Because I am incredibly involved with social media I forget that many people haven’t been trying to stoke action on these channels for as long as I have. I grew my social influence in the web design and graphic design niche from infinitesimal 3 and a half years ago on Twitter and Instagram to having a solid following of 10’s of thousands on Twitter and many thousands on Instagram. More importantly (and this will be a theme throughout this guide), when I post links to my content on Twitter I get a significant amount of people clicking, and I’ve learned enough about what is effective on these channels as to get a good amount of likes and retweets – expanding branding awareness surrounding my business of web design in Minneapolis.
When you get advice from people about how to stoke interaction, always examine the source. Look at my tweets, and my instagram posts – I’m not a social media viral hit, but I keep it real and have a good amount of community interaction.
So what? How do I get more connections on social media?
Everything builds on a content strategy. If you don’t have valuable content for your niche audience to consume and learn from or be entertained by, you probably don’t have much to promote on social media in the first place so the first rule of success on social media is simple:
1. Create deeply useful or entertaining content that serves your niche
What is your demographic? For me it’s useful to recognize part of my audience is composed of other web designers, and I can better imagine how to serve them by thinking about what kinds of resources I would have appreciated to grow my web design skills a couple years ago and creating deep and educational materials on those subjects. Some people find it useful to give their demographics names to help teams understand in an idiot-proof way who these people are – so my two demographics could be web designer wally, and marketing team molly. Molly might be an in-house marketing manager and need some marketing related content, so the key is creating content for both of these people so they find me on social and search engines for that matter.
You’re demographics may be totally different; engineer adam – who you create technical white papers for on the subject related to the work you do. Hospital staffing Stephanie – whoever you are trying to reach, and think about their emotional needs related to your product and how you can fulfill those and be a resource for them, both right before they’ll need your product or service and long before so you come to mind when they get to the point of needing what you’re selling.
2. Connect with a crazy amount of people on social media
I tend to be a little aggressive on this front, and by no means do you have to employ the kind of veracity I do when connecting with people on social. I find people that are interested in things similar to me… ideally they’ve favorited or retweeted something that is like the content I share and then I follow them. This gets their attention, and sometimes it starts a conversation. But Tim, isn’t your timeline too busy to really pay any attention to? Well, that is something very relevant to consider; for me, by keeping curated lists of people in different segments I still can use Twitter as a exploration and listening tool.
None of these things are gospel of course. I know experts in online marketing who would do their best to dissuade you from connecting with a crazy amount of people in this way, and I can only say I’ve gotten clients this way, so I know it’s effective. I’ve also gotten to chat with other talented professionals, CMO’s, and gotten backlinks and mentions I likely wouldn’t have if I hadn’t done this. It has to be backed up with friendly banter when people talk to you, sharing tons of value you and others have created, and seriously listening to other people on the platform to make sure you’re striking the right tone.
3. Be the coolest, nicest version of yourself – meet up with people from social in real life, assuage concerns and questions with useful and kind feedback, and block trolls
Because I’m fairly aggressive I do have people that respond to my attempts to connect with a lot of people negatively, but mostly people are really nice. I try to be cool when people are just a little mean, but block people that aren’t being constructive at all. Be constructive, positive, or get blocked. Be nice on social media, there are real people on the other side of your tweets and posts. If you’re a little older or perhaps just new to social media, recognize you don’t have to be super formal all of the time; people appreciate when you let down your guard, share your cabinet of curiosities, and are candid about your experiences.
Just don’t be so candid that you’re an asshole – the internet already has enough trolls.
4. Build habits of sharing other’s content, keep lists of other radical people in your niche and targets for adoration
I love retweeting valuable content from other digital marketing professionals in my market (Minneapolis,) because they often can get a lot of retweets and likes from it’s like sharing the love for those people whose content I’m sharing. Ideally the content will be high-value and relevant to my audience, so I also just keep a curated list of people who share ridiculously useful web marketing and web design content, so I can be pushing out amazing content whether it’s mine or other pro‘s.
Two twitter lists to create right now if you don’t have them:
- People in your market, in your area (for continually interacting with, sharing their stuff, generally shmoozing.)
- People who share crazy value or are consistently entertaining (for spreading the value, keeping your account full of valuable tweets.)
Because the way I do social is generally the non-paid, non-ad variety, you’ll notice this article is generally void of Facebook advice. I post on facebook, but don’t make it a huge part of my social strategy. If you have an older demographic, Facebook is huge and extremely viable. The only real value I might be able to give in this area is when you have a big push use promoted posts and ads and get very specific with your demographic targeting. Facebook is a glorious ad platform, but for my purposes it’s harder for me to get organic visibility on my content. For many it’s not; mommy bloggers, viral type marketing, crafty remodelers, etc. seem to do great on Facebook. The key is really to find the couple channels that you can really rock and focus on those for the most part.
5. Get your goals clarified, and create subsets of goals to get to your bigger goals.
Choosing the channels you want to go after really depends on what your key goals are. Mine revolve around getting traffic to my blog posts, listening and socializing with people in my industry, and getting better at expressing my ideas and connecting with people. The ROI for me is exposure (like a billboard in the ‘olden days,’) industry recognition, and more clients ($$$.)The ROI of social media is exposure (like a billboard in the olden days,) industry recognition, and more clients ($$$.) Click To Tweet
If you have an eCommerce store, social media listening and posting value in a regular content strategy can start to display really obvious ROI in a matter of time. Set up goals and conversions in Google Analytics or whatever analytics platform you use and then filter by source. You can then see how many people are coming into the site from which social platform and how many of them are converting into paying customers.
You can also create a bit.ly link or similar and track conversions for specific posts, whether in your Instagram profile, a single tweet, or on Facebook. In this way if you have a big campaign you can see what the pure ROI is without subjectivity. The subjective part, whether you value ‘general exposure’ or not, is the real wild-card. No one knows whether a billboard was ‘converting’, but people still pay 50k for a well placed billboard because they can see sales improve when they have them vs. when they don’t.
6. Build habits of sharing content around your niche regularly, a solid fire requires steady fuel to keep it burning
Don’t just tweet links to your website. I think of sharing the best stuff catered to why people follow you is the most important, basic thing you can offer them. Regardless of the platform, curating these types of links/content is respectful to the people that have invited you into their lives, albeit in a relatively small way.
7. Build in social tools on your website that allow for social proof, and easy sharing – make sharing options that are obvious and tempting!
When you do share content on social, and even when they just find it through search engines you’ll want them to be able to tweet, share and post about your content as easily as they possibly can. I use the WordPress ‘Super Socializer’ plugin on my website with some style modification so that people can share content without a lot of thought or effort.
One of my favorite ways to share my own content is by using the Buffer extension for the Google Chrome browser. I can hover over an image and ‘Buffer’ tweets and shares for as many accounts as I’ve connected to Buffer (the most important social tool I suggest,) and I can schedule posts staggered for the next month by using the ‘Power Scheduler’ built into the Chrome Buffer extension.Top social media tool for 2016? @buffer - and the Buffer Chrome browser extension Click To Tweet
8. Tools to help automate outreach and connection
These are the main four tools I use to supercharge my social presence:
- Flitter – Follow people and unfollow people quickly – people who follow accounts similar to me.
- Archie – Automate favoriting on Instagram and Twitter
- Google Analytics App for smartphone – Check the referrals, traffic to specific posts, and conversions from social so you can see what’s working!
- Buffer – Schedule social posts. I love the new ‘feeds’ functionality to pull new posts from my favorite industry blogs and share when appropriate.
It’s not a standalone tool, but don’t forget to search for your domain on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest and share other people’s posts that have your content in them. For example, I often search for timbdesign.com on Twitter and share other people’s posts to get more exposure.
First and foremost, tools aside – create value. Create value with new and entertaining YouTube videos, blog posts, tweets and Instagram posts. Don’t get too carried away with how many people like them, but do couple your creation of quality content with outreach and intentionally connecting with influencers within your niche. In this way you’ll find that people will start to respond to your efforts, and they won’t go unnoticed. Love your followers and they’ll love you. Whether you have 5 or 500 avid fans, you’ll notice the most positive results when you treat them like you would a real in-person friend or fan: be respectful and do your best to entertain them.Whether you have 5 or 500 avid fans, you'll get the best results when you treat them like a real in-person friend or fan Click To Tweet
For me it’s funny shit! I’ve got to share the stuff that people like. Where I find useful things surrounding web design that are also funny is where I find the best results. Like here, here, and here. Maybe for you it will also be funny stuff that you need to share, or maybe it’s crazy educational like my “WordPress Development for Noobs” Series. The point is, that you’ll need to find what it is your audience responds the best to where it intersects with the services or products you’re offering.
If all this isn’t enough, I think the only thing that will convince you is a song. Enjoy & cringe.