The Role of Audience Building in Marketing

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The biggest thing most people notice after joining a social media channel is the value of having a strong audience. Not only does it help establish your brand amongst an existing audience base, but it also helps you widen your reach and grow your influence. But what role does audience building play in a marketing team’s daily activities and goals? We chatted with the founder of Growth Suite, Todd Giannattasio for his insights. Here’s a summary of our chat.

Guest: Todd Giannattasio
Topic: The role of audience building in marketing
Format: Eight questions directed at the guest. Everyone’s welcome to join.

Q1: What’s more important in marketing—building an audience or hitting sales targets?

Marketing and sales teams should work together to deliver the best experience for existing and potential customers. When you take care of people, sales will take care of itself. As our guest put it, to achieve this goal, marketing teams should prioritize building an audience and making sure they’re engaged with the brand.

Until recently, a lot of marketing teams were being overly sales-y. From adverts and discounts to freebies that intend to up-sell, marketing teams often went out of their way to convince and sell to an audience. However, bands have since realized that they can’t constantly ask without giving something first. This is why community building has become a crucial part of the marketing team’s to-do list.

Think of it this way: More often than not, when you’re at a store looking at a fairly expensive product, you analyze its value. You compare it with other products, test it out, hold it to become familiar with it, and even then you might not buy it.

Your potential customers are the same. They will buy only when they’re ready—not when you want them to. That’s why you should be on top of their mind when they do decide to buy.

When you spend time and effort in building a relationship, you’ll become the familiar brand. And when someone needs your product or service, you’ll be the first they go to because you’re not a stranger. They’ll trust you more easily because they feel like they know you.

If you’re still in doubt, just remember what Alberto said: The Beatles got to where they were and survived the controversies that surrounded them not because of their sales, but because of Beatlemania. It was the audience that saved the band and the brand.

Q2: How does an engaged audience help propel your marketing activities?

Over the last 5-7 years, there’s been a boom in new businesses and services. So much so that customers now have more choices than ever. They will take their time to evaluate and consider their options before committing to anything. Most of your audience aren’t thinking about investing in new products and services in a rush.

That means that if you start to build relationships with your audience now, a few months down the lane, when they’re ready to buy, they’ll consider you before they look at other unknown brands. The best way to gather and maintain a loyal customer base is to actively build a community. The more engaged they are with your brand, the more likely they are to do business with you.

Another great reason for building your audience is that they will notice it if you disappear suddenly. As our guest put it, a loyal audience is algorithm-proof. If your tweets stop showing up on their feed for some reason, they will come looking for you because they value the relationship they have with you.

They also become a good audience to test new ideas and brainstorm new plans you may have for your brand. Because they genuinely care about you and your brand, they’ll give the most constructive feedback—without you having to spend a fortune.

This real-time, one-on-one feedback you have with your audience will not only save you money in the long run, but it’ll also help you offer products and services you know your audience needs and will love. And of course, if they love what you do, the sales will follow.

Q3: What are some ways to build an audience on Twitter?

With millions of accounts tweeting hundreds of millions of times a day, your audience should need a strong reason to follow you. Your brand should be worthy of their follow.

To be followable, you should know your audience and what they want from you on Twitter. Publish content that’s useful to them, find conversations that relate to your industry, and actively engage with those who tweet about the same industry or topics as you.

The key is to remember that every conversation is just that—a conversation and a chance to get to know someone. Don’t make sales a priority there. Offering value means that you share relevant information in a timely, accessible, and practical manner.

People follow brands that they trust to provide expert advice. To be followable, offer trustworthy information and make it valuable. When you put service before everything else, your reach will grow organically. People will start to look at you as a genuinely helpful brand.

Todd also shared a handy thread by Justin Welsh about ways to build your audience on Twitter. But of course, regardless of what you do, if you’re not actively engaging with your audience on Twitter, you won’t have the opportunity to build a relationship with them.

Paid ads can also be an effective way to widen your reach and grow your audience. With so much noise on social media, it can be hard to reach the right people at the right time, and ads can give you just a little boost to help find your audience. That said, of course, you should still talk to them and build relationships to retain that audience.

Q4: How long does it take to build an engaged audience on Twitter?

When you’re starting to build an audience, it’s hard to say what’ll work and what won’t. That’s why it’s important not to focus so much on how fast your follow count is increasing, and instead spend your energy on being there and being valuable to your audience.

Do the basics right: Show up regularly, post useful content, engage with your audience, and build genuine relationships. Our guest quoted Kami Huyse’s 2×2 strategy, where you engage with your audience and try and gain 2 followers daily. It’s a simple goal for a day, but before you know it, it’ll compound into a big total.

The more you tweet and converse with others, the higher your chances are of being retweeted by a high-profile account or getting a wide reach. In the meantime, continue to provide value to your audience.

Set daily goals for yourself on Twitter. At the same time, make sure you have a bigger strategy you’re working towards, so you have the motivation to keep going. Above all, get started.

Q5: What are some do’s and don’ts for when you’re trying to build an audience?

Follow the Modern Marketing Principles that our guest outlined: Be customer-centric, have a value-first strategy, offer educational content, humanize your social media conversations, and respond to your audience promptly.

As for things you should do when trying to build up your audience, post frequently, identify and engage with new people, listen to what your audience is saying, do periodic audits, and most importantly, understand your customer’s journey. You should know how aware the audience is of your product/service and industry, how they evaluate brands before they buy, how willing they are to engage with you, and their expertise in your industry.

On the flip side, don’t make it all about yourself. Broadcasting doesn’t work well on social media. Recognize your audience’s current concerns and problems and provide solutions accordingly. Be consistently active on social media so that you are available when your audience needs your expertise. Have a clear strategy for content and audience building, and make friends with your audience. Don’t try and sell to strangers.

Q6: How do you measure the success of your audience-building activities?

Measure the success of your activities by observing. For starters, consider whether you’re doing all the things you wanted to do. This is where having a written strategy will help. Then observe those who engage with your content—ask yourself if they’re the people you want to engage with, and whether their engagement is helping widen your reach and followers. If all of these work out well, then you’ll know that your audience-building activities are working as you want them to.

Reviewing your activities periodically is a good way to measure progress. If you find that you’re not doing as much as you wanted to, or not reaching the type of people you want to reach with your content, then you’ll know that you need to put more effort into that rather than being stressed about the lack of outcome.

If you know that people are seeing your posts, but not engaging or following, look at alternative content or content types that might be more attractive to your target audience.

It’s important to “own” your audience. This means that you have a way to directly communicate with your followers and audience, even if the social platform you’re based on disappears. You can do this by inviting your audience to subscribe to your newsletter or blog. When people consent to hearing from you in multiple channels, such as social media, email newsletters, and blogs, there’s a good chance they’ll develop a strong bond with your brand. Regardless of what the internet suggests, email still remains a powerful and effective direct communication tool.

Q7: Share some tips for maintaining an active community on Twitter.

Show up regularly, provide value, listen and engage, and review your strategy periodically. Above all, establish the big picture for your brand: What you want to achieve in the long run. Once you’ve got that sorted, you can work on the strategy: How to go about doing that.

Make sure that you have a clearly defined content and engagement strategy. Don’t hesitate to use social media management and monitoring tools to help you execute your strategy.

Allocate time in your schedule to engage with your social media audience, and review your progress consistently so you can compare the impact of each activity.

Q8: What tools do you use to help build an audience?

Aside from the Twitter app and Search, our guest’s favorites include Evernote, Hootsuite, Hypefury, and Canva.

Madalyn vouched for Brand24. It’s a great tool to keep up with mentions across multiple social channels.

Other #TwitterSmarter members said they use tools like Agorapulse, Twitter’s native analytics, and TweetDeck, and also participate actively in Twitter chats to build an audience.

Well folks, that’s all from me this week. Thanks for reading through and for more great insights from our chat with Todd, have a look at this Twitter Moment that Joana put together for us. If you like this summary, you’ll love the real-time chat. Join us next Thursday at 1 pm ET for #TwitterSmarter. We also have an after-chat on Twitter Spaces at 5 pm ET. See you there!

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About me, Narmadhaa:

I write all the things—marketing stuff to pay the bills; haiku and short stories so I feel wholesome. A social media enthusiast, I hang out with the #TwitterSmarter chat crew, and am always happy to take on writing gigs.

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