Build an Authentic Audience through Social Media Using these 8 Principles

When I speak to social entrepreneurs, one of the first topics that come up is “how do I grow my social media?”

So this month we are going to dive deeper into topics around marketing and communications and how to better grow our personal networks.

In terms of advice on social media, Cory Ames and Annie Bright from Grow Ensemble shared this piece of advice in a recent podcast:

When starting out on social media, pick one platform and find a frequency that you can post consistently and provide content, which is engaging and useful for the individuals that you want to connect with.

Their advice makes a lot of sense to me. Start small, but keep it consistent and deliver content that people find interesting.

If you only approach social media as a soapbox on what you’re standing and shouting out, how great you are calling all the people over to come and buy your services, that’s generally not the most effective use of anybody’s time.

For any entrepreneurs starting out in today’s world, it’s a given that you’re going to use social media to market your business. Even so, that’s a broad term and it doesn’t really describe what activities you need to engage in or how to approach it.

Does that mean you post on Facebook 10 times a day? Or do you post one thing on Facebook and then share it on Instagram, Twitter, Tik, TOK, and talk about it in Clubhouse?

The platform you start on and how often do you post is going to depend on who you are, what your experiences and what kind of business you’re running.

Whichever approach you decide to take, here are the 8 principles that will help improve the quality of the audience that you build through social media.

1) Authenticity

When I talk about authenticity, what I mean is there’s a tendency to try to sell something to somebody and project an image of who you are to the world. I think what’s really powerful about social entrepreneurship is that we’re out there working with individuals to solve social issues. We tend to be very close to things that people are struggling with in our community. And so we have some meaningful content to share.

But what does this mean in practice? It means being honest about who you are and what you provide. It means don’t jump into trying to get everybody to jump on board with your mission or your company but share instead stories of what you’re going through to build up your company.

If you make a mistake, share that and share your learnings from that so that you can help other people learn.

I think this openness, to be able to talk about what you’re going through and learning helps other people to do the same. If you openly share your motivations and it makes it easier for people to understand where you’re coming from and what you’re about.

2) Vulnerability

This means, putting yourself out there and describing the things that you’re struggling with. There’s so much on social media, which projects an image of happy lives, greatness, success, but I think some of the most powerful social media connections I’ve seen are those that open up about what they’re struggling with, even when it’s not a pretty picture.

For an entrepreneur life is typically pretty tough when you’re starting out, figuring everything out, and dealing with a hundred different things all at the same time. I’ve found that even the most successful people are dealing with something or struggling with something in their life.

When you share that, it makes you more real as a person and easier to relate to people feel that they are more understood when they’re talking to somebody who’s been vulnerable and shared something about themselves and their own inner journey.

I think we’re all on a journey through life. And the more that we open up about the steps that we’re taking, the more inspiration that we can give each other to help each other out on our own individual paths.

3) Quality

Even as you’re being authentic and vulnerable, there is so much noise on social media. And it’s very easy to spend so much time browsing through and watching different people.

If you have somebody’s attention for just a few minutes, don’t waste it, put out something that is either entertaining or enjoyable or informative, something that delivers some valuable content. It helps if you can take some time to really think about the quality of the material that you are putting out into the world.

When it comes to blogging or podcasting or any longer form of media that we interact with, having that quality helps people get to the answers that they’re searching for more quickly. Over time search engines, such as Google prefers to direct people to information of quality so that they can get their answers more effectively.

Producing one weekly, informative blog of high quality is going to do more for you in the long run than producing a daily blog that doesn’t convey very much or deliver much value.

4) Consistency

Consistency simply means showing up and posting regularly and whatever way that you were attuned to.

This is so helpful and building an audience because when people know what to expect, it’s much easier for them to connect, follow and see our material on a regular basis. My own journey with People Helping People recording and publishing a podcast every two to three weeks, and then taking long breaks did not help me in growing an audience and reaching more people.

Now that I’m publishing regularly on a weekly basis, I’m noticing that more and more people are tuning in to the messages that we have to share.

5) Know what you stand for

Haley Boehning of StoryForge explained this to me during the GiveBackHack rocket fuel around. She reiterated the importance of being very clear about what you stand for and what you believe about the world.

There are a ton of businesses in the world that really struggle with this because they exist to make money and they don’t really have this at their core. As a social entrepreneur, typically, you’ve got this. So make sure that you’re very clear on that and you communicate it through the interactions and materials that you put out.

And when you know what you stand for, stay consistent with that. These are your values. And so use that as a guide for your actions and how you do business and show up to the world

6) Make it about your audience

As you get to know the people that you’re reaching out to and that you’re building an audience around, understand who they are, build up an avatar of what age they are, what activities they’re into, what’s important to them in life. And then develop content that is relevant for them.

Spend time getting to know them and ask them what they care about and what matters to them. This is important because it’s not about you. We’ve all got our own lives that we’re dealing with, and when you’re building an audience, you’re delivering value to somebody, you’re solving some sort of problem.

And so make sure that you’re focused on what you’re providing to your audience in terms of what they need and what they would like.

7) Be other-centered

In this course, creativity and personal mastery, Dr. Srikumar Rao talks about making the shift from living in a me-centered universe, where you’re focused on yourself to an other-centered universe, where you focus on others.

I love how he shares that every time that we’re upset or angry or getting into an argument or suffering at the hands of some toxic person, that we’re living in a me-centered universe. He shares methods on how to develop an other-centered universe approach, where you’re focused on contributing to other people without focusing on what you’re getting in return.

This goes in line with understanding your values and what you stand for and focusing on your audience.

When you approach life with an intention of “here’s, how I’m going to serve the community around me, the world around me,” then there is a subtle shift that takes place. All of a sudden, the pressure to do really good or to succeed or to get some level of success drops away. You become more focused on, “what is the best contribution I can make at this moment right now?”

See yourself as a contribution

It’s very similar to Benjamin Zander in his book, The art of possibility when he describes being a contribution.

When you see yourself as a contribution, you’re no longer in a position where you can win or lose. You can simply make a bigger contribution or a smaller contribution; there’s no way that you can lose. What that means is there’s less stress in that action because you’re showing up with the skills that you have to deliver whatever level of impact you can make through the efforts that you put forth.

And this helps when you see so much on social media of people doing great things, where it’s really easy to compare yourself and feel like you have to be better, you have to put out higher quality stuff to be as good as these other people we’re seeing. But the truth is, when you show up from the standpoint of making a contribution, then you celebrate those people that are doing more and making more impact because the more of us that are making that impact the better.

That also means that you’re freer to show up authentically as yourself because you’re not trying to prove something about who you should be in the eyes of the people that you’re comparing yourself against. You have more freedom to be honest about who you are, where you’re starting from, and what you have to offer in the world.

Try this and see what kind of difference it makes.

8) Boundaries

Whatever you’re doing with social media, put some time boundaries around it. I know how easy it is to get sucked into social media and spend a lot of time creating content, sharing things, and getting lost in a sea of information when quite often that’ll distract you from doing the real work of your business.

So any social media at work that you do, put some boundaries around it so that you know how much time you’re going to spend doing it and find some way to measure the value that you’re delivering so that you have an idea of how much that is contributing to your business.

Conclusion

I hope these points that I’ve shared help you in your own social media efforts going forward so that you can contribute higher quality material authentically and build an audience that really understands who you are and what you stand for.

In a way that does not overwhelm you or stress you out or distract you from the social impact business that you’re trying to build.

If you are a social enterprise and you have a cool event going on, please do reach out. I love to share information about cool social enterprises and what they’re doing.

And I always love to talk to people who are working in this space. So please do reach out. And if there’s anything I can do to help support you in that journey, do let me know.

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