The small business guide to building a following on social media

So, you’re a small business and you’ve decided to take the plunge and enter brave new the world of social media. Only problem.. you’re shouting out a lot, but no one is listening. You need to build a following. But how? It’s not a quick process but do it properly and you will have yourself an attentive new community of people to market to and become “followers “and “likers” of your businesses success.  

Choose the right network – I.E. Don’t Be A Jack-Of-All-Trades And Master Of None.

Choose the best network to suit your business and your audience – TIP It may not be Facebook or Twitter. Currently Instagram is the best performing social network for marketers, Pinterest generates more referral traffic for goods retailers than YouTube, Google+ and LinkedIn combined. Tweens are spending their social time on Snapchat and Tumblr. as they look to hide from their parents who hang out on stuffy old Facebook.

Whatever choice you make it’s important to be fully committed to your new asset.   A brand page that is looking like a ghost town with old content and unanswered questions from customers will do a business more harm then good.

Get Involved To Build Your Audience (Maybe Take A Short Cut Too)

People aren’t just going to magically start following your new asset.  You need to make yourself visible in order to be found. Do this by getting involved in conversations happening on the social web. This not only increases your visibility, but also your credibility as a brand. Look for where people are having conversations about your product or service – it’s likely your potential customers are there too – join in the conversation and show your expertise, share customer satisfaction stories and generally build positive and lasting awareness.

These days building an audience from scratch organically has become almost an impossible task on some social networks. The Facebook algorithm that decides what content gets displayed now heavily handicaps brands from showing in newsfeeds and 58 million tweets being sent a day, it can be hard to stand out.

The good news is there is a short cut to build a following with paid promotion, even better news is that it’s highly effective and affordable.  With a well-targeted campaign, Facebook followers can be acquired for between 50c and $1 each. If you don’t want to splurge on a large campaign all at once, you can put aside the cost of a coffee a day into Facebook ads and end up with up to 600 new followers by the end of the month.

Check Ins– AKA Word of Mouth In Overdrive.

If your business is location based then encourage your customers to check in via Facebook or Foursquare. Your customers location will then be seen by their online friends and act as a recommendation or endorsement.  As it’s coming from someone they trust it will have much more weight than any advertising you do on your own. Set up signs to remind people to check in, consider offering a small bonus for those who check in. It the results will be worth any small investment.

Offer Value – Remember – It’s Not All About You.

When posting to social media, you are interrupting people in their leisure time. They don’t want to be sold to when relaxing at home or bored on the bus. Instead offer content that  ads value to their social media experience.

Behave just like one of their friends – friends who constantly yell “20% off this week, or buy one get one free” get ignored and “unfriended” very quickly. If you must sell, save it for special occasions or big sales, the boy who cried off affect is present in social media – ie do it all the time and it loses its impact.

Act like any other Facebook friend and offer content of value to your network. This often will not be about your business, but things your fan-base might find interesting.  This not only adds value to your social property in the eyes of your followers, but helps build your brands’ online persona as well.

So there you have it, 3 quick tips to help you get started building a following for your business on social media. Let me know on Twitter or via the comments below how you go with these.

Michael is an online and social media analyst at BuzzNumbers keep up to date with him on Twitter at @mike_gee

by Michael Grierson – Social Insights at BuzzNumbers
In Measurement: Impact, trends and developments. Tagged with BuzzNumbers .

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