Matt Powers

5 Ways to Build Your Social Media Audience from a High School Perspective

1st Aug 2012 Social Media 6 minutes to read

Saved By The BellToday Matt Powers, from Blue Soda Promo, takes us all back to High School (or college / 6th form for our UK readers) for a look at the similarities between social cliques and social media. He has also promised he won’t burst in to song for a big musical number.

For most of us, building an audience for our personal social media account was easy. Throughout our lives we’ve met a variety of people growing up. After we initially set up our account, it was simple, we add our close friends, interact and naturally others would begin to ‘friend’ us. Whether they’re family, you went to high school together, they once had a crush on you or are just looking to reconnect, it was effortless to have an audience that would listen.

Building a fan base for your small business on the other hand makes you feel like a freshman in high school again, the outsider looking in. We just didn’t want to end up like the kid that danced to Michael Jackson’s Thriller every day at lunch or that one dude (in America) who’s worn a kilt since they were 12 (both real people and yes, both my friends on Facebook). It’s a lonely place. Your feed is full of your own status updates, no one ever comments and it seems like whatever you do your audience never grows.

Use Existing Relationships

The hardest part of starting your social media campaign is the beginning. Where should you start? While you could post some of the terrific content from your site, interesting reads or entertaining videos, that content would be all for nothing if you didn’t have an audience.

But even as a freshman you came in with a base group of friends. These were the people you grew up with and stuck close to until you were comfortable enough to branch out. So instead of waiting for that new kid to come up to you while you sit in the back of the classroom, it’s important to take the initiative and go out and find others that you already have a relationship with. Just as you would if you were setting up your personal account, find those close to you and friend them first. They may not even know you’re online!

And unless you’re a one man band, those who work with you also can get on the bandwagon. That way the content that gets posted will be shared by the people who are most proud of it, like that quarterly newsletter that mentions someone as a top salesperson which will be liked and shared so others know that they aren’t just known for that 60 second keg stand they pulled off after winning the big game.

Give Others an Initiative
Now that you’ve done your part, it’s time for others to do theirs. Some are reluctant to add others in anticipation their feed will be overloaded with what they consider ‘spam’. But on the other hand, they may be willing to see an extra update or two if you give them something in return.

Running contests, giveaways and/or promotions as incentives is a great way to get people going in the right direction. It’s a win-win for both parties. They add you for a small prize, discount or for a chance to win something bigger and your online visibility rises. This is why I was always nice and offered my weird neighbor a ride home, because his mom made the best brownies, which I received as payment for my good deed.

Be Social
There were a few types of people in school I always knew had a hard time making friends. There were those that sat by themselves away from others reading Harry Potter. The cocky jerk who only talked about himself and spoke in the third person and those who wouldn’t give anyone the time of day…how rude!

Those types of attitudes in social media won’t cut it. It’s in the name itself, SOCIAL media. It’s not a one way street. You’re looking for others to like, share and comment on things you’ve posted… so do the same. Not only interact with others on your own page, but if someone else has something interesting or relevant it’s ok to return the favor.

This is a great way to build relationships with others. You may not hit it off after one post, but eventually, if you are sharing good content and replying with relevant useful information, you’ll become a trusted figure and someone they can go to for information.

Promote Others
I personally never ran for a position in student government, wasn’t athletic or good looking enough to be crowned prom king or outgoing enough that I would put myself out there at the talent show, but I always showed my support to others I thought worthy enough. I’d campaign for my friends, tell others if they didn’t care “vote for this guy” and always brought a cheering section for the loud ovation needed after the unbelievably bad renditions of Vanilla Ice’s ‘Ice, Ice, Baby’.

Promoting others makes people feel appreciated. Being acknowledged for their story, a great piece of work or simply for being a great fan makes them more likely to reciprocate and show their support for you.

Allow users to tell their story, submit pictures, videos and other content as part of a movement within your niche. Nike recently started the #RiseAbove campaign letting fans take pictures through Instagram showing how their love for the game lets them take flight. These photos are shared and voted by others to be showcased on Nike’s website and on Instagram.

Campaigns like Nike’s #RiseAbove are amazing social marketing pieces for a few reasons. Businesses get free content from their fans which can sometimes become better than anything a creative team can put together. It screams social interaction. Users vote and campaign for their own content along with the casual fan who sees something cool and wants to share it.

The Inspirational Speaker

There were certain people in school that we looked to for advice. Someone to inspire us and keep us going down the good path. Those people may have been a coach, guidance counselor or guest speaker. They would tell us about their prior experiences, offer up their expertise on the subject or just pump us up for the big game.

These things work well within social media as well. We call them ‘experts’ and trust them to point us in the right direction. Reach out to these people within your niche and ask them to share their knowledge with your audience. These people could already be working in your own company! The CEO didn’t get to where they are for no reason; they are one of the greatest resources you have, use ‘em.

Try Q&A sessions on a Google Hangout, Twitter chat, or allow them to post on your blog. Let them respond to comments, offer advice and answer questions in order to build trust with your audience. Post your sessions on YouTube and see your audience grow from meeting to meeting.

The views expressed in this post are those of the author so may not represent those of the Koozai team.

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