7: How to Explode Your Social Media Audience With 5 Steps And Zero Dollars

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7: How to Explode Your Social Media Audience With 5 Steps And Zero Dollars

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The number one question I get asked is how to leverage social media to build a brand. When people ask me this, I know that they’re really searching for a quick and dirty shortcut to get thousands of followers without having to put in a lot of work.

Well I hate to break it to you, but there’s no way to build an engaged social media audience without consistent and authentic effort.

With over seven years of professional experience as a social media marketing strategist, I’ve learned firsthand the challenges that come with trying to keep up with changing platforms and algorithms. If you want to be successful in social media, you have to abandon the ‘I want to make something that will go viral’ mentality because that’s not how it works.

On this episode, I’m breaking down the exact steps I’ve taken to grow my Instagram audience by over 1000% in 12 months. I’m providing a blueprint for how to grow an active and engaged social media following with five simple steps and zero dollars.


Step 1: Define Your Niche

When you’re thinking of building your brand, you have to first identify the objective of your brand. These are the questions you have to get to the bottom of before you can move forward:

  • What is the goal of your business?
  • What service do you provide?
  • Who are the influencers in your space?
  • What is your unique offering?
  • What category does it fall under (e.g. food, beauty, sports, fitness, entrepreneurship)?
  • Within that category, what subset of topics do you focus on?
  • What is the action you want your audience to take?

If you are still attempting to figure this out, listen to Episode 5: How Do I Decide What My Side Hustle Should Be? There, I walk you through identifying your unique business offering.

Step 2: Find Your Avatar

Before you can do anything with social media you need to get up close and personal with your target audience. The goal of Side Hustle Pro is to inspire women to launch their own businesses and I want to serve the fastest growing group of entrepreneurs in the country—black women.

What about you? What service are you providing and who do you want to serve?

Your ideal customer, reader or subscriber is your avatar. You need to find out more about your avatar, their age, where they live, what they do for a living, what they read, watch on TV, do in their downtime and which social media channels they use the most.

If you don’t know these things, reach out to someone who fits the profile of your avatar and interview them. You absolutely can’t afford to skip this step.

For instance, I know without a doubt who the ideal Side Hustle Pro listener is. I know her name, where she works, know what she likes to read, her favorite tv shows, how she commutes to work, what she does after work, what are the current podcasts she has on her playlist and more.

How did I find this out? I interviewed over ten different people who matched my avatar’s profile. From these intimate interviews I learned what kind of content I should cover on this podcast, what kind of resources and tools would be useful, what other experts my avatar finds valuable, what books they’re reading and what other podcasts they’re listening to.

So go ahead, get to know your avatar. You can do as many interviews as you like but no fewer than ten.

After completing your ten interviews, write out a profile of your avatar. I share the profile of my own avatar in the full podcast episode.

Step 3: Create Valuable Content For Your Avatar

Use your Avatar’s favorite accounts as guidance for content

Once you’ve written down your own avatar profile, you will know which social media networks you want to focus on first. You will know what other accounts your avatar finds valuable and interesting, so you can do competitive research to plan your own content. This does not mean copy what other accounts do, this means use them as inspiration. Try new things and measure what performs the best, then do more of what works. Does your avatar respond better to photos, quotes, infographics, videos or GIFs? It’s up to you to find out and create content accordingly.

Post Consistently

The most important part of this step is that you have to post consistently, that means every day, several times a day. I know some of you will ask, well what are the best days and times to post? The answer to that will always be—it depends. Using the social media metrics tools outlined in the Side Hustle Pro Social Media Toolkit, you can track the days of the week and time of day that gets the most engagement from your audience.

Schedule if you need to

I know some of you are probably also thinking, I don’t have time for this—can I just schedule it? Yes, you can schedule posts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, but do keep in mind that there are limitations to automation:

  • If all you do is automate, people will view you as a robot and disengage. You HAVE to mix scheduled posts with live posts.
  • People will comment on your posts. Go in and respond in real time.
  • If a major tragedy happens in the news and you have an automated post go out, you will look tone deaf and insensitive. If you schedule posts, be ready and available to stop them during national and international emergencies.

Share more than once

When you share on social media, you should share, share again, then share ONE MORE TIME.

For every post you create, think of four different ways to share that post. For example, if you’re tweeting a link to a blog posts:

  • First, share a caption with the main point of the post and then just add the link
  • Second, share a quote from the post along with a photo of the guest and the link
  • Third, share a memorable fact from article with the link
  • Fourth, rephrase the main point and share the link again

Step 4: Follow Your Avatar and Build a Relationship

Since you now know your avatar, you also know which influencers they follow and find valuable. Visit the influencers that your avatar follows and begin to follow, like and engage with the people who are following those influencers. This lets people know that your brand exists and puts it on their radar.

Note, you shouldn’t just follow people blindly. Look at profiles, confirm that this user is in your target audience. CrowdFire is a helpful tool to manage this process, because it allows you to not only view the followers of other Twitter and Instagram users, but if you pay a small fee it will keep track of who you’ve followed in the past and it will also show you who is not following you back.

Twitter and Instagram have a limit on the number of accounts you can follow per hour so be very mindful because your account can and will get snatched.

Treat Social Networking Like A Real Networking Event

Social networking is very similar to an in-person networking event. You want to begin a real relationship through genuine conversation, not by throwing your cards at people and bombarding them with your elevator pitch. Make a conscious effort to not only follow people, but to engage with them through likes, retweets, tweets and comments.

If you don’t have something genuine to say or like to people you follow, you’re probably following the wrong people, so revisit Step 2.

Join the conversation on Twitter

One of Twitter’s greatest features is its advanced search tool. If you go to Twitter.com/search-advanced you can search by words (to find people tweeting about specific subjects relevant to your business) or by people places and dates. It’s a great resource to find your target audience, follow and tweet with them. The great thing about Twitter is it’s one big open conversation with the universe so people expect new people to talk to them.

Another way to join the conversation is through participating in Twitter chats. Twitter chats are live chats centered around a theme that happen all the time on Twitter. They are usually hosted by a specific user or multiple users and some happen every week. For example, there’s a side hustle twitter chat every Tuesday. I’ve found Twitter chats are a great way to find new people to follow and to talk to people who have the same interests. You can find out about Twitter chats using the website Twubs, which is a directory of Twitter chats happening across the world by date by day by time. While this only covers registered or well known chats, it’s still a good place to start.

Use Hashtags For Visibility

You should definitely utilize hashtags to raise your profile’s visibility.

On Twitter:

  • Use actual terms that you want to be discovered by, like #fitness or #entrepreneurship
  • Use no more than two hashtags per post

On Instagram

  • You can use up to 30 hashtags with each post
  • Check out the hashtags that other influencers in your space are using
  • Explore those hashtags to see how many posts have been made using the hashtag
  • Use a mixture of very popular tags and those that are well known but not too over saturated to increase the number of people who will see your posts

Step 5: Measure!

Using the social media metrics tools outlined in the Side Hustle Pro Social Media Toolkit, track the content that performs best and use it to determine what you do moving forward. Pay close attention to what’s working for you, and the influencers in your space so you can be as effective with your time as possible. Data is the absolute only way to inform your content strategy.

My special guest on this episode is Muoyo Okome, Founder of Daily Spark Media & the Daily Spark Entrepreneur Community, who details how he was able to grow his account from a little under 600 followers to 25,000 in less than a year by studying his Instagram insights. He used the data on the most liked and most commented posts to plan his content strategy and explode his social media audience.

And that’s it folks. Those are the five steps to explode your social media audience with zero dollars. I’ve been following these steps since last year and just to give you a picture of my own growth:

On Instagram:

  • In July 2015 I had 589 followers, it’s now July 2016 and I’ve just crossed 10,000 followers. That’s over 1000% growth in 12 months.

On Twitter:

  • I launched the Side Hustle Pro Twitter account in May 2016 and in two months have over 1300 Twitter followers.

These are the platforms I’ve invested the most time in, because I know exactly where to find my avatar there, and I used the steps outlined above to not only grow my audience but to genuinely connect with my audience. The result is, the Side Hustle Pro podcast debuted in the Top 20 in business on iTunes, buoyed largely in part by my social media audience.

Are you ready to invest in building your own social media growth? Use theSide Hustle Pro Social Media Toolkit as your guide to finding and building your audience. Keep me posted on your progress in the comments!

Meet the host:

Nicaila Matthews-Okome

Hi! I’m Nicaila, the Creator and Host of the Side Hustle Pro Podcast. I started Side Hustle Pro when I was a side hustler myself. I was a digital marketer at NPR by day, side hustler by night. Through the powerful stories shared on this show and the courage to launch my own initiatives, I was able to quit my own job and go full time with Side Hustle Pro.

201: I QUIT my Job! (REWIND)

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