To celebrate the rebrand to Small School, we have a special for you (only June 11-14, 2024) →

Audience Building

December 1, 2022

Your Customers Aren't Engaging With You on Social. But That’s Okay!

Kevon Cheung

Founder & Head Teacher

Have you ever doubted social media and the so-called “building an audience”?

Like you’re here to grow your business and you feel pointless spending hours a week to “engage” with other people online.

You thought - these people are unlikely to buy anyway, so for what?

If I’m honest with you, I definitely have moments where I wonder “Is this daily effort on Twitter worth it?” After all, even though I have these time-saving features to help me, I still spend at least 5 hours on Twitter every week.

It took me months to find out that my customers are almost like camouflage on social media. They’re not the most active ones. They’re not replying to my tweets.

But when the target (an attractive offer) shows up, they surface and are ready to take action.

Oops! My customers don’t actively engage with me

I wasn’t joking about my doubt about my effort spent on Twitter. Even at 10,000+ followers, I still wonder!

But then, spontaneous events here and there continue to convince me that there is so much value to keep growing a presence.

Let me share one of the events with you to put things into perspective.

Back in Oct 2022, I had a newsletter of 2,400 subscribers with a decent open rate (51%) and click rate (5.8%). So I wanted to explore bringing in sponsors to buy my ad slots.

You know, for months I had this little button at the bottom of my newsletter and it generated 0 inquiries (not even sales). I thought no one is ever interested in this.

Then one day, I saw my student of Build in Public Mastery, Mike, tweeting about sponsorship slots in his newsletter. I was intrigued by how that went, so I messaged him.

He said he sold a few slots within hours!

Ding ding ding! 🚨 That alarm went off in me and I decided to try the same thing.

So I posted.

11 people asked for more details, and I quickly created my newsletter sponsorship page to show them the statistics.

And within 24 hours, I sold 7 sponsorship slots filling up the next few months!

It was wild.

No wonder people build audiences. Because it gives you this kind of superpower to connect directly with people who might have an interest in what you offer.

So how did I come up with this theory that my customers are not the ones actively replying to my tweets or interacting with me?

Well, I studied the data.

When I looked at the buyers, 4 slots were sold to people in my audience, meaning I remember their names and have interacted before. But honestly, I didn’t see them often. They were not the most active in replying to my tweets.

The other 3 slots were sold to names I didn’t even recognize, so they likely came to me because they liked the offer. Maybe they have followed me for some time. Maybe not. I didn’t dig further.

But anyhow, this was interesting to me.

I recalled writing about the real roles of social media (A-B-C-D) and sales is not one of them.

So that got me thinking - what’s the relationship between my active audience (people who reply to my tweets) and my customers (people who buy from me)?

Let’s break down what happened behind a post

It doesn’t matter what stage you are at and how big of an audience you have, they all work the same way.

  • 1. When you have built enough relationships with your audience, in between your great content, you “are allowed” to present your offers to see if people are interested.
  • 2. When you post, usually your active audience, I’d even call them friends, go in first. They like. They reply. They reshare. They cheer. And now your post gets exposure!
  • 3. Some people in your audience see and grab the offer. Other people who don’t know you might also see and want to take up the offer.

The keys are hidden in the two words here: exposure and offer.


I mentioned “Connections” to be 1 of the 4 key roles of social media.

Your active audience is your golden ticket to getting more exposure. You need their actions (a like or reply or reshare) to activate that.

You can’t achieve that by begging people to help. You have to build enough goodwill that people just want to give you a hand.

And honestly, this group doesn’t have to be large. 50 people can do a lot for you.

This is the role of your active audience. They might not be your customers, and that’s okay.


Of course, even if you have 5,000 close friends on social media, if your offer is terrible, you’ll still get no sales.

The power of having an audience is that you can learn about their pain points every single day. You receive signals and you build solutions to help people.

If your offer is good, all the people who have been quiet will come out and take action.

They might not be posting themselves. They might not be replying or engaging. But they are reading.

The thing about generating sales is that you just need to present the right offer at the right time (when people currently feel the pain and are ready to pay to solve it).

Do we know when’s the right time? No.

Some gurus might make you believe that you can accurately predict that. But to me, you don’t know 100%. So what you need to do is to keep presenting offers to people and see who is going to take them up.

And guess what - this silent group is likely the majority of the people on social media.

Same for a real party

I love hosting small gatherings in real life. It is special when you can bring people together and see them building new connections.

I recently read Nick Gray’s The 2-Hour Cocktail Party. Great book with a step-by-step guide to host my next gathering.

The book reminded me of the same thing.

Let’s say you have a party coming up. If you plan to just send out an invitation and let the party take its own course. You’re going to have the worst party ever.

A technique to create the best party is to ask your best friends to show up first, so the other people feel great as they arrive and the atmosphere gets better and better.

Now you see that the same thing is happening all around us!

Same for your email list

You may or may not have an email list at this moment.

I told you earlier that my newsletter is read by 2,400 creators, so it is my main channel whenever I have a new offer to present.

As Build in Public Mastery is my biggest product, I often track down where these students come from.

The funny thing is, almost 70% of them are just there quietly reading my newsletter for at least 3-6 months. They never emailed me. They never said hi on Twitter.

When a new cohort opened up, they signed up.

This is another example of customers hiding in camouflage. When I get to onboard and teach them in the cohort, these are amazing people!

So I know that quiet people on social media don’t mean they aren’t your best customers.

Take a long view on social media & audience & community

I get it. Compare to the classic marketing funnel where you take people through a funnel and then spit them out if they don’t buy, this modern way of generating sales is a little less predictable.

This is why I think the most successful creators are the ones who take a long-term view on how to best leverage social media, audience building, and community building.

These are the entrepreneurs who understand the value of trust, connections, and word of mouth.

If you haven’t done it but are ready to build your community on social media, my book, Find Joy in Chaos, will be your step-by-step coach. It uses a lot of examples from Twitter but so many people have said that the approach is applicable to other social media platforms or even building relationships in life.

Before I wrap it up here, I want you to imagine that you’re running a pizzeria.

You intentionally place the kitchen at the window so people can peek in. Lots of people are walking by and looking at you making pizzas. They aren’t smiling, so you think they are not interested in your pizzas.

Funny - the next time they want pizza. They remember that pizza chef who tirelessly kneads the pizza dough like there is no tomorrow.

And then, they come to your pizzeria.

Remember. Customers are usually very quiet until they are not.
Newsletter Signature Divider
Newsletter Signature Divider
Newsletter Signature Divider
Table of Contents

Leverage Human Psychology

I used human behavior to grow my Twitter/X following. I went from having 0 followers to 423 in 8 weeks, and then it organically grew to 1,489 in another 8 weeks. It is not a massive audience, but it is enough for me to start monetization.

Read for Free

Leverage Human Psychology

I used human behavior to grow my Twitter/X following. I went from having 0 followers to 423 in 8 weeks, and then it organically grew to 1,489 in another 8 weeks. It is not a massive audience, but it is enough for me to start monetization.

Read for Free