Everyone Starts At Zero

By @TheMarkDalton

Are you finally thinking that now is the time to get on the social media train? Held off for some time but are thinking that you need to start taking advantage of the tools at your disposal? There are a lot of you out there in that boat, I can tell you that much for sure.

It is not easy though, you go to check out a platform and there are users running around with thousands of followers, lots of engagement and a know it all ego which is intimidating for little old you thinking of registering. Starting from scratch and the understanding of how much work you need to put in can be daunting.

Those people you see who are running around Twitter or Instagram with thousands of followers? They started from zero too, lots of people forget that fact but it is the simple reality. We all start at the same place, we just start at different times and they put in the work over a period of months which is what you need to do too. So, if you are starting out for the first time, here are some points to keep in mind before you get going which could help you grow your presence the way you want.

Identify the goal

The big question, why? Oh and on that point, no…the answer is not – “well because everyone else is doing it.”

Why do you want to get your business on social media? Are you trying to build brand? Are you trying to make sales? Do you want more people to visit your site? Do you want to network with like minded individuals in the industry? Are you trying to make yourself more accessible to customers?

Whatever it may be, outline what the goals are so you know what you need to measure your success against over time.

Choose your social networks wisely

You don’t need to be everywhere, you shouldn’t be everywhere. You need to look at the platforms and decide which ones suit you best. Ideally go with 2-3 places, lets have a little run down of the main players.

Facebook: Arguably the one where we all should be is Facebook, with the number of users on the platform along with their ad revenue model being possibly the best value for money on the planet at the moment, Facebook is a platform for everyone to consider being a part of.

Instagram: Instagram is owned by Facebook and is growing fast, essential if you are a visual brand looking to sell online. Also a big scope here for bloggers and online publications to promote review articles, podcasts and video content through the Instagram platform.

Twitter: If customer service is your thing then Twitter is the place to be, allows you to reach out and connect with customers in a live environment. Fast communication and to the point, a lot of businesses are present on Twitter purely for the customer service aspect.

Snapchat: Snapchat is a little more out there than the others, it is not an easy one to crack and the UI confuses everyone the first time they jump on. However if you are targeting the teenage demographic then this is the place to go.

This is a process which you may need to seek some outside help with from someone who knows the industry if you are new to these networks. Anyone who tells you to sign up to all of these platforms is full of shit, ideally you want to start with two, maybe go to three depending on what your business actually is. Go to where the attention is and to where you audience spends their time.

When you have decided where you are going, make sure you setup and optimise your profiles with good imagery and bio information before you start posting and engaging.

Put in the work

Take the time to build your profile online, follow people who may be interested in connecting with. Join conversations and start new conversations. Connect with users on the platform and don’t just leave the generic greeting comments – provide them with value.

Be sincere, reach out without the expectation of receiving anything in return and good things will happen. It takes time to build a presence on social media because you have to build a bank of information on your profile that provides value for people who want to follow you.

Take part in online Twitter chats to grow your brand presence or join Facebook groups with people wo are like minded around a certain topic. Over time your presence will start to grow, your brand will start to grow and your network will get bigger.

Grow the right way

Organic growth is hard though the success ranges on different platforms. On Twitter these days you commonly see a follow for follow tactic being deployed which is where users will follow you and if you don’t follow back in a certain time frame then they unfollow you again. They have zero interest in your brand or business and just want to inflate their follower number. That is why it is not uncommon now on Twitter so see people with similar numbers of followers and following.

User churn is another thing to look out for if you are on Instagram, the same concept where people will follow you and then will unfollow after a period of a few days or a week or two even if you have followed back with the same goal as that on Twitter which is boosting their follower numbers. There are apps you can download to help you keep track of this, I have an app for Instagram which I check in on once a day and if I see people who are obviously engaging in follower churn tactics I can identify them and unfollow. Sadly these are accounts I like following because I am pretty selective of who I follow on Instagram but at the end of the day why be a pawn for them to inflate their metrics if they have no interest in your content?

For Instagram in particular, it takes work. Consistent daily posting, engaging with users in stories and the explore tab will mean good things will follow. You don’t need the cheap tactics, you just need to put in the work.

Be who you want to be

Do you. Tweet what you want to tweet and be who you want to be. Tweet about what you WANT to tweet about, not what you think you should tweet about. There are no rules, just do what you want to do and if anyone tries to offer a free social media audit then tell them where to go.

Truth be told, I would love to start my Twitter feed again and be a lot more selective in who I am following, I had a big aggressive cleanup recently following my Social Quant trial (which was a disaster) and one or two users actually got upset I had unfollowed them. As it happens, I am connected with a number of important people through my Twitter now which I would lose on a new account so I guess I’m somewhat stuck.

Anyway, regardless of whether it is Twitter or Instagram or any platform for that matter, share what you are passionate about. You might be a raving tech head or a big time blogger but it doesn’t mean that you need to be one dimensional and one share that kind of content on your social media. I ramble on about everything on my Twitter page, tech, social media, marketing, business, Patriots, NFL, Man UTD, what I’m having for dinner…

There is no wrong way of doing it, just the way you want to do it and that is the best way because you will be happy with the content you are sharing and how you share it.

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