If you’re a leader in business, you’re probably not enamoured by social media. Sure, you’ve got accounts on LinkedIn and Twitter that an assistant or a member of your marketing team maintains, but you’re not too active there personally. You don’t have many followers, but you don’t mind; you have bigger things to worry about than who’s reading your tweets.
Too many leaders shy away from social because they see it as “kid stuff” or a time suck that has no place in their already-too-busy days — but social media is a crucial element of branding, content marketing, and meaningful content distribution.
As a leader, you’re the face of your brand, and if you’re looking to help your company reach new audiences and make the most of the content you’re producing, then your personal presence on social is necessary.
“But I don’t have more than a few thousand followers,” you might protest, secretly thankful that your slim following might get you out of your content distribution responsibilities.
The thing is that the more content you share, the more your following grows — and the greater the reach your company content achieves. It won’t happen overnight, and it will require strategy and effort. But with help from my marketing team, I’ve reached 144,000 Twitter followers, so I know it’s possible.
Social media is critical to your marketing and content distribution. But for it to be useful, you’ve got to build and nurture your following. I’m not suggesting leaders immerse themselves in all things social; you’ll probably be more productive if you keep your social apps at arm’s length. However, there’s plenty of room between being a Luddite and being a Twitter addict.
Here’s how to grow your following and boost your brand without being consumed by social:
Set ground rules
I’m blown away by the fact that less than half of B2B marketers don’t use social media guidelines. Social media trends push platforms to change all the time, and you can’t use them effectively if you take a blanket approach to all outlets.
Begin by identifying the platforms your audience uses most and then familiarizing yourself with best practices for those platforms and considering how you can engage most authentically there. You don’t want your posts to become formulaic, but reminders and guidelines will help you engage quickly and effectively on whichever platforms you use.
Create a social calendar
You schedule important deadlines, client meetings, and family events — your social media posts should be no different. Strong social followings are built on consistency, so use your editorial calendar as a jumping-off point.
Does your team have any big content projects planned? Any industry events coming up that you want to highlight? Ramp up your typical posting schedule, and get your distribution strategy for those events on your social calendar as well. Doing this keeps social media top of mind and your audience consistently engaged.
Use appropriate hashtags
Unless there’s a serendipitous opportunity to use general hashtags, resist the temptation to piggyback on popular but unrelated campaigns. Instead, before sharing an article or a blog post on social, use a tool like TagCrowd to analyze it and generate a word bubble based on the content. Next, use RiteTag to evaluate your potential hashtags and identify any popular ones you might have missed. (Bonus points if your brand keywords overlap with trending hashtags.)
Follow with discretion
When you’re first building your following, you may be inclined to follow everyone who throws you a like or a retweet. Be discerning about who you follow, and use hashtags and social search tools to identify who else is part of the conversation in your space. Avoid spammy accounts and bots as well. People will recognize fake accounts in your follower list, and they’ll see these as a desperate, artificial play to increase your follower numbers.
Engage your followers
Social isn’t passive. To make the most of it, you need to build relationships. Respond to people when they share or comment on your work, and reply to (relevant, not creepy) direct messages. Share high-quality content from other influencers, too. Your followers want to know what you’re reading and what you think about industry events; they’re not just there to see you tout your company’s latest article. Social success comes from both promotion and engagement.
Establish benchmarks for social growth
Use content distribution tools or custom content software to track your posts’ performance. Gather data on which types of posts and content inspire the most likes, shares, and comments and which platforms see the greatest engagement. As you learn what interests your audience, shape your content and social strategies around those preferences to better serve their needs. Adjusting as you go will also help you ramp up your social following because you’ll be able to deliver more of what your followers love.
Participating in your company’s content distribution strategy doesn’t have to be time-consuming or anxiety-provoking. By simply committing to your responsibility, scheduling posts, and monitoring performance, you can grow your influence and your company’s reach. Your brand will grow as you help it gain visibility, and that should be reason enough to shake your aversion to social media.