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The 3 Most Important Factors For Growing Your Social Media Community

It seems that almost daily we come across social media marketers, enthusiasts and brands that still seem to have limited understanding of social media best practices. Often the social media “consultant” is even missing key factors in their own social presence that hinders their community, reach and growth. You’d think we would be beyond this in 2014, but sadly that is not the case.

How to grow a social communityWhen it comes to growing your social community there are three main factors that either propel or restrict your growth of your engaged, targeted audience. These three “buckets” are not the sole factors for growing a targeted audience, however they are the most important items you need to start with.

Let’s be clear and point out that the information within this post is specifically speaking to the marketer, brand or business professional that uses social media for marketing of any type. If you are social networking without a business purpose, and therefore not doing social media or social marketing, this information does not apply to you directly, however it is our professional opinion that you should still read and consider changes to what you are doing.

The 3 Most Important Factors In Community Growth:

1) Profile

One of the first things people do when you follow or friend them on a specific social network is look at your Profile. If you have not strategically completed your bio and information details properly, you are dramatically hindering the connections you make. Since there are so many social networks, we will focus on Twitter and Facebook as examples. Here are a few things you need to consider.

Twitter is one of the most informal, effective social platforms. Being human is extremely important if you’re going to be effective. Below are some of the biggest mistakes we see on Twitter profiles:

a) Privacy – If you’re doing social media, do not lock your privacy setting. Your community will never grow.

b) Profile pic – No pic, no follow. It’s that simple. Beyond making sure you have a profile pic, you need to consider whether you are an established brand or just starting out. People connect with people, not brands, logos or companies they’ve never heard of. Give them a human to connect with, rather than a logo they’ve never heard of.

c) Name – That’s great that your Twitter handle is @WhoTheHeckCares, but who are YOU? We see so many Twitter accounts with a great pic, and in the name field the person just put their Twitter handle again. Tell people your name. At the very least your first name and put it in the NAME field in Twitter. That’s why it’s there.

d) Bio – If you want people to be interested in you and what you do, make it easy for them to know you and what you do. All too often we see Twitter bio’s that contain cryptic tag lines, garbled incoherent sentences or no information at all. You need to know that you are leaving your potential followers confused and they are moving on instead of connecting with you.

Facebook is a social network with multiple profile types, such as a personal profile and business or community pages. These different account type are truly different and need to be managed as though they are. It is also extremely important to understand that business IS personal. The days of separating these two things are long gone. People do business with people, not faceless brands.

a) Personal Profile – When you lock your personal Facebook profile down, you are limiting your potential connections with prospective customers. Be sure your profile security settings let prospective connections get a sense of who you are and what you do.

b) Your BusinessfacebookprofileAll too often people add their business or employer to their profile hastily without intent. This leaves their business page not connected and opens a default Facebook profile for the mentioned company in your profile. This default tells nobody anything about the company or what it does and makes it impossible to build a following. Check your personal profile to ensure you have connected it to your business page. (see example to the right)

b) Facebook Business Pages – Fill out all of the profile information, and write it in a way that someone unfamiliar with you or your business will understand. Be sure your cover photo adds to the messaging and understanding of what you do, so when someone visits your page, they “get it” quickly and decide to connect.

2) Stream

a) Value – For the love of everything holy, you need to realize that social media is not direct sales, telemarketing or email spam. It is about earning relationships. When people check your social streams and find only content and messaging that is all about you, your brand, products or services, most will run. You must be selfless and realize it’s not about you, but your audience. Post content that they find interesting and relevant that is not about you, and you will earn the right to pitch your stuff to a receptive audience. Fail at this and you will get far fewer connections than you could.

b) Frequency – I heard a social media agency owner tell me last week that they were told that posting more than three times per day on any social platform was not a good idea. Really? Who told you that? Their response – “A social media guru that was speaking at an event we attended.”

Let me be really clear here. This is not 2005. If you are only posting 3 times a day on Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin or any other social platform, NOBODY is seeing anything you post. You have to have relevant, valuable, interesting content that YOU post, not Retweet or click Share, all day, every day. Yes, the volumes differ from platform to platform, but 3 posts isn’t the number on ANY of them.

3) Engagement

a) Conversations & Relationships – The other thing a potential social connection will typically do when reviewing your newsfeeds is look for engagement. They want to know that if they connect with you or your brand, you respond, thank, get into conversations and relationships ensue. This is SOCIAL media remember. It’s not spam media or pitch my stuff media. Be social and leverage the media and you will get many more connections and a growing social community.

When someone considering connecting with you or your brand on social media, they will unconsciously cycle through your profile, your bio and your streams. Using what they see, they quickly determine whether they want to connect with you. Focus on these three important factors and see your community grow faster than you have before.

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Filed under Agency, Audience, Community, connection, Content, Engagement, Facebook, Followers, Marketing, Relationship, Social Media, Social Media Marketing, Twitter

Hashtags Become Even MORE Important On Twitter

On July 3rd, 2013 Twitter announced new API rules for developers that create applications for the Twitter platform. One of the most important changes announced was that “automated following or bulk following is also prohibited.” Twitter HashtagThis is a significant hit to hundreds of legitimate as well as spam-like Twitter applications being used by millions of people worldwide to either “game” their follower counts -or- legitimately increase their targeted following.

What does all this mean for the Twitter User?

There are two sides to these changes, some being positive and some, well let’s just say they create some challenges you need to be aware of. Let’s start with a few of the positive things these rules should produce.

The Positives:

Spammers – If they can’t use these tools to mass follow people, this should positively impact the amount of spam and spammers that are using Twitter in this fashion.

Counts less of a focus – If gaining followers can be “gamed” less, then making your follower count the game will also be reduced.

Focus on content and conversation – Clearly if huge follower counts is less of the issue, people will have to refocus their efforts back to quality social media content and engaging in conversations in order to drive community growth. (Hello Big brands. It’s about time you did this right anyway)

The Negatives:

Community Growth Harder – For every small to medium-sized business and marketer, these changes and the ultimate demise of follow tools will certainly make growing communities more time-consuming and difficult.

Hashtags Become Even MORE Important On Twitter:

This brings us to hashtags… Brands and marketers must really understand their audience better in order to develop more targeted content and hashtag strategies that will attract their followings. You need to know the topics and content subject matter that your target audience is engaged with and therefore what your topical and content strategy needs to be to make it easier for them to find you. Therefore, incorporating hashtags thoughtfully in this mix will be paramount to the future of community growth on Twitter.

Ask Yourself:

1) Do you know the topics that your prospective followers are interested in?

2) Do you know the hashtags that your prospective followers are using and following on Twitter?

3) How are you going to more effectively use hashtags now that follow tools are going to be nonexistent?

If you don’t know the answers to these questions, you need to figure out the answers, and fast.

For consistent automated hashtag and content sharing tools read this.

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Filed under Community, Content, Engagement, Followers, Hashtag, Social Media Content, Social Media Marketing, Strategy, Twitter, Uncategorized