posted on: 7/22/2011 8:21:24 PM EST
How to Build and Engage with a Loyal Social Media Following – Part 1
attraction marketing, branding, leverage, online, customers, social media

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Social media is a great tool for communicating with your customers, however unlike other forms of marketing communications, social media is exactly that “social”.

Simply pushing out posts is not enough, and it’s a big mistake that many business owners make – treating social media as if it’s another vehicle for simply getting the word out. Yes, it is, but it’s also a vehicle for listening to your customers’ needs, prompting them to share their opinions and feedback, as well as showing your appreciation for their business.

Being “social” on Twitter or Facebook isn’t simply a matter of following basic Twitter etiquette and thanking folks for ReTweets. Being “social” in an online world involves strategic planning and execution.

To help you on your way to growing a loyal social media following, here is the first in a two part series of tips for building and engaging with your Twitter and Facebook following (Part 2 will follow soon):
1. Be Proactive and Post Frequently

As a general rule, the more active you are on Twitter, the more likely you are to have someone find and follow you from within Twitter or from search engines.But don’t be a serial poster. Stagger your Tweets throughout the day, and keep them relevant (as a business owner never intermingle personal announcements with marketing messages). If you feel you can’t commit to regularly posting new Twitter content (4-5 times a day), you run the risk of your account running dormant and followers dropping off. If this is you, then you may want to consider pursuing another marketing vehicle that may be more suited to your business model.

Because the pace of Facebook feeds is not quite as fast moving as the Twitter-sphere, you don’t need to post as frequently – plan on 1 -2 posts a day, you don’t want to “take-over” your fans wall with too many posts.

2. Plan your Posting Schedule

If you use a social media aggregator tool or application to post to your Twitter and Facebook accounts, you have the advantage of cross-posting to all your social media profiles at once. But it might be a good idea to shake it up a little and post to Facebook and Twitter at different times. Do a little research and use measurement tools to understand when your Facebook fans are online most - what types of posts get the most engagement, what time of day did you send these? This will help you build a picture of when is the best time to post.

3. Use ReTweets Strategically

When appropriate, ReTweet interesting and relevant posts. It will keep your profile active and demonstrate your sociability. Candidates for ReTweets include media outlets relevant to your industry or community; business partners; and even customers. You can keep an eye on the pulse of what is being said on Twitter about your industry by using simple search tools like the Twitter Advanced Search* feature on Twitter Search* which lets you find Tweets based on key words, hashtags, geographic regions, and so on. Find what’s being said, by whom, and if you consider them influential give them a follow or a ReTweet – the chances are that they will reciprocate.

4. Respond to Mentions

In addition to ReTweeting, try to respond to as many “mentions” of your Twitter ID in any one day as you can. These may be in the form of questions, recommendations, or even critiques of your business. Most Twitter tools let you monitor what is being “mentioned” about your brand using specific filters – don’t ignore these. In responding to “mentions”, you demonstrate that you are “listening” to your audience, and increasing your viral influence in the process.

Stay tuned for five more tips in our next post.

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