The big thing in business over the past few years is social media. People have private social media accounts; businesses have corporate social media accounts. It would be a fair thing to say that most people and businesses who are connected with the world wide web have at least one social media account.
Social media, however, is overrun with people and businesses who tend to forget that the success of social media isn’t found the numbers of followers one may have. Having 120K followers (and where most are purchased in lots of 10,000 for set periods of times) only looks impressive to people who base their opinion of a business or individual on the number of followers that business or individual may have on social media.
So how do you build a positive, influential social media presence? You do it in much the same way you build a positive, influential presence in your real world community.
Share information with followers and non-followers
Knowing or accessing information that others may not have creates a unique opportunity in connecting with others in real life or on the Internet. Don’t be afraid to share that information or article with others, especially if it benefits the people with whom you share. If you find an article on the latest technology, share it with those who have been asking about the latest technology. If you know one of your followers is a Doctor Who fan and you’re tagged on an article with the most recent Doctor Who news, tag your Doctor Who follower and share the news even if you suspect he or she already knows what’s in the article.
Comment on tweets, status updates, and posts others share
People tweet and post because they are sharing their take on the world with others. Everyone likes to know that their opinions and information have been read and considered by others. Whether you agree with what they tweet or post is immaterial. Acknowledging that you know they feel the way they do on various topics is what matters.
Don’t just ask questions in the hopes of garnering favors that will translate into business opportunities down the line. Ask questions because you are genuinely interested in the other person’s opinion or expertise. Don’t waste someone else’s time with pointless questions, or “busy” questions intended to fill up space. Ask questions you want to know the answers to, and consider the answer that is given.
Share what others are sharing
I’m not talking about sharing pointless memes or memes with incorrect information. Share links from other people’s news feeds that are of general interest to a large cross-section of your followers, or with which you agree. Don’t be afraid to be controversial, but remember that being controversial also has its own rewards and stings. Always be comfortable with what you share, and when you share, give credit to the person from whom you gleaned the information, the link, or the meme.
Offer your expertise to others
Whether someone has asked for answers from people in general or from you specifically, be willing to share your expertise and experience with others. It’s up to them whether they internalize or agree with it. Will it generate business for at some later date? Maybe. But your sincere offer will stay with them regardless of whether they agree with you.
Just as in brick-and-mortar situations, the virtual community is one where relationships are built on common interests, genuine concern for others, and selfless giving. Don’t be afraid to use social media as another way to connect with your customer and potential customer base, as well as colleagues and suppliers. All it takes is a few minutes every day.