“We have too many followers on social media,” isn’t the easiest sentence to sympathize with. For many people, it’s like hearing someone complain that they’re too cool and beautiful. But the truth is that the more followers you have, the harder it becomes to engage with them.
Simply put, it’s hard to be social at scale.
As Clive Thompson put it in Wired, “once a group reaches a certain size, each participant starts to feel anonymous again, and the person they’re following—who once seemed proximal, like a friend—now seems larger than life and remote.”
At this point, Thompson says, “social media stops being social” and instead, becomes “old-fashioned broadcasting.”
This is how a brand with hundreds of thousands of followers ends up getting an average of two likes per post—and that’s not a good look for you or your business.
It’s hard being popular, but here are three tips for getting past the pain and reigniting engagement.
3 tips for engaging a large following on social media
1. Find out what your followers really want from you
If you’ve already got a lot of followers, then trying to raise brand awareness probably isn’t the most useful thing you could be doing on social media. People have followed your business for different reasons and you need to know what they are if you expect them to engage with you.
Do your followers mostly want customer service issues resolved? Or are they looking for promotions or deals? You might uncover that they want more detailed information about your products to help them make a buying decision.
There are three ways to find out what your followers primarily want from you: listening, asking, and testing.
Use social listening tactics to analyze your incoming @mentions, direct messages, posts, and comments—as well as the conversations that aren’t directed specifically at your brand—to uncover the most common questions or requests your followers have.
Straight up asking your followers what they’d like more of from your brand on social media is a great way to learn more about them. You can use polls or simply post an open-ended question: what do you want more of? Promotions? Technical support? Advice? Sneak peeks?
If you’re torn between how to best serve your followers, test your ideas and let the data speak for itself. Create content and posts for different needs—education vs. entertainment, for example—and see which performs the best.
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2. Build micro-communities
The rise of dark social and messaging apps like Facebook Messenger and WeChat prove that people are seeking personalized engagement and one-on-one connection within the increasingly crowded sphere of social networks.
If listening, asking, and testing prove that there’s enough appetite among your followers for different types engagement—and you have the resources to sustain it—it might be worthwhile to deliver that engagement through “micro-communities.”
Dedicated customer support accounts and regionalized accounts are common examples of micro-communities, but there are many other avenues you could explore to give your followers a more tailored and relevant experience. For example, you could create micro-communities that revolve around niche hobbies or interests that relate to your products and services.
BuzzFeed is the best example of a brand that has used micro-communities to both develop and engage with a massive following. Not only have they created specific accounts for content topics (like food and animals), they’ve created them for content formats (like quizzes and video).
3. Use social ads to boost your reach
Declining organic reach is a real phenomenon, for many reasons. One of those reasons is competition. Your audience is being bombarded with more and more posts every day, so the fight to appear in their newsfeeds is fierce. If you don’t have a strong organic engagement rate, then you may not have enough momentum to sustain high organic reach—even if you have a ton of followers.
This is where paid social ads can help. Once you’ve identified the type of content that works best for your audience, you can use social ads to cut through the noise and ensure you’re hitting the right people with the right messages. Likewise, if you’re testing different types of content and one begins performing better than the other, put some money behind it for an extra boost.