If you're building a brand community, then social media is a big part of the equation. In a crowded market, it's a necessity to get your message out there in a compelling way. But consider: How many people effectively leverage social media to build their network of contacts? Do they have a thriving, active presence? And how many of them have accounts that just sort of sit there? A full-fledged social media presence involves much more than an occasional announcement, mention, or link. It requires a strategy. Here are a few important things to think about as you expand your social network.
1. Be Goal-Oriented
Before you do anything else, establish why you're on social media in the first place, and which social media channels to focus on. SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound) goals can help you. For example, specificity can refer to a certain social media platform and the metric you want to use. You can decide on how you're going to measure the metric, and which tool you're going to use (i.e. a social media dashboard). Attainable pertains to the goal itself, and how reasonable it is. Relevance keeps you from going off on tangents, and being time-bound keeps you on track for a specific length of time. All of these things help keep you posting with a sense of purpose rather than aimlessly.
2. Know Your Community
"Community" is another way to say "target audience," but it has a more personal connotation. However you want to describe your people, it's important to realize that not everyone fits into your audience, and that's okay! Narrowing down your community — paradoxically — is a way to grow it. You'll make more authentic, loyal connections. They may include prospective customers, influencers, and industry players. Once you've defined your community, it's easier to decide on your posting schedule, your content types, your profile information, the information you include in your profiles, and your brand voice.
3. Be Real
This is important — no matter who your audience is, don't be too formal. Show some personality. It's possible to be dignified (if the brand calls for it) and relatable at the same time. Let your community get to know you on a more personal level. If it's appropriate to crack jokes on occasion, have some fun. Talk to your social network like you would a friend. Also, make your content as targeted as possible. Writing about Young Living Essential Oils is different from promoting the new single from a musical artist; your tone should reflect what the community is looking for. Striking visuals, a well-written Instagram microblog — the options are endless.
4. Focus on Relationships
Building your social network really means building a network of quality. It's better to have fewer followers who regularly engage than many thousand who don't pay much attention to you. That's where the "social" in social media comes in. Being real means cultivating relationships. A few ways to do that include answering questions quickly, @mentioning people who you refer to in your posts, replying sincerely when you or your content is mentioned or shared, and going beyond liking and retweeting — make a comment or start a conversation. Your communication should be more about interaction than the hard sell.
5. Optimize for Engagement
Optimization doesn't have to be daunting and doesn't have to be too technical. Three things will make a big difference: fully filling out all account information, using striking and high-quality imagery, and adding relevant keywords in your profile. Hashtags make a difference, too. Study the strategy of your competitors to get a good idea of how to proceed in a way unique to you. Connect with a few popular accounts in your industry that are similar but not direct competitors; you'll find a wealth of inspiration and motivation.
Staying active and engaged on social media doesn't have to be too time-consuming. Try these tips to expand your network.