By John Critelli Ever wonder why your audience uses social media?
It's usually the same reason your company does—marketing. The only difference is that your audience members are marketing themselves.
They see themselves as the product, and their followers as the consumers.
That means your audience wants to show their value, just like marketers want to show their product's value. So how can you help your audience show their value?
Figure out who they're trying to impress.
Ask yourself this question: "What social group do my followers want to be part of?" The answer will reveal their reference group—a group of people that your followers compare themselves to. They are likely to copy that group's traits and behaviors so they can fit in.
You can see examples of this in real life. When a teenager copies the "cool" kids in school, they are mimicking their reference group. They may dress like the group members or copy the group's mannerisms to earn approval.
That same teenager will go home and mimic their reference group on social media. They'll share the same kind of content their reference group posts in the hopes of fitting in. So understand your audience's reference group, and you'll know what kind of content your followers want to share.
This can all be boiled down to a simple three-step process:
- Step 1: Figure out what social group your followers want to be a part of.
- Step 2: Observe what kind of social media content members of their reference group share.
- Step 3: Provide similar content for your followers to share.
Here's an example: Imagine that your company specializes in young women's fashion. The target audience for your company's clothes are 18- to 25-year-olds. Research reveals that a large percentage of your followers enjoy art, poetry, and culture. And they're following a lot of other cultured young women, because that's their reference group.
So you analyze the social media profiles of cultured young women. This reveals that they like to post photos of nature and quotes from famous writers.
Next you post a photo of a young woman wearing your company's clothes in a forest. A quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson is superimposed over the photo. Your followers share this image because doing so helps them look cultured. And they're sharing your brand at the same time, since your company's clothes are in the photo.
This creates a win-win situation for your audience and your organization. And helping your followers look good is a great way to ensure their loyalty. After all, you're using social media for the same reason.
John Critelli is a freelance writer and social media specialist based in New Jersey.