Building a Loyal, Engaged Community on Social Media in 2020

I’m jumping in with BOTH feet this morning with a very real question – why, oh why are your readers labelled as followers? It sounds a little culty and a lot gross, and seems to have given a whole lot of folks the wrong idea.

Let’s straighten this up right now: you have a social media COMMUNITY.

That means it’s a two way street.

Social is not the place to blast information or sales pitches at your audience (even if the end game is to get dollars into your jeans).

It IS a place to build your network!

We have heard soooo many people freaking out over the past six months about engagement being lower, oh no the likes are gone, the algorithm blah blah blah… but our engagement has actually been inching UP!

How? It’s actually super easy. Show up for your community. The key here is to FORGET about account growth (we know it’s tough!) and focus on serving the 10, or 100, or 1000 people that are already there.

Get comfortable on video. Find your brand voice. Hone your message.

Yes, there WILL be days where you feel like you’re speaking into a void, but there is so much freedom in that! This is where you LEARN the stuff, layer by layer, so that when the numbers come you will be able to show up for your people.

So many business owners are ready to light their hair on fire because likes are gone, engagement is lower, the algorithm blah blah blah. It doesn’t have to be that way! (Our engagement has actually gone UP over the past six months! Yes! In 2020!)

A few hot tips:

1. Do not rely on the other person to start the convo. 

If we’re ALL hanging out on social media “waiting for engagement” (and I don’t think that’s much of a stretch) it’s going to go nowhere. The friendliest person in the room is irresistible – both in person and on social media. Be that person!

This does NOT mean sprinkling “love this!” “oh so cute!” comments through your feed – start real conversations. YOU ARE NOT A BOT. Don’t leave any question in anyone’s mind about that.

You are fostering genuine relationships with folks who are playing in the same space as you – and that’s something that’ll fill your bucket ? AND make your piggy bank smile!

If you’re a business that serves other businesses, simply find a few of your ideal clients and start there. Don’t be weird about it – your ideal client should be someone that you enjoy chatting with. No pressure, just show up, engage, and stay top of mind.

(Quick ninja hack for keeping it all straight: we separate our IG inboxes. The Primary one is where everyone lands by default. If someone has expressed an interest in working with us or if we straight up think they’d be a dreamy client, we move them over to the “General” tab. We make sure to check in on their stories & tap through to their profile on a regular basis – that way, we’re staying top of mind for them and nurturing that relationship.)

This gets a little trickier when you’re a business that serves clients on a personal level. But you can (and should!) create relationships with businesses that have a parallel audience to yours. Industry peers are a win across the board and open up so many opportunities for all of you! Plus, potential brides are creepin’ hard on photographers, florists, and caterers – show up where they’re hanging out!

2. Move readers from stories to the grid, and vice versa… and put some muscle behind it!

Forwarding a grid post up to the stories, slapping a “tap tap” gif on it, and hoping that people click through is pretty hit & miss… but mostly miss.

  1. Tease them with a “clickbaity” headline & call them to action. Don’t be cringey about it… but this does work.
  2. Explain some of the content on video! Let them know that there’s more in the grid, and / or that they’re going to want to save the post to refer back to.
  3. Bribery works too. Not recommended as a frequent strategy, but we did this by accident last week (“coffee’s on us for the best joke!”) – it was super organic and spontaneous, and that post got a record number of comments.

    Not gonna lie, it was also fun to give away some surprise coffee!

3. Your image and caption have an impact on engagement.

Generally, photos of your cutie pie face will perform the best. As for your caption, start off with a clear title, question, or hook that grabs the attention of your readers.

I have noticed this shift BIG TIME even as I’m consuming content – our attention spans are short, so you gotta grab us right out of the gate.

4. Use hashtags.

They do increase your reach! We generally use a mix of local (we heart Alberta so much!) and bigger hashtags for volume. Click through here to dig in deep!

5. Ask!

Keep it easy breezy in the grid, but you can hit your readers a little harder from stories.

Video content is the quickest way to build connections, and DMs are a more intimate, private conversation than the public comments on your post. This combination is gold!

Mindless engagements like likes, polls, etc are a great place to start, but work your way up to real conversations! One easy way to do this is to ask for advice. “Who’s a great accountant?” or “What should I pack in my hospital bag?” That information is on the Internet, but everyone has opinions about it and they’re HAPPY to help you! It gives them all the warms & fuzzies – and that’s great for relationship building!

I hesitate to put some of this out there, because it can sound so manipulative – and that’s the opposite of what we’re going for here. Here’s what I want you to take away.

Show up consistently. Be a real human.

If you’re a little bit uncomfortable with the stuff you’re putting out, you are doing it right. Most people will not stretch very far outside of their comfort zone, which is why there is SO. MUCH. NOISE and generic content.

If you’re getting out there, being your beautiful quirky self – you are light years ahead. The more you show up, the more comfortable you’ll be, and that’s where the layers of awesomeness start to really build up. Now get out there and TALK TO PEOPLE!

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