Is bigger always better?
If you look at most commentary from social media experts, then the answer would be yes. Everything is about a bigger audience, more followers, higher reach.
Social media influence is too often defined by how many people like your stuff.
But recent trends are signaling a change.
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Instagram is experimenting with hiding like counts. YouTube is adjusting how they show subscriber counts. Even Mark Zuckerberg himself has said that Facebook is transitioning away from the Newsfeed into a “privacy-focused communications platform.”
It’s beginning to look like an audience of millions and thousands of likes aren’t necessary for social media success. And that should have you doing this…
You don’t need millions of followers to see success. You don’t have to solely focus on attracting more and more people to your content. You can start seeing results from your audience now!
Now we know what you’re thinking…
“You’re trying to tell us that it won’t matter how many followers we have?!”
The answer is yes and no. Confusing, right?
Take a deep breath cause we’re about to explain what that means. Spoiler alert! This is a good thing for you – no matter how many followers you have.
If you’re a content creator or you’re building a business, then you should always be looking to expand your reach. You will always want more people to know about you, your message or your business. If you want to grow, your audience will need to grow.
But growing your audience doesn’t necessarily mean that your business or content will grow with it.
Read that one more time.
Got it? Here it is once more for good measure.
Having a big audience doesn’t always translate into massive sales.
The key is to have an engaged audience. 100 engaged followers are much more valuable than 10,000 unengaged followers.
You can cultivate an engaged audience with any number of followers. In fact, it’s easier to to do this with a smaller audience.
So even if you have 97 Twitter followers, you might be in a better place to see results from your audience than someone with 9,700 followers!
Let’s take a look at the benefits of having a smaller audience and then we’ll talk about the steps you should take to amplify your engagement and deepen your connection with your active followers.
The Power of Smaller Audiences
Author and marketing expert Seth Godin might not have a small audience but he does understand the power of them. Seth believes in the “minimum viable audience” or focusing on the smallest market possible that you can adequately serve.
According to Seth, we can’t please everyone and we shouldn’t try to please everyone. We should focus on serving the right people because “when you seek to engage with everyone, you rarely delight anyone.” Your audience deserves to be delighted because delighted audiences keep following, trusting, coming back for more and they tell their friends.
Small audiences are powerful because it’s easier to connect with them personally and individually. You can truly get to know your audience, what they need, and how you can best serve them.
When we first started our Twitter chat, the #SoloBizChat last fall, we only had a handful of people joining in on our chat for the first weeks. This ended up being a huge opportunity for us because we’re able to get to know our audience, ask them questions and remember not only who they were, but the details of their businesses and their lives.
We were able to build a solid fanbase of people who loved our Twitter chat. Now, months later, our chat has grown but our original participants still join us and they share us with their friends.
This ability to really engage with your audience helps build your know, like and trust factor faster. We talk about that know, like and trust factor often because these factors are the difference between social media pages that merely exist and social media pages that thrive. It’s easier to build your know, like and trust factor with a smaller audience.
Think about someone you have only met at parties versus someone you have spent one on one time with. The person you’ve met at parties is probably someone that you are friendly with but you might not actually know much about them and they probably don’t know that much about you and you might not consider them a friend.
The person you’ve spent one on one time with, however, is probably someone you consider a friend. You know that they love pineapple on their pizza and they know you are an excellent rollerblader. You have built a connection based on that one on one time together.
Now if both of those people start selling cupcakes, who are you more likely to buy from? The person with whom you’ve shared experiences, likes, and dislikes. In short, the person you trust more.
Engagement builds trust and with a smaller audience, it’s easier for you to engage and start building that trust at a faster rate.
Smaller audiences are often more niche audiences. If someone follows you, it’s not because they see everyone else following you and want to follow the crowd. It’s because they are genuinely interested and intrigued by your content. This makes them your ideal audience.
Ready to double-down on engaging with a smaller audience? Follow these steps to learn more about who they are, what they want, what content they need, what they are looking for and how you can provide it to them.
How To Amplify a Small Audience
Hopefully, by now you are seeing that when it comes to audiences, small can be big! Here’s your four-step plan for amplifying your engagement with a small audience.
1. Stop focusing on follower numbers and like counts
We know that the follower number is so distracting! But if it’s a big number of unengaged people, then it won’t matter so experiment with not tracking that number or tying goals to it. Instead, try to find metrics that demonstrate the engagement of your audience. For example, comments, replies, shares or traffic back to your website are good indicators of how engaged your audience is with you and your content.
2. Dedicate time to engaging
If Edgar had a theme song, this would be the chorus of it so we’re going to repeat it: being engaged is key! Even if you only take 10 minutes a day to engage with your audience, it will make a big difference in your social media efforts. Follow those who follow you, leave thoughtful comments on their posts and look for other places where your audience might be engaging. For example, are they active in certain Facebook groups or Twitter chats? Join those communities and in on the engagement!
Pro-tip! Using Edgar to schedule and automate your content posting frees up a ton of time, letting you focus less on pushing stuff out on social, and more on connecting with your audience.
3. Create content designed to get to know your audience
Instead of only sharing your content or opinions, share some posts that will get your audience talking. Try using the poll feature on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram stories. Ask open-ended questions and respond to your followers when they respond to those questions!
4. Create content based on what you learn
Once you learn about your audience, don’t just let that information live inside your brain. Use it to create content. For example, we noticed that some of our Twitter chat friends were launching email lists and creating lead magnets so we created a blog series about building your email list. We gave our Twitter friends something they needed when they needed it.
Essentially, you want to focus on creating a community instead of just amassing followers. A bonus benefit to this approach is that you’ll end up growing your audience because your current followers will share your content. They’ll become brand advocates and they’ll attract more followers who are similar to them (and therefore, more of your ideal audience!).