Building a targeted social media follower base is no easy task. However, there are certain ways to speed things up and get a quick ROI for your time spent. It’s really hard to see the value when you’re starting out, especially when trying to get upper management to put good money and manpower towards the cause. It’s one of the toughest areas we have with our clients as they hate waiting for results, and really they should only be using an outside company to send them in the right direction.
What we want in the end are real people hitting that “follow” button so you have a real target audience that’s truly interested in your brand. The one other aspect that’s extremely important in my mind is the fact that you get to build a level of trust with consumers. If they can see you interacting with other customers, sharing new media and seeing others engaged with your brand, you’ll see an uptick in sales…without a doubt! The cream on top comes with the value in spreading content once you have a large following. If you have a truly creative content team, they’re going to have a lot more success spreading the right media because customers will actually want to share your content.
#Protip – Using a profile picture of a good looking bloke or lady from your company is going to get more follows thanks to good old “sex appeal”.
What I’m going to go over today will help get a big boost to your follower base that should be decently targeted to your brand. We will also identify your key social influencers which will be really important down the road. The world of business becomes a lot easier when you have the right connections, so make sure you know who the key players are. These relationships can lead to getting links, making new social friends, and getting help sharing your content. Just make sure you play nice and be social!
Let’s Talk About Pinterest
This site is perhaps the most fun to work on as of late, and while it’s not for business, it is a social network not to be slept on. Pinterest has a large female following (with the guys finally catching on) and while the referral traffic might be on par with StumbleUpon (aka not that sticky), this social network has other uses. You do get links on your profile, but the best marketing aspect yet? You pins can rank easily for long tail keywords and thus become a major traffic driver in and of themselves. This of course will only last as long as Google inflates their rankings like they are now, so definitely take advantage of this (and for any other social media site of the moment).
Pinterest follows will mainly come from you having good content, just like any other marketing angle you usually would be working. If you’re selling a product that’s the same across other websites and it’s already pinned, it’s time to take some custom photos for the occasion. Pinterest will send you insane amounts of traffic if done right, but don’t expect to magically go viral anymore, even with amazing content. Nevertheless, having the right audience already in place will make your life so much easier!
First up, get your staff (or yourself if flying solo) to populate your account, make sure you have your links set up, and create a dozen of your own pin boards. Fill the default ones up first and work on those amazing pictures for your custom pin boards before heading off to make friends.
Play Nice With Others…
Spend a few hours hunting down similar users by hand based on what you like and see. That’s always a great way to make sure you have future pins you’ll actually be interested in re-pinning on a bi-weekly basis. Not only that, but hopefully they’ll be something your followers will be interested in as well; chances are good that you’ll earn some like-minded followers back. By now, I’m sure you’re thinking “I’ve already done this with Twitter”… Sadly, it won’t be the last time you feel that sensation either, as I’m sure the next big social media site is just about to pounce.
Trending & Influencers
Once you’ve worked on the above task, it’s time to start utilizing the mashup sites that provide a wealth of useful information. In came Repinly and let me tell you, this is the most handy Pinterest marketing resource you’re going to see, hands down.
Here you can easily find the top influencers and pins in your vertical. Since using this site, we’ve managed to help build clients’ Pinterest follower levels over the 100k mark. You can also keep your eye out for pin boards that allow other contributors which opens you up to a world of power sharing.
There are a couple of other Pinterest mashups worth mentioning, and although I hate to favor one over the other, Repinly has really outdone themselves. You can also check out:
Pinauthority.com – tracks statistics for Pinterest users including pin stats and follower gains/losses.
PinPuff.com – This is kind of like Klout, but for just Pinterest… I don’t think I could have summed it up any better.
Don’t Skip Out On TheFancy.com
This is my personal favorite social site of the “pin kind”. TheFancy.com has been growing rapidly, although it’s not quite near the traffic levels of its arch-nemesis. We also run a luxury blog and luxury marketing company which is in the upstart stages, and that’s more so what this site is geared towards. The cooler and more fancy it is, the better luck you’ll have spreading it on this site. The bonus as well is that you can directly partner with TheFancy and they can send you sales/leads for your products. I’ve also found that the site’s posts also rank quite well in the long tail and can be another addition to that specific strategy. Here’s a shot of my profile:
To me, the overall experience of this site is way better than its competitors and I spend way too much time on it. I’ve also found the traffic is a lot more sticky and productive that Pinterest (which usually has a time on site of less than 10 seconds). There are no stats and trending tools for TheFancy, but you can use Topsy to see some hot items which I find is great for my link bait writing. Gaining followers here requires a lot of hard work and while I’ve had my items front page featured a lot, I’m still not that influential.
Instagram Is Too Useful To Ignore
Instagram is quite fun, and bringing it into the work place can be a positive work task if done correctly. It can be used to showcase your products, your team and even score some natural links in the process. Creating content is good, and that’s what it’s all about these days! Gaining target followers here is the same as in any other place: follow, like/comment and hopefully get followed back. As I’m sure you’re aware, #hashtags play a key role with Instagram as well, so don’t forget to utilize them.
Instagram is a great marketing tool because:
- You can showcase behind-the-scenes at your company on the fly.
- You can use it to feed content to your Facebook and Twitter accounts.
- You can repurpose the pictures into galleries or use them on your company blog.
- You can push Instagram followers to subscribe to your other social media accounts.
- You can take part in trending topics with your own content.
Getting Stats and Trending Data for Instagram
Since viewing anything on Instagram from the web is a complete pain in the arse, in came Statigram which makes life easier and prettier. You can get stats, view pictures and comment on images as well – all from their beautiful interface, which I think is what Instagram should have been like from the get-go. Take advantage of the search feature and go hit up your favorite #hashtag to find users to follow and discover who your influencers are.
If you’re looking for another way to attract more followers and showcase your content in a purrdy way, then don’t miss out on using Pinstagram. It’s a breeze to use on your mobile phone or tablet and the whole interface is just so well done. Another perk of the 10-second sign up process is of course a link that will add a natural site/brand named link to your profile.
Google+ IS Worth The Effort
I’m finding that the Google+ effort by most webmasters, especially myself (shamefully), and even clients these days, is still quite minimal. I’ve been reading and researching what’s working well for other mass-followed individuals across a few verticals, and have come up with the following tactics to try out to see how well it builds an audience. Some of it is just obvious and I cannot believe how we’ve been sleeping on it all this time. If you have any tips I missed, leave them in the comments below and I’ll include it in here with a reference back to you!
Another reason I think the new social media network on the block is worth the effort is simply because of its integration. We spend so much time marketing to all of the other “Google streams” and now that they’re all flowing into the same lake, we have no choice. I definitely see it as an opportunity to take hold of as many followers as you can while the getting is good. I think it will play a crucial part in allowing any sort of top 10 ranking in whatever is left of the Google first page results in the coming years. Rand Fishkin has already covered this and several more reasons to get in on it sooner rather than later.
Badges & Reaching Out
This is the easiest part as there are many Google+ buttons you can get and try out on your audience, and while we use Sharebar for our social shares, I think it’s time we tried something else. We’re just not getting the desired amount of G+ shares on our content, so we’ll see what we can do for the last half of the year. You can find different badges for free all over the web (just use Google…), plus you could and should experiment with your own creative options to get that follow.
I would also highly recommend letting your social followers elsewhere know that you’re now on Google+, and/or share your brand/company community url there. This also means sending out a newsletter as well… Not many people remember to do this and that’s a big mistake. Newsletter followers are usually a high valued follower and syncing them up is going to be very well worth it. Remember that the Google “tentacles” reach out everywhere and that also means into the Gmail inbox location!
I’ve also seen the majority of shares on our end come from my blogging author bio both on our site and especially when I guest blog. Besides that, you should list it on other social media site bios(when you have the room) such as:
- About Us Pages
- Slideshare presentations
- Youtube videos
- Pinterest etc
This is where things get the most interesting in my opinion. Video conferencing is a very handy tool and it will most likely outpace audio only communication in the coming years. While texting is still widely popular, I think in the business world in particular the trend of video conferencing will be quite well received. This is the area I myself and the Linkbuildr team will be focusing on the most because there are a couple of unique uses for this free service.
Use 1) Google+ Hangout Air
Google has been testing Hangout Air quite a bit over the past year, and it is basically live streaming to your audience for whatever reason you may have. There are already tens of thousands of celebrities, sports teams, brands and leaders making good use of it. You can instantly save it to Youtube for marketing purposes later, or just go live to your audience. Right now you can broadcast up to 10 people, which is great for collaboration or for interacting with many people from a client’s company.
Use 2) Handle Customer Service
We’re a small team and a small company, so keeping costs down is always a plus! I know Geoff couldn’t agree with me more there as I give him and our accountant enough headaches as is. With Google+ Direct Connect, you can connect your website/brand to everything properly so Google can index your content accordingly. This can work great for communicating with clients on-the-fly, and will be a serious threat to Skype and other services like it.
I can take a video call from a client and pull in Geoff, Simon or Curtis at any time to consult on something they’re working on specifically. We’re also going to test this out with our month end reports and let each person report to the client what’s going on in their work. Most of our communication is through email still, so it will be interesting to see how this works in improving how we get to know our clients and improve the working environment.
Don’t forget about Google+ Local
For anyone servicing a specific location, Google+ Local is an absolute must so I really shouldn’t be listing it here in this post. As I’m sure you’re aware, the local listings are placed highly on local search results and thus give you quite the advantage. This makes up for the majority of all local leads within Google, so make sure you’re open to reviews and providing customers something to look at.
You can feed in Youtube videos, product/company images, and your Zagat rating and actual testimonials from other Google+ users here which will greatly improve your ranking amongst all others. This is extremely helpful in showcasing that you’re an active and legit brand, something a lot more companies need to work on. I want to feel as if I can trust a website I’m buying from and will often peek at your social media activities to see who’s behind the code. I highly recommend reading David Mihm’s crowd sourced mega article on ranking factors for local SEO, as it goes into great detail on just about everything you’ll need to know.
Youtube & Vimeo
I won’t – nor do I need to – go into great detail on why and how you should be using video in your marketing efforts. I will, however, quickly cover why I think these two are the only video sites worth putting a lot of effort into in the immediate future. It’s no secret that videos from these two sites can rank extremely high up in the SERPs if done correctly, and it all comes down to great content and your user base.
Vimeo is a place for high quality content, so sticking to that idea, I definitely recommend only using it for a certain type of video. I would certainly not recommend putting up boring product commercials or anything not edited well by a professional. Don’t get discouraged though; even though it’s more of a place for video art, you can by all means utilize it as a sales driving force. To give you an idea, just take a look at how GoPro has used it to sell their product and launch viral video content.
Kick ass content that lets the product do the selling without having to shove any tom foolery in a customers face. After seeing just one of their videos, you’ll want one.
Youtube is great for all video, including artsy high end HD productions. I tend to recommend that clients heavily upload product reviews, funny videos, and pretty much anything else here. Youtube videos rank well, and if you can make your video authoritative enough, you will dominate the search results. A well ranked video comes from a number of areas such as view count, ratings, comments, and social share data, so having a well built social following can make a fast and significant impact to those rankings. I picked the random Google search query “San Jose mortgage broker” off the top of my head and sure enough, I got two video listings right at the top!
That’s why I love utilizing video, although we mainly do it for clients and not enough for ourselves. Just make sure you’re producing useful content, as it will lead to real social follows and that’s what you’re going after here. Video also lets your customers peer into your brand a little more intimately, which in turn leads to more brand trust.
A Couple More Examples
Manhattan creative agency
How to make money online
Need I say more?