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#094: How to Use Social Media to Grow Relationships and Engagement

If I say the words, “social media,” what comes to mind?

Does it fill you with a sense of dread because you’re overwhelmed trying to figure out what you should be doing and how much?  Or do you feel confident because you love social media and it the easiest part of your business? 

Whichever way you lean, I think you will get a ton of information from today’s show where we’re talking about how to use social media to grow relationships and engagement with your audience.

Today, my guest is Neal Schaffer, a social media strategy consultant. 

Neal teaches large companies how to best use social media to grow and stay engaged with their customers. We’re talking about many different social media platforms today, hearing his insights on how to have success on each. 

But first, if you haven’t joined my Facebook group, The MiloTree Mastermind Group, I want to encourage you to do that today! Every Monday at 3:00 ET, I go live in the group to talk about that week’s podcast episode. 

I go over the highlights, what I learned, and what I think it’s important for you all to take away from the discussion. It’s a great place for you to ask questions and to share your knowledge with others. I hope you’ll join me!

How to Use Social Media to Grow Relationships and Engagement | Blogger Genius Podcast

How To Use Social Media To Grow Relationships And Engagement

As bloggers, we work alone most of the time. It can be an extremely isolating lifestyle.

That’s why Neal puts a huge focus on building relationships. I want to tell you how I met Neal as a great example of using online research to build those relationships. 

I use an app called Bonjoro to send a personal video to everyone who signs up for MiloTree. 

Recently, I had sent a video like this to Neal, as he had signed up for MiloTree. A few weeks later, I was randomly researching “social media experts” and I saw Neal’s name on a list of people to follow.

I knew the name looked familiar so I went to his website and realized I had just recently sent him that video, welcoming him to MiloTree. And the rest, as they say, is history. We connected from there and here he is, on my show!

All of that to say, you have to be reaching out and building those relationships with your followers and with those you follow. 

Neal points out that if you follow 1,500 people on Instagram and you send just 5 of them a direct message every day, you will have contacted every one of the people you follow in a year!

But don’t just message them; ask them how you can serve them. Being able to connect one-on-one is a huge step toward helping other people in the online space to remember you.

The Importance of Consistency in Social Media

When your goal is to increase your presence online, build relationships, and increase brand awareness, you have to focus on consistency.

If you’ve been blogging for a while now and you feel discouraged, if you feel like things will never work out for you and you will never meet your goals, the first thing Neal wants you to remember is that success is often just on the other side of giving up. 

  • Focus on what’s working for you on social media
  • Keep track of your analytics
  • Stay the course

Don’t stop creating content and putting it out there. Go back to your “why,” the reason you started your blog in the first place. What are you trying to accomplish by being on social media?

If you don’t know “why” you’re using social media, you aren’t going to be successful with it. 

How to Use Social Media to Grow Relationships and Engagement | MiloTree.com

Are Followers the Goal?

Most bloggers are very good at gaining followers. It comes naturally to us. The trick is what to do once we have those followers and how to monetize them. 

The main goals of online business are: 

  • You have to have passion
  • You have to have a product to sell
  • You have to build a community that will want to buy your product

If you want to attract people who will be interested in what you sell, you have to push out the type of content that will draw those same people in. 

Focus on the platforms that give you the best returns and work on growing those. You don’t have to build every platform at the same time. 

The platforms that work the best for Neal may not be the same ones that you are the most successful with. That’s okay; do what works for you. 

Neal’s Instagram Strategy 

Instagram requires a different strategy than other social media platforms. Neal posts a few times a week on IG but his goal is to be publishing daily. 

While Neal has mostly used IG to keep in touch with people rather than using it for business, when he’s traveling and doing conferences, he focuses more on posting photos of what he’s doing. 

Over the past year, he has focused on developing his own Instagram strategy, and that begins with the premise that IG should not be 100% dedicated to business. 

When you have a broader reach and you post things your community will engage with, whatever that may look like, it helps your overall reach. 

These days, Neal’s IG posts fall pretty neatly into 3 buckets of content:

  • Travel – mostly international business travel
  • Food – because of his international travel, he eats a lot of different foods and he has followers who love to engage over food
  • Business – this includes blog posts, conferences, podcasts, etc.

His business posts get the worst engagement, but by mixing it up, he can at least keep people interested in that side of it. 

Neal believes strongly that you need a lifestyle focus on IG and your posts should lean heavily in that direction. Why? Because those are the posts that allow your followers to feel like they really get to know you. 

A potential client is following you and they see a post that makes them feel a connection to you. Maybe it’s a shared passion or a place they’ve also been to. You posting about your passions will connect you to those people who share your passions. 

Instagram Posts vs. Stories 

One of the cool things about Instagram is the options available. You have a main feed filled with posts but you also have the ability to share even more with your audience by using stories. 

It’s important to post to stories more frequently since they do disappear after 24 hours.

Instagram now has the option of having a Creator account, which is what Neal has. This is not the same as a business account but it is public. It provides you with tools to better understand your growth and manage your IG presence. 

While IG posts can be put off indefinitely, stories are more for what’s happening right now. Also, the IG audience tends to engage more with creators on stories than on posts.

Growing Your Following on Instagram 

Instagram is a bit different than Facebook when it comes to your followers vs who you follow. 

You want to be focused on who you are following and how you are connecting with them and building relationships. 

Neal is reducing his follower count because he does not want unengaged followers. He wants his content to go to the people who will engage with him.  

If someone is following you and not engaging, you are wasting a follower. 

Grow social media followers faster with MiloTree

Instagram DM Strategy 

Go into your app, and you will be able to sort the people you followed by the date you followed them. 

Go back to your first follows, and choose 5 per day to visit their feed, send a message, and ask how they are doing. Just basically reconnect with them. 

If you do these in order of when you followed them, just grab a screenshot of the last DM you sent, and the next day, pick up where you left off and keep going.

You don’t need to spend hours on social media to be able to build meaningful connections and grow your organic community. 

Facebook Strategy

Neal does not spend the majority of his time there. It can still be a valuable asset, but it is one that takes more work. 

Facebook ads are still a great place to find your people and build community.

Neal still spends some time on the platform but it’s the bare minimum that keeps his account active. He typically posts once per day and does live streams occasionally. He also sometimes uses his Facebook lives to record his podcast.

Compared to Facebook, Instagram can have a bigger reach, simply because the sheer number of people on Facebook limits your reach.

Don’t disappear on Facebook but keep life support connected to it. Neal uses it for recording his live streams and for the ads. Otherwise, he focuses elsewhere.

Bloggers On LinkedIn 

Are you using LinkedIn as a blogger? Have you thought about using it? Isn’t LinkedIn just for trying to find a job or connecting with business people?

Here are a few very interesting statistics that Neal, shared with us:

  • 50% of Americans with a college degree use LinkedIn
  • 45% of LinkedIn users earn $75,000 a year
  • LinkedIn’s audience has 2 times the buying power of the average web audience

Does this sound like anyone you are trying to reach or build relationships with? You want to be going after this audience. 

Keeping Up With Changes in Social Media

There is one thing that never changes about social media: it never stops changing. 

Algorithms change from day to day; audience engagement goes up and down based on the seasons; your content may not be applicable to every platform.

So how do you keep up with all the changes?

  • Look at your data and track your information on a regular basis
  • Continue to show up on the platforms
  • Learn how any changes are going to affect you
  • Follow social media experts who share upcoming changes


Mentioned in the Episode:


  • Intro
  • 2:00 Building Real Relationships
  • 4:20 Neal’s Journey to Social Media Expert
  • 7:45 The Importance of Consistency 
  • 13:15 Are Followers the Goal?
  • 21:12 Neal’s Instagram Strategy 
  • 24:42 Posts vs. Stories 
  • 27:58 Following on Instagram 
  • 29:57 Instagram DM Strategy 
  • 32:00 Facebook 
  • 33:42 Bloggers on LinkedIn 
  • 39:27 Keeping Up with Changes



  1. Connect with people one-on-one as much as possible in order to build real relationships that will help you grow your business.
  2. If you are discouraged with a lack of social media success, don’t quit! Consistency is the key to success so keep posting what your audience wants to see.
  3. On Instagram, focus on sharing more lifestyle posts and fewer business posts. Lifestyle posts help your audience get to know you better. 
  4. Find a couple of social media experts to follow so that you are always aware of any changes coming up and can prepare for them.

Read the podcast transcript for “How To Use Social Media To Grow Relationships and Engagement”

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