You’ve got a plan for creating valuable content, or at least a routine, but who is going to see it, read it, and do something with it? If your connections include past or existing clients, that’s all well and good – you might get some referrals – but you need ways to increase the size, diversity, and quality of your audience. Size and diversity matter, because it’s not so much your immediate audience you’re aiming at, but their potential audiences, Quality matters, because if those are dead accounts, or all they do is play Farmville online, it’s not helping; you need amplifiers who routinely share high quality content by others to a wider public.
Post Social Content Frequently
The more frequently you post, the more chances you have for people to see and share your content. You can use a tool like Buffer or Hootsuite to schedule social posts, so you’re always posting content, even if you’re not sitting in front of every social network every day. Put in a month’s worth, and post more timely things as needed. If you schedule 120 posts per month, instead of 30, your content is 400% more likely to be seen in the ever moving social stream. Quality matters, but quantity does too. Get in the head of your prospective clients and create content that addresses their most pressing concerns. Content like that will draw more attention.
Curate Content Sparingly
You’ve seen those accounts where all that gets posted is links to other things on the web. That’s great – those people are potential amplifiers, if they have a great audience, and they recognize quality content. Follow or connect with some of them. But you, on the other hand, need to be posting mostly original material. It’s fine to augment your original content with quality content you find on the web, but unless you’re running a specific campaign that calls for a high percentage of other people’s content, make it 80-90% original. Besides, you can do that easily with a decent content marketing strategy.
Conduct Some Social Event Campaigns
Pushing out content can help build an audience, but content plus social event campaigns can build it bigger, more diverse, and faster. Giveaways, webinars, and live+virtual events can directly engage your audience and bring lots of new blood into the fold. Don’t just publish, do something fun or educational. Social media venues are excellent platforms for events and PR – you just need to brainstorm some possibilities to make use of them.
Givers gain, so don’t just be a mouthpiece. If you want social credibility, give as good as you hope to get, but without even thinking about the end result. Keep an eye on your social streams, either individually, or with tools like Hootsuite and Tweetdeck, enjoy some of the content that others are posting, and then like, favorite, mention, share, and retweet some of it. Don’t go overboard – just be authentic. If you think your audience would benefit from content one of your connections posted, share it with your audience and say so. Do this consistently and reciprocation is built in – people pay attention to your content, because you pay attention to theirs, and the good will you build up will come back to you.
Initiate New Social Connections
Don’t be passive and just wait around for an audience to ‘find’ you; make it a routine to invite people to connect. You should be running at least one campaign to directly increase new followers. One way to do that is to follow other people – about half will follow you back. Of course, they’ll quickly unfollow you if you’re self-promoting or just not routinely putting out content of value. You can be strategic about who you follow, without being creepy. Your goal is to increase the percentage of your base that routinely amplify content like yours. Each social network is different, and requires a different strategy. Linkedin, Twitter, and Facebook for instance, all have different models of establishing personal connections. To oversimplify it a little, Twitter is very open, Linkedin more closed, and Facebook somewhere in between. There are tools that will help you find and follow influencers and social amplifiers. With Twitter, for instance, there’s Followerwonk and PeerReach. You’ll also find different types of relationships are more suited for one network over another; if you meet someone at a networking even, and have a conversation about business, LinkedIn should be a first stop for sending them an invitation to connect.
Focus on More than One Network
Don’t make assumptions about your untapped audience, like “my demographic is all on LinkedIn – they wouldn’t touch Twitter.” That bias may be self-reinforcing, but you only know about the audience you already have, not the audience you’re not currently reaching. You want to grow, right? For years, Whole Foods steered clear of Midwestern areas like Oklahoma City. When they opened their OKC store, they posted record profits. It turns out they had underestimated the audience they weren’t currently reaching. Some people switched their grocer altogether; others go to more than one, but there’s a huge market there for what Whole Foods is doing. People self-select their social networks and media too; post something to youtube, and it gets shared on Twitter. If all your current clients are on Facebook, great – go get the clients you don’t yet have, on Twitter and LinkedIn. Set up all the basics with the most important networks, at least: a personal account profile and added business page for LinkedIn, Facebook, and Google+, and at least one Twitter, Youtube, and Pinterest account. You can then use tools like Buffer to post content across all networks and Klout to measure engagement. The only thing you have to lose is assumptions; what you’ll gain is a wider audience.
Treat Your Site, Search, and Social Presence as Interconnected
You can’t afford the time and effort, or sheer expense, of treating every marketing channel as independent of the others. Your digital strategy needs campaigns that cross boundaries and feed content and opportunities from one channel to another. Your web site is a content platform, the more of a pattern of routine posting you demonstrate, the more links search engines will give you, and the more material you have fir repurposing to social media. Engagement in social media also translates into better search engine treatment, and social networks are search engines and link referrers too, so it all works together. If you’re only focused on one thing, it’s actually costing you success in that one thing. A digital strategy is meant to tie multiple marketing channels together, so that your effort is easier, and your effectiveness greater.
Your audience is a partner in your business. Treat them like cattle, and they’ll find new fields to graze. Hard sell them, and they’ll get tired of it and replace you with something interesting or fun. But contribute and be generous, and your audience becomes your key to an ever wider audience. Get some help building your digital strategy for social media and all your marketing channels with MadPipe.