Article

Elena Shalashnikova
Elena Shalashnikova 14 June 2013

How to build your audience in social networks?

How to attract new subscribers? How many per month? Natalia Kurbatova - CEO of the Growth Company - is answering

Every social network has its own effective methods to attract users. For example, Facebook Ads allow you to target your audience with extreme precision, some of these users click on the ad and some subscribe to the page.

If a client entitles us to manage their social media presence, we settle the price per a subscriber in advance. We charge 40 – 150 RUB – much depends on the targeting and the subject-matter of the page. At the moment we don’t have any project with the price as high as 150 RUB. This is the starting price which is then gradually reduced month by month.  At the same time as an example of a 40 RUB price we have a project within which we are allowed to experiment with content and we have been bringing new subscribers there for more than half a year now. So consistency is what also counts for the price.

However in Vkontakte, Russia’s top social network, targeted ads are pressed down by active communities (groups). The main technique we use on VK is to select communities with a lot of subscribers (hundred thousand and more) and to publish a paid post aiming to draw audience to your page. The advantage of this method is that subscribers you get are significantly cheaper than via targeted advertising, they are real people, active Internet users. The downside is that there is no precise targeting and reporting is not as transparent as on ads. On the other hand we are running a VK group for a well-known furniture brand and 71% of its members are over 21 years old, 32% - over 27 because these people are interested in the topic. Of course we can use targeted advertising but, frankly speaking, on Vkontakte it mostly works to rip you off and take your money. And no client will opt to get the audience by means of targeted ads if they have a choice. So that you understand: in an active group one subscriber can cost us 10 RUB and it is not the lowest price we can get using this technique. We deliberately don’t make the price even lower to leave open the possibility to select communities by topic and by quality.

Following is the main tool on Twitter when you follow accounts so that they follow you back. Following can be mass and it can be reciprocal depending on whether to seek and choose the audience to follow or not.

Odnoklassniki.ru (Одноклассники in Russian, Classmates) has launched a system of targeted advertisements, however, there also remained the “Invite To The Group” («Пригласить в группу» in Russian). It is not difficult to gather a crowd of subscribers to a page on Odnoklassniki, but possibilities for content distribution are much lower. That is why engaging users on the created pages and keep up their activity is quite challenging.

 

I want to warn companies from inviting somebody to be their friend before inviting this person to join their social network page. The downside of this technique is that, unlike others, it causes negative reactions as people feel that they are being used. It won’t be cheaper for you anyway, but your target audience will have a bad feeling about your brand long afterwards.

 

Quantity and timing. Since we are talking about the price per a subscriber, the quantity is often determined by the budget. If the budget is not restricted, then we’ll be limited by the targeting. It’s one thing when we are promoting a pharmaceutical product and our audience is Russians 22+, but it’s another when we are promoting a pharmaceutical brand and our target audience is doctors, pharmacists, and other industry members, officials and civil servants. The narrower the targeting the more careful we approach the audience quantity in order to understand the network capacities. For example, if targeting is wide, the page is attractive and we are aiming to get quality subscribers, we are able to drive 2000 - 3000 subscribers per month on Facebook,  10 000 - 15 000 on VKontakte.

 

These numbers are viable for the situation when a company does not have its own channel to gather the audience and relies solely on the audience of a social network. But there is always an opportunity to use company’s own channel to bring a part of the audience to social networks: cafes and restaurants invite to visit their pages when users connect to the Wi-Fi network; publishing houses send direct emails to the audience which has been established contact with; TV programmes teach people to join Facebook via television, etc. You could also print your page web address on a box of chocolates if your company is a chocolate brand.  And in case the subject matter of this page enables people to talk about themselves rather than about your brand, you will be able to get good subscriber traffic. Such subscribers are free for our clients, elaborated concept and ideas and help with design are included into the monthly fee.

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