The Power of Speaking to One: Using Social Media to Develop Community

Imagine you’re standing in a desert with 1,000 other people. You have water. They don’t. You’re trying to yell, to tell everyone that you have water. Everyone is talking. No one is paying you any attention. How frustrating is this scenario? It’s how most business owners feel when they get started marketing their brands.

So instead, now imagine turning to the person next to you and tell them about the water. They’re going to be so thrilled and will immediately engage with you. Then, people around you stop talking and notice this guy drinking the water. They want some too!

The second scenario is the one we want to create, but in a world where every business is online and competing for attention, trying to get a simple message across is near impossible—even if it’s a message the people around you desperately need to hear.

So how do you do it? You stop trying to talk to everyone and start speaking to just one of them.

Get clear on customer avatars

Here’s the thing about any kind of targeting: it’s best not to wing it. You’ve got to have a clear idea of who your key demographic is. The old saying rings true: “Marketing to everyone is marketing to no one”. When you know who your people truly are you can target them more effectively with everything from the platforms and strategies you use to the messaging you employ.

Share the right message with the right person at the right time

Speaking of messaging, having the right message developed is essential if you want to speak to “one” versus the masses. The biggest mistake I see marketers make is delivering messages that THEY want their audience to hear instead of the messages that the audience wants or needs to hear. When you know your customer avatar very well you should be able to craft messaging that feels like it was written exclusively for a single person. (And in a way, it really was.)

Make your automations personal

We all know that you can “personalize” automated messages like emails by adding customizations like <<First Name>>. While these little details are important, they aren’t what I’m talking about when I say you should make your automations personal….

If you’re on a person’s list or a brand’s list it’s because they have something to sell to you. There’s nothing wrong with that; it’s good business. However, just because you’re aware of this fact doesn’t make you want to be sold to. With this in mind, it’s essential to make your automations feel like real conversations between two people.

You can accomplish this by leaving images out of your emails and keeping them plain text so they come across like a personal email. Next, don’t overdo it on the sales messages and don’t only send emails when you’re trying to get your list to buy from you. You’re not a fan of the “friend” who only calls when she needs a favor, right? Well don’t be that friend. Use those email messages to provide value, start conversations, and lastly, always invite the person on the other end to respond to your messages so it isn’t just a one-way street.

The power of speaking to one instead of to the masses is that they can easily speak back.

Jump into the DMs

No matter what social platform you’re talking about, the idea is typically the same: post great content and the algorithm will reward you with traffic. Unfortunately, this isn’t really the case. The thing about social media is that it requires people to be social, not just post content bulletin-board style and then walk away hoping for the best.

Yes, you’ll gain followers organically over time, but you’ll do better if you focus on creating a connection on a personal level first.

Sending someone a non-automated/generic direct message is the way to do this. Letting them know you’re human is going to go the distance, and it’s going to create a tribe. And If they aren’t willing to build that relationship, then most likely they aren’t your people anyway.

Whether you have 1 follower or 1,000, what really matters is that sense of connection, that sense of community you create. If people don’t feel that you’re approachable or that you care, the community around your brand will not grow.


It all starts with knowing who your audience truly is. When you understand the customer, you know which platforms they spend their time on and the kind of messaging they need to hear. This in turn allows you to engage in “mass marketing” in a way that doesn't feel yucky or generic because you’re speaking to a very specific individual. Take things further and actually speak to a specific individual with personalized automated messages and direct messages that show your desire and dedication to creating a true and lasting relationship.

Shauna Armitage.png

Meet the Author: Shauna Armitage

Shauna is a Marketing Director or Fractional CMO helping early-stage startups scale with effective strategies, creative solutions, and unparalleled integrity by making the most of small budgets for maximum impact.

As a vocal advocate for women in business, Shauna is on a mission to redefine what it looks like to be a working woman and to support other women doing the same. She spends her free time traveling with her husband and four kids while drinking Coca-Colas. Connect with her on Instagram at @shauna.armitage.

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