A Beginners Guide to Growing Your Social Following
Social media is the marketplace these days. So if you don’t have an online presence yet, you need one. And even if you do have a website or blog out there, you’ll be wanting to increase the number of visitors, buyers, or commentators you get. This guide should help.
You Need Staying Power
Know this from the outset: a successful social media presence will take several months to build up. So don’t be discouraged if you don’t achieve umpteen thousand hits on your first day. It’s a long-term process, which will require you to be patient, flexible, and hard-working.
You Need a Plan
Before you begin, you’ll need to have some idea of what it is you’re setting out to achieve – and how you’re looking to achieve it. This will mean identifying the social media channels you’re most likely to be using and figuring out the best ways to get your message across in each one.
You Need To Be Distinct
There are a lot of individuals and/or organisations out there which are similar to you. The challenge is to distinguish yourself from the rest of the pack. To do this, you need to identify exactly what it is you offer that’s distinct from all the rest. It could be a product, a service, or a visual approach. Whatever it is, use it as the foundation of what you do online.
You Need to Watch Everyone Else
Since there are others like you out there, they’ll have had experience of what it takes to succeed – or not. So look to your peers and competitors to spot recurring themes, new trends, and to see what is and isn’t working for them.
Start by sampling a few websites or blogs in your area of interest. Sign up to their email lists and for newsletters. Follow them on Facebook, Twitter, etc. And keep track of what they post and do.
Your aim should be to use this small group of typical members of your industry or discipline as a yardstick to compare to your own activities.
There are tools to assist. For example, you could add them to your “Pages to Watch” list on Facebook. This will flag new posts as they are submitted, and tell how many times a post has been shared. Or you could use Tweepi (a free tool) to identify your competitors’ Twitter followers – and follow them yourself.
You Need to Engage
Besides having a great story to tell (and telling it), or product to sell (and selling it), making connections with your target audience is the key to ongoing success. And remember that not everyone who visits your site is looking for the same things. So you’ll need to segment your following, and develop material to cater for each area of special interest.
Generate compelling content, put it out there, and use it to establish a dialogue with your visitors and clients. You’ll have to keep coming up with new ways to pull them in.
If someone comments on a post you’ve published, give a lively and courteous response to keep the conversation going. Use attractive imagery and link it to your core messages to invite comment. Short videos and podcasts can play a part.
Then there are the give-aways. It could be an eBook, a recipe, or a product promotion. Link it in some way to your core message, and have visitors who sign up for it or download the resource subscribe to your newsletter or mailing list. Or include an invitation to some other promotion or event that you’re hosting.
You’ll Need Help
Besides the sheer volume of blog posts you’ll be generating, and/or the tweaks and additions to your website, there may be other issues that will require you to seek outside help.
If it’s something requiring feedback you can turn to your audience. An open call for suggestions or improvements could not only empower you to make useful changes, it could also increase your visitors’ sense of involvement in what you do – and encourage them to spread the message to their friends.
Even your so-called competitors can help. To an extent, you’re all in this together. If you have specific problems that one of your peers can address, a carefully worded email plea for help might yield surprisingly good results. And don’t forget to offer something in return.
You Need a Timetable
To keep your message fresh in visitors’ minds, you’ll need to post new material regularly – and to post the occasional look back to relevant content you’ve published before. How often you do this will vary, depending on which social platform you use. You might for instance create a schedule for how many posts and updates you release in each given month.
As a guide, you can look to the research you will have already done on what your competitors are doing. Then look to your own user base, and decide how best to target each special interest group that follows your work.
You Need Staying Power 2
Growing a social following means building a community – and that takes time. Time to get out your message initially, time to refine and improve on what you have to offer, and time to nurture the relationships with your visitors that will keep established users coming back for more, and new followers signing up on a continuing basis.
The time to start is now.