One of my lovely Instagram followers got in touch earlier this week to ask for my advice on how to find the right people to connect with on social media. She's tried using hashtags on her posts but it has mainly resulted in getting spammed (there's a bonus tip on how to deal with this at the end), so if this sounds familiar hopefully this post will help you too!
I should just say first though that by the 'right' people I'm primarily thinking of your ideal customers (if you run a small business) or ideal readers (if you're promoting a blog). Although most of the suggestions do apply for finding partners to collaborate with and industry influencers, such as key members of the press or leading experts.
Oh and of course I'm assuming here that you also know exactly who your target customers are and you're posting good quality content that they'll like... if the group of people you're trying to connect with on social media is too broad you will find this hard. It's much better to focus on one specific group of your target customers (even if that's smaller) first so that you can make them feel like you're perfect for them to follow rather than too 'meh' or generic to make them press the follow button!
We go into all of this, step-by-step, in my social media course too so to put your name on the waiting list click HERE! The course is all done online so you can learn from the comfort on your sofa, at your own pace and with a glass of wine in hand ;-)
8 ways to find the right people to connect with on social media:
1 - Use more specific hashtags
Using hashtags in your posts (there's a beginners guide to Instagram HERE and Twitter HERE if you're not sure what I'm talking about) is a great way to be found and join in on wider conversations. However if the hashtags you're using are too generic the effect can be significantly watered down, plus you'll probably experience the dreaded spammers!
I definitely recommend using hashtags but get as specific and niche as you can. My biggest tip here is to look through some of your customers (or ideal customers) profiles and see what hashtags they are using? Do they join in with particular Instagram challenges like #savouringhappiness or connect on niche hashtags like #mugoftheday (which is much better than using #tea or #coffee for example)?!
2 - Who else is serving your target market?
This is one of those things you have to keep slowly chipping away at but I have a list of brands or business owners who I think are currently serving my ideal customers. When I get 10 minutes I'll go to one of their profiles and click on their 'followers', then I'll work through as many as I can (set yourself a time limit for this otherwise you'll loose days!) that look like they'd be a good fit for my business too. I just try to connect with them in some way, for example 'liking' or commenting on a handful of their photo's on Instagram, mentioning them in a tweet or following them.
Not all of them will reciprocate but around 25% will, which is worth it as they're literally my perfect target audience. I'd rather get only 2 new followers who will engage and enjoy my content than 100 new followers who aren't really bothered!
3 - Find out where else your ideal customers hang out online?
Joining Facebook groups or taking part in Twitter chats where you know that your ideal customers / peers / influencers are is a great way of making genuine connections. Be as helpful as you can and go into it with the intention of building relationships rather than trying to get people to follow you or buy from you though!
Finding these groups or chats isn't always easy I know but some searching, googling or just keeping an eye out for them being mentioned should introduce you to a few to get started.
4 - Collaborate with people who have complementary audiences
Your direct competitors may not be queuing up to partner with you but there will be complimentary businesses who would definitely gain mutual benefits from teaming up. For example if you're a wedding photographer you could collaborate on a photo shoot with a wedding planner to feature on a big wedding blog. You can both mention (and therefore promote) each other on social media as the shoot is published and you'll be introduced to someone else's social media audience who are a great fit for your services too!
5 - Add value so your ideal followers tell their friends!
Focus on putting out great content on your social media platforms. If you regularly provide tons of value to your followers and ideal customers they're increasingly likely to share it or tell their friends about you. This is a slower, more organic way to grow your followers but the recommendation is far more powerful coming from your existing customers than from you.
Ask people to share, retweet, repost etc if they have any friends who might like this!
6 - Invest in social media advertising
Spending a small amount on Facebook advertising to a very specific group of people can be an effective method of increasing your followers and connecting with your ideal customers. I go into lots of detail on how to do this cost effectively in my online social media course!
7 - Key word research
One of the simplest ways to find the right people on social media is to do some searching. Type specific, keywords into the search bar of Twitter in particular and then reach out and start connecting! Answer the questions they're asking, engage with their content or just say hi to start the ball rolling.
8 - Pay close attention!
Keep an eye on who your competitors, key influencers & customers are liking, talking to and following on social media. Most social media platforms allow you to see the activity of others so it's worth scrolling through every now and then. You never know when this might introduce you to another brilliant group, hashtag, brand, potential partner or influencer in your industry!
What to do when you get spammed on Instagram (bonus tip!)
If you're tagged in a spam photo or you're notified that someone 'has taken a photo of you' that is spam click on the three little dots on the right hand side underneath the photo. Then press 'report' and 'report as spam'.
If someone leaves a spam comment on one of your photo's you can swipe right to left (if you're on an iPhone but I'm sure it will be similar on Android) then click on the exclamation mark and 'report as spam'.
Reporting spammer unfortunately won't stop them all together but by reporting them I've definitely found that I'm receiving less spam ;-)
How do you connect with your ideal customers, influencers and partners on social media? Do you have any other suggestions to add to the list?
PS. If you found this post useful you might also be interested in Social Media Whizz!