The Struggles of Building an Audience
A follow up: The challenges we have faced in building brands, an audience, and some of the new realities on social media.
Social media can be a finicky son of a bitch…Twitter is a cheating wife that you can’t leave, Facebook won’t let YouTube in the house, Instagram keeps attacking Snapchat and nobody will listen to me!
Between fighting through the schadenfreude, refining your content strategy, and keeping up with the daily tailspin that is social media, it can be quite challenging to see the light at then end of the tipping point tunnel when trying to build an audience.
Fighting through the schadenfreude (others enjoy watching you fail)
When you first launch a brand all of your current followers — who are really just friends — will show you some support. It’s like, “hey they’re putting themselves out there, and we want to recognize their courage.” Following this, your friends realize that you’re pumping a lot more content and you aren’t going to stop. A lot of which may not resonate with them because, like we said, their really just friends not necessarily fans. This is when you notice your engagements go down, some of them will start to unfollow you — which is good in the long run, I promise — there may even become a point where some of them get a little satisfaction from your lack of success. This is where you have to fight through the schadenfreude, just stick to your guns because it won’t last too long. We’ve noticed it’s a bit like a rollercoaster — things go up when you begin, plummet down shortly after, but as you start building a real fan base with your content, the coaster eventually goes back up and continues to thrive with the momentum you’ve built.
Refining your content strategy
Building a brand is really about pumping high value content to your audience by telling your story and the experiences that have come along with it. The challenge is being clear with your message out of the gates. There is a certain nuance to telling a story through your pictures on Instagram, articles Facebook or videos on YouTube. Each platform has its own context, so getting it right off the hop is quite challenging. The truth is, you have to have a vision of your future so your content is in line with those goals, but after that it is all about rapid iteration, feedback then trial and error. It’s never quite right and always evolving as your brand and audience evolve. We’re in the era of fan 2.0 so accept that your audience will be helping you shape your brand along the way — in fact ask for the feedback and welcome it with open arms. It is the fastest way to the top.
Social media — the wars, the realities and the way to work it
Social media platforms hate other social media platforms, it’s a multi-billion dollar dogfight for our attention so this makes perfect sense. Facebook won’t allow you to embed YouTube videos on your page, so you will have to build separate views on both platforms. You can alway post a link, but Facebook makes damn sure to bury those links deep enough so that they border on non-existence. Unless of course you boost your link, but links don’t convert nearly as well as native embeds anyway. Recently Instagram launched stories and they are quickly making up ground on Snapchat’s contextual landscape. I don’t know just how bad this has hurt Snap, but I do know their forecasted IPO dropped by a few billion dollars just last week.
That being said, Twitter has become a near useless platform unless you were an early adopter, you are already quite famous or you use their platform like a telephone line for Q&A and feedback. The Q&A/Feedback model will help build your followers, but very few are really paying attention to this space anymore. I still use it though because maybe one day I’ll be big (figuratively because I’m just a shade over circus height) and famous. Then I’ll have somewhere to tell the world how I feel about politics, the Oscar’s and child pop stars… Jokes aside, you still need to keep up appearances so continue posting to validate your brand.
To best allocate your time in the social landscape consider building an urgency rating or tiered system that defines which platforms your brand needs to be spending most of its time on. All are important, but some definitely more so than others. It really depends on the industry your brand is in, but also the phase in which the platform is in. Our previous example of Twitter puts it pretty low on the totem pole unless you are an intermediate brand and have at least 100k social followers or more. Instagram on the other hand is, in my opinion, the number one platform for a lot of B2C brands. Engagement is high, the sales and marketing tools are great and the platform is evolving daily at this point. In fact if you prioritize this one, it will probably allow you to build the others faster by cross promoting your platforms once your audience starts to take shape.
So the big question — Where is the social tipping point? When do people feel you’re a valid option? When does your momentum kick into high gear and the traffic starts to flow like the Mississippi?
I have no fucking clue! But I am certain that if you If you hub and spoke your material through each platform, refine your content strategy as you work through the new age of fan 2.0, battle through the lulls of engagement and keep pumping out high value content that you’re proud of, you will catch fire before too long.
We’ll keep screwing up and letting you know how to fix it. Hope this helps you a little along the way.