Bloggers always want to know how to build a bigger, better social media following. Unfortunately, this is cart-before-the-horse thinking. The right question is who's your audience? Who do you want to write for? Figure that out and you'll know intuitively how to approach social media.
Meet Your Ideal Reader
Be literal about this. Say your ideal reader is Sally, a 35-year-old accountant who isn't tech-savvy but wants to keep up with the latest information about bookkeeping software. You aren't going to reach Sally by writing 140-character jokes about the tax code on Twitter.
A more effective approach would be to write a review of the latest version of Freshbooks and post it to a LinkedIn Group for independent accountants.
Build Your Following
Aim to engage intelligently and be prepared to spend as much time on social media as you do writing your blog. Here are four specific tips for getting the most from your efforts:
- Go to your audience. If your target market is on Instagram and you've got a restaurant or a flower shop, share lots of photos and include links to your blog posts. Use the hashtags they use when posting to Twitter and Facebook. Find and follow them in the LinkedIn groups that relate to your industry.
- Join in. You have to become part of the community before the community will listen to you. I call this "walking about." Visit other blogs and sites in your areas of interest and comment on what they post. You have to be visible and answer questions. Become a valued member of the community and people will want to check out who you are.
- Post at optimal times, but also post multiple times. Post in the time zone that's most convenient for your ideal reader. Scheduling tools such as HootSuite and Sprout Social can make that easy. But you also can't assume that everybody you want to reach saw your 8 am post. Share multiple times without looking spammy. When I write a blog post, I'll often share it seven times over the period of a week while tweaking the intro every time. One tweet might just feature the title; a Facebook post might include a question. These slight variances are usually enough to prevent a backlash yet keep content in front of as many readers as possible.
- Always be testing. We often forget that people are very social at night when they get home from work. Even on LinkedIn there's new life in the evening. Try posting at different times and then use HootSuite or Sprout analytics to find out when readers tune in. They might show up at times you didn't expect.
It's All About Networking
Finally, remember that social networking is no different than any other kind of networking.
Would you spend your time at a Toastmasters event handing out resumes? Of course not! You'd be engaged in conversations and sharing life experience in hopes of building a valuable relationship. Your social media followers deserve nothing less.
In fact, don't even think of them as followers. Think of them as allies. Listen to them. Engage with them. And most of all, provide value to them. They'll be happy to return the favor if you do.
Photo Credit: LoboStudioHamburg/CC0 Public Domain