As we wrap up our final blog in our series on digital storytelling, we end with perhaps the most important ingredient in this digital recipe for success – building an audience that cares.
Lesson #3: Take care of your followers, and they’ll take care of you.
To be candid, I don’t even like the word “audience” in this context, because an audience sounds more like a group of spectators rather than the active, engaged following that you desire. And truth be told, in order for your digital work to be successful, you have to have more than a passive group of bystanders just watching you post. To get your followers to go beyond being an audience and become loyal partners and participants in your mission, here are two secrets we recommend testing out!
1. Give more than you take.
At the bank, if you withdraw more than you deposit, you’ll end up bankrupt. In the digital world, if you take more from your people than you give them, you’ll end up with an exhausted, annoyed audience. Enter, the 80/20 rule. This is a best practice we encourage all of our clients to follow (check out Social Media Success for Every Brand for more details on this concept).
This guiding principle recommends that 80% of your posts should be “deposits,” meaning that you’re giving something of value to your following without asking for anything in return. The other 20% of posts are “withdrawals”, asking something of your followers, building off of the trust and the excitement that was built with the other 80%. Just like in any relationship, you can’t be successful if it’s one-sided. You can’t constantly ask your followers to click here, donate now, like this, follow that without sometimes giving them something in return.
A few examples of “deposit” content are posts that feature solid quotes or testimonials from your volunteers or clients; videos and powerful images that celebrate your work; insights on current events or news articles that speak to your niche; powerful statistics; shout-outs to key donors, staff members or volunteers; and blogs that share unique perspectives and encouraging stories. Your “withdrawals” can be the same type of content, with one caveat. The only difference is your withdrawals should include harder asks that capitalize on the excitement and the trust that was built from the other posts. Join our mailing list. Sign up for our newsletter. Share this post. Attend this event. Donate today.
There isn’t an exact science to this, so don’t put pressure on yourself to count out every post making sure you’re striking that exact 80/20 balance. More so, just keep the concept of deposits vs. withdrawals in the back of your mind when you’re getting ready to post, email or reach out to your people. Look for ways to give back instead of solely taking. If you’re coming off a big fundraising push or drive for volunteer sign-ups, maybe scale it back and share some encouraging blogs or thank you posts. Or if you’ve shared lots of strong content but haven’t used it as a tool for moving users down the funnel, consider following up one of those posts with an opportunity for your followers to take the next step with you.
Ultimately, the goal is to be balanced. Don’t be the organization that cried wolf – if every post has an urgent ask in it, your followers won’t know when they actually need to step it up for you. Provide them with some value so that when you really need them (think: times of crisis!), they’ll be more ready and eager to give.
2. Prioritize your existing social media following over getting news followers.
In the age of influencers, it’s hard not to pay attention to your number of followers. Some people even pay for fake followers to increase their chances of getting sponsored by larger brands and companies. For companies and individuals alike, it’s hard not to see your following as one big group and not as the individuals who compose it. That’s why the secret to increasing your followership is actually counterintuitive: prioritize your existing social media following every day instead of trying to get new followers.
I would argue that it’s better to have a small, engaged following rather than a large, apathetic following – because those are the people who are going to be active partners in your work. And the more engaged your following is, the more people you’re naturally going to reach. Social media platforms are smart – they don’t want to push out content that’s underwhelming or underperforming. That’s why keeping your current followers engaged and excited about your content is the number one way to get more followers. High engagement leads to high reach. Low engagement leads to low reach.
Having a loyal and engaged following is the best way to get new followers. So stop focusing on the number of followers you have and start focusing on whether or not your current followers are intrigued by the content you’re pushing out. Pay attention to what posts perform well and what your followers respond to. Take care of them and your reach will naturally grow.
Both of these secrets to caring for your followers really boil down to one thing: be there for your people and they’ll be there for you. It’s easy to view digital as a transactional experience when really it can be transformational. People are the heroes. Remember that, and your empathy and authenticity will shine through your posting.
Quick recap of the series:
- Embrace the authenticity that’s unique to your brand.
- Content leads, but don’t let it lead you.
- Take care of your followers, and they’ll take care of you.
While we’re wrapping up this series, we hope this isn’t the end of the conversation! Digital marketing is constantly changing, and you have to be ready to adapt to it. If you want to continue the conversation with us, reach out to us here and we’ll talk all things digital with you.
– Hannah Jessen, Client Success Executive