When I teach social media, I encourage people to relax and not take on too much at once. So, let’s back up and start with the basics. Because social media can reach millions, it’s way too easy to think of it as mass marketing. In reality, it’s about one-on-one relationships. And that involves building a connected social media prescence.
Here are 10 Tips to Build Solid Social Media Relationships
1. Always provide value.Value can meet a lot of different things, but these are the four types of updates I like to share:
a. An inspiring quote or Bible verse.
b. Something funny (and never offensive).
c. A thought-provoking question or request for an opinion.
d. A link to something I find valuable.
2. Find something to talk about besides yourself. I use what’s come to be known as Edie’s 5 to 1 rule to stay balanced. For every five social media updates I share, I allow myself to share one about me or my product or ministry.
3. Know where you want to go. I think it’s important to have goals. Have a long-term goal, mid-range goal, and a short-term goal. One good way to do this is to find someone who is where you want to be and emulate them. Analyze how they are handling online connections. Learn from what they’re doing and follow in their footsteps.
4. Don’t over-stress about the numbers. We sometimes forget that behind each number is a real person. We get greedy and want to reach hundreds and even thousands. We need to keep our perspective. If I had 25 people who regularly showed up at my house to hear me share my passion, I’d feel really good about that. But on social media we find that number disheartening. Take care of the people God has brought into your online life. I guarantee that when you do, He’ll add to that number.
5. Promote others ahead of yourself. I’ve built my platform by promoting others. I find those more knowledgeable than me and share their information ahead of mine. This shows our followers that we’re not out for ourselves, but that we truly want to bring value to their lives.
6. Don’t overshare. Don’t share updates that are offensive or insensitive. Don’t dominate the feed of any network by posting update after update. And finally, don’t share boring day-to-day details. Remember this wise advice I heard early in my career, “Two things are interesting to the general public – someone famous doing something ordinary or someone ordinary doing something extraordinary.”
7. Know the culture. Every social media network has a different culture and etiquette. Learn them and act accordingly. For example, Instagram users love hashtags. An Instagram update with fifteen to twenty hashtags is expected. In the Twitter culture, anything more than three hashtags is offensive.
8. Be recognizable. There is a lot of overlap from network to network. Take advantage of that by using the same or similar avatars for each account. Also do your best to get as close to the same user name as possible.
9. Follow back with care. There is an over-arching culture of following back on social media. I’m fine with that – up to a point. I have my own personal standards of what accounts I’m comfortable following back. My goal is to avoid interacting with fake accounts or people who just want something from me. My guidelines vary from network to network. Decide what your standards will be and stick with them. But try to be open to new – authentic – connections.
10. Be true to your brand.We don’t have to be cardboard cut-outs who only share about one thing. But those who follow us should be able to expect certain things. I have just a few major areas I share through social media – writing and social media, creative inspiration, photography, and devotional inspiration. Occasionally I’ll share a picture of my workspace or my cat, but I stay true to what people have come to expect from me.
These tips have helped me build a solid online presence, and I know they can help you too. The last piece of advice I’d like to offer is to remain authentic and pray for your followers.
God has given us a great opportunity to share His love in a way no generation ever has before. When we honor that calling, we can feel His pleasure.
Edie Melson—author, editor and blogger—is a leading professional within the writing industry, as well as a popular instructor and mentor. www.ediemelson.com