One of the best “free” or low cost ways to build your brand or spread your message is with social media. I’ve found a workflow that virtually automates the process and allows you to grow a social media following in any niche.
The internet is a big place, so if you are just creating content and posting it to twitter, no one is going to see or read it and all your efforts will have been for naught. Let’s address that first.
Before we even start making content at Gregerson Solutions, we build an audience. Here’s how.
Phase 1: Prepare Your Accounts
Make your page look clean and professional. Design a twitter, facebook, and Google + background and profile pic that represents your brand. To see what ours looks like you can check our Twitter, Facebook, or G+ accounts. They look like this:
Once your accounts are all properly branded and looking decent it’s time to start building an audience.
Phase 2: Build An Audience
For the purpose of this guide, we are going to use my social media accounts and focus primarily on Twitter, but the same method can be used for any other social media property.
We need to build an audience, but how do we reach the people we wish to target? The answer is, find out who they are following, who the influencers are, and get them to follow YOU so that when you publish things they syndicate it to their network. In every niche there are already influencers with thousands of followers, let them do the work for you.
To accomplish this, we need to identify who these people are, make them aware of our presence, and then add something of value to them in order to entice them to follow us. This is a theme you will see throughout our strategy, always be adding value.
First, let’s populate our accounts with some content for a few days so we don’t look like a fresh account created yesterday. To accomplish this, we will use a tool that allows us to find the trending (and most likely to be shared) content in a given niche. We will then schedule these items to be posted 3 times per day and let that run for a few days until the account has some content.
I have tried several content curation services by my favorite by far is Content DJ. You simply connect your social media accounts, tell it what keywords you wish to target, and it will show you a list of what is trending on any given day for that keyword. It also ranks how “shareable” the content is, based on analysis of how often it was shared by others.
Let’s talk a second about my social media strategy first. I don’t get customers on social media, what I use social media for is so that it looks like I have an established presence and to show that I have influence. This means I will be targeting other professionals in my industry vs potential customers.
Since I am in the web design/content marketing sector, I will choose to publish content pertaining to those interests. In this case, I am targeting the keywords of content marketing, SEO, web design and a few others.
I go to the dashboard pictured above and schedule out 3 pieces of content a day from the top of the list. I’ve found these to be the best times to publish:
- 10:00 Am
- 5:00 Pm
- 8:00 Pm
I have chosen this based on the analytics provided in Content DJ which shows which times gain the most engagement from my audience as pictured below.
Once I’ve scheduled things out for a few days, I just let it sit on autopilot while it populates my Twitter account with content from the industry in preparation for phase 3.
Phase 3: Engage With Influencers
Now that we have some content and don’t look green behind the ears, we will reach out to influencers on Twitter who hold clout and try to get them to follow us.
To do this, we use two methods:
Software That Helps You Find Influencers
Using either Moz’s Follower Wonk or BuzzSumo’s Influencer Search, we will find a list of people in our niche that have a large following. These tools allow me to search twitter bios for keywords like “content marketing” and then pulls up a list of who the key players are. Here is an example of what you will see:
Now that I have a list of people who already have a following in this niche, I will begin following them by clicking the “Follow” button next to their name. Note that in the above images I’ve already followed these people so it says “Unfollow” instead of “Follow”.
I try to follow about 50 influencers a day. I don’t know what Twitter’s threshold is for “too many follows in one day”, but this seems to be working for me. Your mileage may vary.
Next, I will do something that is so simple and yet something a lot of people overlook.
Favoriting Other People’s Content Makes Them Follow You
Content creators put a lot of effort into their work, so there’s nothing they love more than when they log in and see someone has favorited one of their pieces. We will use that to our advantage here, but do so in an automated fashion.
I use a service called TargetPattern to make this easy. I put in a few keywords (such as content marketing), and each day it will give me a list of about 150 posts from influencers in that niche. It’s purpose is singular and simple, to curate a list of people who posted about a certain topic and then making it easy to favorite that post. You can use keyboard shortcuts to speed this up, by holding down F it will favorite all of the posts from these influencers en masse.
I have found this extremely effective, as when you favorite someone’s content they tend to follow you.
Here’s the results:
As you can see, with literally just 10 seconds a day in effort I have gained 60 followers in the past 15 days using this method alone. All key influencers.
Phase 4: Engage With Your Followers
At this point, the followers are coming in like crazy, people with tons of influence are following me and people are messaging me thanking me for favoriting their content.
At this juncture it is important to respond to all of these messages. Respond to everyone who follows you with a quick thank you, everyone who favorites one of your posts as well. Look through your wall and comment on pieces of content from your audience to start building those relationships.
This is a “you scratch my back I’ll scratch yours” type of situation, if you syndicate and engage with other people’s content, they will be more inclined to do the same in return.
Phase 5: Create Your Own Content
Here we get to the true purpose of the operation, to draw people to your content, website, and to hopefully get some backlinks from within your niche.
I could write a whole piece just on creating your own content but let’s distill it down to this: Always be adding value. Never sell to people in your content directly, offer them something they are looking for and people will share it among themselves and eventually people will land on your page and click through to other content or purchase your product. This is Inbound Marketing in it’s purest form.
Phase 6: Promote Your Content
Now that we have content of our own, it’s time to show it to the world. Through our efforts outlined above, we now have a Twitter account with hundreds of followers in our niche, most of which are influencers themselves who each have thousands of their own followers.
We will continue releasing 3 pieces of content a day using Content DJ, but now we are going to slip one of our pieces in here and there as well. This makes it seem like you don’t just talk about yourself and promote your own content, instead you are angling it so that your content is just another piece of content that is posted like any other.
When it comes to your own content, it’s also worth it to manually reach out to some of the whales of the industry who are following you and mention that it exists, if not outright as them to retweet it and syndicate it to their followers. Many won’t, but even 1 share on these people’s profiles can lead to thousands of users seeing your content and engaging with it. Be genuine, and don’t try to hard.
A quick word on paid advertising on social media:
If you are selling a product or really trying to attract people to your site, now is the time to spend a few dollars on advertising. You should promote the content you write through ads that target your followers and their followers, as well as anyone else you feel may convert. I usually do about $20 per day to boost it but again, your mileage may vary.
Phase 7: Refine and Repeat
From hereon out, it’s all about just figuring out what content is performing best and making more of that content. Aside from making your own content, the process is basically automated.
Leverage tools like Scribe or BuzzSumo to plan out your content by first researching what types of content are performing well so that you can only spend time and resources on pieces that people will actually read. Or, do your own research, it really depends on your budget.
In 15 days we gained over 230 followers, nearly all of which are key influencers in our niche, and who regularly syndicate our own content to their networks. The process works the same for a law firm, a real estate agent, or someone selling a specific product.