As a marketer one of the biggest falsehoods I hear from business owners is the idea that social media equals instant business wins. Certainly social media is a valuable part of your marketing strategy but as you may have experienced yourself social media marketing is not a quick winning strategy-it takes time!

Sure, when the platforms were in their infancy, even up until 3 years ago, social media marketing was a real leg up for businesses, especially small business, because it was for all intents and purposes free – until it wasn’t!
The fact is the wonderful free lunch is long gone.

The key to using social media to your full advantage is to build a community. This community is your alpha audience, a group of people who will help you share your message to their friends.

Create a café not a museum

It is one thing to have a presence on social media, it is another to have an established and active community regularly engaging with your content. Social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook are not designed to be like museums – where people wander through as passive observers. People head to their socials, to be social, Facebook and Instagram are like a busy cafe, where people head for conversation and interaction – connection and engagement.

There will be all sorts of people who interact with your online presence. From regular customers to someone who stumbles across you accidentally, and everything in between.

Your alpha audience are those people who are most regularly engaging with your content.

Incredibly only 2% of social media followers will share content.

Those 2% are your alphas! They become the community behind your brand. If you treat them well and nurture this community, they can become a wonderful resource for your business. Not only are they likely to remain loyal to your brand and become repeat customers – they are a free marketing tool! Your alpha audience are your unofficial brand representatives, sharing your content with their social networks.

Put yourself in their shoes

Your alpha audience are your most loyal, most proactive and protective audience members. They are the foundation from which to grow your community. That’s why it’s important to create content which attracts and serves them.

Be genuine in your connection to your most loyal community. Share not just your business but your life with them – this creates a shared history which brings bonding and loyalty. Be respectful and engage with your community as individuals – be a friend, foster shared values, be a great neighbor, be fun and thought-provoking – foster a sense of belonging.

Where are your people?

So, where do you find this alpha audience? Even more importantly – how do you keep them? There a few basic steps to establishing a community with a foundation of alpha audience members:

1. Who is most naturally attracted to your business?

Think about who your primary demographic is. Who are the people you usually target in your marketing? Who is your business designed to serve? Who are your most usual customers? Take note of their age, gender, location, occupation and interests to start to build a picture of who your alpha audience might be.

2. What do they want?

In order to attract and grow an alpha audience, you need to be creating content that they want. Establishing what their needs and desires are is especially important.
Initially, conduct some simple research into the kinds of content most wanted by your alpha audience. They may be most interested in opinion pieces, DIY tutorials, Q&A’s, offers or something completely different. As time goes on, continue to moni-tor which content gets the best response and tailor your online presence accordingly.

Re-create the communal gatherings – the water cooler and tea room discussions about the latest binge worthy series on Netflix, the footy on the weekend, the latest crime podcasts and The Bachelor.

3. Interact!

If you are genuinely interested in growing a community – you need to get amongst the action. This means being active in response to your own online content – ready to reply to comments and join in conversations. Be responsive to messages, comments and emails. The more you interact, the more your community will too.

Focusing on building an alpha audience from which to build a larger community is a an important, but often overlooked part of marketing in the digital age. By connecting with a core group of people through common interests and bonds, genuine brand loyalty is created. Focus on finding and growing your alpha audience by creating content that they want. This will then lead to a thriving community who are willing to interact and represent your brand in their own spheres.

Your customers are in control, make sure your brand and business are a part of their conversation – there is power in your alpha audience- use it well!

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Originally published in Business Woman Media –

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