Have you ever noticed that all the social media experts who tell you not to worry about fans and followers usually already have plenty of both?
It’s great to have smart, long-term social media goals like traffic back to your website and even conversions. But we all have to start somewhere. And sometimes, where you’re starting from is the very beginning.
When you’re building a brand-new Facebook page, Twitter account, Pinterest profile, Google+ page or other social media presence, the rules are different. For a while, your only objective is getting your audience to a minimum critical mass.
Starting from scratch can be intimidating, but there are plenty of ways to start stacking the deck in your favor right from the start. Here are 20 quick-win tactics for building a new social media presence on any network.
1. Fill In The Blanks
First things first: make sure that anyone who wants to find you, can. That means filling out your profile as completely as possible — including all the optional stuff! Pay special attention to your contact details and the words and phrases your audience might use to search for your brand.
2. Think Visual
A visual element (cover photo/profile picture/avatar/etc.) is likely the first thing potential audience members are going to see when considering you. Work ahead with a designer or on your own to make sure all your images are high resolution, properly sized and reflect your brand accurately.
3. Put Your Site To Work
Capitalize on the traffic you already have by adding follow/fan buttons for all your social networks to your site’s main page, about page, blog home and anywhere else that makes sense.
4. Tell Your Customers
If you have a physical location that customers visit, make sure there’s clear signage that shows off your social media accounts, how to join them and why someone should.
5. Add A Perk
Bonus points for adding an incentive to make it worthwhile for customers to act, like a special discount for showing you they follow you on Twitter or a coupon you can only access on Facebook.
6. Enlist Help
Spreading the word isn’t a one-person job. Make sure any employees are apprised of your new social media effort. Not only can they follow the new account to give you a temporary boost (hey, you need 30 Facebook fans to even see Insights; this is no time to stand on principle), they can also help spread the word to friends, clients and customers or even help come up with content ideas.
7. Assess The Field
You likely already know the brands that are competitive and complementary to yours. If not, do some quick research and brainstorming to find them. Find and follow all of them on your new account. Complementary brands might return the favor. As for competitors, now you can keep an eye on them. While you’re at it, connect to any major news sources for your industry.
8. Visualize Your Audience
OK, you may not have fans and followers yet. But you can already see them in your mind, right? What do they look like? What do they read? What do they watch on TV or at the movies? Marketers call this process “persona development,” but that’s just a fancy way to say “know your audience.” The clearer your picture of your intended audience, the easier it’ll be to find or create the type of content that’ll help them discover you.
9. Spy Shamelessly
Once you know your audience and you’ve got a bead on others in your industry, you know what it’s time for: brazen espionage. What are accounts similar to yours doing with their social strategy? What’s working, and what isn’t? Use this as a jumping-off point to learn from their mistakes and successes. Take what’s working and make it better.
10. Stockpile Shareable Content
Content that people want to share is your best bet when you’re starting out on a new social presence. Each share extends your network and introduces you to a larger audience. You’ll probably want to create your own, but there’s nothing wrong with sharing what’s already out there. Use discovery tools or comb your own network to unearth share-worthy stuff of various types (links, photos, videos, etc.)
11. Join Relevant Conversations
No matter what network you’re targeting, chances are there are already conversations going on that your brand can contribute to as a smart, informed source. Join them for a direct “in” to your target market. The idea isn’t to directly ask people to go follow your account — it’s to have such smart, relevant insights to add to the conversation that they can’t help but want to.
12. Hit Up Targeted Friends
It’s tempting to ask every Facebook friend you have to like your new page, but that kid you knew in middle school probably isn’t the target audience for your current venture. A better strategy: hand-pick a few friends who have the strongest connection to your brand or a super-large network. Hit them up personally with some information about your brand so they’ll be more inclined to share.
13. Run A Smart Contest
A contest or giveaway is a tried and true way to up your profile, but make sure you do it the right way. Consult the rules of your social network before getting started, and make sure your prizes aren’t random — they should reflect your brand or campaign and help attract your target audience.
14. Don’t Forget Email
If you have a regular email list, make sure to give your new social media account a sizable shout-out in your next email message, and periodic mentions after that. And don’t forget that there’s valuable real estate in every email you (and your employees!) send. Consider adding a line to your email signature.
15. Cross Promote
If you’re just starting to build out an Instagram account but already have an active Twitter account, leverage your existing network to build a new one by letting your Twitter fans know you’re also on Instagram — and what you’re up to there. Just make sure to post responsibly. Your fans should find enough different content on both platforms to make it worthwhile for them.
16. Max Out Hashtags
While hashtags are getting a mixed review at their new home on Facebook, a new page has little to lose from trying them out. On any network they can be used, hashtags can stretch your exposure on targeted topics and phrases. Use them strategically and responsibly, of course — we can’t all be JC Penney.
#Tomorrow #is #HashtagDay #at #jcp #Say #HashtagOffer #AtCheckout #ForA #10off25 #Offer #DetailsAndExclusionsInStore #ThatsHowWeDo
— JCPenney (@jcpenney) October 1, 2013
17. Create An Irresistible Voice
You know those people who seem to pull people in because they’re just so witty/silly/irreverent/fun to be around? Model your brand after that with every post, and followers will flock to you. (And yes, this includes creating exceptional content. You knew that had to be in here somewhere, right?)
18. Focus On Visuals
Social media is getting more visually oriented all the time. Images — memes, quote photos, infographics and regular old photos — can all propel your content further and spread your message to an ever-larger base. (Not a design genius? Here are some tools that can help.)
19. Plant The Seeds
Give your best content a little push by conducting an informal outreach campaign around it. Ask a few close contacts related to your industry if they wouldn’t mind sharing it (and offer to do the same for a special project of theirs, too). This strategy puts your best foot forward to a relevant audience — and you come pre-approved by someone smart.
Yes, ads cost money. But well-targeted ads can be one of the fastest, most efficient ways to grow a fan or follower base. Plus, the process of targeting can offer you some extra insights about your potential audience to get you thinking even more creatively.
Have you ever launched a social media presence from the ground up? What quick-win tactics would you add to this list?
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land.