Nurturing Your Audience Through Social As we all know, social media platforms open up huge opportunities when it comes to reaching and interacting with audiences. But are you getting on the radar of the right people? Are they listening? Do they pay attention to what your brand has to say? You might have a whole archive of wonderful, interesting content but, building up a loyal following, deciding which digital channels to distribute and how to optimise the content are just some of the key challenges many marketers and businesses may face. That’s why we have pulled together our top tips on how to grow and nurture your relationship with your audience across social media, which can be easily incorporated into your marketing activities. Don’t be scared – get connecting and optimising! 1) Create content especially for social Once a new piece of content has been created, consider how you intend it to be shared. Users on social media don’t want to read exhaustive words, nor have the time to spend trawling through a never-ending list of posts; it is crucial to tell a story quickly and creatively. Don’t simply paste the link into a post; it needs a little time and effort when it comes to constructing it, plus an incentive for the reader to want to click through. Images, compelling language with a call to action and a shortened link (try using bit.ly) are all elements to take into account to help maximise reach and engagement. It isn’t just about posting content (a blog post or website link), but also instances where this can be shared in ways native to social; we’re talking GIFs in Google+, videos within Facebook adverts, or curating Twitter lists. Get on people’s’ radar the interesting way! 2) Get social involved in your distribution strategy It’s a good idea to evaluate your strategy to see how social plays a role in your activity, and its effectiveness when it comes to attracting new viewers. Ideally, the various channels should be a key part of your business’ distribution strategy to establish the grounds for potential engagement with customers and followers in the future. Decide on what metrics you want to measure in terms of social engagement, to track over 3 months (to start to see any emerging patterns) and set targets over a longer period of time. Keep an eye on what your competitors are doing to help set those benchmarks and objectives, and also so you can make sure you’re ahead of the game! As part of your website analytics, be sure to monitor the referral analytics from social media to see which channels are driving the most traffic and also which posts/pages are performing the best. These results could highlight interesting activity to help determine more efficient and effective sharing strategies for the future. Something else to consider is identifying influencers in your industry with a significant social following. If you create a strong piece of content, perhaps an informative infographic or how-to guide, this could be something you want these people to see themselves – and share it through their networks to help generate awareness and traffic. 3) It’s not just about ‘going viral’ When creating content, don’t focus on one piece ‘going viral’ as your aim. Instead, approach everything with ‘shareability’ in mind; making sure that each post, page or visual piece of content has the potential to be shared through social media. Think about what you are producing from a customer/reader’s point of view and ask, ‘would I want to share this through my networks?’. This is where testing social media copy, headlines, images and adding share buttons is essential to encourage your content being shared. Understanding your audience and knowing which channels they are on and how they use them is also a crucial point which will determine this. 4) What’s new on the social media horizon? Because the social media landscape is ever changing, it is important to keep an eye out for new trends, particularly in online distribution. With new platforms popping up all the time, alongside those which are being utilised by brands like SnapChat and WhatsApp as a means of sharing content, consider these in your own social strategy. The rolling out of features on established channels like the ‘While you Were Away’ feature on Twitter, or Facebook’s Trending feature, opens up new opportunities for brands to get their content in front of a wider audience. Then there’s the recent arrival or line-streaming apps like Periscope and Meerkat, both of which have been described as the ‘future of social television’; we are becoming spoilt for choice with platform options! What all this boils down to is knowing what your audience are interested in, which social media channels they use frequently and how they consume content. By using these insights to help inform content and social sharing activity, you can really enhance the experience of your readers, thus helping to build long-term relationships with them. 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