I think it’s safe to say that social media isn’t going anywhere any time soon, and if you and/or your business aren’t on social media, you’re missing the boat. However, once you’re on these sites, how do you get the ball rolling? Starting the profile is only half the battle. Now you have to learn how to start the conversation as well. With that in mind, I give you… 5 ways to improve your social media presence.
1. Seek Out Your Community
Finding the right people to engage with on social media sites can be frustrating. However, there are ways to find people in your “neck of the woods” and they’re baked right in to most of the popular social sites that you or your business are using. Let’s take Twitter for example. There is a built-in search feature that you can access via http://search.twitter.com which allows you to search for keywords, hashtags, and even specific things like questions. This is an amazing tool which you can use to find people who might be looking for the types of services or products that you provide.
Let’s say that you sell flowers. Vist the Twitter search page, enter in some parameters around flowers and limit the scope to your local area. If anyone in your area is tweeting things like “I need to order flowers for my wife” or “anyone know where I can get some flowers for my mom?” you will see those tweets and be able to engage those people with an @ reply.
The same principle holds true for Facebook and Google+ but you will be better off searching for groups (Facebook) and/or communities (Google+) that correspond to the subject matter that you or your business is associated with. In any case, the goal here is to find people who are already searching for you, but they just don’t know it yet. The key is to engage them in conversation without using a hard sell.
2. Run a Promotion and/or Contest
One of the sure-fire ways to attract new followers on any network is to run a contest or special promo event via your social channels. This could be as simple as tweeting something like:
We’re giving away a free cupcake to one of our fans this week. RT this message for a chance to win. #freecupcakes
That message will undoubtedly be retweeted by at least some of your followers. As they retweet it to their followers, they will see it and hopefully retweet it as well. While it might not make you a viral sensation, you can bet it will at least get you a few new followers along the way. Remember, every follower is a potential customer. Never underestimate that.
3. Share Photos & Videos
We are visual creatures, and sharing things that are visually compelling is a great way to get more exposure for you and your business. I’ll give you an example. On my Facebook page I share updates on a regular basis. Most of these updates are seen by 400-500 people on a daily basis and garner a few dozen likes and maybe a handful of comments. However, most of these updates are text based. Recently when I shared a photo showing the before and after photos from my weight loss journey, I was amazed that the post was seen by over 5,000 people and got nearly 300 likes and 60+ comments. While it helps that the image had an inspirational overtone, it’s a testament to just how powerful visual communication can be.
4. Give Back to Your Fans
Fans and followers are a form of digital currency on the web. They are, after all, the ones who are responsible for spreading your message to those who you haven’t reached yet. You should treat them as a part of your business and you should find a way to compensate them for their efforts. Whether that means giving away an exclusive coupon or a free membership to your site, you should find a way to give back and show them that you appreciate them for being there. Telling them thank you every now and then doesn’t hurt either. This lets people know that you’re listening and that you value them as a customer and as a follower online.
5. Stop Faking It
Maintaining social media profiles is a full-time job, and it’s not for the faint of heart. While there are many tools that allow you to fake your way through social media by posting scheduled updates and whatnot, please don’t fall into that trap. The best thing to do is just determine a schedule for your social media and stick to it. Whether that’s an hour per day or a few hours per week, as long as it is YOU doing the work and doing it in real time. This is important because it allows you to engage with people regarding the content you’re posting and it gives you the opportunity to respond to any number of situations that might arise during that time.
There are a lot of people that use nothing but scheduled posts to make it appear as though they are always active on social media. The problem with these folks is that when you try to engage them in conversation, all you hear is the sound of crickets chirping. It’s the same as having an automated phone system dealing with your customers. People are tired of automated, non-personal customer service, and in today’s day & age people expect for their to be a voice on the other end of the line when it comes to social media.