GetSocial recently sat down with Daniel Cleveland of Smart Website Marketing to talk about social media and how he built up his own personal brand. In the interview that follows, we ask him a series of questions to see how he established his presence online and what others could learn from his experience.
GS : So, Daniel, tell me a bit about yourself and how did you get into social media.
DC : Sure. So, my social media journey truly began just a few months ago, in October 2014. At the end of October, I made up my mind to build my personal brand.
I had always been a “lurker” on social media before. I had never actively participated or contributed much of anything personally. However, I knew how social media networks worked, since I do online marketing (PPC) for my day job.
Based on my experience with clients, I knew that I had to grow my online presence and be heard through all of the noise. This would mean getting out of my comfort zone. I would have to get active on social media and become a contributor.
This is the same for any small business. It’s quite easy to set up social media accounts, or create a page. However, it takes some effort to master a social network and expand that mastery across all social networks.
If done right though, you can build an empire with social media that will allow you to reach a massive amount of potential customers. And all it takes is time and some effort.
GS: OK, So, I’m intrigued. How did you do it?
1. Choose A Social Media Network
The first step in getting active on social media is picking a network to focus on. There are lots to pick from these days, so it’s important to choose carefully.
Different networks attract different audiences, with different intentions. And while you can make nearly any social network fit your needs, some fit more nicely than others.
For me, Twitter was a great fit since I had mostly links to share, and my posts aren’t very image heavy. However, other networks such as Instagram or Pinterest might be better for you.
To learn more about choosing the right social media network, you can visit Smart Website Marketing, where there is a post specifically about this topic.
2. Focus On One Social Media Network
The second step is to focus. You only have so much time in a day. I know I always feel like I’m being pulled in lots of different directions. This means it’s very important to focus on just one social media network at a time. If you split up your focus, you’ll only have two decent social networks instead of one great one. And it’s much better to have one great social media network than two mediocre.
For me, this meant focusing on Twitter, and letting my following naturally disperse to other networks. By focusing on Twitter, I was able to improve my post impressions from around 5 per day to over 5,000. And all in less than 90 days!
The practice of focusing on one thing at a time has been proven to be effective over and over. Even Entrepreneur has discussed it in their article 10 Laws of Social Media Marketing. I’m not saying you shouldn’t dabble in other networks, or that you should remove all effort from them. But focusing the majority of your effort on just one will definitely show a better return on investment.
In another post on Smart Website Marketing, I discuss 20 daily social media tasks that can be done on Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest. However, this is just scratching the surface of what can (and should) be done on social media. Social Media Examiner is a great resource that frequently posts about the latest and greatest ways to take advantage of each social media network. I highly recommend checking out their blog to learn how to best optimize the social network of your choosing.
3. Maintain A “Home Base”
The third step is to maintain a “Home Base.” Building a social media following is great, and should definitely be worked on. However, even though you have an account, or your own page, you don’t actually “own” that channel.
At any time, Twitter could go out of business. Or Facebook could make another change that causes business pages to be irrelevant. Or Google+ could be shut down. I don’t say this to scare you, but to have you consider thinking of your website as your home base. You control your website (as long as you own the domain, e.g. not example.wordpress.com). You dictate exactly what happens on it.
By having control of your website, you can prevent any social network changes from putting you out of business. Even if Twitter shuts down, if people know your website, then they can still find you. In an age where social media is becoming more and more dominant, it is still important to build up and drive traffic back to your main website.
4. Encourage Sharing
The next step is to encourage social sharing. Social sharing is one of the best ways to get your content in front of more eyes. To do this you’ll need an easy way for visitors to share your content.
Your users are busy, and their attention is being pulled in lots of directions. So when they arrive to your website and like the posts that you have created, it needs to be very easy for them to share. If it’s not easy, then they’ll simply click away to another open tab in their browser.
One of the best ways to make sharing easy is by installing sharing buttons. There are many options for this, but I prefer GetSocial’s solution. Their installation is very easy, and I really like the style of the buttons. They look new and fresh compared to other services where the button style looks outdated. I currently use the GetSocial horizontal sharing bar both below my featured image and at the bottom of posts.
The position of these buttons lets users share the post when they first arrive on the page, or after they’ve read the entire post, and I’ve seen good results so far.
It’s always good to experiment and A/B test to see what works best for your site. For example, you may find that it is better to have a floating vertical bar on the left or right side of the page. In this way, the bar is always accessible no matter where a visitor is in your article.
Keep experimenting until you find the perfect solution. You might even ask some of your loyal visitors which setup they like best.
5. Expand To Other Networks
Once you are comfortable with building your primary social network and you have your website optimized, it’s time to expand. Hopefully you have a good amount of followers by now. You can start to invite these loyal followers to follow you on other social media networks.
You can cross link posts, notifying followers of posts you’ve made on other networks. You can also use your bio area to add links to other networks. Just make sure as you expand that your original network doesn’t fall by the wayside.
At this point, you will have invested quite a bit of time and energy into building up your network. So make sure to continue providing quality content and interaction. If you don’t, your followers may unfollow you because you’re not providing what they came to expect.
There are many different social networks, but there is probably one that will be the most effective for you. Pick that one, and put all of your effort into it.
Make sure that you maintain your website, since you own and control it. Optimize it for social sharing so that your posts will be shared without you doing any work.
Once you have mastered one network, start slowly expanding to others as time and success allows.
By following these methods, you should be able to build a loyal following on an effective social network. You can then use this experience and visibility to expand to other social networks over time, and create a social media empire.
And remember, social media is all about the “social.” So keep interacting with followers and you’ll see great results.
- Website: Smart Website Marketing
- Twitter URL: https://twitter.com/dpcleveland
- Author Bio: Daniel Cleveland is the owner and editor-in-chief of the Smart Website Marketing blog. Smart Website Marketing covers posts about blogging, social media, search engine marketing (SEM), search engine optimization (SEO), branding, & content marketing for small business owners & solopreneurs. Say hi to Daniel on Twitter @dpcleveland