I have been on both sides of the table with social media: I have been a newbie with no clue how to start, and now, years later I am happy to pass on my knowledge and to advise people on social media and content marketing strategy. I have seen disappointments and success stories.
Most of the disappointment comes from wrong expectations on one side and the raising of false hopes by the other.
While social media can in rare cases do wonders, most of the time success is hard work. If everybody knew what is realistic and how hard the way to success will be, everybody will have much more fun with using social media and be happier with the results.
If I had known 4 years ago, what I know now after endless hours spent on social media, I would start at least one Twitter account and a blog the minute we decided on founding a company. As it was, I had no clue – I created my Twitter account for the sole reason to give our newly created company account the first follower. I started actively using Twitter (with a clear strategy) two years later. Today I have 150.000 followers. Just imagine how many followers I could have now, if I had had more knowledge. And this time is gone for good – no hard work whatsoever can speed up growing a loyal following to gain back the lost chance.
While money can help you speed up the process of building a following, the trust and loyalty will still be something you have to earn over time.
You need a clear Strategy
My first steps in social media where trial and error. Even though I became more active, I did not really know what I could achieve and how. My activities were kind of poking around in the social media universe. Resulting in fewer than 1000 followers after more than two years on Twitter.
The moment Jonathan came up with one of his flashes of genius and we as a team decided on a strategy and goals we were trying to achieve with Twitter, the tide turned. And our following started to grow.
In case you are wondering about our strategy: Sharing the best content published (by ourselves and our users) on exploreB2B, giving our publishers an audience and thus making more people familiar with exploreB2B and connecting to interesting people on Twitter (see my last post).
Social Media is not a One-Way Channel
While our strategy for sharing the great content on exploreB2B put us right on track to growth, the real fun in social media is in the new connections you can make. I am still sometimes surprised in which social media corners I find interesting conversations and people. My advice: Don’t be shy, you can never know, who is your next customer, business partner or just refers you to Mark Zuckerberg.
Still, it’s not always the big connection that makes social media so much fun. Simply listen to your followers once in a while, ask questions or answer a comment – you might be surprised how much very entertaining conversation is going on between all the chatter.
When you start talking to people, that is when you start building relationships!
No one is born an expert!
There is no shame in having questions. Let’s be honest: when we started out most of us had no clue. And to tell the truth: We are all still learning. Social Media is evolving and there will always be things someone else has more knowledge about. Questions and answers are one big part of using social media.
On the other hand: You will get a lot of advice that is crap for you! Even influencers might not be telling you the right things.
Don’t believe everything you are told. Even if it works for others, it might be wrong for you. You will have to find a way to monitor your results and decide on your own if it works for you. And you will have to optimize some things, try out new ideas and leave some things behind which others recommended to you. After all it is only results and reached goals that count.
Every shortcut is a risk
I already said that building a social media presence and reputation takes time. Trying to game the system often gets you nowhere or even worse gets you penalized, deleted or banned. Make sure to know the limits and are aware of the risks. While I will not stop you from trying out shortcuts, I just want you to be aware of the worst case scenario: Standing in front of the shards of your social media existence instead of measurable success.
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Social Media without content is like fish without water
Whatever you do in social media, you need content to share. More content. Lots of content!
While in some cases it makes sense to curate, the real success with social media lies with your own content. Whether it is written or visual content, creating quality content is time-consuming and in some cases expensive.
Even if you have tons of content, you might not get the expected results because your content does not match your goals or does not speak to your target audience.
After we figured all this out and got every piece of our Social Media strategy in place, it turned out to be one hell of an entertaining journey!