Wednesday, 26 September 2012

How to build a following on social media & grow your business

One of the first jobs I wanted to get sorted was my presence in the online world. The world of Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook etc

I know all about these tools and the power of them and wanted to ensure I was getting the most out of these, essentially, brilliant free marketing tools. As an individual I am a prolific tweeter and big Facebook user but I wanted to use them as well for my business. 

I am used to working with others on their own social media. I managed the Coventry Blaze feeds for quite some time and helped to grow their online presence. But that wasn't a difficult task. Blaze fans want a way to interact with the team and the Blaze staff need to be able to easily communicate with the fanbase. Tweeting press releases, event information, ticket info, fun facts. All of which are engaging and interesting.

Most recently even more of the players became tweeters. I cannot begin to explain what a difference this has made to the relationship between the suppporters and the players. Before players had even stepped foot on the ice or on UK soil they were carving their own reputation online. The fans were buying into the player as a brand, choosing who's shirt to pick, deciding who would score the most goals.

It was building excitement over the summer. In what used to be a quiet time traditionally, with little to speak of to the fanbase until the season began, now grew frenzied online activity.

Players were trading quips with other players, with the fans, tweeting pictures of themselves on their holidays, in the gym, having a drink, with their family. Everyone knows human interest stories sell, it's why reality TV shows are so popular and another reason twitter works. People like to see into the lives of other people. Especially celebrities.

To Blaze fans the players are celebrities. By interacting with the fanbase they had already built a solid foundation of support which would only grow once they began to play. As I always say people buy from people and the players were busy selling their product. Themselves. There were occasions when it wasn't used in the best way...but i'll talk about social media policies and their use another time

So, to my original quandry. How do you build an online persona which isn't just a corporate sales pitch and is engaging enough to get others following and know more about my product? I just wanted to share my usual route to building this in case it is useful to others.

Firstly - Look for local networking groups and online business groups. 
I was actually lucky enough to catch a tweet about a local Tweetup, Leamington TweetUp, which was happening that night and there had been a cancellation. #thepoweroftwitter)

Attend these events. As many as you can! 
I attended the event. I networked. I took down details, names and ideas

Find them on Twitter 
When I went back home and began to follow. I followed those at the event and engaged in conversation.

Follow Back
When someone followed me I followed back and made sure they knew I had been courteous to do so.

Don't be afraid to ask for help but be polite
I asked for RT from the groups to try and increase my followers and then I began engaging them in conversation. I went from 40 followers to 94 in just a few days and i've picked up a few leads

Keep the conversation going
Don't just have one conversation and fade away. Initiate conversation, join in debate, show people your expertise, share tips and support others. Especially others in the same industry as you. I have great relationships with other VA's and often pass on leads which I cannot accommodate and they do the same for me

Always Respond
It is good service to reply to any emails you get good or bad. The same applies on twitter and facebook. Always, always take the time to respond. It can instantly change someones perception of you and your brand

Put names to the faces - Keep on attending the events and make a point of talking to those you speak to online. People buy from people

Grow your 'friends and followers'
Every day you're online and engaging in conversation you will generate followers. If you keep your feed interesting, light, engaging and interesting and don't ram corporate sales pitches down peoples throats they'll continue to follow you. And then, one day when they're looking for the product you sell or work on, they'll hopefully think of you first!

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