters of your organization and ask them to follow your tweets, or “like” your Facebook page—and to invite their personal friends.
Getting them to post comments or reply to your posts can help show an active community. A small, critical mass of followers will make it easier to attract others to your channel.
Once you have a few core posts and a reputable-looking number of supporters, it’s time to open the doors to the general public. An easy way to begin doing this is to add your social media profile information anywhere your contact information is given. A Facebook or Twitter logo on your website can link people directly to your pages, and if you have a blog, make sure people can easily find it through your website.
People who already know you are more likely to join your social media communities than strangers, and you can reach people who already support your organization through email, print newsletters and other social media channels.
Social media is meant to be social. Participating honestly in the online conversation about topics of interest to your organization will build an audience more successfully than any other tip or trick.
Look for other blogs on related topics, read them, and start conversations with those bloggers. Follow interesting organizations on Twitter, and “like” them on Facebook. Post relevant comments that add to the conversation, and tweet and retweet the resources other people offer. By becoming a regular, reliable part of the conversation, you’ll put yourself top-of-mind for other people who are looking for interesting resources to follow or to distribute to their own community.