I’m a firm believer that social media isn’t everything, and you shouldn’t concentrate all of your time online – but learning social media marketing and its nuances will help grow your business, visibility, and brand reputation. I sing its praises, yet understand the behind the scenes work of building a rock-solid marketing plan and implementing targeted outreach activities, like email marketing, blogging, PR, networking, public speaking, podcasting, video, and more.

If your marketing goals for 2022 are to increase your social media presence, be more active, and engage your target market – for zero cost – here’s my advice:

  1. Start with friends you know. Or colleagues. Or networking associates. You’re probably super busy and forget how many people you interact with on a weekly basis. Look at the number of emails you sent last week and the people you connected with. Follow them on social and invite them to follow you. It sounds simple, because it is. You can do this yourself or assign someone to help with the task. Put it on your calendar (or action plan) and it becomes a habit.
  2. Don’t be a deadbeat. You have to be active and engaged on social media for it to work. It’s a waste of time if you think it is, and your energy online will prove you right. Since you already know your goals and target audience, post content they’ll like. I’m a fan of the 80/20 rule. 80% of content your audience should find valuable; that includes responding to comments and engaging (for real); 20% sharing what you’re up to (promotional news). Look at high traffic posts and videos from your toughest competitors for insight.
  3. Research influencers in your niche. It’s not only a good practice to know who the influencers are in your industry, it’s also good for business. Create a list and follow them on social. Check out Google, your favorite platforms, experts, authors and bloggers for ideas. Who’s posting content you love and has a loyal following? What kind of content is working for them, and how can you make it your own? As you comment thoughtfully, share info and links, be a resource not a braggart.
  4. Build a list with followers from your owned media. Ask people who visit your website to follow you on social media, as well as those on your blog, email list, and podcast. If you’ve published a book, posted a thought-leader article on LinkedIn, or had a recent media interview, include your social contact information. YouTube also offers an amazing opportunity to add copy and links in their description area to summarize and optimize your video. Here’s an article from Sprout Social on how to nail your video descriptions. Little known fact, you have 5,000 characters to use!
  5. Cross promote at speaking gigs. In-person speaking engagements may not be in full swing, but webinars and hybrid events are. Make sure to share your social media handles with event organizers and your audience. Create an offer or downloadable freebie or cheat sheet in exchange for a follow or email address. If you’re uncomfortable asking for a follow, how is it you ask for the sale? Being uncomfortable is a good thing. It forces you to stretch. And grow. And amaze yourself.
  6. Remember why you’re doing this. You built a business to share a product or service you’re passionate about, so why not build a community to share the same? Followers become friends, colleagues, partners, and vendors. They meet others to brainstorm with, collaborate on projects, co-author books – and network, to build their own marketing and advocate circles and social pods. Heck, your platform may be a place they fall in love!

Sure, you could create a campaign to buy ads to get likes and followers. It might be faster than the good-old fashion organic hustle and it’s always an option, if there’s a budget.

Or you could buy an already established social media account which comes with its own set of rules. Buyer beware, if you’re not going to be active or engaged, you’ll lose in the long run.

My feeling is that even a small social media following with engaged viewers will work, as long as you’re committed to the growing process, and follow the Golden Rule.

Bottom line: Unless you know of a social media genie, you or someone you designate has to put in the time to create, post, and measure results. Like all marketing tasks, put it on your calendar, find content your audience will like, and most of all, be human. This isn’t rocket science, it’s part of a bigger marketing puzzle where everything fits into place.

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