Love it or hate it, social media is an essential tool for bloggers, freelancers, and business owners. However, when you’re just starting out, it can be overwhelming to look at your competitors and the massive number of followers they’ve already accrued. How on Earth are you meant to get to that level when you’re starting from scratch?
The truth is, even the biggest social media superstars were once in the same position you’re in now. They built their impressive platforms from nothing, and you can too. The following guide has been designed to take you through each vital step in a methodical manner that replaces your sense of overwhelm with a clear and comfortable strategy.
Pick the right social media platforms for your niche
To give you an exhaustive list of the world’s social media sites would be a pointless exercise. You would be swept into a state of confusion, and the information wouldn’t help you that much because there’s really no need for you to be across all of them. In fact, your best strategy for success is to pick just one or two social media platforms and channel all your energy into making them shine.
To do this, you need to understand your target market and where they like to hang out online. Crossreference this data against where you feel most comfortable, and you should have at least one or two viable social media platforms to get started on.
To help you in your decision, here are a few of the top social media sites and their promotional superpowers:
- Facebook – great for online bookings, customer service, longer text-based posts, images, videos, and article sharing.
- LinkedIn – ideal for professionals who wish to make industry connections.
- YouTube – your hub for video content creation.
- Instagram – perfect for photographers, artists, food bloggers, and anyone with highly visual content.
- Pinterest – another site for those with visually appealing content.
- Quora – a brilliant platform for both understanding your target market and what they want to learn, and building your reputation as an expert in your niche.
- WhatsApp – excellent for customer support and personal connection, particularly if you have a global audience.
- Twitter – this fast-paced social media site puts you in touch with a global audience, including top industry figures and celebrities.
- Reddit – known as “the first page of the internet,” Reddit tends to be ground zero for new trends. Be sure to join subreddits relevant to your industry, and avoid sharing anything that looks like marketing as you’ll be downvoted to social media purgatory.
Be measured and thoughtful in your choice of platforms. Though it may be tempting to go wild in the early days when you’re super motivated, having a bunch of empty profiles will not create an inspiring image of your brand.
Unused social media accounts are like the tumbleweed of the internet. They give an instant impression of abandonment, and most people assume your website is as much of a ghost town as your social media presence.
Build your social media profiles
If you’ve been putting off the social media side of things because you feel like creating your profiles will be tedious and time-consuming, we have good news for you. The website and branding you’ve already developed will inform so much of your social media presence that the hard work is really already done.
You need to give your audience a consistent experience across your website, social media, and communications. Ensure your profile and cover images are high-resolution, and wherever possible, maintain consistency with fonts and color schemes.
Never skimp on the info – though not everyone will check out your bio or “about us” page, those who do are looking for the humanity behind the brand. If you give it to them, you’re far more likely to engage them as a fan of your work.
Offer people clear and easy ways to get in contact with you, and be sure to respond to any messages you get in a timely manner. Most social platforms keep track of your response times and share them with users when they open a chatbox.
Another thing to keep in mind is that social media sites are not exempt from SEO ranking, so be sure to apply all the search engine optimization strategies you use on your website.
By taking the time to create a fully rounded, visually appealing profile, you’re setting up a foundation for making genuine connections with visitors before you’ve even made your first post.
Start building your social media following
You’ve probably heard stories of people buying fake followers for their social media accounts. Though you know it’s unscrupulous, sometimes looking at your business page and seeing just a handful of followers can fire up the little devil in your mind that says, “why not? Just to help you get things rolling, then you can get rid of them.”
Do not fall for this horrific shortcut. At best, you’re buying numbers (which messes with your data and leaves you with no engagement), and at worst, you’re buying bots who will spam your real followers. You’ll end up trashing your reputation because the truth is, these fake followers are so easy to spot.
You need to be prepared for slow and steady growth achieved through the exchange of quality content.
To give yourself a few little boosts, consider the following strategies:
- Don’t be shy to share your brand’s page with your personal social network – most people are more than happy to support their friends by ticking the like button on their business page.
- Include a “follow us on social media” call to action in your email marketing campaigns.
- Join relevant Facebook groups and share your content – just make sure it’s relevant, that you’re not spamming, and that you’re following group guidelines.
- Add hashtags to ensure your content can be found by people searching for certain subject matter.
- Create sharable content to promote organic growth – it is so rewarding to watch your following grow organically, knowing that each new person is genuinely interested in your brand.
- Post consistently – if you want people to commit to your brand as followers, you need to be even more committed to it as a thought leader. Keep the content and engagement rolling to ensure you stay relevant (more on how to effectively manage this coming up).
A simple yet brilliant growth strategy for your social media platform
Once you’ve kicked off your following with the strategies listed above, it’s time to supercharge your growth by appealing to people’s reward centers.
Set up a simple incentive for your existing followers to share your page with their greater network. Depending on the nature of your business, you can offer discount codes, merchandise, a free trial of your service, or whatever else would be truly rewarding to win.
When running competitions on social media, it’s important to check the platform’s guidelines and ensure you are operating within them. You also need to make the rules of the competition as straightforward as possible. The last thing you want is for people to get confused and annoyed.
Keep it simple by entering everyone who likes and shares a post or follows your page into a prize draw. The following you develop from this endeavor will be well worth the cost of the prize.
When on social media… be social
It sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised at how many bloggers and business owners think they need to only need to focus on what they’re putting out on social media. The truth is, taking the time to engage with people is just as important.
Though you do need to get your products, services, and blog content out there, having a social media presence that’s all about sales or self-promotion will turn a lot of people off. So, be sure to add plenty of content that’s about giving value rather than asking for something from people.
Respond to all the reviews and comments you get, and take any negative feedback as an opportunity to demonstrate your kind nature or your sharp sense of humor (depending on whether it’s a genuine issue or a troll).
In addition to being a genuine and responsive human on your own page, it’s worth getting out and exploring the social media landscape. Give your brand a relatable personality by communicating with readers in an authentic way. Likes, comments, tags, and back-and-forth exchanges are excellent ways to make your followers feel special.
As you do this, you will create more engagement across all your channels, with users sharing your content and developing a positive relationship with your brand.
Track your social media progress
In addition to giving you valuable data, tracking the growth of your social media presence will give you the motivation you need to keep working at it. Seeing that you have 400 subscribers compared to another blogger’s 400,000 can feel disheartening until you turn to your metrics and realize that you’ve doubled your audience in just one month.
Most social media platforms offer free analytic tools, allowing you to gain an understanding of what kind of content is working and what’s not hitting home with your target market. By analyzing your data you can uncover things you never would’ve figured out on your own, like the perfect time of day to post particular content or the style of humor that resonates most with your audience.
Keep track of reactions, shares, comments, and clickthroughs and be sure to cross-reference these data points against date and time data and demographic information (things like age, sex, location, and interests).
You can then use this information to inform your ongoing social media strategy, adjusting the timing and content of your posts while remaining true to yourself and your brand’s voice.
Automate the right way
One of the quickest ways to alienate your followers is to automate the customer care side of your social media presence. If every comment is met with a carbon copy message, people will notice, and they will not be impressed.
Though you need to maintain a personal touch with all your social interaction, you will find automation to be highly effective in scheduling your posts.
For example, you may find from your data analysis that you get the best engagement when you post at 7:30 am. Instead of having to be at your computer every morning at this time, you can use a social media scheduling tool to perfect the process of posting and curating your content.
Tools like Loomly and Sendible allow you to optimize content for each of your social media channels while giving you customizable scheduling options and many other useful features. Most of these services come with a free trial period, so you can test a few of them out and find one with the features that suit you best.
Do you have any specific questions about the development of your social media platforms? If so, please feel free to comment below as we’re always happy to help.