Social media is competitive.
As more and more businesses rely on Twitter, Facebook and Google + to build their business networks, simple “click bait” links and quick 140 character updates won’t cut it anymore.
Building social media relationships today is akin to building personal and business relationships offline. You need to drive conversation, aim for your clients’ needs and give people a reason to keep you in mind.
But don’t let the numbers game become a distraction. Monitoring your follower stats and pageviews is important. But it’s not the end-all, be-all of social media success. It’s all about engagement. Engaging your community and building your niche is critical to longevity in a saturated online marketplace.
Here are some quick pointers:
1. Build your audience, not just stats
Treat followers like friends. For every new follow, take a glance at the person or brand’s feed. Then dive in and like, comment or follow back. Check in with them regularly and interact with their content.
The trick is to form partnerships that extend beyond an robotic “thanks for the follow” message. Show people there is a real person behind your brand, and share similar interests and goals. This will help you retain followers, attract new followers and build your network.
As you grow your social media reach, it becomes all too easy to focus on the numbers. The “Follow” counter on your Twitter page is an alluring scoreboard, as are the engagement and interaction stats on your Google Analytics page. In the race to build your numbers, however, don’t lose sight of the people behind those numbers.
2. Sharing is caring
“Do unto others as they would do unto you.” Getting retweets, favorites and likes are great, but don’t forget to pay it forward.
Take a few minutes everyday to look through your feed and interact with followers and non-followers alike. Go beyond a simple click on the “favorite” star. Ask a question, offer a compliment, congratulate peers who have reached a milestone or achievement of some sort. This is especially important on Twitter, where user interactions can seem less personal than on your Facebook friend list.
Unsolicited shoutouts are appreciated too! Maybe a local entrepreneur has a Kickstarter or an event coming up. Plug their news on your feed. Include a link to their social media account or their website so your followers have a way of participating with that event. This is mutually beneficial — they get a plug and you get brownie points for helping them out. You might even get a public thank you or a similar shoutout at a later date. Social currency is critical…grow it by boosting your peers as often as possible.
3. Put Yourself Out There
Create clickable content in the form of blog posts, third party articles, and visual media. This brings interactive content to your followers’ social media feeds, and offer opportunities for engagement.
Invite people to interact. Ask them to RSVP for an event, watch a video you made, or preview a snippet of an interview you posted on your blog. Getting people to engage with your content not only drives up your interaction stats but also builds your reputation as someone who is tech savvy and engaged in your industry.
And of course, respond to feedback. Check your comments and Direct Messages frequently and respond to suggestions, compliments and questions. Treat social media like a conversation. You want people talking about your business, online and offline.
4. Buy Local
Get involved…use local hashtags, follow small business networks and post about local events.
Not every successful startup is located in Silicon Valley. Chances are the area where you’re based, whether it’s a major city or a small town, has a small business culture that is active on the internet.
Keep tabs on local networking events, conferences and other events that could put you face to face with potential clients, investors and friends. Building your regional brand gives you exposure where it matters, in your community. That in turn may bring more clients to your door.