By Joshua D. Weiss
What’s the point of a post if nobody sees it?
Have you ever felt like you had some meaningful thing to say but no one was around to hear it? It can be a bit of a drag. That’s kind of how things are for me when I post something on Google+. I guess that’s how it is for anyone who uses Google+, but you get the point. When I take the time and write a new blog, it can be that way too sometimes because I haven’t been blogging long and have not built up a large audience. (On that note, I’d certainly appreciate you sharing my blogs and recommending them to others). So how does one go about building an audience for their various social media posts? In this blog, I have put together 5 things you can do to immediately boost your audience, and therefore, your influence.
Seems simple enough you’d think. But sometimes, it isn’t. Think about advertising in the “pre-connected” world. If I produced a commercial and bought airtime on a local or national television network, I wouldn’t just air that commercial one time throughout the day because the audience would be significantly smaller. Rather, I would want the commercial to air at multiple times throughout the day so that when people were watching different shows, or channel surfing, there would be a greater chance of them seeing the commercial. That same concept goes for the Internet today. The Internet is a living and dynamic platform. It doesn’t stand still – ever. Rarely do people go back to the archives of the week to see what people have posted. At best, you would be lucky for your potential audience to go back to the beginning of the day to see what all was posted. Therefore, if you want to reach a larger audience, you need to be intentional to create content regularly.
While we are on this topic, try not to create content that is only interesting to you like your minute-by-minute update of what you are doing throughout the day. No offense but I don’t care that you just had a cup of coffee, enjoyed your lunch, or realized you have two different shoes on cause you got dressed in the dark (done this and guilty of posting about it). Truth is, most everyone else doesn’t care either. Sure, it’s okay to post these things occasionally, but if you do this too often, me, and likely many others will ignore your posts as a general rule cause they are pointless.
One of the most common mistakes that I see on social media sites is people who post content often, but they do it with no intention of engaging with others. Sure, they’d love for you to comment on their post, like it, or even share it (have I mentioned I’d love for you to share this blog?). This isn’t really what I’m talking about. Often times, these people have some sort of devotional thought that they post every morning or a few times throughout the day. Those are great things to post, but if that is where your use of social media ends, then the likelihood is that you aren’t really reaching a huge audience. Just because you have a couple thousand friends on your Facebook doesn’t mean those friends actually see anything you post. I’ll take it a step further and say that probably less than 1% of those friends will see your post if that is the extent of what you do. If that is true, then why bother posting?
So what does engaging have to do with anything? Facebook recognizes that the users on there have way more friends than they really care to truly keep up with on a daily basis. They have tried to implement things like a “follow” feature and encouraging friend groupings, but that hasn’t really succeeded the way they would like. So they have also implemented various algorithms to try to identify who you are actually friends with and who you simply have an acquaintance with. They do this by watching whose pages you go to, whose posts you “like,” what users pages you comment on, and who of these individuals do the same to you. If you never engage with anyone else, then Facebook assumes you really don’t want to know what is going on in their worlds. Conversely, they assume that relationship is reciprocal and that those individuals view you like you view them. Imagine a conversation where you were completely disengaged while the other person was speaking. If all you care about is what you have to say in that conversation, the likelihood is that you won’t be heard by them anymore than you are hearing them.
I know that you really want get to that next level on Candy Crush or get some kind of points to let Facebook tap into your friend list in Farmville, BUT PLEASE RESTRAIN YOURSELF if you want to build your audience of influence. I know that some of you probably have your group of friends that all share the favor of sending “lives” to each other. If you are just reaching out to your list of friends, try to avoid inviting everyone on your list to “like” your new page, join your new cause, help you in your online game, or sign your petition. You don’t want to be marked as the person who always sends those things and never has real content cause then you’ll also be the person that nobody ever looks to for actual posts.
While we are at it, there are a lot of articles, posts, pictures, or videos on the Internet that you probably think are great. Try to use some restraint in telling your social media friends to go look at other things. Otherwise, when there truly is one that they would actually care to look at, they likely will have already been burned out by the other 25 “go look at this” posts you put up in the past 24 hours. Everyone loves a funny meme or cute video, just use some restraint and be intentional when sharing these things. Certainly be sure to follow #1 and also create your own content. If I wanted a source for funny videos or cute pictures, I could simply Google it without your help.
Who doesn’t like a “thank you?” If you appreciate people commenting on your posts or even better, sharing your posts, tell them. Thanking others for engaging with you on social media lets them know that you appreciate it and encourages them to continue to engage with you. There are also additional benefits to being grateful. Remember #2 on this list? Your simple “thank you” also tells Facebook that you have an actual social relationship with that individual. However, it could actually go beyond this. Your “thank you” will then show up in the news feed for that individual and likely in the newsfeed for other people who have social relationships with that person as activity. If that thank you shows up and a brief conversation gets sparked as a result, each of those posts has a potential to show up for others to see in the news feed. It’s also an advertisement that someone found your post worthwhile and that others may also enjoy it.
This goes beyond #2 and engaging others. I would encourage you to read what others are posting out there. By doing so, you are able to be a part of the greater dialogue that is taking place in the social world. What is trending? If you are still posting about the movie that came out two months ago that you finally got a chance to see, you could be missing out on building a greater audience by not posting about the stupid pizza delivery at the academy awards. You may not care about that pizza and you may not have even watched the academy awards. However, if you want to continue building your audience, it would be helpful to follow what else is out there that is already possessing an audience. It wouldn’t be hard to proselytize some of that audience to join your audience.
Reading the content posted by others is also helpful in educating you in what types of things are posted. Let’s face it; social media hasn’t been around all that long in the grand scheme of things. We are all still kind of learning how best to use it. I have learned a great deal from reading other peoples posts. Sometimes I learn what I don’t want to do and other times I very much enjoy it.