Post this — like that — follow her — unfollow him — SEND THE MESSAGE — where’s your link?
Post again! Don’t miss that — where did she comment? Did I comment yet? Should I change my handle?? Wait — what’s a handle?!
Any of this sound familiar?
For anyone new to using social media for their business, the task can seem wildly daunting. Sure, middle schoolers these days practically breathe social media — they could manage their Instagram profile in their sleep (or at least, in their bed when they’re supposed to be asleep). But that’s because they were born into it the way us older generations were born into telephone calls. We’ve never lived without them, and so accept them as a natural part of the social order. But if you’ve watched as much Downton Abbey as I have, you know that the telephone caused just as much of an upset (actually, probably more) than the introduction of Facebook.
Even if you don’t quite get why, you probably know by this point how monumentally powerful social media is as a business tool — and you want to utilize it. While every platform is different, I’ve managed social media profiles for businesses for years, and I’ve noticed a few trends for maximizing the effect across the board. Whether you’re Snapchatting, Facebooking, Gramming or Mastondonning, there are three things you always need to keep in mind: Content, Calling Card, and Community.
- Content – This is so basic, but I’m shocked how many people neglect it. They end up treating their social media as a dumping ground for ads and links to their own web sites, begging followers to click through with plastered, messy banners or overly-hashtagged tweets. No matter where you post, no matter what platform you inhabit, unique content will always be king. Always. Social media is about sharing, not just taking. So what are you going to share? Every platform has a different style of content they allow, so of course you’ll want to live within those boundaries. Just make sure your content fits your brand, is enjoyable to read/experience/watch all on it’s own, and comes out consistently. Whether you want to post every month or every day, keep it religiously consistent and high-quality.
- Calling Card – This is your profile. Your landing page, of sorts. The last thing people see before they hopefully click “Follow.” On Facebook you get a banner image, a profile photo, an “about” paragraph, and all kinds of real estate below that. On Instagram you get a bio and a pic. On Snapchat you get a ghost pic, a handle and a name. Whatever your platform, analyze the space you have, and maximize it. Make your profile pic amazing — and make sure it looks amazing as a thumbnail, because that’s the only way it will be seen. Make your bio engaging; make that banner compelling. Your profile is your calling card, and it can absolutely make or break your follower numbers. Check that it looks great in mobile and on desktop; screen shot several different versions and ask your friends what they think. It should be clear at a glance what your brand or product is, and what exactly people will be able to expect should they hit that button and follow you.
- Community – So you’ve got great content, and your profile page is glorious, but your follower growth is still minimal. Why? Well, within the platform, how will anyone ever see you? No one just searches random usernames and checks to see if they’re interesting. People have to stumble across your stuff organically. Well, you could use paid ads in some instances, but that’s less organic — and on some platforms, it’s not even an option. The best way to be seen at any party is to be a social butterfly. Interact with your community. Use a hashtag or a big profile to find the right followers, and interact with their content. Like, comment, follow, share, play; be friendly. Get out there. When you do that, they’ll see your name (or profile pic, etc) in their notifications. They might just say, “huh, who’s this person that just shared my post?” They’ll go to your profile. And, if you put the work into making your profile beautiful, they’ll love it. They’ll want more. And they’ll follow.
Every platform has all kinds of unique strategies, and every marketing firm will tell you there are a thousand and one more ways to grow your following. They’re right; there are many more ways to do this. But these are the basics of any organic growth across any platform. If you’re overwhelmed and trying to figure out where to start, pick the platform that sounds the most fun to you (or perhaps where your ideal client spends the most time) and follow these steps. It takes time, it takes commitment, and it takes consistency, but underneath the all the mysterious strategies out there is this basic template. Make great content, have a great profile, and engage with your community.
It’s that simple (and that difficult).