Social media plays a critical role in business and career success. Most companies, however, still struggle to find their voice on social media.
Individuals are also using social media to build personal brands and gain recognition as thought leaders in their industry so they can advance their careers. They, too, find it challenging to adapt in this everchanging space.
Social media platforms are constantly being updated, organic reach is decreasing by the minute, and algorithms will always win against the temporary hacks of self-proclaimed marketing gurus.
Furthermore, the internet is flooded with tips and tricks that only work for a short period of time and have little to no long-term benefit. So what do you do to navigate this digital space and win?
The following advice will help you gain a better perspective on how to win at social media and reap the benefits.
1. Get your house in order
What do you usually do when you’re expecting visitors?
You turn off the lights and go hide in the closet. Okay, I’m not talking about when you’ve got relatives harassing you on a Sunday. I’m talking about that long anticipated weekend gathering with your favorite friends.
The answer is: you get your house in order. You make sure everything looks nice and clean and presentable so that your guests can enjoy their visit.
The same thing applies in the digital world. Think of your social media profile as your house and optimize it so that it reflects who you are. Use your content strategically to make it look appealing for your visitors.
This means different things for different platforms. The point, however, remains the same. The first thing you need to do is to optimize your profile so that your visitors find it interesting and become intrigued to follow you.
2. Join the conversation
Staying home rarely leads to making new friends and connections, the same thing applies in the digital world.
Focusing only on optimizing your profile and posting content on your feed is the equivalent of having a fancy house that you never invite anyone into.
So what should you do?
Get out and socialize. Find where your audience hangs out and hang out with them. Play nice and add value.
Here’s a few ways you can do this:
a) Follow the influencers that your audience follows
Engaging with influencers in your niche can increase the chances of your profile being discovered by the people following them.
Start by commenting on their posts as soon as they post them in order to maximize the visibility of your comments. Make sure your comments add value — avoid anything generic and boring.
You can expand on the idea of the main post or provide meaningful anecdotes. It’s also a good idea to comment on other people’s comments and have engaging conversations that others might want to join.
On platforms like Twitter and Instagram you can choose to be notified when someone posts an update. Use that to your advantage.
b) Work your way into new communities
Join relevant groups on Facebook and LinkedIn and find a way to add value and become noticed by the community. If you’re new to a group, try to be helpful by answering questions and leaving useful comments.
Treat it like you’d treat a face to face conversation. Be kind and helpful.
Don’t jump head first into posting promotional posts that advertise for your products or services. Just add value and let people’s curiosity drive them to know more about you and what you do.
The goal is to be interesting, not pushy.
c) Infiltrate your competitors’ audience
If you know who you’re competing with for people’s attention, you can join the conversation that’s happening on their social media channels and increase your chances of being discovered.
Remember, you’re not there to steal the attention from your competitors, you’re there to add value to their audience and contribute to the conversation.
Avoid bragging about how good your product or service is. And surely don’t compare it to your competitor’s. It’s off-putting to most people and will have a negative effect on your reputation and make your competitors block you.
3. Bring the party back home
Now that your house is in order and you’ve been out socializing, it’s time to bring the party back home — let the good times begin!
While you’re out engaging with people outside of your profile, keep an eye out for those who you want to bring back home and maintain a connection with.
In most cases, if you’re doing this right, people will automatically follow you or send you a connection request. And, of course, you can do the same too.
Don’t just follow or add anyone — sometimes quantity is just a vanity metric. Look for people who can add value, those who can become good collaborators, long-term clients, and even friends.
Keep in mind, you have to know exactly who you’re looking for before you go looking for them. Knowing your target audience is a must. This will help you recognize your people when you come across them in the crowded space of social media.
4. Lead the conversation
Now that the party is at your house, it’s time to lead the conversation, connect people to each other and open up new possibilities.
a) Tell engaging stories
All great leaders are great story tellers. So what’s the story behind your brand? Why do you do what you do? And why should your audience care?
Always ask yourself “so what?” why would this matter to my audience? Is this going to help them, educate them, inspire them?
Remember, corporate-centric messaging is the enemy of good marketing. You are not the hero of your story, your customer is. Tell people the stories that matter to them. Develop a narrative that inspires them to do better.
b) Shed a new light
You want to be original, but more so relevant and relatable. Think different, but don’t try to reinvent the wheel just for the sake of being original. If your original ideas don’t solve a problem, they are bad ideas.
Aim at having a fresh perspective. Shed a new light on relevant topics that your audience is interested in and curious about. Feed their curiosity.
Think of your audience’s biggest pain points. What are they struggling with? Do you have a new idea that could solve their problem? You can present a new solution, or an old solution in a new way that makes it more relatable to them.
c) Include others
Most people focus on the latest guru hacks and forget that social media is about being social. In a social setting, if everything revolves around you, then you’re a self-centered egomaniac. The same applies on social media.
You can’t lead a conversation without including others. Mention people in your posts, your comments, and introduce your connections to each other.
Reply to comments and messages and be proactive in sharing good ideas. Moreover, be generous with praise and give credit where it’s deserved.
d) Hijack the news
Stay on top of what’s happening in the world, specifically in your industry.
When you sense that a story is going to be the talk of the town, find a way to inject yourself into it. Author David Meerman Scott calls this Newsjacking. He wrote a book about it under the same title.
Sahil Bloom’s excellent Twitter thread on the recent Evergrande collapse is a great example of newsjacking. At the time of writing this article, It’s been retweeted over 4,500 times, has over 12,500 likes, and hundreds of comments.
5. Build long-term relationships
You know how it goes in house parties, groups of people gather around different corners in the house and have different kinds of conversations.
As all good hosts do, you’ll be shuffling around between groups trying to give everyone enough attention to make sure they’re having a good time. Occasionally, one group sparks your interest more than others and you find yourself deeply immersed in their conversation.
Within this group, there’s usually one or two individuals that you feel you are connecting with on a deeper level and that you share similar interests or similar perspectives on certain topics.
After a few good chats (and fist-bumps) you exchange phone numbers. But also, you could leave the group chat to grab a snack and have a one-on-one conversation.
Okay, what does all this have to do with social media?
a) Take the conversation from public to private
Just like in a real-life social setting, on social media you can take the conversation from group to individual and from public to private.
It’s even easier on social media since you can take multiple conversations from the comment section to the inbox.
The reason you want to do this is because people like individual attention and tend to open up more in a private one-on-one setting.
b) Take the conversation from online to offline
Go the extra mile. That’s where good things happen.
When you’re in the inbox having an interesting conversation and you have established some rapport, don’t hesitate to ask for someone’s phone number and continuing the conversation on the phone.
If an opportunity presents itself or you simply want to collaborate on a project, ask to meet in person for lunch or a coffee.
Always make the other person feel comfortable by establishing some rapport before you suggest to meet. But don’t wait for them to take the first step, be the one who takes the initiative.
Social media is not about hoarding followers and getting likes and comments. It’s about building relationships, credibility, and influence.
Generic advice like be consistent, have a content calendar, schedule your posts in advance, and other tips along these lines can only take you so far.
Your aim is to be the go-to person in your industry, a trusted advisor on a subject matter, and a solution provider to those who could benefit from what you do. This applies to companies and individuals alike.
If you need help with your social media strategy, please reach out by sending me a message on this page. You can also get in touch on LinkedIn or Twitter.
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