The ability to communicate, post, share, tweet, blog, and update our status are all ways we can create a social presence. A lack of online presence is, in fact, telling about a person or company. After establishing accounts with several social media platforms, it’s time to create a social following. Here are seven ways to do this:
The first step of your social media strategy (and business strategy in general) is defining your target audience. Have your target end users established social media platforms, such as Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube, for themselves? Each platform your company has should possess a distinct strategy. For example, your Twitter strategy may be to attract followers who will eventually visit your blog and download your whitepaper, ultimately leading to the capture a lead’s contact info. Many companies choose to post the exact same content on each social media platform with the same strategy. Hootsuite, in particular, is an online social media management tool that can help synchronize your online efforts.
The second step to your social media strategy is understanding (and delivering) the type of content that your target audience is interested in. You don’t need to tweet about the recent Miss Universe debacle unless your target audience would actually care about your take on it.
The third step is analyzing the numbers. Which articles are getting the most views, likes, comments, or click-throughs?
Have you ever researched a company’s blog only to find their most recent post was from March of 2014? If you’re going to have a blog, dedicate the time to update it regularly; pick a day of the week and commit to update it every week or two. Don’t let a month go by without some type of post. Be consistent with your message and length of article so that your target audience can get used to reading your content.
Another way to deliver consistency is to use a template for your blogs and create a database of future blog topics. More details on creating a database below. Have you noticed that almost all the IA Business Advisors blogs have a similar outline? (Shhh, it’s a secret that our team uses a template.)
One social media method used time and time again is a constant reposting of other individual’s articles. Although this is certainly one strategy, and it could be used interspersed among your original thoughts, but being original on social media is a surefire way to build a social following.
During the first few cycles of posting, tweeting, or blogging, you may experience writers’ block. It’s okay to read other articles to get your creative juices flowing, but be sure not to plagiarize. Sometimes it helps to brain dump: spend an hour or so jotting down as many topics as you can. Then go back through the topics and create supporting points for each one. As you do this, more topics may come to mind; keep a spare notepad ready for the next surge of topics.
When communicating with your followers, or creating a following, you need to be relevant. If you’re a cutting edge IT firm, don’t post a “how-to” on fixing VCRs. When thinking about your target audience, what topics do you think they might find relevant? Would tips on correcting penguin population concerns be relevant to a target audience in Chicago? Would your target audience like to see pictures of your pets and food on your Facebook and Instagram account? Bring relevance to your specific target audience.
The best way to determine what is relevant to your target audience is to list out no more than ten key words for your business and ask a Social Media Expert (or a reliable social media consultant at IA Business Advisors) if they can run a keyword analysis. This report will provide you with factual data of what people are really searching for that relates to your business. This might be the best kept secret in social media.
When providing great, fresh content to your target audience, be sure to engage with those who comment on, like, or retweet your posts. One strategy for social engagement is to end articles with a question and seek the opinion of the reader. The key to social engagement is timeliness. If someone leaves a comment on Tuesday at 10:04 AM, unless you absolutely have to, don’t wait until Saturday at 7:45 PM to reply.
There are many other ways to socially engage than asking questions of your audience. Surveys, contests, and giveaways are also great ways to interact with your target audience. Twitter and Instagram make this very easy. One example may be to ask your client base, social followers, and employees to post pictures to their Twitter/Instagram of their favorite “ugly sweater” with a hashtag pertaining to your survey/contest/giveaway, and the tweet with the most likes wins a prize.
The whole point of creating a social following should be to close a sale. When you’re eloquently spouting off supporting detail after supporting detail about how you’re the best at XYZ Service, it gets a little dry. Instead of touting your own abilities, proficiencies, and expertise, try giving out advice with the purpose of educating your audience. Educating your audience is a great way to solidify your reputation as a thought leader without overtly broadcasting your extensive resume.
Don’t talk over your audience. Unless it’s a very commonly accepted or industry-wide used acronym, give readers the definitions of acronyms before assuming they will pick them up.
In your profile or throughout your posts, give your audience the chance to get to know you. Be a real person who readers can relate to. What interests or hobbies do you have that may be relevant or interesting to your target audience? Can you succinctly describe them so your reader can paint a picture of you when they read your articles or posts? Do you and your family have a tradition of traveling somewhere unique that separates you from everyone else? These are great ways to build your online persona for your target audience to relate to you. It will help give them context for the reasons you are passionate about your industry.
One of my favorite bloggers begins almost every post with a setting of where he wrote the article. He could be sitting at a coffee shop in Hong Kong one week and the next be returning to his office from a long weekend skiing in Colorado. His one or two sentence introductions set the scene for the rest of his blog and make him very relatable
What are some other ways you can build a social following? We’d love to hear your insights and best-practices!