Having a large and active following on social media should be viewed as an essential asset to your marketing strategy. These tips will give you the ability to employ a very powerful strategy.
As social media has only grown in influence and attracted more users over the past few years. If you have a website and an online brand, you need to get people to be exposed to it.
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.
Step by step guide to improving your social media following
- Be culturally aware
- Be tribal
- Define your strategy
- Inject emotion into your social media messages
- Get personal, show something of yourself
- Be honest and if you can’t be honest fake it
- Be different
Be culturally aware
Culture is a very big aspect of what someone is looking for on social media. Thus people gather around TV shows, movies, music, political events, and fixed calendar items such as Christmas… etc.
Culture is a group activity, it is one of the things that brings humans together. Social media is big on culture, if you don’t know what it going on, if you live in your own little bubble, then you are not going to be able to take advantage of the cultural tidal waves that sweep through social media.
If you are able to catch the surf early on a particular cultural wave, then it could be very tasty. Those who caught the “Gangnam Phenomenon” early and were able to create good content around it to promote on social media, were able to get a huge advantage.
Social media can of course be very good at spotting new cultural events within a particular niche.
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 analysing their past tweets. These types of people are called “Mavens” and are talked about in Malcom Gladwell’s bool “The Tipping Point”.
Give something to the tribe
The concept of the tribe is simple. You are brought together under a common cause or a cultural/social commonality. You are there to build others up and help them build you up.
If someone tweets your stuff, or retweets your tweets, then make sure you do the same back. If they tweet about something interesting, promote their tweet. Because they are in your tribe, making them more powerful will make you more powerful. It will also make the tribe more powerful and consequently everyone who is a member of that tribe.
Thus, we see the power of the community and the building up of others.
Define your strategy
What is your objective with your social media strategy?
Your social media strategy should be guided by your overall marketing objective, and yes, you absolutely need one.
Before we can use social media to build a fan base, we need to define what your social media strategy is.
Establish an objective.
“I just want social media to make me money?” Is an often heard complaint to the social media consultant who is trying to tell them about a “new paradigm in conversational actionability”.
You should first understand why you have a social media presence. What is your goal? This will help you define a correct strategy. Most create a social media presence because they think it’s the thing to do, “everyone else is so why shouldn’t I”.
But to use this tool effectively, you need to know exactly what you are going to use it for.
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. For example, if you sell things online and your objective is to sell more “things”, then you will have a different strategy than if you were selling “services”.
There are a number of case studies that detail social media strategies, which have made businesses money.
If you sell products, then it’s obvious that selling more products using social media will make you more money, as long as you have the other parts of the business, such as delivery, profit margins etc., sorted out.
It’s a myth to think you cannot make money using social media, this myth tends to get talked about by people who have failed to implement a correct strategy.
Using social media to make money 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 head of the customer 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.
But let us not get too carried away on how to sell using social media. Right now we want to concentrate on building a rabid following. Selling with social media can wait for another blog post.
Building a following means building a fan base. You do this by building one fan at a time. The word fan comes from the word “fanatic”, so you need to get people to respond in deeply emotional ways when thinking about your brand and products.
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.
Inject emotion into your social media messages
You may not think you can create emotional triggers, but emotion is everywhere and covers basic things such as:
- Sexual attraction
- Social status
Example of Kim Kardashian, the Queen of getting noticed, using the emotion of jealousy.
There are many more emotions that are used constantly in communication, both online and offline.
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”.
Isn’t that the basis of most fashion brands?
Thus we see social media being used successfully by big business to inject emotion into their messages around their brand.
Coolness is an emotion.
When people think something is “cool” and express this on social media, this is an emotion. You often see this word when people post something.
Big brands use emotion all the time in their messages. You may not notice it until you try to deconstruct the message. This is because the message works, if you realise a message is aiming to trigger a specific emotional response, then it has less chance of working.
Get personal, show something of yourself
The cliché is that most people love a good honest, story. This is a cliché because it’s true. When you wrap a message around a nail biting story, the message has more permanence in the mind of the reader. It triggers more emotion. It has more of a chance of initiating reaction.
Mandy Edwards on socialmediatoday.com nailed it with this.
A certain type of story pops up a number of times on social media. It uses envy to inflate social status. Someone tweets about the new car they have bought, or the expensive holiday they are on, or the beautiful girlfriend they have. The primary function of such a post, is to elevate the authors’ social status, whether they admit it or not.
They are telling a story about their life, it is designed to make them more socially attractive. We all do this, it is hard wired into our psyche. Even if it is to elevate their status, if they are being honest, people will like that and it will work.
We fear telling people too much in case we are laughed at or found out. The feeling of being scared, of being “found out”, or thinking you know nothing and are only waiting for others to realize it too, is very common in successful people.
This is because successful people tend to raise the bar and are already on their way to their next objective, and so they are concentrating more on putting the next foot forward than enjoying the view and thinking about how wonderful they are.
Be honest and if you can’t be honest – fake it
You could say that this is very similar to being personal and transparent. But this is more about making sure that people realise you actually mean what you are putting out on social media. It is easy to promote cynical messages that try to promote your products with no other benefit to the reader.
This is worthless and in the long run and will damage your personal brand.
It is much more powerful if people associate your words with what you actually think and believe. People wish to connect with real people with real views, it’s the “social” part of social media. A lot of people make the mistake of only using social media as an announcement platform, this weakens the voice of the person. When they do have something of great importance to say, it is lost in a sea of bland, repetitive social media signals.
I wasn’t sure whether to add this one or not, because it does have that “no duh”, factor. But then I go to my social media feeds and I see flocks of sheep, mindlessly chewing, copying, and following other mediocre sheep.
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.
It may be that most don’t want to be different, or don’t want to pay the price, because there is a cost, not in money but in something else. It’s scary to be different, to try new things, because there probably will be times when you fail, and people will laugh at you, and it will all be public, forever.
Knowledge and experience builds confidence. Confidence allows you to create new things, to forge new relationships, to leave the warm embrace of your current place.
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.
Social media mastery is an organic process, you do it, you get feedback, you tweak, and you do it again.
Even if you are going to pay a high class social media agency to do this stuff for you, you still need to understand the fundamentals of what it takes to build a social media following.
It’s important to remember that social media marketing is about persuasion and not conversation. I realise that some say “social media” is all about the “conversation”, but it’s not. The conversation part is merely a method to get to the persuasion part. If you are not using it to persuade, be it getting people to buy from you or connect more with your brand, or even to just let people know that you are an expert in your field. These are all to do with persuasion.
Of course, there is no reason you couldn’t be a nice person with along the way and build some karma for yourself.
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