If you’ve ever wasted 10 minutes trying to think of a clever photo caption or poignant status update, only to finally hit that “Share” button and hear crickets, then you know that social media isn’t as fun and easy as it sometimes appears. At one time or another, most of us have experienced our share of social struggles.
Whether you’re stuck figuring out what to say, how to say it, or where to post it, the ins and outs of social media can be overwhelming, expensive, and time-consuming enough to make you put it off until you never post again. But if you’re practicing content marketing, social media needs to be part of your strategy.
The success of your content marketing strategy depends on how well you’re able to get that content you’ve created in front of the right people at the right time. That requires you to distribute your content.
Now, there are lots of ways to distribute content, but social media remains one of the most powerful and cost-effective — not to mention simplest — ways to do so. The more ways and places you share your content, the better. Not only does your content boost your social presence by giving you something engaging to talk about, but your social presence boosts your content by giving you a solid set of channels through which you can share those messages.
But wait, there’s more! An active social media presence:
By now, I’ve probably convinced you that social is crucial to your content strategy, but I can already hear you asking what the point of sharing content is when you only have 100 followers.
Your concerns are spot-on. Without a targeted audience to share your stellar content with, a social presence won’t do much for your brand. For your social media efforts to be truly worthwhile, you’ve got to have followers you can engage with your content. Here are four ways to start building your following and, subsequently, your social engagement:
It’s not enough to post on social for a while and suddenly go off the grid when work gets busy. To stay top of mind with your audiences, you have to demonstrate that they can rely on you for high-quality content — and that means setting a schedule and sticking to it. If you plan on hiring an employee to manage your social media or decide to outsource, set a plan so nothing slips through the cracks if there’s a change in the project’s ownership. Try using free social media tools to streamline the entire process.
To piggyback off my last point, having some sort of calendar with content ready to go can take the pressure off anyone who’s sharing content for your brand. Much like your editorial calendar, your social calendar should be filled with your best content — your latest blog posts, webinar promotion, press about your brand in a major media outlet — in advance so you don’t walk into the office and resort to posting yet another picture of your coffee and meeting notes, assuring all of your followers that you are, in fact, working.
It’s easy to spend a few bucks to gain followers, but these “followers” don’t add any value to your social media or your content marketing strategy. They’re not targeted followers who will engage with your content, nor are they likely to become customers, partners, or brand advocates down the road.
Grow your social following organically by using relevant hashtags and strategically following other accounts in your industry; sites like ManageFlitter can help you search for accounts based on keywords or recent posts.
I’d love to be able to tell you that doing everything in this article will lead to a huge spike in your following overnight, but that never happens. It’s best to simply be patient and persistent. Over time, your social platforms will grow organically — and sometimes exponentially. And remember, there’s nothing wrong with changing up your strategy, especially if you’re monitoring it and not seeing the results you’d like. It’s good to track and test, but you should never quit cold turkey.
Building your social media presence will take time and dedication — don’t get me wrong. But if you’re serious about seeing content marketing ROI and strengthening your influence as a thought leader, start with this advice.
I’m a senior PR strategist at Intero Digital's Content & PR Division. I have a passion for pop culture, crafting, and desserts (usually chocolate). When I’m not emailing journalists, you can find me making progress on my “to be read” book list or walking my dogs around the neighborhood.