This might be a question you’ve wondered yourself — do you really need to invest time and money into social media? Are any of your customers or associates even online, anyway?
The answer to these questions is a definite YES. Your customers are online, and they’re eager to connect.
Even if you’ve set up a Twitter account, that doesn’t mean it will automatically be seen by the right people. Building up a strong following takes time, effort, and more than anything else — strategy.
So, where should you start?
Step 1: Research
Before you create an account and start posting, take a look around the space. There are plenty of similar companies already online that you can observe and learn from. Doing a quick search for your competitors might help you determine what’s working for them and what isn’t. You can also search for customers and other people or companies you work with to start thinking about the type of network you want to build.
You’ll also want to research different iterations of your company name, especially if your first choice of username has already been taken. Rather than thinking of a substitute on the fly, toss around some alternatives and see what works.
Step 2: Fill Out Your Profile
Once you have an idea of what a successful Twitter account might look like, get started filling out your profile. Include as much information as possible, but avoid copying and pasting chunks of text directly from your website. Search engines don’t like seeing duplicate content appearing on the web, so having text that is too similar to your web pages may negatively impact your search rankings.
Instead, think of a fresh company description that grabs attention. Also be sure to link back to your main website since this can help SEO, and it will also ideally draw people back to your website.
Step 3: Start Posting
Browse the headlines for stories that impact your industry, and write up some posts based on them (be sure to include links, hashtags, and photos when possible). Keep character limits in mind, and in general, you should err on the side of brevity. (Here's some guidance on the best days and times to post on social media.)
Every so often, you can intersperse some posts about your company or products — but make sure the overall channel is devoted to your industry rather than you. It’s kind of like watching TV, you want to watch the general programming rather than just commercials. Keep this in mind as you brainstorm topics to post about.
Step 4: Build a Following
Once you have some posts going, take a look around and find accounts to follow. They can be customers, vendors, industrial publications, associations, etc. You can also look for people who work at each of these organizations (including your own staff) to follow.
Though it might sound counter-intuitive, don’t start with the heavy hitters. A global company with hundreds of thousands of followers is less likely to follow you back than a smaller company that’s also hoping to build up its following.
As with most things in life, it’s a good idea to start small and work your way up.
Step 5: Engage
As you continue to post new content and add more accounts to your Following list, look for posts to retweet, Like, or reply to in your home feed (make sure it’s content that relates to your brand and industry — steer clear of politics and anything else that might ruffle feathers).
The more you interact with other users, the more likely it is that they’ll return the favor. And every time you get mentioned by another account, you’ll be seen by their followers, which exposes you to a larger audience.
Over time, you should begin to see your Followers list begin to grow more organically with less effort. The key is to keep posting content on a regular basis, and continue interacting with other accounts. Eventually, you should gain enough traction where you can start following and interacting with those big brands you’ve been watching.