How to Win Followers & Influence Your Market

35-social-media-and-cupcakesHow to utilize your social media presence to gain influence in your market.

Social media marketing cannot be ignored in today’s business sphere. Your target market and competitors are using it to discover brands and reach new customers respectively. Sure, you can ignore social media and still thrive. But this will only happen if you have a loyal brand following within the the scope of Apple. Do you have this following?

Small and medium sized businesses can use social media sites to build brand awareness, connect with prospects and close sales. However, many SMBs don’t have a clear route to follow on how to interact, engage and close sales on the platform.

If you are in the same boat, below are 4 tips that will help you build influence on social media.

1. Be the trusted resource in your niche

Today, social media sites are used for both entertainment and educational purposes. People get on social networks to find interesting content or information in their industry. For example, prospects may ask questions on Twitter about a brand or product.

Strive to be the go-to resource for information in your niche on social media . You should know the interests of your target audience and provide information that will inform, educate and entertain them. 

You can find the topics that interest your audience in different ways. For example, using hashtags and the search box in Twitter can help you uncover content opportunities to provide to your followers. Be proactive in providing solutions to problems that your target audience has.

2. Build strategic alliances and partnerships

For small business owners, gaining influence on social media can be a long stretch when starting out. The good news is you don’t have to walk alone. There are people in your niche that can help you grow your social media audience.

After creating your social media accounts, search for influencers in your industry on the networks. The influencers can vary depending in your niche and may include bloggers, reporters, large brands, celebrities, self-proclaimed critics and so on.

For any potential influencer, check whether they have real followers who constantly engage with them. For Twitter influencers, you can use a service like Fake Followers to check the percentage of real followers. For Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+, you can manually check engagement rates that the influencers have with their connections.

Follow the influencers in your niche and start interacting with them. Comment, retweet or share, ask questions or add value to their contents. Building relationships with influencers will pay off in the long run with targeted followers and brand clout.

3. Be open and transparent

Before prospects buy from you, you need to earn their trust. Building trust online is a lot harder than offline. For one, the prospects only know you virtually. They may be in a different  part of the country or the world.

The best way to earn the trust of your prospects is to provide them with value without expecting anything in return. If you consistently provide value, your social media followers may be the ones who will take the initiative to ask about buying your product or service. This is trust validation on itself without struggling.

Be open and transparent in your communication. Accept your mistakes and listen to your audience. Handle negative feedback tactfully. Do not ignore or attempt to delete any feedback provided; the Internet never forgets.

How you handle negative feedback can build or erode the confidence that your audience has in you. Treat any feedback as an opportunity to understand your prospects better and improve your brand.

4. Have a social media marketing plan

It is easy to get into the trap of being on social media because you are expected to be there.

However, what’s the benefit of having a Twitter account and you only tweet once every two months? Or a Facebook page that was last updated in 2012? Have a social media plan and follow it.

Your social media plan should help you achieve your business goals, whether it is to drive traffic to your website, generate leads, increase sales or brand awareness, or connect with new prospects.

The plan should also include the type of content you will be sharing, how often you will be sharing, who will be creating the content and what metrics will be used to measure your reach.

When beginning social media marketing, you may not know what actions will help you achieve your goals. Therefore, it’s important to review the plan periodically and tweak it for the best results.

If you want to build your influence on social media, you need a plan to follow. Building influence will not occur in a day, or even a month. It’s a long journey whose success will be dictated by how consistent and relevant you are to your online community.

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