By Chris Abraham
Add Social Media Information to Print Media
This is the most effective way to grow your followership organically without needing to resort to either buying followers or playing the super aggressive game of follow prospects in the hope that they follow back; and, if and when they don’t, unfollowing them.
There are other strategies, of course, but make sure all of your printed media includes every social media platform possible. You need to make everything easy, too. Nobody’s going to want to type in plus.google.com/103099807663073306865 but they might type in plus.google.com/+chrisabraham or google.com/+ChrisAbraham, for example. While not widely used, QR Codes can be utilized to make access to social media easier.
When you’re considering using print as a way to integrate corporate social media branding into your business, consider business cards, letterhead, and also placards, posters, and decals in the waiting rooms and public areas of your business.
And while just adding Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, and Google+ icons below “Find us on social media” might work for some people, it’s much easier to include as many clues as possible such as your Twitter handle, be it @chrisabraham or @gerrisd for Gerris digital (that’s how people use Twitter).
It’s especially important when your custom URL is not intuitive. Unison is @unisonbrand, for example, and not @unison or @unisonagency. Also, cross-platform consistency is key, something I have apparently ignored by setting up GerrisDigtial everywhere except on Twitter, where I decided on @gerrisd instead for reasons of brevity.
I might change it back to @gerrisdigtial if the lack of cross-platform integration gets annoying or muddies my nascent brand.
Add Well Written and Fresh Content
Honestly, I get pitched all the time by fly-by-night offshore and unqualified copy writing outfits. Once in a while, I give one of them a go, look at the product, and conclude that it’s not worth it to order content writing on the cheap. Maybe it’ll be okay to use these folks in the future, but so far I write all of my own.
If you’re able to build some steam with regards to your followers and their numbers (as it’s not worth asking questions in an empty room), then you need to transition from just sharing, expounding, linking, listening, replying, and responding. You’ll then need to start actually getting out there and (sometimes awkwardly) initiate a topic or question.
At worst, it’ll just get the conversation started; at best, it can be part of a company’s market research. It can even be akin to Ed Koch‘s How am I doin’?
I always compare social media to parenting. When you have a child, it’s a game of forever. No, not just until 18, but until you’re in the ground, your final resting place. And, as a parent, most companies treat their social media children the way workaholic parents do: lots of time away, lots of time doing other things, then some grandiose gestures: Expensive gifts and trips in lieu of quality time, every day.
Some companies ignore their social media campaigns with enough regularity that they are more like that charming uncle who only shows up a few times a year (but when he does, he’s loaded down with booty, attempting to buy his way into the hearts of the children).
In both cases, there’s a lot to show but not a lot to know. The father and mother who pour lots of time, consistently, into their relationships with their children are always the best parents. And, in analog, the company or brand that recognizes that parenting is all about the daily grind, all about taking the kids to their soccer practice and doctor visits every day in a castrating minivan.
It’s not about all the sexy giveaways, awards, contests, and big splashy memes, videos, games, or challenges, it’s about being responsive, online, and being there, just like parenting. And remember, not just for now, but forever.
While I wouldn’t, and don’t recommend too much irrelevant “trend surfing,” I would recommend reflecting on what’s going on in the world through your social media.
Express your knowledge, your passion, your expertise, and your interests through your social media profiles and platforms. Editorialize on the news, write a commentary of what’s going on in the news. Don’t merely share interesting links through your profiles but also analyze what’s going on with them. Be the smart one, be insightful.
You’re the expert in so many things, be it properly trained or professionally or just based on experience and the number of years you’ve been on this earth. So, surf the trends just so much as to become a timely and relevant commentator on the issues of the day, especially when it comes to your industry.
This is where a blog or a Tumblr and a content marketing strategy might make a lot of sense. Someplace you can explore the longer-form. Someplace to really dump your depth and passion into one place and over time.
While all of my formal content creations are focused on SEO, digital PR, social media marketing, and reputation management, my daily tweeting, blogging, and Facebooking are about all sorts of things. Memes of the day, cool stuff other people are doing, sensational news, cool inventions, and amazing new apps, gadgets, or phones.
I often write and share about stuff I hear on my podcast lists (or what I am listening to) or on NPR in the morning. What social media is about is conveying who you are in addition to what you do. Social media is a very efficient medium for conveying character, morality, and belief.
And this isn’t done immediately but slowly over time, trickled out, as you reveal what’s interesting and important to you and how you think, how smart you are about things. And, there’s no pressure, either. This isn’t your dissertation defense, you can take some time and energy putting yourself and your social media profiles together just right.
There’s no reason to ever be impetuous. Take your time, take a breath, and then engage.
Be Where Your Readers Are
Very few brands, companies, products, or services have the drawing power, the beauty, to actually attract people off of one preferred social media platform and to another. So, you just need to try your best to be everywhere, at least a little bit, or at least where your customers, your fans, your colleagues, your neighborhood, your prospects, and your industry are. Be it on LinkedIn or Facebook or Google+ or even Twitter.
This is especially true if your customers have come to expect companies and services in your industry to use social media as a channel for customer support (and it doesn’t matter if you do, either. If your competitors use social media to address customer concerns, you’ll need to as well — and yesterday!).
You can go even further. Monitor your space using Sysomos, SM2, or another social media monitoring tools, and then get out there to where the conversations are happening and jump in: blogs, message boards, listservs, email lists, and even reddit and metafilter (though I would ask for some double-ninja triple-advanced help for the last two).
Neither Rome nor your reputation online were built in a day. In fact, Google and everyone else hates being front loaded. If you can only spend a few hours on Sunday night or on a Friday afternoon on Social Media, try using a tool such as HootSuite, SocialOomph.com, or Buffer.
Never forget (always remember) that you’re dealing with real people, real individuals. And while you can speak and talk and gossip and share, you also need to realize that social media is a two-way street. Be personal, be intimate, be responsive. And don’t turn all your individual responses into general FAQ content. Always be sure to tailor your content to each individual person. Humans, not prospects; people, not opportunities.
Yes, also prospects and opportunities, but you’re doing all of this in public. Your cordial, general, patient, and most generous nature is always best served person-by-person.
MasterCard is converting all of its 7,500 employees into social media brand advocates. And you don’t need to stop with just your official brand social media profiles and all the members of your staff, but you can also go outside of your own organization to activate and encourage your natural allies, fans, and customers to sell, speak, share, and sing on your behalf. Tools such as GaggleAMP are very powerful amplifiers and accelerators for these sorts of advocacy campaigns.
Give Your Titles and Tweets Some Love
When it comes down to it, very few people will get past your tweet or the title of your blog post, so it had better be not only good, but a complete synopsis of what your entire piece is about.
And because you’re witty, quippy, and brilliant, you’ll want to be clever with your title: don’t. I can tell you how many retweets and shares don’t work at all when you share them without loads of editing, and people do not edit. They click “Share to Twitter” and then click post. You need to make it completely “done” and “did”. Premasticate it, well before anyone ever shares it.
I hope my list has been useful. If you would like me to go into some more depth or if I missed anything, please let me know in the comments and I will aspire to address and meet your needs, questions, and requests.