Building Your Social Following 102

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TwitterThere are plenty of books and blogs about building your social media profile, but much of it is either overwhelming in content or too simplistic to create meaningful impact. ?As a business consultant and practitioner, I always seek ways to give my clients the ?102? experience. ?102 is that level after you have learned the basics: You have a little bit of knowledge, but now you need guidance on how to effectively (and efficiently) utilize it. ?This blog post is intended to be a quick read with smart tips to expand your organization?s brand.

Let me start off by saying that if media and entertainment are NOT your primary business line, then focusing on building your social media following should never take precedence over doing your traditional market outreach. ?If you run a non-profit that provides jobs and training to low-income youth, keep contacting companies for partnership and sponsors for your gala. ?If you are a 3D printing manufacturer, keep going to the road shows, expos, and edtech fairs. ?If you are an accountant, keep asking your clients for referrals, attend those networking functions, and send out that quarterly newsletter with helpful accounting tips.

Social media marketing absolutely does NOT replace the need for you to do traditional marketing and business development. You MUST call, (e)mail, meet, and network. ?It can, however, complement and enhance your traditional methods. ?The current (as of August 17, 2015 – social media is always evolving!) 3 most popular social media outlets are Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. ?(Yes, I know you witty LinkedIn users swear by its effectiveness and I don?t disagree with you. ?However, for the purpose of this posting, we will file LinkedIn under a unique and separate category to be discussed at another time.)

Assuming your time is limited and you have to prioritize your efforts, Twitter should be the preferred social media platform for your organization. ?Here?s why: ?Twitter has the highest and most active interpersonal engagement of the big 3 online social networks. ?Simply put, Twitter uses a micro-blogging format (ie 140 characters, upload photos, and 6-second vine videos) to foster connectivity between people. ?It?s quick, easy, and effective. ?Your following on Twitter is the complement to your email distribution list and the secondary lever of your contact strategy. ?Therefore, you want a large and growing Twitter following.

Below, are 7 tips for strengthening your Twitter presence:

1.??? Follow other people. ?This is anecdotal, but I have found that about 1/3 of the people I add reciprocate and add me. ?If you thank them as soon as they follow you, they are very likely to remain followers.

If you do this, you need to specifically target people/orgs that only have between 25-900 followers. ?If their following is larger, especially in the 10Ks+, they?re very unlikely to follow you.

Go to the Twitter page of a peer and see who?s following them. Make those your ?add? targets.

2.??? Redirect your tweets to Facebook (can?t hurt). ?People gaining business or raising money through Facebook is the exception and not the rule. ?This is why Facebook should not be the primary focus of your social media strategy. ?However, you can have all of (or apportion) your Twitter activity automatically redirected to your personal as well as business Facebook profile.

3.??? Create meme campaign. Use canva.com to make your meme(s), etc. ?If you are not a Photoshop expect, this will save you hours of time in creating good quality digital media.

Try to get multiple people to do endorsements of the org, its stewards, or the social issue(s) it addresses. The more memes, the better. ?A minimum of 10 is a good start. ?30 ? 40 is better! ?Here is an example of some: Click Me

Hopefully, if you are quoting notable stewards of your org, they are already on Twitter and you can include them at the beginning of your tweet.

Position most important details in the center of the meme (ie work titles, faces, important sections of quotes, etc.).

Brand your meme with a unique #hashtag, your logo, and your Twitter name. This could be retweeted; therefore, you want to create breadcrumbs that lead back to you.

4.??? Create multiple Twitter accounts. ?Strategically use multiple accounts to bolster one another (ie I have 2 personal accounts and 2 business accounts I manage. ?I often use the personal accounts to retweet the business accounts).

5.??? Tweet late at night. This is also anecdotal, but I have found the best responses on days and times when most people are catching Z?s. ?I have thought long about why this might be the case and I believe it is because there is less Twitter traffic at those times. ?And as a result, there is less competition for attention on Twitter. ?The people who are on at these hours are more likely to see and interact with your tweets (Have you ever seen a Facebook post at 3am stating, ?Is anyone still up? ?I can?t sleep.? ?She/he is ready for wee-hour micro-blogging connection.). ?Below, are my suggested Eastern Standard Times:

Friday 11:59p- Saturday 6:00a; Monday through Thursday 2:00a-7:00a; Sunday 11:00p-6:00a

6.??? Tweet at people and orgs. ?

7.??? Hashtags ? There are 4 categories of hashtags:

Too broad ? Examples include: #hope #freedom #NYC. ?This is almost always a bad idea. Your tweet will never be found (unless you?re famous).

Too specific ? This is not as bad as the offense above, but it is still a hashtag sin. Remember you?re trying to come up with something people will seek out. ?If the hashtag framing is too narrow, no one will think of it. ?If it?s too broad, no one will find you amongst all the other tweets using that hashtag.

Targeted ? These are specific to your interests, but not as narrow.

Specifically identify yourself or your cause ? This should be a really short hashtag that will only result in people finding YOU or learning about YOUR specific work.

Happy tweeting!

(Charon Darris is currently the Interim Executive Director for OTX
West, a non-profit with a 20+ year history of addressing the digital
divide in Oakland, California. Prior to joining OTX West, Darris spent
15 years in the private sector, with the later years as a nationally
recognized, top performing, and award winning business development
executive and strategic leader. He is a 2012 Network Journal 40 Under Forty honoree.)?