Reading Your Audience to Expand Your Reach. How to Make Social Media Marketing Work for You.

‘Viral’. The word is tied up with so many expectations, and the range of qualifying social media posts run the gamut from cuddly kittens to skydiving seniors.

Achieving viral status seems for many to be the holy grail of digital marketing–a sign of true social media marketing prowess. But what we really want is to spark a deep appreciation of our content, one that translates to action rather than a superficial click and “Did you see this?!” response.

Measuring Social Media Marketing Success

What makes a message go viral? Knowing your audience is priority one. Who do they follow? What do they like and dislike? What motivates them to hit that “share” button?

That’s where social media marketing metrics come in–the quantitative answer to such qualitative questions. You don’t have to be a social media expert to access this data either. Most social media platforms offer these measuring tools, placing the power of audience feedback at your fingertips. Like social media, these tools are changing all the time (stay current by following social media hashtags on Twitter), but seeking out the most expensive social media marketing tools doesn’t guarantee viral campaigns. Sometimes, deploying a simple question to your online community like “Want more of this?” or “Love our new information about [fashion shows]?” can give you information you need and tell your audience you’re listening, allowing them to direct your content instead of the other way around.

Social media marketing is fluid, so even as you’re building a faithful core of followers, your audience is changing constantly. Embrace this dynamic, and allow yourself time to try new things. Try to think about content ideas that are in tune with your brand AND in tune with current trends and memes. These types of posts can attract huge numbers of unique visitors and make a big difference to your brand exposure (but be careful not to seem like you’re bandwagon jumping). Without a strong understanding of your online audience and detailed data, you may not immediately fully understand why a certain post garnered 5,000+ views, but the numbers prove the post did something right, so you might want to try a similar approach again. As you develop a stronger awareness of what works in social media, the metrics will begin to make sense and soon you’ll be making all your posts successful. In all your social media marketing efforts, keep an eye on the metrics, but also keep your content strategy on track with these questions:

  • Are you focusing on people with an affinity for you or your brand?
  • Do you share common interests?
  • Are you delivering useful and entertaining content?
  • Does your social community look forward to seeing your posts?

Metrics provide the science to recruit and retain a following; your intentionally crafted content colors the art of engagement.

Remember to Be Relevant

Yes, trending topics get attention and those coveted click-throughs, but the interest is usually short-lived. People will interact with your brand because it’s interesting to them, so you should only post things your followers will appreciate. For example:

  • Love fashion? A post about the Oscars makes sense.
  • Love rally racing? A post about the Oscars doesn’t make sense, but a post about the latest rally track conditions is on point.
  • Love video games? Chat about new releases, up-and-coming Twitch celebrities, gaming conventions and meet-ups, and throwback to some retro gamer content to invoke fond memories for you and your social community.

If you can tie a trending topic to your brand message (and it doesn’t sound forced), go for it. See if you get a boost. Otherwise, stick to what you know works best for your followers.

Don’t Live By the Numbers

As you’re building your community, there’s an art to pushing your product and fostering genuine engagement. You don’t want to sound sales-y, but the fact is, there’s a bottom line. A good approach? Implement a rule of thirds, which means only pushing your product 30 percent of the time.

Paid promotions to boost content views are an option too, as is getting a big name to endorse your brand. Still, authenticity is best for garnering audience loyalty. It’s not always about the numbers either: Years ago, a huge soft drink company spent millions to build what looked like a record-breaking community. Within months, the platform had changed its algorithm and the new audience faded away.

For true social media marketing success, forget about what everyone else says is viral and listen to your community. Be true to your voice and that of your brand. Be intentional when creating content, and think about how your finished piece will stir curiosity (“What happens next?”), generate excitement (“I need to know this NOW!”), or inspire fascination (“How is this happening?!”)–even if you don’t break that million+ view count.


Follow @JuhllAgency for more tips on social media marketing success