Social media. You’re either cringing because you don’t want to deal with it, or you’re grinning because it’s helped you turn your business into a money-making machine (or at least it’s on its way). For you grinners, you know what we’re talking about. Social media is the (virtual) place to be. For the cringers, we know you’re still skeptical. You’re asking yourself if investing time and money in the twenty-first century way of communicating worth it. Well, one of the best ways to measure ROI is to convert leads into clients, and one of the best ways to reach new leads is in that cyber sphere of social media platforms, because, if nothing else, it’s the easiest place to commute to; you just have to take care not to get stuck in the traffic of it. So the answer is a resounding Yes! You can’t afford not to be on it.
Before you dive into the virtual world, you want to be sure you’re doing it right. You don’t want to be clogging up anyone’s feeds with boring or useless content, and you don’t want to inadvertently commit a social media faux pas that will make you lose followers.
So where do you start? Right here. We’ve got some tips to help you get your social media up and running.
1. Determine which social media platforms will best benefit you.
There are a lot of platforms out there, with new ones cropping up so fast it’s hard to keep it all straight. Before you go and sign up for every platform, do a bit of research and find out where your target audience hangs out online. For example, most of Tumblr’s users are millennials, so if you’re in the business of selling clothes, jewelry, or entertainment to the younger generation, Tumblr may be the place for you. If you’re in the business of photography, you’ll want to be on Instagram (because it’s all about images . . .).
Of course, one of the beauties of social media is that you can creatively bend your content to fit the platform, focusing in on that special niche—your target audience or ideal client. If anything, you’ll want to start with the “big four”: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+. (Check out our post on why these platforms are a must in the social media world.)
2. Be active and get involved. Share, post, engage!
Share. Establish yourself as an authoritative figure in your industry, your brand as an invaluable source of information. You want your followers to see you as a type of mentor, someone who offers something without expecting anything in return. Yes, you read that correctly. One of the biggest social media faux pas is clogging your followers’ feeds with posts about your company/product. Of course you want to post great content about your brand, but you want to establish yourself as a knowledgeable source first. One way to do this is to share relevant content from other sources in the industry. For example, if you sell jewelry, you may want to share content about how to safely clean sterling silver. Not only are you giving great advice to your followers, but by sharing someone else’s content, you’ve taken your first step toward creating a relationship with an influencer (more on that later). If you’re unsure of how to find great content, try a social media management dashboard, like Hootsuite or Buffer, that gathers content for you, then choose what to share. (More on that here.)
Post. It’s critical to post informative, original content. You don’t want to be too sales-y or aggressive. Content that brings your audience to you because you’re an expert in your industry is what works. For example, you don’t want to continually post about the great sterling silver you’re selling. Instead, talk about why choosing sterling silver over nickel is more cost-effective in the long run because it’s sturdier, easier to clean, etc. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with a line or two about checking out your collection. Just make sure you’re not coming across as the stereotypical used-car salesman. You’re not just gaining customers; you’re building relationships that will last—well, hopefully, forever.
Additionally, be consistent with your posts (Liken it to blogging—Wait, you don’t have one? Read this!). You don’t want to lose a follower because your posts are as sparse as water in a desert. Once you begin to build a following, your readers will expect regular posts. Don’t let them down. They may look elsewhere for the content you might have provided.
Engage. When a follower takes the time to like your page or follow you, comments on or shares your post, retweets a link, or becomes involved with your content, make sure to respond to the comment, thank them for the share or retweet, or welcome them as new followers. Let them know you’re there for them, that you appreciate their patronage, and that you’re excited to connect and share the things you love with them.
3. Influencers are the people you want to be friends with.
Influencers are those already-established social media ninjas who will influence their (thousands of) followers to check out your company by sharing your content and pages, and to #FF you. So how do you find them? Yes, you have to find them because it’s pretty much guaranteed they aren’t looking for you. They already have followers, so you need to reach out to them to build a relationship. They don’t have to be huge names—you don’t need today’s big actor or musician to back your brand (of course, if you have those connections, then, by all means, go for it). Start by becoming involved with those in your field—follow them, share their posts, and comment on conversations by responding or following hashtags they use. Once you’re confident they serve your same target audience—and that they’re a trusted voice in your industry who can help you back your brand—reach out by engaging with them directly.
Not sure how? Try this:
- Invite them to be a guest blogger on your blog.
- Ask them if you can interview them for your blog.
- Get permission to share their product on your blog.
- Email them directly—email is still widely used.
Obviously, always be genuine. You want to make sure the relationship will benefit both of you.
The bottom line is this: social media is an investment. Sometimes it’s a bit of a gamble, but if you nurture it, you’ll find it’s worth everything you put into it.
How do you gain followers? What other tips do you have for getting likes? Share them below!