You have a company website and blog that you update with the zeal that only true believers can understand: in the 24/7 online world, freshness counts.
But a web and blog just aren’t enough. A strong presence on social media is also crucial for both branding and building client relationships.
But with so many people making noise on social media sites every minute of every hour of every day, how can make people pay attention to you?
Strategy #1: Determine which sites look to offer the best ROI
Half the battle is figuring out where your voice stands the best chance of being heard.
Forbes writer Jia Wertz suggests that all companies (and especially manpower and capital-poor startups) be strategic about which sites they choose.
Check the demographics reached by each platform. As an example, Wertz reports that 60% of Snapchat users are young women and men aged 24 and younger; 30% of Facebook users are mature women and men aged 25 to 54.
Does the information you find align with the general target audience you want to reach?
Also try to determine the frequency and the time of day/days of the week users connect with a particular site. This will give you clues about when to post for maximum visibility.
Strategy #2: Publish on a regular schedule
Once you’ve figured out which social media sites are best for your brand and message, you’ll need to work out a posting schedule.
Entrepreneur and influencer Neil Patel suggests that for blogging, how often you update your site should be a function of what you want to accomplish.
His observation is also applicable to other types of social media.
To grow a following, frequent posting (e.g., several times a day on Twitter and Facebook, once a week on YouTube) may work best.
To build trust and loyalty over time, more infrequent posting (e.g., a few times a day on Twitter and Facebook; once or twice a month on YouTube) may be the better solution.
Whatever you do, keep it consistent. You won’t create engagement otherwise.
Strategy #3: Give people a reason to follow you
Motivating people to follow you is part of how you build engagement. To make this happen, you can:
- offer informed opinions on your area of expertise
- show the depth/range of your knowledge
Share (or backlink to) articles, reports and studies written by other major influencers and/or brands relevant to the products/services you provide.
Show that you’ve done the research and know your stuff.
At the same time, don’t forget that social media has a lighter, more personal side.
An ability to inspire or entertain can also motivate others to listen to what you have to say.
Strategy #4: Form alliances with established influencers
Influencers are area experts who have built reputations online or off (or both).
They can be people in your network, professionals you admire but haven’t met or people who work in areas complementary to your own.
You need to stand near them and connect.
Ask questions. Engage in dialogue. Show you have ideas on topics of interest. If the spirit moves you, suggest a project you both can showcase on social media.
Collaborating with established influencers can introduce you to new audiences, offer valuable learning experiences, and bolster professional credibility.
All of which can add immeasurably to your own influence quotient.
Strategy: Create (an) online conversation
You also build your influence by starting — rather than just joining — a pre-existing conversation.
Try bringing up a little-discussed issue. Or expressing a unique opinion. Or posting controversial content that sparks debate.
These approaches require equal doses of professional expertise and self-confidence. You’ll also need to be ready to manage exchanges that could heat up.
But seeking out the spotlight has its rewards. Followers are much more likely to remember who you are…and want to listen to more of what you have to say.
Strategy #6: Focus on engagement before follower numbers
Too many people make the mistake of using large social media followings as a barometer of influence.
Social media experts will tell you that the best indicator of influence is engagement.
The number of likes, shares and comments site posts get over time is one simple way to measure influence across most social media sites.
On Twitter, a person’s impact can be measured by how many lists they are on. According to Social Media Explained author Mark Schaefer, if that number, divided by the number of followers equals 5% or more, that person is an influencer.
Strategy #7: Become an online community-builder
Another way to build social media influence is to create user groups. If you’re willing to take the lead, Twitter and Facebook are especially good host sites for these types of communities.
Groups can develop out of professional interests. These types of communities are most likely to directly impact your identified area of expertise.
BUT: don’t discount the possibility of creating a group based on connections to an industry (rather than a profession), a shared passion, or a specific geographic location.
Say you are a Seattle portrait photographer. You could start a Facebook or LinkedIn group for:
- Seattle portrait photographers
- professional photographers in Washington state
- people/firms with connections to the world of commercial visual art.
Communities like these could help you build influence in sub-niches that could one day benefit from interaction with your business.
Social m influence isn’t just about who has the biggest following. It’s about earning the right to be heard amidst the din of online noise and distraction.