It’s no secret that social media has completely changed the way consumers search for and purchase stuff. And if you’re a startup or an entrepreneur, you probably already know that having a solid social media presence is a key to success. Here is a short guide to help you create a community of loyal followers from the ground up.
Define Your Social Media Goals
The first step in creating your social media plan is defining your business’ goals. Don’t try to set lofty goals, especially if you are just beginning. Keep things simple and well defined. Take a look at all of your social media platforms and take note of your current baseline.
Most experts agree that it could take anywhere between 3 – 6 months before you see significant results; so be realistic in your goals and establish some benchmarks you wish to reach by the end of each month. At the end of each month analyze how your results and determine if you need to improve across one or several social media platforms.
Build Your Target Community
If you attempt to build a large community of followers without a strategy you will not get very far. You need to first build a targeted community that cares about and takes interest in what your business has to offer. Targeted communities are the way to go. In social media, there are two methods to go about this: organic community-building and paid community-building.
Organic Community Building
This method of building a base community is excellent for startups and entrepreneurs who don’t have much capital to pay for advertising their brand on social network sites. It calls for you to provide useful and share-worthy information that is relevant for your target audience. The more relevant content gets shared by your community, the more people will view it and the more your social media presence grows.
Paid Community Building
This method is faster than the previous, and with a well thought-out social media strategy it is possible to acquire a community of hyper-targeted followers for a little as 25 cents per follower. It doesn’t take a large budget to make a significant impact and is an excellent way to build your community across a number of platforms.
Identify Content Opportunities
Before you start posting material across various sites, it’s a good idea to brainstorm your content strategy. To develop a content plan many business owners look for ways to leverage content that promotes their products or services. Be careful not to do this. Too much “sales” content can be seen as aggressive and might turn off a number of potential followers.
Instead, look for creative ways to incorporate content that isn’t about your specific product or service, but is in some way connected. For instance, say you are the owner of a landscaping company based out of the Southern United States. Great content would be providing a list of the best traditional southern gardens or a list of seasonal gardening tips for your area.
Engage Your Community
Social media gives you the opportunity to engage with your community. You have to become an active participant in the conversation – asking questions, responding to comments, putting up quizzes, photos and encouraging your followers to do the same. Social media is far from a “set it up and let it go” strategy. You need to remain active throughout each day and give your community a reason to come back and repost your content on other sites.
Listen to Your Community
The last step in growing your social media presence is listening to your community. This doesn’t mean that you should merely monitor the conversation to make sure your community is happy; it means actively listening to what is being said and thinking about ways you can use your followers’ comments to produce content.
When followers reply to, comment on, or like content on your social sites, they’re basically letting you know what they want to read. Pay special attention to these sections, it is where you will find the ideas that can become solid media campaigns for your brand.