We already know that social media is vital to any business, creator, or organization. If you want to be heard, or if you want your work to be seen, or if you want to attract more business then social media is the best way to do it.
Many online courses about social media will drown you in jargon, seduce you with the promise of growth hacks, and make you a slave to analytics. I’m not going to talk about shortcuts in this guide. Hacks are nice, but if you want to build a social media presence that will scale, you will need a strong foundation. Let’s get into the two fundamentals for a strong social media presence: content and conversation.
Content: Having Substance in your Social Media Presence
Some of you might be sighing right now because you’re not a content creator nor do you want to hire one. Well I’ll let you into a secret… creating content is easy and I’m going to show you how.
All social media accounts require content in order to thrive, and that content needs to provide value to your followers, such as:
- Education — I’m sure you know things that other people might not, then might as well share those insights! Especially if those insights are related to your brand or business.
- Entertainment/Humor — don’t underestimate the power of humor. Just take a look at what blender company BlendTec did with their YouTube channel Will it Blend? You can create memes, music videos, or even a web series. Just make sure you keep a consistent brand voice.
- Products — Inform your followers about your products, the process in creating them, the inspiration behind them, and the people who make them. These can articles, photographs, testimonials, sizzle reels, videos, etc.
- Behind-the-scenes — provide your fans with exclusive access into your company, organization, or creations. This will go a long way in fostering a greater sense of community.
- Aesthetics — Beautify the feeds of your community with illustrations, well-composed photographs, gifs, or anything that is a feast for the eyes.
When either creating content or posting it, ask yourself “what value am I providing someone with this piece of content?” and that will inform the best way to write copy, tag, and boost your posts as well.
The Easiest Way to Create Content
No, you don’t need expensive gear or production team or years of experience to make content. All you need is a compelling story and finding the most straight-forward way possible to tell that story. Here are a few ways to make content quickly and inexpensively:
- Write an article — writing is the most inexpensive type of content you can make right now. No, you don’t need a fancy blog or a barrage of witty one-liners. All that you need is to write something that you already know and post it on a simple Wordpress blog or here on Medium. So if you’re the owner of a restaurant, write about how you created your menu or your experiences with customers. If you’re a non-profit, write about the contributions your organization has made. If you’re a creator, write about your process or your pro-tips. If you’re a realtor, then write about the best places in your neighborhood. Also, I encourage you to start simple. Maybe with a listicle that has 1–2 sentences per point.
- Make a video — No, you don’t need hire a production company or require a professional presenter. All you need is your smartphone (and maybe a tripod + simple editing software). Make the simplest video you can that offers some type of value to your followers. The more you make videos, the easier it gets and the more the business grows.
- Take a photo — No, you don’t need to pay $1K+ for a professional photographer. Again, all you need is your smartphone and taking a day to watch a few YouTube videos on the basics of photography (or reading this amazing book).
Posting that Content
Once you’ve created a piece of content, post it! It’s that simple. Yes there’s a ton of best practices for each platform, which we’ll explore further in subsequent posts. However, in the very beginning, posting that content goes a long way in fostering a strong social media presence.
But once you start consistently posting content, the work isn’t done yet. There is one more fundamental thing you have to do on social media… be social.
Conversation: On Being Social on Social Media
Social Media has the word social in it for a reason. Unlike print or TV, this is a type of media where you can engage directly with your followers.
First, let’s break down why it’s good to stir conversations with your followers:
- Replying to a follower’s comments instantly incentivizes them to keep commenting, sharing, and spreading the word of your organization/business/personal-work. Basically, people like knowing that there’s a human behind the brand that is listening to them.
- Conversing with your follower’s creates a sense of community. But why is it important to have a community? That core community will be the people who give you a steady stream of user-generated content, evangelize your products, and become repeat customers.
How do you engage with your followers?
It’s simple! You don’t need to exchange walls of text or partake in life-changing conversations. I mean you totally can, but by all means you don’t have to.
Here are the simplest ways you can engage with your following:
- Replying to comments — a simple “hello” or “thank you for reading/liking/subscribing/watching/commenting/being-an-awesome-human-being-that-deserves-all-the-love-in-the-world/etc” is sufficient. However by no means ever copy+paste a response. Because let’s face it, that’s a dick move.
- Asking questions — in the content (such as videos or broadcasts) or in the copy (for example asking what’s your favorite dish? when posting a photo)
- Reaching out to influencers and organizations — Think of the top influencers related to your brand. Visit their pages and engage with their content, or ask if they’d like to do a collaboration.
- Give exceptional followers a shoutout — a follower might take a great photograph, have an amazing story about your business, left a glowing review, or posted a great testimonial. When that happens be sure to give them a shoutout by name on your social media accounts. Shower people with love, and they will shower you with love right back. It’s how humankind works.
- Liking comments — if time is a constraint, then a simple like is far better than no interaction at all.
Jab Jab Jab, Right Hook
There’s a concept by Gary Vaynerchuk that he calls right jab, jab, jab, right hook. Basically it’s giving, giving, giving, and then asking.
Do 5x the work of making and sharing valuable content and having quality conversations upfront, and it will lead to 10x in long-term benefits. In the beginning, replying to every single comment even if it’s a simple “hi” or “thank you” would lead to your community thriving and growing basically on its own for years to come.
Start With The Basics, Then Move From There
Content and conversation are the two foundations of social media. Learn how utilize both and people will come. Hacks, exploits, shortcuts, and paid advertising will never replace good content and community interaction. They’re extras that will certainly help boost your content and grow your audience.
In upcoming posts I’ll be covering how utilize each major platform, the type of content that thrives on them, and how to make videos optimized for social media. Stay tuned!
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