If you’re a burgeoning Social Media manager and are struggling with a fledgling community of followers or fans, then you may have just landed in the right place. Often enough, professionals at the beginning of their career in social media will give up before they even really start, daunted by the massive following of their key competitors. In a way, it’s only human to react like this: after all, how are you and your two Twitter followers ever supposed to match up with your competition’s throng of thousands? That being said, the key element to remember in such situations is that you’re not starting out in a void. While social media is a relatively new tool for web promotion, there have been enough case studies to start from – and mere observation will work to, in this case. Here are a few assertions you will need to print and post on your office board in those first few months of social media networking, either with a search optimization agency, or as a freelancer.
“This Social Media entity stands for a certain set of values.”
Online, as in real life, people with similar values will tend to congregate in a natural flow. The main difference is that in offline interaction, values are much easier to identify and ‘read into’ than online. As such, don’t hesitate to promote whatever values your site stands for, be they tolerance, free speech, family values, or whatever else. A clearly defined stance will help you cull out the followers that would have jumped ship sooner or later along the way anyway, while also supporting your efforts toward building a responsive, interested community.
“I’m an actual person, communicating with actual people.”
This doesn’t mean that you will need to Tweet or post Facebook updates written in the first person (which is not to say that this approach can’t sometimes yield impressive results). What it does mean is that people will respond to your social media presence as they would to that of a fellow human – only one with more friends and a wider social network than their own. With this come both comfort and responsibility. You will have the comfort of knowing you can express the views of many, a powerful tool, but one that needs to be used deftly. You will also have the responsibility of making your page/profile sound like that of a person your friends would like to hang out with. In other words, avoid constant self-promotion, or being permanently online. Be humane and reap the results.
“It’s not all in the numbers.”
This is perhaps the most topical lesson of community building. You are probably very aware of backhanded practices such as paying for followers or fans on various social networks. They are founded on the belief that humans find strength in numbers. While this may hold true in certain respects, ask yourself whether you have ever found yourself liking a Facebook Page just because it had several thousand fans. Sure, you may have perused it, but if it didn’t speak to you in any relevant manner, you most likely clicked away within seconds. As such, it’s safe to say this is not the way to go about it. At the same time, remember that your main competitors did not acquire their thousands of fans overnight. Check out their timeline of posts and work out how many new followers they managed to get, on average, each month. That’s a more reasonable benchmark to hold your own performance against.