3 Phases of Building a Social Media Following

3 Phases of Building a Social Media Following

When you’re looking to get started in social media, here is a good way to guide yourself. Think about it as 3 phases. Since it can seem overwhelming, it may be easier to break it up into manageable pieces. For each phase, give yourself 1 to 45 days to get through using an outline to guide you.

Ultimately, you can’t go into the social media world and expect an instant return. It is more like building a snow man; you start off with a small amount of snow, roll it around for awhile, and eventually you have a large ball of snow.  From there, you keep building until eventually you have a large, solid snowman.  Creating a great campaign takes time and effort, but has a long term exponential effect. It may seem like nothing is happening for a long period of time, but then before you know it you have a very large marketing base, whether it be through you or people who have linked to you.

Phase 1: Setup (1 day – 45 days)

When you first get off the ground you don’t need to learn and know all of the social networking resources. Just use the services that you’re most comfortable with, and only set up 1 or maybe 2 outlets to get you going. Here are some questions you should ask yourself while you’re setting things up:

  • Ask what is my brand, business, or organization?
  • Which services are you most familiar with from the start?
  • What types of imagery, photos, and styling would you like to use to present your campaign?
  • What are other companies in your industry doing?
  • How long have they been running social media?
  • What tweaks of your website need to be done?
  • Have you ever blogged?
  • Is your username available facebook.com/XXXXXXX or , twitter.com/XXXXXX make them the same

Phase 2: Analyze Content and Create Habit (1 day – 45 days)

You should now have a network size of about 100 people or so.  Your profiles and accounts should be updated with personalized or branded backgrounds. Facebook and Twitter should be linked together. Now it’s time to develop a habit and level of expectation for the amount of content you publish to your followers.  You will also want to determine what type of content engages your users using the following questions as cues:

  • How often can I share my own content and create new content?
  • Does my following enjoy industry videos, images, jokes, quotes or questions?
  • How should I mix things up?
  • What should I ask my followers?
  • How do I engage my users with contests, promotions that don’t seem like marketing?

Phase 3: Growth (1 day – 45 days)

At this point, your profiles, pages, and branding should all be set up. You should have a good idea of what your community likes about you and how often you want to interact with them. You should be able to identify some of your top users and provide them with an extra level of attention- which can include “friending” them, sending a personal message, or commenting on their posts. You should be around 100 – 200 followers.  Remember that growth is not just numbers, it’s a steady pace of engaged users and interaction with your brand.  It is all about trying to establish a steady pattern for a length of time. Here are some tips in this phase:

  • Don’t make any large changes with website or social accounts.  Let people become familiar with you first, and build a strong brand.
  • Look at launching some simple ads on Facebook, Google Adwords, Twitter, and local blogs. Establish a budget. Don’t spend more than $50.00 per month until you can determine where your advertising is the most effective.
  • Take a step back and observe how people are finding you.  Use that information to inform your strategy for new-user acquisition.
  • Seek out opportunities for free press such as launching a press release or guest blogging
  • Cultivate personal connections with people that have a large, well-maintained base of followers.
  • Don’t get discouraged. It takes time and patience to affect masses in social media.

Final thoughts (30 – 135 days)

Once you have built your following- ENJOY IT!  Most people who attempt to start a following on social media don’t make it more than a few months. Sure, their accounts might still be there, but they have dead communities and have given up.

As soon as you finish the first growth phase, it’s time to get out the notebook and start all over again with the same process.  Since you have already completed the steps once, you should be able to move more quickly since you know what you’re trying to go after. Soon enough, the entire process will be smooth and simple.  Most importantly, have fun and make connections in your industry- that’s what it’s all about.