How Do You Build Your Audience from Scratch? A Step-By-Step Plan

Chances are most of your customers are using at least one social media platform. How do you make connections on social media starting from zero? Where do you even begin to find and recruit your audience?

You don’t know your audience or they don’t know you

  1. Start with your target audience in mind, not your product. Being product-led is a bad idea and often results in wasted time, money and effort.
  2. It’s a noisy world out there and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to be heard, especially if you have a poorly defined target audience.
  3. If you don’t know where your target hangs out online specifically, your strategy needs more work.

Get the basics right and perform them consistently

There are no magic bullets. Building an audience starts with knowing your target; creating valuable content; converting fans into subscribers and interacting with them consistently. Here’s an overview:

  1. Consider setting aside a budget, however modest. Some online marketing experts believe that the first step is to simply “get out there” as much as you possibly can and create valuable content for your target audience. This is the best solution but it can take time to find traction. You can help it along if you have a small budget for promoting selected content on social media presence, e.g. Facebook ads, YouTube ads etc. You can start advertising on Facebook with just $5 a day. Considering its reach and targeted audience, that’s good value for money.
  2. Know your audience. Have you clearly defined your target audience? You need to have a clear idea of who your customers are; the greatest problems they face (and which you can help solve) and the outcomes they are looking for (which you can provide).
  3. Reach out to your audience. There are so many social media platforms that to have a strong presence on every single one of them would be to stretch yourself too thin. Instead, determine which platforms your target audience be most likely to use. For example, if you’re a photographer, chances are that your target audience would favour Instagram or Tumblr over Google+. If you teach documentary-making, YouTube is the natural choice. Of course, some experts might find their audience spread across the Internet; those who offer health and fitness advice, for example, would likely combine the advantages of Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter. Whatever your product is, more than likely there’s an audience for it online. (We recommend you start out with Facebook ads).
  4. Drive your audience to your website. You don’t want your audience residing on a third-party platform over which you have no control. Of course, having 100K subscribers on YouTube is better than not having them but what happens if YouTube for whatever reason closes your account one day? So, always make the effort to direct your social media audience to visit your website where you can convert them into email subscribers using a lead magnet (i.e. a free downloadable offer in exchange for the visitor’s email address). That way, you control your audience, not a third-party.
  5. Build a consistent brand. In order to build trust with your customers, you need to be recognizable across all your marketing channels, including your social media presence. Do you have a logo? A slogan? A signature colour? All these must be consistently applied across your business, i.e. always use the same font; always use the same colours; always use the correct logo dimensions etc. This is what famous brands spend huge amounts of money ensuring – consistent brand image. Consistent brands are familiar, comfortable, trusted and remembered.
  6. Visibility and usability. Your social media profiles, as well as your website, should be customized in a way that helps you stay visible, and also helps the visitors get great user experience. A customer might indeed be interested in your product, but if your page is messy and your links are broken that hurts your image. He or she is more likely to remember that than how much they liked the look of what you offer.
  7. Consistent interaction. A pretty logo and a catchy slogan can only get you so far – if you don’t interact with your audience, your audience won’t interact with you. We understand that replying to every customer enquiry can be hard for large businesses, but if you’re just starting out, you can manage it. Customer service is key. If a customer gets a positive response from you, they’re likely to come back and/or recommend you to other members of your target audience both online and offline. It goes without saying that replying to customers is just one way out of many to interact and foster relationships with the members of your audience. “Like to get a discount”; “retweet to win”; “share to access” etc. are also good examples. Giveaways, discounts to returning customers, free gifts are only scratching the surface. Make a plan to tailor your strategy towards your audience and don’t forget to ask for feedback. Feedback lets you know what you’re doing right/wrong; what your audience wants more of (i.e. future products); and lets you plan future marketing efforts.

Takeaway points

  1. Do your research into your target audience and their preferred social media platforms before you begin.
  2. Build your brand and apply it consistently. Be strict about this.
  3. Interact – it will bring in more people and help you learn more about your audience’s needs and expectations.

Action steps

  1. Make a plan based on your estimated budget and targets.
  2. Spend some time researching into your audience. Which social media channels do they most likely use?
  3. Create a website and setup accounts on the main social media platforms (if your target audience uses them) – a Facebook Page, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram, LinkedIn. Make sure they’re all connected together.
  4. Get out there and promote yourself! Add value with useful comments on influencers’ blogs; attend events; volunteer to speak; conduct interviews with experts; be interviewed yourself. Start letting the world know about you. But remember, it’s a marathon, not a sprint.

Photo credit: José Eduardo Deboni via / CC BY-NC 

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