Of the nearly 2,000 attendees at Social Media Marketing World - including a veritable "who's who" of social media royalty - no one has more followers than social giant Guy Kawasaki (@GuyKawasaki). With over 10.5 million followers across multiple platforms, including more than 1.5 million followers on Twitter alone, Guy is reminiscent of that old E.F. Hutton commercial: When Guy Kawasaki talks, people listen.
But today people do far more than listen. They engage. They share. They retweet by the dozens, hundreds, and sometimes thousands.
Thankfully for the rest of us, Guy and many of his fellow digerati were extremely generous with sharing their strategies, learnings, and advice for gaining and maintaining a personal brand on social media.
"There are two kinds of people on social media," Guy said. "People who want more followers and people who are lying."
As Homer Simpson might say, "It's funny because it's true."
So how does he do it? Simply put, he curates nearly 100 posts across multiple platforms every single day. His content is admittedly "all over the map" in an effort to attract a wide audience. And his main strategy, he said, is to "experiment constantly".
"I view my role as a curator. I want to inform, assist, and entertain people," he said. "When followers share my content, it assists them as curators and expands my own reach."
Pam Moore (@PamMktgNut) also has a ton of followers. But "I didn't get 200,000 followers because I worried about getting followers," she said. Instead, her strategy is to "invest in human beings".
Though many individuals and brands are loathe to do so, several social superstars recommended repeating successful content. "Repeat your tweets and you will triple your engagement," Guy said. "It's worth repeating tweets several times because most people will miss it the first time," added Rob Wolf (@thatrobguy).
Eric Tung (@EricTTung) concurred: "The percentage of your followers that will see your individual tweet is very low," he said. He estimated that number to be only 7-12% of your followers.
Pam also noted that great content has a long shelf life because many people will go back through feeds and re-post older content. So what makes for great content?
Social media content should be follow the RITE acronym, said Mark Schaefer (@markwschaefer): Relevant, Interesting, Timely, and Entertaining. Mari Smith (@MariSmith) added this advice: "Carefully pick content, see what resonates, and then be OK with repeating posts."
In addition, Guy advised, "Every post should have a picture or a video. Right there you would double engagement." This applies to brands as well as individuals. And natively uploading video to Facebook rather than linking to YouTube "makes a humongous difference".
Several speakers also mentioned leveraging multiple social media platforms for the same content because the audiences are different, and leveraging the same content across multiple mediums - one blog post could be deconstructed into multiple tweets, Facebook posts, Instragram photos and YouTube videos. And a new discernable theme at this year's conference was speakers using Meerkat or Periscope to live-stream their own presentations, and then (presumably) saving the recordings for future use.
If you are having trouble developing your own content, start by sharing other great content. "Curation is just as valuable as creation today," Guy said.
Automation was another frequently mentioned theme. "Apps like Buffer are critical for properly timing content so you don't look like a spammer, Pam said. But Eric quickly added: "Don't do any kind of auto-favoriting, auto-retweeting, or auto-DM'ing." One appropriate use case for automation, he said, is if you need to reach multiple time zones across the world.
Finally, one critical factor that can't be overlooked is engaging directly with your audience. "If you're not going to be social, get out of social," said Ted Rubin (@TedRubin). "A network gives you reach. A community gives you power."