Grow your social media following
+ Free Cheatsheet +
Who has the time to tweet, post and pin several times a day while building their business? NOBODY, that’s who! And yet people do it and do it well. In this article, I get specific and practical about how to approach social media to build an engaged following. I’ve also made a handy cheatsheet download for you with the essentials for getting started on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.
Adventures in social media
If you’re looking for a strategy that builds your following by 5,000 people in a week, you’re in the wrong place. I’m only interested in creating an engaged following. Adding meaningless numbers to pages seems pretty pointless to me. As usual, I suggest making a plan before you get started. But first, let’s look at how to find time, in your already-busy day!
1. Social media is like quicksand—it can suck you in!
When you’re getting your head around Twitter, finding people to follow on Pinterest or writing posts for Facebook, you can totally loose track of time. Set a timer on your phone/computer so you don’t end up getting lost in some random article or community chat. I use the Pomodoro Method (Wikipedia explains) which is basically about setting a timer for your tasks so that you can be as effective as possible, remember to take breaks and realise when it’s time to get on with other things. If you don’t already have a timer, Google the phrase “Google timer 25 mins”, you can automatically set a timer for 25 minutes, without faffing about with installing new apps.
2. Prep’ takes a while
Preparation is a key part of social media strategy. You want to be sharing good stuff that gets attention, and ultimately gets people to your site or to get in touch. Dipping in and out of your social profiles can wreck the flow of a busy day because you’re switching your brain around to multiple things. I recommend taking an hour a month to think of themes. Make a list of 4 themes for the coming month (1 per week), then break that down into related subtopics per day. You can post and tweet about these topics throughout that week which, not only, helps you to stay consistent but means you won’t get stuck for ideas on some busy or uninspired Wednesday. Then every Monday morning (or whatever day you have an hour to spare) set up a list of links to post for the next 7 days. This seems massive, but once you’ve done it a few times, you’ll have a long list of shareable stuff that you can recycle.
3. You can be there without actually being there
I absolutely don’t have time in my day to tweet, post and pin interesting content several times. So I use a social media scheduler called Buffer (Buffer.com). It’s really easy to set up. You just connect your social profiles and set your schedule. The free version is perfect to get started with because you can integrate Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ (to add Pinterest you’d need to upgrade which costs about €7.60/month) and start sending tweets and posts. I like to check the analytics to see how well my posts are doing, which is really handy to have all in one place and you can change your schedule according to the best response times.
Quickstart video guide to Buffer
My approach to social media
I’m using my Digital Strategy Template as a framework for my social media strategy.
Essentially, I’ve broken the social media plan into its 5 factors:
Download these worksheets, print ’em out and fill ’em in.
Practical stuff to get started
- Add social share and social follow buttons to your site so that they’re really easy to find
- Do cross-linking between profiles, so that people can find your Twitter and Pinterest pages on your Facebook page and visa-versa
- Make use of your email signature, add links to your social profiles
- Ensure ALL your profiles and bio’ info are up to date and fully filled in. Use a good profile pic’ and cover photos in your branded image style. Don’t underestimate how long that stuff takes by the way! Especially if you’re planning to push for new followers on more than one platform.
RELATED: For help with the wording in your profile descriptions, check out my post about using an Elevator Pitch for social profiles. Click here to read the article.
- Set up your personal profile to allow people to follow you (rather than becoming friends)
- Be sure to check what information you share publically on your personal profile (certain info’ can be set to be shared only with friends)
- Business pages have the lowest priority in Facebook’s algorithms, so encourage shares and use Facebook Live Video to stay visible in newsfeeds
- Hashtags increase reach but try to avoid jamming in too many. 2 hashtags on twitter is ideal
- Try Rite Tag to gauge the potential of hashtags, automatically shorten links and embed associated images
- Shorten your links so that you have more space in your tweet. You can use Google URL shortener or Bitly or Buffer’s built-in link shortener
- If you have an existing Pinterest account, remove or make private any boards that are not relevant. Create around 10 boards covering the main topics that are relevant to your product / service / brand
- Set up a business account which will offer you great analytics and access to ‘Rich Pins’ (a business account is free)
- Verify your site and apply for ‘Rich Pins’, which allow you to add more text to your pins
Well, I hope this article helps to get you started with your social media adventure. Since I started implementing my strategy, my following has been growing steadily and I’m spending less time on it with the help of scheduling tools.
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