Your social media platforms are some of the most incredible inventions ever created by humankind. You can utilize them to reach out and contact anyone in the world, you can plunge the depths of knowledge and transform your small business (check out this story on The Red Dress) into a multi-million dollar company by leveraging the audiences social media provides. Of course you probably use it to watch videos of cats and get into arguments with strangers. Well today all that ends; from now on you are going to create posts so compelling that your audience will have no choice but to share, comment, tweet, favorite, +1, and like.
The ground rules
The first thing to realise about social media is that is isn’t all about you. Follow an 80/20 rule where only 20% of the content you post is about you and your products or services. The rest should be value-added content that your readers will find engaging, informative and interesting.
Sharing is caring, that means you have to pass on their content if you expect them to share yours. Of course you should only redistribute content that you feel your readers will find useful, so be discerning.
What this also means is that you need to cultivate a stable of followers (see Seth Godin’s post from 2008 on 1000 true fans) who have the same interests as you. What you need to do is find people with the same interests. Then have a look at the people who follow them. Choose followers who post often and share content. Then follow them and engage them by starting a conversation or sharing their posts.
Simply following a bunch of random people is not going to work for you. Besides, it’s better to have a few great followers than herds of fans who fill up your feed with spam. Select your readers carefully; this process takes time and effort and there just isn’t any way to get around it.
Let’s face it; people like the path of least resistance. That means they are far more likely to click on a video, or engage with a photo than they are to read your blog. Of course blogs are essential for disseminating information, but feel free to mix up your posts with pictures and videos for those who aren’t in the mood to read or are perhaps stuck on the train, trying to navigate their social media while being pressed up against the window by the crush of rush-hour commuters.
Dealing with dingbats
The first rule of fight club is don’t fight with strangers on the internet. Employ a strict rule of only three posts for people who are fixing for a fight. After the third post, bow out gracefully. You want to engage when you feel like misinformation is being spread, but you don’t have to duke it out.
Of course if the comments are rude or offensive, feel free to delete them and block the sender. If they are really offensive, report them with impunity. Don’t delete comments that disagree with you or show a legitimate complaint as this is considered bad form. Comments have very short half-lives, so tough it out.
When it comes to rocking a really savvy social media campaign, there just isn’t any substitute for putting in the time and effort. Take some time each day to post something new (don’t get carried away; too many posts and you are in danger of being a spammer). Share, comment on and +1, like or favorite those posts you find interesting. Be a courteous, polite guest and you will reap the rewards.