So what makes the difference between a following of 500 and a following of 500 000? While A-list celebrities have an advantage, other social media darlings have grown their base of fans more organically, and you can learn from their strategies.
Here are five key points to increasing your influence in support of your business strategies.
1. Produce quality content
If you want to make your mark on social media, you should provide quality content. Generate your own, become a thought leader, and share other people’s content that you believe is interesting.
One man who successfully balances these elements is entrepreneur, investor and author Guy Kawasaki. A self-professed ‘firehose of content,’ Kawasaki creates a blend of other people’s content and his own thoughts and opinions.
Not only that, but he repeats every tweet four times to reach all time zones. Quantity is not the same as quality, of course, but what is remarkable about Kawasaki is his ability to curate such volume. You could skim through his tweets and find a few things every day to pass on to your followers.
2. Be open and engaging
On social media, it’s important to be available to your audience, and few people exemplify that principle better than US entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk. For example, on Twitter he does a lot of responding to followers. He treats everybody as an equal, and responds at an amazing velocity.
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What’s the upside of all this time-consuming engagement? A loyal and devoted following for his business books and priceless visibility for his consulting business, VaynerMedia. And people love it. If they get a response from Gary, even if it’s a smiley face, they immediately react to the fact that “Gary tweeted back at me!”
3. Focus on a specific niche
On social media, you can either be a generalist – producing and curating a hodge-podge of content across many different disciplines – or you can choose to specialise in one or a few areas. Specialists tend to bend more ears than generalists.
Social media is extremely noisy. You’ve got to be able to stand out, and the best way to do this is to own a particular subject.
Jessica Northey, founder of a niche social media marketing boutique in the US, Finger Candy Media ‘owns’ country music. She hosts a live weekly Twitter chat and Google+ ‘twangout’ for country-music fans. This year, Forbes ranked her at No 3 on its list of the Top 50 Social Media Power Influencers. She has more than half a million followers on Twitter and more than 700 000 on Google+.
4. Use social media to build your business, and vice versa
For an entrepreneur, time spent on social media might seem like a distraction from the more important tasks central to running a business. Because it’s so time-intensive, back up your thought leadership on social media with a profit-making enterprise.
Chris Brogan, founder and chief executive of Human Business Works, a business training company, is one example. He walks his talk. He speaks all over the world and consults with companies on social media.
Brogan demonstrates his expertise in blog posts, uses social platforms to broadcast those posts and then uses the visibility to market himself for speaking gigs, coaching sessions and more. These, in turn, increase his social media following. And it doesn’t hurt that he was able to carve out a place for himself as an early adopter of social platforms.
5. Embrace each social network’s unique culture
Each social network has a unique culture, and the best users embrace it rather than sharing identical content across platforms. Take Cory Booker, the mayor of Newark, New Jersey. He relies mainly on Twitter, where he has more than 1,2 million followers – and Facebook, and uses each platform in a way that takes advantage of its native capabilities.
On Twitter – he retweets people, thanking them and engaging with them. He makes use of hashtags to mark his tweets for a specific purpose. On Facebook, by contrast, Booker posts less frequently. For instance, he uploads albums of photos from various events where he has spoken.
Some power users maintain a presence on multiple networks, but for most people two are enough. At least, you want to be active on Facebook and one other platform.
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How many social media accounts does your business have?