Disclaimer: This post was written by a guest contributor to this blog and may not reflect the views and opinions of Michelle Rawlings or ShellyRawlings.com.
By Terence Murray, journalist and editor
Social networks have become an integral part of our lives. They entertain us, inform us, keep us in touch with our friends and family, and can even help us find new business opportunities. With so many users, social media is a powerful platform for reaching your blog or business goals — but first, you need to develop a loyal fan base. Here’s how:
1. Define your target audience.
Before you do anything to grow your following, it’s vital that you determine your target audience. Who do you want to follow you? Alternatively: Who is your ideal client? Think about their age range, habits, and needs before moving forward.
2. Create social media goals.
Tony Robbins said: “Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible.” Follow his advice! But don’t go broad. Create a specific social media goal with a specific (reasonable) deadline.
In the process, don’t forget to define ways you’ll measure your goals! Are you looking for raw follower numbers, or do you want to see those numbers convert to sales?
3. Build your social profiles and pages well.
Once you know what you’re working toward, build your social profiles accordingly. Include branded profile and cover photos, and make sure you set the right image size for each platform. Additionally, try to fill out as many of the available fields as possible. (Don’t leave anything blank if you can help it!)
Pro tip: If you’re starting from scratch, try to share at least five-to-ten posts right from the get-go, so the people who visit your page can get a glimpse of what they can expect to see when they begin following you.
4. Create relevant, high-quality content.
You might look great in your profile photo and have a killer cover image, but if you don’t have quality content that is relevant to your followers, you aren’t going to find social media success.
“The secret to creating the great content is to provide value to your readers,” Anne Johnson, a content writer at Essay On Time, said. “Basically, try to solve some of the problems of your target audience, share useful tips, or try to find a way to satisfy their needs.” That content can be in the form of blog post, videos, podcasts, infographics or presentations — figure out what works for you and stick with it!
5. Include links to your profiles wherever you can.
Use your resources! Include links to your social media profiles on your website, and add buttons or icons linking to your pages in the header, sidebar, and footer. You can also include links to your social media in your email signature!
6. Use hashtags regularly.
Hashtags are a great way to increase your social media exposure and grow your audience. Many people look for specific content using hashtags, so make sure you use relevant hashtags that will help your potential followers or fans find you as often as you can.
That said, be sure to limit the number of hashtags you use in a single post. Too many, and you’ll look spammy!
7. Consider advertising.
Sometimes advertising can help you grow your social media audience. Platforms like Facebook and Twitter allow you to promote your content to a specified audience, and these promotions can be lucrative — if you know how to use them!
There are many online courses that teach the “secrets” of advertising on social networks, but if you don’t have the time (or the drive) to learn, consider hiring a professional digital marketer to help you out.
8. Ask friends to share your content.
Once you’re up and running and starting to build an online community, use it to your advantage! Ask your friends to help you promote your account by sharing your content. You may find that they are more than willing to help — but don’t forget to share theirs in return!
9. Join groups.
Build your community further by joining groups on Facebook and LinkedIn — but it isn’t enough to just be a member. Be active in these communities and regularly post, comment, and share others’ content.
Growing your social media audience takes time, so don’t be discouraged if everything doesn’t go as planned, especially at first. Just be persistent, and you’ll make it!