We are all in no doubt about how important social media has become in the business world. Whether you use it to market specific products, to furnish your audience with regular insightful information surrounding your industry, to introduce people to your team members or simply just to communicate with other people in your company, we all know we should be using it. But is merely ‘using’ it enough?
Social media can really have a positive impact on your business but it’s not enough to just dip in and out of these platforms and expect them to have an effect. To really feel the full force of what this new type of media can do for your company then you need to be participating strongly within your community. The ultimate aim is to ideally become an ‘influencer’ in your field so that your potential clients and customers will see you as a reliable source of info and come to you when they need the services you provide.
But how do you go about becoming one of these ‘influencers’? Well before you become one yourself, you will need to try and influence the existing influencers in order to try and tap into the wealth of contacts they already have.
Let’s use Twitter, arguably the most popular social media platform, as an example of how to do this.
Whether you are a large multinational technology PR agency or a local, recently formed, rock band; you are going to need to have followers. There is a danger of thinking that you only need to target the people that are likely to be your customers or clients but this will only limit your outreach. It is best to have followers from across different industries and with different interest as even if they themselves are not a potential consumer, they might know someone who is.
Though it is not best to limit yourself to followers from your industry alone, this is a great place to start. The fastest way to gain followers is to follow anyone and everyone you come across but this can look a little desperate and you are only likely to gain follows from similarly hasty individuals who won’t really care about your posts, just that you are another notch on their Twitter bedpost.
The most effective way to gain relevant followers is to type a few industry specific keywords into the search bar and look for people who have a decent amount of people following them and who seem to be talking about things relevant to your company. By following these people you are likely to receive a reasonable amount of followers merely through reciprocation but the bigger fish will take more work.
Once you have established a fan base, no matter how small it is, it is time to start reaching out and developing your relationships with these people. The best way of doing this is by posting interesting information which your followers will benefit from reading. This way, your posts are more likely to be spread to all areas of Twitter; hopefully gaining you more followers in the process. This is how you lure the big fish. The major influencers in your field may not have direct access to your posts, due to the fact that they don’t ‘follow’ you, but that doesn’t mean they won’t see it. If you are constantly distributing relevant insightful info then it will get shared and shared again until it eventually starts to reach these people. If they are regular seeing your posts retweeted and they like what they are reading; they are going to want to follow you. Result. You’ve caught yourself a big fish.
Twitter is not just about posting your own words and expecting people to immediately fall in love with you or your company though. This can seem a little selfish and self-promoting and so it is important to spread other people’s word too. By retweeting an article or tweet that you like from someone else’s feed then not only will you build a relationship with the person who wrote the initial tweet but other people will also see that you are an active member of the community and look upon you more favourably.
I’m sure you are already thinking that this looks like a lot of work for an already busy company to be doing; and you’d be right. However, it is definitely worth it and there are ways of making it easier for yourself.
In order to stay active and to improve your relationships with members of your community, you will need to develop a plan for what you are going to tweet and when. You need to think about what times of day your audience is going to be most receptive and tweet relevant information accordingly. You can take this one step further by using a great plug in called Hootsuite. This great little desktop application will help you to schedule any tweets and even state the specific times you want to release them into the ‘twitterverse’.
Once you have planned a few tweets and scheduled them in, you can then decide when you are going to log in and add some off the cuff posts. It’s best to have a mixture of both tactics so that it is not obvious you are using an automated system. Don’t be afraid to tweet the same post more than once either. If you think it is especially important then try tweeting it at different times of the day on different weeks. This way it is likely to reach different people each time.
The main thing is to remember that your audience and followers are real people that you need to interact and build relationships with. As soon as you start to see them as just a number and attempt to ply them with sales talk, you may as well tweet to the wall; it will be just as effective.