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Rules of Engagement: 5 Tips to Understanding Your Audience

Approaching your social media management with an eye to the data is what often sets marketers apart from the solopreneur who is trying to do everything at once or is more keenly focused on the brand voice. That isn’t to say that you aren’t watching metrics if you are not a marketer, just that you may not fully understand how to leverage the graphs and numbers in an actionable way.


Measuring engagement against yourself is going to be your best investment, but if you want to know how you are stacking up against competitors or set some target goals, Rival IQs annual industry benchmarks report can help, building on ideas from the last post as promised.


Rule #1: Go Granular With Your Follower Metrics

Your following is your easiest insight to track and ubiquitous across your social media channels. You need 0 additional tools to know how many people are following you or how many followers you earned on a given day. But the number doesn’t matter unless you are keeping track and paying attention.


How this relates to engagement is watching for indications that the content you post is giving you a bump in followers that is above the norm. Say on the average day your social media channel grows by 1-3 followers, but one day you have 5 or 7. It’s a small enough engagement bump that you may not notice it, but it is these little changes that matter, especially when you are first starting to grow a brand from the bottom up.

If you aren’t using an analytics tool, I recommend you track followers in a spreadsheet of some form. This way you can

  • Compare your data across days and weeks

  • Look for patterns based on content type and time of day

  • Identify which of your social media platforms are growing faster

  • Get granular on what is working, and what is not

Rule #2: Be Intentional About Who You Follow


It’s social media, so you better be following others. But who to follow and how does that impact your engagement? Many like to say you should keep your follower to following ratio balanced, but if you are just starting out your following ratio should be higher and you can worry about the balance a little further down the line. So who should you follow:


Follow your peers

If you are following industry peers, this will help you understand how you fit into the picture. It gives you an opportunity to engage in some peer comparison research and identify opportunities for you to stand out.


Follow the users who follow your peers

Build relationships with those who have already identified your market as important (that’s why they are following your competitors). In this way you can get to know your ideal client personas and start to build relationships by offering up content they are telling you is valuable.


As you grow your following, your follower to following ratio should level off and ultimately tip in favor of your followers, but don’t stress about this until you’ve hit a real following number.


Rule #3: Get to Know Your Active Fans

The base number of followers is important, but what is more telling is the number of active and engaged (there’s that word again) followers. These are the ones that like your posts, share them with their friends, and leave comments. These are your bread and butter advocates--your word of mouth marketers. Be their friend, nurture the relationship, and watch as your overall engagement rate rises.

Caveat: Make sure you pay some attention to who you decide to follow. As they say--who you are friends with says something about you. If you follow people who have loud, extreme opposing views, you might want to steer clear.


Rule #4: Create Unique Links for Your Posts

Clicks help you determine how your social media traffic is bringing in leads and what type of content is generating the most “clicks.” So make sure you give them something to click regularly. Clicks also help you identify the value of your social media marketing efforts. You should be tracking the number of people that visit your site from your social media accounts, which social media accounts generate the most leads, and whether they are clicking from your posts or if they are clicking from your profile page.

To measure this, use tools like bit.ly or other link generators, even if you don’t have social media tracking software.


Rule #5: Dig Into Your Audience Demographics

Even without a social media tracking solution provider, you can get to know some important information about your audience, including age, gender, location, and even insights into their interests. This is free intel that is so important to building your personas, as well as seeing if you are hitting the demographics you had in mind in the first place.

Social Media engagement metrics give you the who and the why of your marketing strategy. Taking care to understand these metrics is a time investment that you may or may not have, depending on the size of your organization.


Working with a social media strategist is more than just finding someone to post regularly on your channels, it’s also an opportunity to gain valuable insights into your consumer.

Learn more about what a social media strategy can do for your business.


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