Any social media network of value grows organically, not artificially. But just because you can’t force or buy growth doesn’t mean you can’t nurture it. As the social media specialist at my last organization, we grew fans and followers from 400 to 40,000 in less than a year. You’ll see solid growth in your own fan and follower counts if you implement my 14 ideas for providing quality engagement and finding and engaging influencers.
1. Get executive buy-in: This is more than just a nod in the hallway. Real buy-in means executives are blogging twice a month for the company blog, tweeting, or engaging on YouTube.
2. Set up a Social Media Advisory Council: These folks will help to work as a hub-and-spoke system from wherever social media lies (marketing, public relations, or other), into other departments within the organization. The council works on ways to incorporate social media throughout the organization.
3. Get Local/Get out: We had our best engagement when we had feet on the ground. Give out free coffee at the local shop and post photos. You’ll get a lot more engagement than just posting a few links to your blog.
4. Get Ads: Facebook ads may be one of the most effective ways to get targeted fans. Facebook ads allow targeting by geography, employer, likes, school, education, or even birthday.
5. Get them to Stay: Once your fans click on your ad, give them a reason to stick around. Some ideas: contests and giveaways, games, and thought-provoking content.
6. Blog. Blog, Blog: Not only are blogs great for your website SEO, but they’re great for providing interesting content to your fans. Don’t make the mistake of making your blog a never-ending string of ads for your company. 50% to 90% of your content should be non-commercial, or at least non-salesy.
7. Engage: Post contests, sales, and coupons — ideally three to five times per week. Somewhere around 90% of your fans will not interact through the page, but rather through their feed. Provide content that maintains its effectiveness on its own, especially images, videos, or questions.
8. Apps: Make your Facebook page your social media hub by using Facebook apps in to import your Twitter feed, YouTube Videos, Flickr Images, SlideShare presentations, and many other networks right onto your Facebook page.
9. Blog. Blog. Blog: Yes, blogs are great for Twitter, too. Promote a blog post a few times over the course of a couple weeks to draw additional followers to your post. About 80% of your Twitter posts should contain links, and at most about 20% of that should be content you created.
10. Find Influencers: Tools like Crowdbooster, Commun.it, Topsy and FollowFriday Helper can help provide insight into who mentions or retweets you most often.
11. Engage: Thank followers for engaging, following, mentioning, or retweeting, and create a list of influencers to monitor their feeds as well.
12. Track: How do you know what content is making inroads with your influencers and networks? Track links and content! Include share icons within your blog posts to also track organic blog post impact and viralbility.
13. Time Posts: Use your tracking info to find out what days and times are best for retweets and clicks, and use that to your advantage. Determine when you have the most brand mentions, which can help pinpoint when content is most likely to be retweeted.
14. Hashtag: Although #you #can #over-hashtag, effective hashtag use helps to contribute to the conversation, especially if your organization is participating in a trade show, conference, or other industry type event.
Best of luck identifying influencers, engaging networks, and building your fans and followers. What other tips do you have for building networks? Include yours below!
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This post originally appeared on Eric Tung’s Blog.