How to Grow Your Social Media Channels on a Budget
Social media has become one of the most powerful forces on the internet in recent years. It is now used for far more than socializing. Both online and offline businesses realize that they need a strong social media presence if they are to become leaders in their industries. Yet it can be challenging to build a following on social media. As more and more social sites spring up, how do you allocate your time and resources? How can you build up your following without a large advertising budget? In this article, we’ll be looking at some of the best low cost strategies to build your influence on social media sites.
Choose Your Social Media Platforms
For a while, when people spoke of social media marketing, they were primarily talking about Facebook and Twitter. While these remain the two most popular social media platforms, they now have lots of competition. There is Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr and many others. If current trends continue, the number of social media sites will continue to grow at a rapid pace.
While this provides you with many ways to reach your audience, it can also be a problem. You only have so much time to devote to building your following on these sites. If you spread yourself too thin, there is the danger that your efforts will be diluted and you won’t get the maximum benefits from any site. For this reason, it’s a good idea to limit your focus to a few social media sites.
Facebook and Twitter are still worthwhile for just about any business. Beyond this, you have to consider which sites go best with your business model. If you do business to business marketing, LinkedIn is a must. This is the best site for connecting with other businesses. If you have a product or service that is visual in any way, you should utilize sites such as Pinterest and/or Instagram. Google+ is good for building circles of people who share certain interests. Another good thing about this network is that it can be integrated with other Google services, such as Google Hangouts. The latter can be useful for holding conferences or webinars.
The point is that you should carefully consider which social sites can best serve your interests. Since they are free to join, it can be tempting to join every site that sends you an invitation. Keep in mind, though, that you will see more powerful results if you consolidate your efforts.
Build a Community
Rather than thinking of your Facebook page and other social media pages as sales pages, think in terms of building a community. This requires you to do more than simply talk about your product or business. Share useful information that will be of interest to your audience. Identify a basic theme for your page, something that is broader than simply your business. It’s fine to discuss your business, but you also want to fit it into the context of a wider community. This gives people a reason to log on to your pages and to share your messages.
It’s also good to post content that’s more personal or entertaining, even it’s not directly related to your business. This helps you build community, and it makes your content more shareable. Certain types of content are more likely to be shared than others. Videos, images and infographics are more likely to be shared than articles. This type of visually oriented content is also good for community building, as it’s entertaining and engaging.
Make Use of Branding
Along with building community, you also want to make effective use of branding. While these may seem to be inconsistent approaches, they are really two sides to the same coin. All of your social media pages and online properties should contain your logo and make people aware of your identity.
This doesn’t mean you always have to be promoting. Even when you are posting something that is meant to be entertaining or informative, however, you should not let people forget whose page it is. Take a look at the Facebook pages of high profile companies such as Starbucks. Their logo is visible with every post, which helps them build brand awareness no matter what they are posting about.
Leverage the Power of Groups
Groups are a powerful tool that allow you to interact with people with whom you share interests. For businesses, they can be an effective way to communicate with potential prospects. Not every social platform has groups, but many, including Facebook and LinkedIn do. You can both join existing groups and start ones of your own.
If you’re looking for groups to join, it’s best to find ones that have large memberships. This way you’ll have lots of discussions to choose from. Social media groups operate in a manner similar to discussion forums. People start and respond to conversations. Don’t make the mistake of spamming groups with promotional messages. The idea here is to become active with online communities and contribute in a helpful way. People can find out about your business by checking out your profile.
Create Incentives For People to Connect With You
Social media is extremely competitive nowadays. People also have very short attention spans. That’s why it’s essential to provide real incentives for people to like or follow you. One way to do this is to create contests, sweepstakes or giveaways. It’s not hard to this with all of the apps out there for setting up contests and such.
There are various ways to incentivize your pages. These include:
- Give away free samples of your product.
- Have a free trial for your service.
- Run a contest where people send in photos, videos, recipes, stories, poems, etc.
- Reward people for sharing the contest with others -e.g. give them additional entries if they get others to sign up.
Be Active and Interactive on Social Media
In order to get the most of social media channels, you must be very active on them. You should post at least once daily on each of your sites, preferably several times. With Twitter, you can use one of the many tools, such as Hootsuite, that allow you to automate posting. You could create most of your tweets for the week at one time and schedule them to be released on a certain schedule.
Remember that with Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and many other sites, it’s easy for your post to get buried. For this reason it’s necessary to post frequently, as only a small portion of your followers are likely to see any particular post. Another strategy to help you reach more people is to post at different times of day, as different portions of your audience are likely to log on at different times.
You also have to be interactive. This means posting items that invite audience feedback. Ask questions and run polls and surveys. Interactivity also requires you to answer comments and questions posted by others. You should, in fact, strive to answer everything that’s posted, unless it’s spam of course. These don’t have to be long responses, unless the question warrants it. If someone pays you a compliment, take the time to thank them. You should also reply to any complaints or criticisms as soon as possible.
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