There are a several kinds of people in social media. There are the people that enjoy a nice, quiet existence with their family and close friends. There are the bots. There are the people that have a massive following on one network, but you really don’t see them anywhere else. And then there are the people that no matter where you find them, they have (or are currently building) a massive audience. The latter are social media rock stars. Just like any other rock star or celebrity, once they announce they have a profile on XYZ network, their audience come running to join them there.
Chances are, if you are promoting a blog, building a business, or simply want to share your thoughts with the masses, you want to be a social media rock star. And not just any rock star, but one with an audience who really cares about what you have to say!
In today’s post, I’m going to share with you my top tips for building an audience and becoming influential on social media. The first set of tips apply to almost any social network, and the rest focus specifically on the top three. Or the ones I consider the top three at least.
General Tips for Building an Audience
No matter what social network you are targeting, the following are tips that will apply to them all. These tips will help you build a larger, stronger audience where ever you go with social media.
Use Your Real Name or Business Name
When it comes to the name field for your social profile, be sure to use the name you want to be found by whether it is your real name or your business name. It’s going to be hard to get people to follow keywords like link building or pet supplies. Be sure to take a look around the network first to see if certain profiles are only for people – Facebook profiles, for example, are for people. Facebook pages are for people, businesses, companies, blogs, and so forth.
Complete Your Profile
If there is a field for it, then you can use it to your advantage – no piece of information is unimportant. You never know when someone might feel the urge to connect with you just because you share the same taste in book or TV shows. Also remember the importance of keywords throughout your profile – including them can help others (including search engines) find you.
Make Some Status Updates Before Adding Contacts
Before you start trying to build your audience on new social networks, make sure you have posted some good, public status updates. This way, people will get to see what they can expect to see from your profile or page. And of course, make these status updates public – otherwise, people not connected to you will not be able to see them.
Use Your Current Contacts to Find People on Social Networks
Most social networks will allow you to connect with your email address book, Skype, Facebook, Twitter, or other networks to find connections. Be sure to find this option when you join a new social network or look to boost your audience in networks you already belong to. Here are just a few popular networks and their “find friends” pages. Most of these links will only work if you are logged in to your account.
- Twitter – Import contacts from Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail, and AOL.
- Facebook – Import contacts from Skype, AOL, Hotmail, Comcast, SBCglobal.net, Verizon.net, Gmail, Yahoo, and other email services.
- Google+ – Find people based on connections in your Google / Gmail account.
- LinkedIn – Import contacts from hundreds of different email providers.
- Pinterest – Imports contacts from Facebook, Gmail, and Yahoo.
- StumbleUpon – Import contacts from Facebook, Twitter, and Google.
Cross Promote Your Profiles
If you have a blog, put icons to your main social networks (i.e., the ones you want to build an audience for) in your header or sidebar. If you are active on forums, add your social networks in the appropriate forum fields – the club forums on Social Media Examiner (as shown above) lets you promote all the main profiles.
One quick tip for making sharing your social profile links simpler: bookmark them on your browser’s bookmark toolbar.
This way, you can just copy the social profile link you need from your browser’s bookmark toolbar and paste it where you need it. This works in Firefox, Chrome, or any browser where you can right-click on your browser’s bookmarks.
Add a Social Network to Your Guest Blogging Author Bio
When you are guest blogging, be sure to include at least one social network in your bio if you can. Be aware of which network will be the one your new readers will want to follow you on. For example, if you write a guest post on Twitter, include a link to your Twitter handle. If you write for a blog whose main theme is LinkedIn, include a link to your LinkedIn profile. Also, aim for blogs that offer author bio pages with multiple social profile links like Mashable, Search Engine Watch, and SEOmoz. Or, better yet, look for blogs that let you include multiple social profile links in the bio itself like Famous Bloggers.
Add Social Networks to Local Search Listings
Own a local business? This tip is for you. Many local search directories are incorporating social media profiles into local listings. Be sure to add your social profile links when you can so that local customers can become a part of your social media audience.
Promote Your Social Profiles in Emails
Think about how many people you email on a regular basis. If you’re not taking advantage of sharing your social profile links in your signature, you could be missing out on new followers and fans. You can do it by inserting a simple text link beneath your name and website link, or you can use WiseStamp for a fancier signature including social media icons.
While Facebook may be the number one social network, Twitter is one of the easiest to use and gain popularity upon thanks to short updates, ability to communicate with those that aren’t following you, and lack of algorithms that dictate whether your updates will be seen by others or not. With these things in mind, here are some great tips to increase your following and authority on Twitter.
Use the Official Twitter Retweet Button
If you have a blog and want to build your Twitter following, but you aren’t using the official Twitter retweet button, then you are missing out.
When people read your posts and like them enough to tweet them, the next natural step is that they should follow you. Make it easy by using this retweet button that will suggest people follow you after they tweet your post. See user recommendations in action by clicking the above retweet button. As a side bonus, you’ll also be helping promote this post which will be greatly appreciated!
Use the Official Twitter Follow Button
Another great way to make it easy for people to follow you is to use the official Twitter follow button. Instead of linking to your profile using a standard icon, use this button instead. When someone clicks on it, they will automatically be following you! If you’re not following me yet, just click the above button to see how easy it is to use.
Find Targeted People to Follow
One way to start building followers is to follow people with similar interests. You don’t want to follow just anyone though – you want to follow people that would be interested in your niche and what you have to say. Here are some great places to start finding people based on their interests.
- Wefollow and – Find other Twitter users based on interests. List yourself so others can find you.
- Twitter Elite – Find Twitter users based on location.
- Twitter Counter – Find Twitter users based on their number of followers and location.
- Follower Wonk – Search for Twitter users based on keywords in their profile and filter results based on location, follower / following count, and more. Login to search your own Twitter followers / following.
One trick to figuring out who might follow you and who might not is to look at their follower to following ratio. If they have a million followers but only follow 12, you might have a tough time becoming the 13th person they follow. If they have 10,000 followers and follow 9,500, then you have a good shot.
Another way to ensure people follow you back is by interacting with them. Monitor updates made by those you have recently followed and tweet them @theirusername. This will show them you are an engaging member of Twitter and might make them more likely to follow you in return.
Follow Those You Tweet
If you’re a content curator like I am, then you are likely tweeting lots of blog posts every day. Assuming that you aren’t using automated options, then a good way to attract new followers interested in your niche is by tweeting blog posts including the author’s Twitter handle. Notice I didn’t just say the blog’s Twitter handle – tweeting @Mashable isn’t likely to get you much recognition. But tweeting a post via @Mashable by @theauthor might get you noticed by the author of the post. So don’t just include the author’s Twitter handle in your tweet, but follow them as well. When they see your tweet and see that you’re following them, they might be more inclined to follow you back.
Also, take note in those you converse with often on Twitter. Think about people who ask you great questions, people who add personal comments when they tweet your posts, people you interact with on other social sites, and so forth. Follow them as well – it might lead to even more followers.
Find Out What Your Audience Likes
Speaking of being a content curator, one thing I’m always curious about is what my audience likes. Buffer makes it simple to schedule your tweets and find out which ones get the most response from your audience. After making some budget cuts with my online tools, this is the one that I still pay premium for and is worth every penny when it comes to convenience and insights.
Keep Your Followers / Following Numbers Balanced
After a while on Twitter, you might begin to notice that the people you are following outnumbers the people following you. This may be because over time, you have followed lots of people who have not followed you back. You might have reciprocated following people using an automated system that are no longer following you. Or you might have accidentally followed an account that is not a spam bot.
One tool that can help you purge people you no longer want to follow quickly is Refollow. You can use it for free to simply take a look at the number of people you are following that are not following you and use filters to find Twitter users you are following with specific keywords in their profile. You can then hover over each user’s image and go to their profile to determine whether you want to keep following them. Refollow also allows you to upgrade to a premium account and use their service to quickly unfollow or follow people, 100 at a time. Just keep in mind that automated following / unfollowing is against Twitter’s rules and can lead to your account getting suspended or banned.
Another way to keep the number of people you are following on Twitter in check is to simply unfollow people who send you spammy direct messages or tweet things you are not interested in reading. It’s a slower process, but if you commit to removing a few people a day that you don’t really want to follow anymore, you will eventually whittle down your list.
Find Better Connections on Twitter
Do you wish there were applications that told you who you should be following based on their interaction with you? Surprise – there is! Commun.it is a great Twitter relationship manager. It goes through your Twitter profile, analyzes who you interact with and who interacts with you, and suggests people that you should be following. You can also set up keywords which Commun.it will use to find new people for you to follow. Commun.it doesn’t automate following though, so you don’t have to worry about getting banned for it.
Engage with People on Twitter
Last, but not least, none of the above tips will really help you become an influential person on Twitter if you aren’t actually engaging with people. I have a serious problem making time for this myself, and I notice that my overall influence on Twitter suffers for it. Some great ways to engage with others include the following.
- Thank those that tweet you. The larger the audience you have, the more retweets you might get. If you can’t thank everyone, then just try to get five people a day. Rotate the five people so that as many people as possible get thanked regularly. If nothing else, definitely thank those that add a personal comment when they tweet you (i.e. Great blog post by @you on this topic.).
- Answer anyone who asks you questions. Again, it might be difficult if you have a huge audience, but definitely try to answer as many people who ask you questions as you can.
- Create Twitter lists and engage with those in it. One easy way to follow a certain segment of people is by adding them to a Twitter list, then following the list’s updates and interacting when the opportunity arises such as when people ask their audience questions.
- Search for people asking questions about particular keywords. A great way to demonstrate your authority is by answering questions. If you create a search for a particular keyword ? -filter:links then you will see anyone on Twitter asking a question with that keyword in the tweet. I personally like using “how do i” keyword -filter:links because you will specifically see “How do I update my LinkedIn profile on my iPhone?” and other very specific questions.
- Monitor your direct messages. While many direct messages are spam, some are not. Keep an eye on your direct messages and reply to the legit ones.
While you can do all of these things on Twitter itself, it will be even easier if you use a Twitter management tool. I prefer HootSuite which you can use for free for up to five social media accounts. This tool allows you to monitor your mentions, direct messages, keyword searches, Twitter lists, and much more in columns.
You can also use Tweetdeck, CoTweet, and other similar programs. Just make sure your application makes it easy to manage your Twitter so you can spend less time finding everything and more time engaging!
Next on the list of powerhouse social networks is Facebook. There are two ways to go on Facebook – personal profiles and business pages. There is a lot of debate on what is best, and of course, there are the rules that personal profiles cannot be used for business marketing. At the same time, it’s easier to develop friendships and get your message across on personal profiles vs. on pages. So here are some tips to help you thrive on both.
For Your Personal Profile, Allow Subscribers
If you want to share your personal profile updates with the public, but don’t necessarily want to become friends with them, then turn on the Allow Subscribers feature under your Account Settings. This way, people can subscribe to your updates and see anything you post publicly. If you want your updates to be for friends only, just change the setting on the update to only be shown to friends.
Don’t forget to encourage subscribers by incorporating the Subscribe Button on your blog or website. With one click, people can subscribe to your personal profile’s public updates!
For Your Page, Use the Like Button or Box
There are two ways to promote your Facebook page on your blog or website: the Facebook Like Box or Like Button. The Like Box allows you to show your latest status updates, whereas the Like Button allows you to create a simpler, more compact button for your website that can fit in your header or sidebar. Using these will encourage more people to quickly like your page without possibly losing them between clicking on an icon and going to Facebook. Because if you’re like me, you sometimes get distracted by notifications!
Promote Your Page on Your Personal Profile
Want your Facebook page to come up on your personal profile? It’s simple!
- Edit your profile’s Work and Education section.
- Type in your page’s name as an employer in the Where have you worked field.
- Fill in relevant details including position, city, and description.
- Make this your current position – if you have multiple employers, set the starting date for this entry as the most recent.
Now check out your profile – your Facebook page should be in the information section beneath your profile!
Use Your Personal Profile to Build an Audience on Other Networks
If you’re looking to grow your audience on other social networks like Pinterest, then you might want to consider adding people you want to connect with elsewhere as friends on Facebook instead of just as subscribers. Instagram is another example of networks that use your Facebook friends to find connections.
So how do you make friends on Facebook? Start with:
- Bloggers who you interact with who link their Facebook profile on their blog. Be sure to add a personal message about why you are connecting with them.
- Importing your address book to see which email contacts are on Facebook on the Find Friends page.
- Use the Find Friends Browser to discover people from your hometown, school, employer, and mutual connections.
- List your previous employers, schools, and places you’ve lived on your own profile to help others find you easier.
Encourage People to Add You to Their Close Friends List
Want your status updates to be shown to your friends through their notifications? Then give your friends a simple tutorial on your blog or on Facebook itself that shows them how to add you onto their close friends lists.
The tutorial is as simple as 1, 2, 3. First, locate your Close Friends lists. It’s generally on your left sidebar under Favorites, Interests, Apps, and Groups. If you don’t see it immediate under Friends, hover over that area and click the MORE link.
Next, click on your Close Friends list.
What you will want to do from here is make sure your notifications are set to show on Facebook and Email (or just Facebook).
Then start adding people to the Close Friends list whose notifications you want to see when they make an update.
This only works with people who are friends with you, hence it is another good reason to make friends on Facebook instead of just building subscribers.
Comment on Blogs Using Facebook Comments
If you’re using your personal profile and a business page, you can promote on blogs that use the Facebook comment system. As you can see on the above comment on Techcrunch, you get a link to your personal profile and your business page plus a listing of your current number of subscribers. To make sure your page shows up next to your profile, follow the steps above for promoting your page on your personal profile.
Like Other Pages and Comment with Your Page
Another way to get exposure for your Facebook page is by using it to comment on other pages. To do this, you will need to switch to using your page on Facebook by using the dropdown in the top right of Facebook.
Next, find some pages on Facebook whose fans could be potential fans of your page. For example, a wedding photographer could become a fan of The Knot and interact there because their audience is full of brides looking for wedding vendors. Blog outreach companies could become a fan of blogs or businesses as they would want to find both for their services.
Once you’ve found some good pages, you can see their latest updates by going to your Facebook Home page. Just like your personal profile’s news feed, your Facebook page will now have a news feed. When you comment on these pages’ status updates, your Facebook page will be shown to anyone else viewing the page, leading to more exposure for your page.
Engage with People on Facebook
Last, but not least, if you want to rock Facebook, you have to engage with people. Some great ways to do this include the following.
- Wish people a happy birthday. Facebook makes it easy for you to say happy birthday with your personal profile – it takes about five minutes (or less) a day. Aside from making someone’s day, you’ll also get the added bonus of interacting with them and showing up more often in their news feed.
- Respond to comments and posts. This applies to your personal profile and your page. When people post comments to your updates or direct posts to your wall, be sure to acknowledge them with a response. This will make them more likely to return.
- Check your messages. Be sure to check and respond to your private messages on both your personal profile and your page. When it comes to messages on your personal profile, don’t miss the Other folder (you can see it in the list to the left under Messages) as it may have legitimate messages that you want mixed in the ones Facebook thinks is spam.
- Go beyond the like. When interacting with your profile or page, don’t just like status updates, photos, and videos. Like and comment on them. Someone may have hundreds of likes but just dozens of comments – guess which ones they will notice and appreciate more!
- Don’t use third party tools to update. Facebook’s algorithm will give more exposure to posts made directly on Facebook vs. ones made by third party tools. If you want people to see and interact with your updates, make them on Facebook itself.
- Make yourself available for chat. If there are people you would like to develop a stronger relationship with, add them to a specific friend list that you can setup as the only people who can see you on chat.
YouTube and Yahoo Answers might rank above it, but according to Hitwise Social Media Trends, Google+ is the next most popular social network after Facebook and Twitter. Plus, you can’t ignore the fact that becoming a rock star on Google+ could also lead to some search-related benefits. Hence, we’re going to skip the above mentioned networks and jump into tips on building a strong Google+ presence with both a personal profile and page.
Add Google+ Badges to Your Website
Make it easy for other Google+ users to add your profile or page to their circles by incorporating the official Google+ badges on your website or blog. This way, logged in users can add you to their circles without even leaving your website!
Search for Relevant People to Add to Your Circles
Use the Google+ search box to find People and Pages that are relevant to your niche. Once you have added them to your circles, go through their public updates and make some comments. Regular interaction could lead them to circle you back!
Focus on Keywords
Google integrates Google+ profiles and pages into their search results. Imagine being on the first page of search results for a generic keyword like photography, like the gentlemen in the above example. If you want to take advantage of this, you will need to make sure that you put the keywords you want to rank for in your profile details and your posts. Getting exposure in search can definitely help you build an audience on Google+. This will also help you come up in internal search results on Google+ itself.
Build Your Authorship Entries
Another good way to get attention in search results is by establishing Google+ authorship with your personal profile. There are a few ways to do it which are listed in Google’s author information in search results help page. This way, people can discover you in search when searching for information about your niche.
Engage with People on Google+
Last, but not least, if you want to build your influence on Google+, you will need to engage with others. Some great ways to engage on Google+ include the following.
- Organize your circles from the beginning. The easiest way to make sure you can engage with the people you want to is by organizing your circles. Don’t just add everyone to the same circle. Think about separating people based on the way you want to engage with them – maybe you will share updates about particular topics to particular people. Maybe you will want to see specific groups of people’s updates all together. Organize people by niche, friend or family, customer or vendor, and other criteria.
- Turn on your chat. You can make yourself available to chat with everyone or just a particular circle. This will allow you to build even stronger relationships with people.
- Comment on your connection’s posts. Notice I didn’t say just +1 it, but comment. The more you comment on someone’s status updates (legit, valuable comments), the better they will remember you.
- Create a Hangout. Google+ has one great interactive feature that most other networks do not – the ability to have a live webcam chat with 9 other people. Try it out to really connect with your audience. Make it based around a theme for your niche and record it to share on your YouTube, website, and blog as great video marketing content.
So what are the biggest takeaways from this post? If you follow nothing else, follow these rules when it comes to any social media network.
- Fill out your profile completely and thoroughly.
- Use official social sharing and follow buttons / badges when available.
- Find people to connect with on social media that you know will be interested in what you have to say. Don’t connect with anyone just to win the numbers game.
- Engage with your audience. If you’re not having regular, interactive conversations with your audience, then nothing you do on social media will make you successful.
That’s about it for me – now it is your turn. Did you learn something new in this post? I certainly hope so. If there is anything else you’re curious when it comes to being successful with these social networks or others, let’s discuss it in the comments! And if you have any additional tips you’d like to add, feel free to add those in the comments too!