It seems like everyone uses social media these days to help grow their business or personal brand. An ironic by-product of the success of social media, however, is that it’s become extremely hard to stand out amid all that content. The data is striking: Sure, some 800 million people use Facebook, but only 7.5% of your fans ever see your status updates, according to PageLever. And Sysomos reports that only 29% of your Twitter followers will see your messages. So how do you keep from being ignored online? Here are five fundamental strategies.
1. Start with the basics
It should almost go without saying that your business should have a website as well as a blog and should participate on the top four social networks: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Google+. People are searching for you or for other companies that offer similar services, and every search query in which your company’s name doesn’t come up is an opportunity lost.
2. Establish a niche
When creating your online brand, you need to have a specific audience in mind – the audience that would most likely purchase your product or service. For example, Rachel Rodgers Law Office in Phoenix positions itself as a company that offers “Innovative Legal Counsel for Generation Y Entrepreneurs.” If you’re too general with your positioning, you won’t attract the people that can make your company profitable over the long haul. Although this approach might not yield 2 million followers and fans, you’ll certainly generate leads.
3. Create valuable content
The content that you publish should be concentrated on a single topic related to your business. Your status updates and blog posts could contain research, quotes, facts, stories and ideas instead of product pitches. As Jeffrey Gitomer famously said, “People don’t like to be sold but they love to buy.” Direct selling through social channels turns people off and is the fastest way to impede your business growth. Your market will be drawn to the valuable and interesting content that you produce. They’ll then follow you and examine your website for your products and services.
4. Interact with your audience
Aside from producing content on a regular basis, you need to both listen and interact with your followers. By listening to what people are saying about your brand, you can better serve them with content and products. Start by using tools like Google Alerts and Twitter in order to review your brand mentions.
5. Make yourself an expert
You can’t rely on people finding your website or your profiles anymore. You need to proactively market your brand so that you can stand out in the clutter. The best way to do this is to brand yourself as an expert in your field, proactively reaching out to a select number of journalists that cover your topic, and offering yourself as a source for future articles. Each time you’re interviewed for an article, make sure your company’s name is included, which will draw more people to your website. By having a third party endorsement from a media outlet, and putting yourself out there, you will become more credible, trusted, and your visibility will multiply.
Dan Schawbel, recognized as a “personal branding guru” by The New York Times, is the Managing Partner of Millennial Branding, LLC, a full-service personal branding agency. Dan is the author of Me 2.0: 4 Steps to Building Your Future, the founder of the Personal Branding Blog, and publisher of Personal Branding Magazine.