“I’ve set up my social media platforms but I’m finding it very difficult to build a following” is a problem I hear from many of our clients and I know they look to me for a simple solution, a magic trick, a special feature or some nugget of advice that will solve this dilemma easily.
I’m sorry, the bad news is that there is no one trick or piece of magic but of course it can be done if you follow some of my tips. I’ll assume in preparing these tips that you want the right people following and not just numbers purchased online from click farms for the sake of looking popular.
Here are my seven magic tips that I believe will work for you:
1. The Tribe Mentality and Getting the Basics right
You must think in terms of building your tribe at all times and this involves exercising a discipline and structure that allows you to easily pick up new followers.
When you set up any of your social media platforms make sure you execute the process of inviting your email database to follow you, include social media links on your website and on your email signature and make it easy for people to subscribe to your e-newsletter or follow your blog.
Another simple piece of advice here is to highlight your social presence offline on all posters, adverts, signage, shopping bags and other materials where someone may interact with your business or service.
2. Start the chat, you’re not Kim Kardashian!
We all have to do a little reality check about what type of business we are and realise that it is quite possible we do not have the natural appeal of Kim. This is a real dilemma for certain businesses who being honest you may not be inclined to automatically follow such as the Insurance Broker in Ranelagh or the Chiropodist in Gort.
My advice to any businesses without the “Kim” appeal (that’s most of us!) is that they must initiate a lot of the social media chat by first doing the following and then interact with what that target audience are saying.
While it’s vital that we get our own message across in our communications it’s just as important that we achieve awareness for ourselves by interacting with others. Join the conversation of others, share and retweet their posts and in no time at all you will find they will do the same for you, which will bring you new followers.
3. Lose the robot, talk about the match
At some point in time we were taught about formal business communications, which has us often behaving like robots. The beauty of online is that we can lose much of the formality that can choke normal written communications and this allows us to show some of the really important attributes about our business such as our personality, our humour, our interests, our caring side and how passionate we are about things that matter to us.
It’s amazing the difference it makes to a business relationship when you discover that a prospect is also a hugely passionate Liverpool FC fan!
4. “Like” and Stop Selling
Being realistic why would someone want to become a member of your online tribe?
The Facebook word “Like” can really focus you here when you are communicating and the word dislike can be just as useful. I’ll follow you on twitter, subscribe to your blog, read your newsletter or connect with you on LinkedIn as long as it delivers some benefit to me – it should be an experience that I “Like“.
Are you going to give me advice, make me smile, be nice, let me be the first to know about special offers, offer me samples, invite me to exclusive events, promote my business, help me to solve problems, enrich my life in some way or do you just want me to Buy, Buy, Buy?
If the online platforms are used to deliver benefits to your tribe, to build relationships and rapport with them, the sales will look after themselves.
5. Brushing your teeth
In the same way that brushing once a month won’t do your teeth any good, posting infrequently online will do your business no good.
The biggest stumbling block to success that I see with clients is that they struggle to make online activity part of their regular routine. It’s vital that you do your weekly blog post, that you schedule your newsletter, that you post daily on all of your social media platforms and this becomes part of the normal running of the business.
Every time you post you are effectively promoting your business, which is a great habit to get into just like brushing your teeth!
6. The Power of You
Just as we want to build our tribe of followers it’s really important to leverage the tribe that you have within your organisation. Online activity comes alive through person to person interactions – I’d much prefer to talk to a person rather than a logo.
Where possible I would encourage as many individuals as possible to pro-actively wave a flag for the business online, which spreads the workload, maximises the reach but also increases the effectiveness. This works as long as there is a good solid social media policy and a clear understanding around objectives and key messages.
Where companies have accounts online it is always a good idea to introduce the person behind the posts where appropriate. I have seen Eircom doing this quite effectively on Twitter and it adds a degree of trust to their content.
7. Show me the money!
While you can do all of the right things to build the size of your online tribe there is a time where you just have to advertise to accelerate this process.
With Facebook, advertising is essential both to build a following and then subsequently to reach them with your communications. At the moment success on Twitter isn’t as dependant on budget but unless you are as popular as Kim you will need budget to build your following quickly.
Like everything else in business nothing comes easy and if you want to build your online tribe you either get a body like Kim, do a reality TV show and have a baby with Kanye West or else roll the sleeves up and do it the hard way!
Good luck with your tribe..
Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion PR and Marketing who offer Social Media Consultancy and Training to clients from our offices in Dublin and Cork.