A brand new social media page is less exciting than, say, a brand new phone. Unlike most things in the world, the value of a social media page is at its lowest when it’s new, increasing over time as you gain followers.
The thing is, if you’re in business, that time is money. You can’t afford a slow build. Nor can you afford a scam build with worthless followers. How, then, do you start from zero?
With a bit of dedication, work, and hitting the right notes, you can get your first 1,000 followers in a reasonably short amount of time, and really be able to start using social media effectively.
Don’t underestimate the importance of the page setup, whether it’s Twitter, Facebook, or Google+.
- Fill in all fields — incomplete information will impact your page’s ability to be found by location or search.
- Your About should be well-thought out and written. You wouldn’t slap any old sentence or two to your website’s About — treat your social media Abouts with the same care, but keep them relatively brief.
- Set up some nice graphics, including a cover photo. Keep everything in line with your brand. If you have a designer you work with, this is something worth having professionally done, or you can do it yourself with Canva.
- Use a photo of yourself as the avatar. Remember, social media is about networking. Don’t hide behind a logo.
- But do place your logo prominently on your page. Brand recognition is important.
Links and Sharing
Once your profile is complete, it’s time to start sharing it. One of the most important things to do is to link all of your social media pages to your main website.
You should have buttons to each of your social media pages on every page of your site in a reasonably prominent place.
Next, start bringing in followers from your circle:
- If your website is established and has a blog (as it should!), invite people to follow you with a blog post.
- If you have a mailing list, absolutely utilise it by letting members know about your new social media page, either as a newsletter feature or as a stand-alone email.
- If you have other, more established social media pages, invite the followers you have there to follow your new page.
- No established blog, mailing list, or other social media pages? We all start somewhere! Create a nice, simple email with a link to your new page and send it to your e-mail contacts — your family, friends, the whole list.
Looking Beyond Your Circle
Once you’ve reached out to all of the connections you already have, it’s time to make new connections.
If you want followers, you’ve got to follow others in your industry. People will often follow back when they’re followed, especially if they’re in the same field or are interested in what you offer.
Some important things to keep in mind when following people:
- You should have some engaging content shared on your profile before you start following. Most people don’t just follow back, they (if you’re lucky) will check out your page and follow if interested. Give them a reason to be interested.
- Mass following can get you flagged as a spammer by Twitter. Stick to around 20 – 50 follows a day while you’re building, never exceeding 100 follows a day.
- Ideally, you should never follow more than 90% of the number of people following you. This can be difficult to meet when you’re starting out, but try not to exceed your number of followers by much.
- Regularly unfollow unresponsive users (with reasonable exceptions). You can use a tool like Unfollowers to see who isn’t following you back and who has unfollowed you, as well as inactive Twitter accounts you follow.
- With ManageFlitter, you to search for Twitter accounts by keywords, then can follow the resulting accounts from the results page.
- Tweepi helps you find people to follow, while also alerting you to inactives and non-mutuals.
- Followerwonk allows you to search Twitter bios, compare users, analyze your account, and sort your followers.
- Tweetbot is a great Twitter tool if you’re an iPhone/Mac user.
This should be the most obvious point, but it’s one that sometimes gets overlooked by small businesses: Social media is social. It’s not just for posting links to your blog posts and promoting this and that.
Posts about your business (i.e: direct promotion) should make up a small percentage of what you share. Some say it should be as little as 20%.
What do you post the rest of the time? This is where you start putting the social in social media.
Have you discovered a blog or podcast that’s relevant to what your followers are interested in? Share it, tagging them (@usename on both Twitter and Facebook).
You’ve given your followers something valuable, given someone a bit of promotion (which they just might reciprocate), and you haven’t made it all about you.
Don’t ignore your home page, where posts from the people you follow are displayed. Retweet, respond, get in there as much as possible. It’s all networking.
This is another reason to keep your list of followers tight, by the way. If you follow people randomly in the hopes that they’ll mindlessly follow back, your home page will be filled with stuff that’s not relevant to your business.
The promotional part of social media is easy. Retweeting is easy. But you do have to offer more. Every small business owner dreams of that one tweet that goes viral, garnering them hundreds of thousands of new followers.
The odds of that happening are slim. But you can create posts that are shared among your community and industry at impressive, if not massive, numbers.
Posts like these may include:
- A link to an especially informative blog post. If that post is yours, good job! But even if you’re sharing a link to another blog, if the content is good, it will benefit you. Use a tool like Contently to help find and curate content.
- Some quick 40-character advice.
- Something inspirational. Come up with or find some good quotes and use Canva to make them into custom graphics to share on social media. Be sure to include your logo on the graphic, so if it’s shared widely, your brand is shared too.
- Humor, in moderation (unless, of course, humour is part of your brand). Find a relevant meme and share it with your followers. You can even create your own.
Hashtags can get your posts seen by people who don’t follow you, but are interested in the things you’re blogging about.
Using hashtags effectively is a bit of an art — you don’t want tags that are too generic, or too specific (who is going to search the hashtag of your company name if they don’t yet know your company?).
Pay attention to the hashtags that are used in your industry’s community, and use them accordingly.
Watch the trending topics, but only use trending tags if you have something genuine to say. “20% Off My Product Till Midnight #TheInterceptor” makes you a spammer.
Basically, use hashtags when they’re relevant and likely to be searched, such as #freeebooks, #toptips or #quotes
How NOT to Gain Followers
The temptation is there to take the “easy” route and buy followers. Aside from the fact that they aren’t genuine followers who can help your business grow, they won’t help your Klout score, they may spam your real followers, and they can be obvious, which will make you look bad.
Not to mention, many “Get Followers” sites are outright scams. Building your own organic following takes more work, but it’s the way to social media success.
Have any advice on how to build followers on social media? Share your tips in the comments!
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