Today’s young, tech-savvy generation has grown up with social media around them, to an extent that they now take it for granted. All of us remember that moment when we first created our Facebook profile and the excitement of being digital friends with our friends from real life. Over time, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn entered our lives and made us create profiles there as well. Now in the era of digital marketing, the impact of social media and behavioral impacts of it have become evident.
Today with the coronavirus forcing influencers to change their marketing strategies, we’ve come a long way in understanding user behavior. The importance of online communities has become evident in times of crisis. Influencers can sway buyer patterns, thereby earning the trust of brands. The key, though, is having the right tribe – an unofficial collection of like-minded users, affiliated through social media and internet connections, which in this case is the influencer.
As an influencer, the need to build a unique, engaged and active online community of followers is now imperative. In this blog, we will throw light at ways to build the right tribe online and how to leverage it with brands, in wake of the current pandemic.
Before building a tribe online, get everything in place to be a champion online influencer with the blog: How to Become an Influencer in Your Industry.
1. Choosing The Right Social Media Platform
The key to being an influencer is to understand that not every social media platform is going to make you money. An understanding of the merits of every platform, like who uses it and how they use it, is required to determine whether you should invest your time and effort there or not. Can any influencer claim that their target consumer uses every social media platform available? The answer is most likely no. Apparently, you will be able to build a more loyal following on platforms that primarily attract your target audience. Creating outstanding content for Facebook makes no sense if your buyer persona is not present on Facebook. Facebook continues to be the largest social media platform in the world and while your audience isn’t likely to use it in a work capacity, they probably do in a personal capacity.
Your content can still get found there. Video content is always great. Some people may be hesitant to call YouTube a social media platform but it is the world’s second largest search engine behind Google. Since in 2020, audiences spent more time at home, the need for content has been higher than ever. And should your content appeal to the right audience, there is no doubt that they will consume it. By understanding the factors that lead to users spending more time on your profile, influencers can use social media channels to drive engagement as per their desire and truly influence consumer behavior.
2. Know Your Competitors
Like all facets of marketing, analyzing your competitors and tracking their strategies is an essential part of social media as well. What platforms are they most active on? How often do they engage in brand related campaigns? What content do they generate for brands? In many ways, successful influencers who have participated in brand campaigns have done half the research for you. By learning from their success strategies and tailoring it to suit your niche, your chance to build a loyal fan base increases significantly. Their strategies to drive engagement can help you establish a roadmap in your journey as an influencer. If you can provide content to distressed users in a crisis situation like 2020 that drives them to come back to your page instead of your competitors, that is a huge win.
Essentially, if you analyze your competitors closely enough, you can spot opportunities that allow you to differentiate yourself from them in the eyes of your target consumer. Once brands recognize that you are a more reliable, contemporary and relevant influencer within your niche, who attracts the most eyeballs, they will be implored to collaborate on campaigns with you. There are tools that are readily available that will do the heavy lifting for you. Be it social media content, SEO or paid ads, these tools will analyze your competitors and give you real-time results that can help you craft your content accordingly. The influencer market is robust and competition for the fickle attention span of the modern consumer has never been higher, making it an essential part of your influencer marketing strategy.
3. Carefully Build Your Profile
Once you’ve established where you want to establish your presence, it’s time to dive into it. It is important that you be accurate and relevant with your profile. Your summary, profile picture and cover picture are the first things users see when they visit your profile. Showcase the most important part of your business there. If your website is different from the domain mentioned on your profiles, it’s confusing to the audience and drives them away. Putting out the most relevant information about you in a concise and engaging manner helps establish credibility with the audience. This allows people to take action immediately, should they desire. If you have engaged in prior collaborations ensure that the relevant information and details about yourself and the collaborators are mentioned on the concerned posts, across social media platforms.
Giving the users a glimpse of your business associations with credible brands and businesses helps you leverage their credibility in the eyes of the user, making it less of an effort on your part. This shared credibility is a necessary shortcut and needs to be leveraged off. One key point to keep in mind is that your social media profiles are never truly complete. The online game is very dynamic and influencers need to adapt consistently. As an influencer, it is important that you continuously make tweaks and adjustments to your profile that will enhance the user experience and reflect your brand value in a positive, attractive and engaging light.
4. Find Your Voice
It is important to be consistent online. When we say consistent, we mean the overall tone of your social media presence should reflect the personality, voice and values that you’ve carefully established. Your bio needs to match your profile picture which should match your cover photo that in turn matches your content. If you’re using multiple social media channels, the voice and tone of your content should be similar across your profiles. Should the actual topics of content vary based on what’s trending, for example: Covid-19 related content, these topics should be addressed in a voice not dissimilar to your boilerplate content. When a user comes across your profile, they should associate with your communication in a matter of seconds.
Consumers who spend time on their smartphones are actively seeking content sources that they can make a meaningful connection with. If your content is filled with contrasting and mixed messaging, it deters consumers from sticking around and will, most likely, drive them away from you. There is no “one size fits all” approach to finding your voice. The challenge is to establish a tone that is engaging to the audience and so uniquely you that it cannot be replicated. The bottom line is that your tone needs to be attractive to both users and brands alike. Audiences and brands are two sides of the same coin and influencers need both to coexist. Building a social media following online requires trust and clarity, both of which should come shining through in your profile and the content you share.
Your entire strategy is not more than 7 steps away! Read: 7 Steps For Creating A Good Influencer Marketing Strategy.
5. Content Is King!
This may sound like a “no-brainer” for anyone looking to build a following, but this is the only way to establish your profile online. Creating awesome content is essential to get followers to engage with you and hence shouldn’t be overlooked. As fun as it may seem, the best influencers online create content that establishes them as a thought leader within their niche. The challenge with sharing great content though, is to know what great content really is. The obvious thing is to share your own content. That, however, doesn’t mean being a content snob and not sharing anyone else’s content. Sharing similar engaging content is essential to attract users. The best thing to do is to follow the “70-20-10” rule. 70% of your content should add value and build your brand for yourself. 20% should be relevant content from others. The final 10% is the only content that should directly promote you and your business interests. At a time like this, users need security and are looking for content that they can trust.
Even one piece of false or fake content can get you blacklisted in the minds of users permanently. It is also important to get visual with your content. A picture is worth a thousand words and audiences would much rather be shown than be told. With images, GIFs and videos, people want to see more than just text. Catching the user’s eye as they scroll through their feeds is a challenge and that is the entire influencer marketing game. Going live is another great way to make the users interact with you in real time. A lot of times, it is a question of ‘when’ rather than ‘what’. Knowing when to share your content based on your audience’s usage pattern is as important as what you’re sharing. With tools that track when, where and what your audience is engaging with, you can appear in their feeds more.
The main aim of content is building engagement! Learn more: 10 Tips To Help You Increase Social Media Engagement.
6. Building A Network
Based on the “70-20-10” rule, influencers often wonder where they can access 20% content that isn’t theirs but is still relevant and engaging. Connecting with industry leaders is a great tactic while establishing your social media strategy. These brands or individuals are thought leaders within your industry that have already earned the trust of your audience. It would be a missed opportunity to not tap into that resource. If content from these sources resonate with you, chances are that it will with your audience as well. Finding common topics or events that these influencers are interested in can lead to a virtual conversation between you and if he/she mentions your name in a post, it reaches a far greater audience than you have access to.
The last few years have also witnessed the rise of the micro-influencer. These are individuals who have between 1,000 and 1,000,000 audience members/ followers and are considered experts in a specific niche. They are hugely attractive to brands in terms of engagement, reliability and affordability. If you engage with a big celebrity online, it can draw a following but not necessarily one that you desire. A micro-influencer, instead, comes with a readymade niche following that is pertinent to your cause. The advantage of being a niche influencer is that users tend to believe that they found you and hence share your content with a certain sense of pride. That also makes your content more trustworthy than that of a big celebrity.
7. Piggyback Off Trends, Use The Right Hashtags
People often say that the greatest ideas come from the simplest things and in that vein, the 21st century is the era of hashtags. Never has the world seen a faster and more convenient way to connect people who have something to say about a specific topic. You’ve created amazing content that is engaging, but how can you further optimize your posts to reach new people? Using relevant hashtags are like keywords in a blog. They help your posts perform better in search results. Users can follow these hashtags for similar content by simply searching for them. Having made their debut on twitter, hashtags are now an important part of all social media platforms.
The hashtags you use need to be relevant to the content you are sharing and should also lead back to a broader range of posts on similar lines. These hashtags can, and should, change based on the content you’re sharing. While each post may contain a few recurring hashtags relevant to your profile, new hashtags can lead to new audiences involved in your space. A topic worth discussing is where do hashtags go on your post? It’s complicated. While this can depend on the specific platform being used, a good rule is to identify the most desired hashtag for the post and use it directly. For related or secondary hashtags, consider using them at the bottom of the post or in a pinned comment. That way, they don’t distract users from the content on show but also work for your search results.
8. Paid/Sponsored Posts Are Important
Once you’re up and running on social media, it’s time to take things up a notch with something that every brand/business needs: investment. It is becoming increasingly difficult to reach as many people with organic content and there’s only so much you can grow without sponsored posts. Why? Because social media platforms are also businesses and want you to pay. Social media advertising is a great way to reach and engage with a new and active audience. All major social media platforms offer paid advertising today. It is useful to know where your target audience prefers consuming content. Sponsored ads help you achieve three things primarily:
– Brand awareness
– Consideration through increased traffic
– Conversion and loyalty
With ads, you can direct users to your profile or website for the ultimate customized user experience. Photo-only ads are known to drive more unique traffic than any other type of content. If you’ve got a tangible message you need to advertise, a photo ad is a great way to communicate it to the world. With video ads, story ads, carousel ads, slideshow ads, playable ads, messenger ads and collection ads, it is way easier today to curate specific messages to the users in the most suitable format. A deep understanding of how different ads perform also helps increase credibility with brands who trust you to help them reach your tribe in the most efficient manner.
While you spend money, it’s also important to make money! Check out: How To Monetize Your Influence.
9. Trust The Analytics
The main aim of influencer marketing is to engage with the audience, grab attention and build trust. While businesses have slowed down in the wake of the pandemic, every purchase decision is way more thought out and hence trusted influencers have become an immovable pillar of marketing. For influencers, measuring the ROI of every post to further evaluate the effectiveness of it has become an imperative yet challenging endeavor. Using data analytics tools to measure the metrics that drive customer engagement can help you make your content more curated and niche while constantly improving returns. It is important to establish your goals early on.
A data-driven approach will help you evaluate your content more effectively and your insights can help you craft the perfect post every single time. Data analytics simplifies user behavior and gives you all the information you need about them. This way, your posts not only establish you as an authority in your niche but help you zero in on the perfect demographic you desire. This increases your chances of reaching them and actually establishing loyalty across social media channels. Most platforms provide built-in analytics to help you track metrics like reach, impressions, engagement rate and follower growth. It is advised that influencers invest in advanced tools that give more detailed insights. Big data gives big insights. You can plan and utilize your time, money and effort effectively by leveraging data to boost your ROI and grow your tribe effectively.
10. Engage With Your Audience
It sure feels great to rake up likes, shares and comments on social media, but once you establish an audience online, it is absolutely imperative to engage with them. Reacting to mentions, responding to questions and replying to comments about your content are some of the best ways to maintain engagement levels. If you think you aren’t the best person to answer a question, tag a thought leader who you think is best suited for the task. The main aim of social media is to be social! The more you do it, the more your users will be inclined to stick around and consume more content. Sometimes, an engagement goes viral and the sheer scale of it can be shocking. That is the beauty of influencer marketing. Every retweet or share from a user can catapult your profile into a whole new world of relevant followers. A few basic thumb rules for engaging with your tribe online:
– Keep it contemporary
– Mask promotions and discounts with engaging content
– Post regularly
– Educate your audience
– Ask questions
– Sound human
Engaging with audiences online has gone from an option to a necessity. An engaging social media strategy builds your value proposition and that leads to lead generation. The aim is to be the user’s buddy, teacher, and confidante, all at the same time.
With the tools and know-how you’ve gathered, you are ready to commence your influencer journey and grow your social media empire. As an influencer, you have immense opportunities to build an online tribe of passionate followers and interact with them on a more personal level. Follow these 10 steps to systematically build your following and create a social media presence that is irresistible to brands and followers alike.
Here’s everything you need to know about the history of influencer marketing: How Did Modern Day Influencers Become A Thing?
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