In his book Tweet Naked, online marketing expert and Social Media Firm CEO Scott Levy provides the critical information entrepreneurs need to craft a social media strategy that will boost their brand and their business. In this edited excerpt, the author offers tips that can help you figure out how you want the world to view your brand.
While some large, national companies, like McDonald's, are happy to have followers from anywhere and everywhere, smaller, niche businesses can benefit greatly from reaching people and growing a following in their own industry. A small business in a specific town, city or region, such as a spa that can only serve 50 people a week, may benefit more from a select local following than a mass following of 100,000 people from all over the world that it could never accommodate.
You need to decide whether your strategy is to build local leads, a national following, or international branding and visibility. It's important to keep a few things in mind when building a following:
- Your potential reach as a business. Are you trying to brand locally or internationally?
- Your resources. How much time and money do you have to monitor--or have your staff monitor--your social media activities and interact with followers? If you have numerous followers on Twitter but have no time (or interest) in responding to them, you'll lose them as brand supporters.
- The type of product or service you offer. If you're a software manufacturer, for example, you'll want to reach as many people as possible. But if you're selling high-end furnishings, you may be better served with a smaller following of top designers and those who can appreciate and afford your goods.
Here are 10 easy ways to build a following:
1. Have an excellent photo, bio and profile. Every form of social media lets you provide some information about yourself. Make sure your Twitter profile and bio includes a succinct mix of who you are and what you do, but do not sell! Your photo should be a nice close-up of you alone--preferably sporting a smile. Make sure the photo is clear and close; if it was taken from 50 feet away, your face will look like a dot on mobile devices. And leave the photos of family and friends to your Facebook page.
2. Cross-promote. Let people on Facebook have your Twitter handle, and people on Twitter find your Facebook page. Do the same on LinkedIn and other social media sites. A recent LinkedIn thread in a networking discussion group simply asked everyone to share their Twitter handles--and they did.
3. Put your Twitter handle everywhere. Don't be shy about letting everyone know where you can be found on social media. Some folks even have bumper stickers with their Twitter handles on them. Are personalized license plates next?
4. Reciprocate. If they like you, like them; if they follow you, follow them; and if they endorse you, endorse them.
5. Be human. Use your own identity rather than your brand or logo. On Twitter, very often the people behind the business have more followers than their businesses. Also connect with the people behind other businesses; this can help you establish a relationship and you can even talk about and cross-promote each other's companies.
6. Use photos. They can be very effective in your Twitter tweets. Photos grab people's attention. Make sure they're good quality and appropriate for your audience.
7. Pay attention. Each social media platform is trying to remain fresh, new and innovative. As a result, there are new options introduced, some of which can benefit you in your effort to build your following and grow your brand. You may not use the many features each social media platform has to offer, but it's worthwhile to stay abreast of the latest development.
8. Set up a schedule. While you may monitor social media all day long, you might not have the time to be an active participant. If this is the case, you may want to set up a schedule to carve out time for making your presence felt.
9. Review what's working and what isn't. If growing a following and building your brand is your goal, you'll want to monitor your results. If you're putting yourself out there and people aren't responding, you may need to change your approach. If many people are responding to your tweets on Twitter but ignoring you on Facebook, then focus on Twitter, or vice versa.
10. Be interesting. I can't reiterate this enough: If you're interesting and engaging, people will engage with you; if you're boring, they won't. Choose your tweets carefully.
Building a following will take some work; the good news is, you can do it from your office, your home or while sitting on the beach with your trusty tablet. Remember to tweet often.
Scott Levy is the founder and CEO of Fuel Online, an online marketing agency that focuses on social media and SEO. He has been specializing in online marketing for more than 15 years and is a respected speaker, writer and consultant. Scott was nominated for a 2014 Shorty Award for "social media's best business influencer" as well as recognized as a 2014 Hubbies finalist for "Influencer of the Year". Scott is based in Nashville. Follow him on Twitter at @FuelOnline or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/FuelInternetMarketing