Large and active following on social media should be viewed as an essential asset to your online marketing strategy. We are witnessing social networks flourish in terms of both users and user generated content. Followers are a great asset, and the more they are, the more likely they will be to help lead generation. In other words, money in your pocket.
It’s a fact that social media has grown in influence and attracted more users in the past few years. That’s why if you have a website and an online brand, you need to get people exposed to it.
Social networks bear the gift of being the glue between brands and audience. Your social presence will help establish a real palpable relationship with your followers.
Creating content is only one part of the content marketing plan; promoting the content is the other essential part, and a social media following is incredibly useful in this regard.
Only with a proper social media content strategy, social media team mindset, and metrics, you’ll get your social media marketing efforts rewarded. We’ve put together a step-by-step guide to improve your social media following and honestly, we think it really works:
- Define Your Social Media Strategy
- Be Culturally Aware – Mind the Differences and Diversity
- Adopt a ‘Give Back’ Mentality
- Inject Emotion into Your Social Media Messages
- Get Personal, Show Something of Yourself
- Be Transparent and Honest
- Be Different While Obeying the Rules
Social media marketing may look fairly simple – a sign up here, some posts and links there, and that’s it. But things are way more twisted than they look. Having a good reach and a notable influence in your industry is a great asset, but hardly easy to acquire. Therefore, it’s high time you learned some tips and tricks to help you on your way up to social media glory.
1. Define Your Social Media Strategy
Your social media strategy should be guided by your overall marketing objective, and yes, you absolutely need one. Before you can use social media to build a fan base, you need to define what your social media strategy is. Here’s a clarifying movie about crafting the social media strategy for your business.
1.1 Establish an Objective
You should first understand why you need to have a social media presence. What are your goals and objective? This will help you define a correct strategy.
Most people create a social media presence because they think it’s the thing to do, “everyone else is doing it, so why shouldn’t I”. But to use social media tools effectively, you need to know exactly what you are going to use them for.
Define your goals and objective, ensure you know how each platform works, what audience section you can find there, and why you’d be posting there.
Anytime you feel lost and need some guidelines on the primary principles to look after in your goals, follow the S.M.A.R.T. goals structure. Your social media goals should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.
Once you have the correct strategy in place it will be easier to build your following, as all social media activity will feed into these objectives.
1.2 Social Media Networks You Need to Pinpoint on Your Roadmap
We, content marketers, need to first identify our audience out of millions and billions of social media consumers across the globe. Think of platforms your audience is more likely to be on and gear your social media strategy forces towards them.
Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Youtube, Google+, Instagram, and Pinterest are the social media channels most used by brands, on average. Ticking them on your list will ease your way to connect with people, help you grow as a brand, and eventually give you notable ROI.
Moreover, strong presence on social networks is correlated with better rankings. Search engines quickly index Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ profiles and posts. Just check the below chart from one of our case studies we conducted.
Today, Facebook is the most popular social network – make your first bet on it and list it in your social media strategy. We checked links and referring domains from Facebook, and compared them to the other social media platforms, and here’s the proof.
You can keep your following engaged with constant status updates made at a comfortable rate, news, trending topics in your niche posts, free tips, contests and so on. Here are some golden tips for you to use on Facebook, tips that can bring you consistent page rankings.
Twitter comes second (otherwise first for many brands) and carries plenty of benefits. Twitter is a powerful micro-blogging site, it’s addressing large audiences, its hashtags are reaching a large mass of users, while with the reply and mention “@” techniques you can create and maintain bonds in your industry.
LinkedIn addresses a smaller audience, but a rather qualitative and refined, professional one. This is where you pitch your business and make a good impression among followers and influencers in the same industry.
Google+ has a notable impact on SEO, while most brands and companies in the world wide market have an account on it.
1.3 Be Organized with Your Social Media Strategy
A social media strategy asks for structure, planning, scheduling, and clear-set benchmarks. There are social media marketing tools in this world addressing such needs, and the ones we think about are known as social media marketing editorial calendars.
Social media management tools help you organize all that hustle and bustle of a daily multi-social media platform activity, namely blog posts, events, releases, news, surveys, game, contest, and others.
HootSuite, Sprout Social, or Buffer are the most popular social media automation tools at the moment. Providing both web and mobile apps, they are constantly updating according to present market requirements and needs.
1.4 Tips on Succeeding with Your Social Media Strategy
- Quality Content
You know the saying “in the beginning there was …”. The same applies to content delivered in the social media world. In the beginning, there has to be quality. Create qualitative content, one that will provide you the following and the retention you aim at.
Don’t forget about the twin rule, that of quality over quantity. This principle doesn’t apply just to content on social platforms but also to followers, and Jaysen DeMers sums it up when saying: “The truth is, the number of followers you have is nowhere near as important as the type of followers you have”.
- Social links everywhere
Let your following know you are on social media. Use your emails, webpages, and bio to inform them you are available on social networks as well, and willing to connect with them.
Plant social links in your email signature, website footer, company bio, ‘About’ section on social networks such as Facebook, and in the ‘About us’ section on your webpage.
- #Hashtag is the new cool
Use hashtags to optimize your social media accounts, besides the keyword aspect and many others. They’re the catch to your social media users, no matter if they are on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Google+.
Huffington Post spoiled us with an engaging incursion in the (hi)story of the hashtag, one that will undoubtedly clarify any insecurity on the topic.
Using social media to draw leads is not about telling the customer that the products exist and here is where you can buy them, it’s about building an emotional relationship between the product, brand and your customer. Ultimately it’s all about what is going on inside the customers’ mind and the journey they need to take before they buy your product.
It’s about building a brand using social media, so as to excite people to become fans, and then using social media to feed the fans further and enable them to share and promote your content, message, brand, etc.
2. Be Culturally Aware – Mind the Differences and Diversity
Cultural awareness is an easy-to-work with concept in our social media marketing industry. The dictionaries explain it like this:
|Someone’s cultural awareness is their understanding of the differences between themselves and people from other countries or other backgrounds, especially differences in attitudes and values.|
Every single social media follower gathers around particular life principles, hobbies, leisure activities, beliefs, and so on. Online communities are as diverse as ever. Culture is a group activity, it is one of the things that brings humans together. And actually social media is big on culture, so if you don’t know what’s going on out there, and you live in the comfort of your warm place, then you are not going to be able to take advantage of the cultural tidal waves that sweep the social media.
You can talk about cultural awareness in the social media zone in two ways. It is either by keeping an eye on trending events, topics, movements, etc. and aligning with them creating relatable content or by minding the differences and diversity your audience bears and acting accordingly.
2.1 Keep an Eagle Eye on Trending Hustle and Bustle
If you are able to catch the surf early on a particular cultural wave, then it could be very rewarding.
For instance, those who caught the “Gangnam Phenomenon” or the “Mannequin Challenge” early and were able to create good content around it to promote on social media, managed to get a huge advantage.
Make sure you are following people who are on the cutting edge and more likely to spot new trends happening and share them. You can spot these people by analyzing their past tweets. These types of people are called ‘Mavens’ and are talked about in Malcolm Gladwell’s book, The Tipping Point.
2.2 You Need to Earn Your Following
As a brand, you should conduct some social research, get to discover your audience (if you haven’t previously checked that on the list already) for real, study it, and get a clearer picture of it. You need to understand your social media following, altogether with their needs.
Learn to give them what they want, that is quality content and services, brand transparency, availability, authenticity, and inspiration. The list is rather generous but quite worth employing. Mind the order, as it’s not a mere coincidence. You can take slow but secure steps and start applying each of them in your social media marketing strategy, there’s plenty of time. Once you conquer their hearts they’ll come to your site naturally.
Take this example: we’ve recently released one more data-centric article on our blog and here’s one golden feedback we’ve received on Inbound after it’s been published. Pretty rewarding, huh?
2.3 Risks Triggered by a Brand’s Lack of Cultural Awareness
There are some risks when not embracing cultural awareness as a brand.
One is when you risk disconnect sections of your audience. Conducting some research about cultural differences or societal dos and don’ts that exist among your audience can be the cornerstone in making you relate better and more personally to your followers. Moreover, you’ll gain people’s trust.
The second is you’re sabotaging your company’s/brand’s popularity growth. When you make a good impression, you will get social signals for sure. And these are paramount for boosting both your SEO’s morale and your social media efforts.
The third risk is that you expose yourself to massive criticism. Unfortunately, bad news spreads faster than good news. If you come out as naive and uninformed, news will spread fast and followers will start rethinking their connection with your brand.
3. Adopt a ‘Give Back’ Mentality
We bet you enjoy your positive social signals to the moon and back, and still, how do you pay the favors back?
Social signals show that your brand is being talked about, and this is a big thing. Search engines will give you higher rankings in SERPs because social signals are viewed as trusted recommendations. So why not help benefit more from this?
Show support and be receptive. Whenever someone’s posting, mentioning, liking, sharing your posts, or posting on your wall, reach out and engage with them. Show them you’re there, you’re re alive and open-minded, and do follow-up. Pay attention to response time and act accordingly.
Moreover, if someone retweets your tweets or shares your posts, then make sure you do the same back, if applicable. If they tweet about something interesting, promote their tweet. Always mention people whose names you use in your social media posts – thus you’ll create bonds, and give fellow digital marketer credit. Because they are in the same niche you are in; making them more powerful will also empower you.
3.1 Receptiveness Draws Traffic and Social Media Influencers
By sharing you’ll point to your active presence on the web and social media. And this is to only bring you benefits as it both helps your social network influencer community and the overall traffic on your social media profiles. Brand awareness is built not only by the social media marketers but also with the help of fellow power players in the industry and loyal customers, readers, and followers as a whole.
We could easily call it social media networking. By adopting a give-back mentality and showing receptiveness, you’ll ease your access to industry influencers. Plus, this will set a more familiar tone to your professional relationship.
3.2 Apply the Pareto Principle to Your Social Media Strategy
Following the wisdom behind the Pareto Principle, avoid to be egocentric and provide value before selling. Your social media or blog posts content should 80% inform, update, and entertain, while only 20% should be about you and your brand.
People first need the cure, not the recommendation of a certain brand or some advertisement on various drugs. For instance, if your company sells vegan products for people going green all the way and someone tweets “thinking on trying the vegan life but in need of some tips on how to start it”, don’t just jump with a link to your products. Instead, reply back with a link to a blog post about x tips on how to go vegan and what to do.
4. Inject Emotion into Your Social Media Messages
Emotion has the gift of drawing people closer; it can engage them and pave the way to a better communication. Because people are made out of the same matter, they are drawn to each other when similarities are spotted in the other.
People who use social media are looking to connect on an emotional level, they use social media as a way to create emotional triggers. Your job on social media is to supply those triggers to get one step closer to your objective.
You may think you can’t create emotional triggers, but emotion is everywhere and covers most basic things around us.
The secret is to first find your voice. Find it and stay consistent and true to it, as people will know you after your particularities. For instance, you could be that one brand who’s known for its playful, serious, sophisticated, or cut-it-short style of voice.
Upworthy, the famous blog that gathers thousands of shares due to its top-notch content, shows that usually, people’s attention revolves around the same set of emotional triggers, triggers that work in the offline, real life too: anger, happiness, sadness, and relaxation.
Yet the biggest rate of engagement is drawn by the happiness – anger duo. For instance, Always based their commercial on anger caused by social misjudges on girls as a common fact.
Thus we see social media being used successfully by big businesses to inject emotion into their messages around their brand.
Following the example, you can sensitize your following using only your content. For instance, it can be as simple as developing a theme based on avoiding the fear of being like everything else: “Buy my product and it will make you different, it will make you stand out, and you will appear more attractive to other people”.
The trick is to create engaging content, something that people will easily recall and mention to their close ones, generating the word-of-mouth cycle. For example, this Yahoo advertisement is considered to be “the mother of all advertising” for its funny way of sending a message.
Or content that tells a story, one that drives people to change. For instance, this tactic was employed by Edeka in their recently published commercial. They had a slogan – “Eat like the one you want to be” – and they’ve created a whole story around it, one that wins everyone’s heart.
5. Get Personal, Show Something of Yourself
The thing is that most people love a good honest story. When your message comes from an attractive, charming, reliable brand, then it has more permanence in the reader’s mind. It triggers more emotion. And emotion triggers a reaction, thus engagement.
Mandy Edwards explains it briefly.
5.1 Tell Stories
Telling your brand’s story is designed to make you more socially attractiveas a company. And because telling and accounting stories is hard wired into our psyche, this should more fun than toil. Even though, say, it’s to elevate your status, if you’re being honest, people will like that and your strategy will work.
Create a blog post in which you tell your brand’s story. Or opt for a series of blog posts accounting the raising of your brand. Storytelling is a writing technique for articles, and it’s the go-to method of making a good impression on readers when done right.
Don’t forget to interact often. Let your readers see who you are. Thus, you’ll drive more traffic to your site and readers to your articles and blog posts.
5.2 Pictures Show Who You Are
No doubt you’ve heard the saying “pictures speak a thousand words”, and this is true for social media marketing plan and engagement, too. Visuals have the benefit of telling a multitude of stories without displaying a single word. And people are attracted, entertained, and drawn to images by nature.
Youtube has already over 1 billion users across the globe, while Instagram and Pinterest are scoring higher than ever. And this is because we are more attracted by visuals, rather than by text. It’s a show instead of a tell thing.
As a general fact, some of the most shared types of social media content are selfies, team photos, customer photos, quotes, behind-the-scenes pics, and event photos. They are raw content, original and authentic, handmade if you want. Did you know that you can find ‘top X viral selfies for Y year’ on the Internet? Here‘s one.
Or you could use Instagram. Show your social media following how it’s like to work at your company, who are the creative minds backing your products, what’s the office atmosphere, and so on. Social media users are crazy after it. Take Saffron Brand Consultants‘ example.
6. Be Transparent and Honest
This sounds cool and all, but it’s much more than this. This is about making sure that people realize you actually mean what you are putting out on social media. Miss it and it will damage your personal brand in the long run.
As we’ve talked earlier, when you tell your brand’s story, don’t shy away from being honest. Actually, this is empowering both for you and the reader. Every mistake should be followed by a lesson – if you’ve learned yours, share them with your following. You’ll win their hearts or, at least, they’ll know you’re human, too.
Whenever you engage with your audience, don’t be just honest, but also professional. Keep a balanced tone in everything you deliver on social media channels. Don’t go to extremes, as both being professional and honest can work for the extremes. Instead, take both and merge them to make that perfect charming blend of brands transparency and honesty that will draw you the following you’re after.
Be open-minded and engage with your audience, no matter the topic. Try to be available and responsive at all times.
Maintaining a social media following is not an easy-peasy thing, it needs constant care and dedication. Seth Godin knows that well.
7. Be Different While Obeying the Rules
Nobody wants something of the same thing, although people love order and balance. Or good taste, at least. If you really want to forge ahead and used social media to have a real effect on your business, you need to break free of the crowd.
Sometimes brands don’t want to be different because they are not willing to pay the price. The price is the cost. It’s scary to be different, to try new things.
But knowledge and experience build confidence. Confidence allows you to create new things, to forge new relationships, to leave the warm embrace of your current place.
Come up with something new, different, eye-opening, or vital. You are unique; there’s nobody in this world like you; then why should your brand be like tens others in the industry?
Being different is easy because everyone is. It’s simply a case of finding your voice, trying a few things, learning from mistakes and then trying again.
Make some research and check on your competitors. Then offer something they don’t. This will stir people up, trigger reactions and emotions. Social signals will follow and this is the start of a beautiful relationship.
Social media is such a vast medium to start with when deploying a digital marketing plan, but knowing some basic tips matters a lot. There are tens and hundreds of tips and tactics on how to go for that powerful social media strategy any marketer desires, but you should first learn the basics.
Starting a social media activity without a clear objective and goals is nonsense. That’s why you need them covered first thing when planning a killer social media marketing strategy.
Then you can deal with the decoration of your social media strategy. Plan on how to attract followers win their hearts over your brand, and make research on what meets their needs most. Take your time and find your inner voice, one that will make a difference in your industry. Take a deep breath and fight to be transparent and honest all the way o the bottom. Try to be that fellow influencer on the market that is always available and has something smart and interesting to say to the world.
See, there are plenty of ways of hitting that powerful social media strategy. You just need to know what steps to take. And we’re here for you!