I went for coffee the other day with a friend who was just starting out as a social media consultant. She wanted to pick my brain and ask for tips on how to grow an audience base on social networking platforms like Twitter and Facebook. I thought over my journey from Twitter and Facebook Newbie to the full-fledged social maven that I am now. I told her that my one piece of advice, if she chose to take it would be this: Follow my own version of the social media 70/20/10 rule.
When trying to grow your audience base in Twitter, Facebook or other social platforms, there are behaviours that will engage and grow your followers or fan base and definitely behaviours that will turn them off. While many of us on these social networks want to sell ourselves, our services and our products, our audience isn’t necessarily there to hear it. They are either trying to do the same thing, or just trying to connect with other people in a friendly way. And no one likes a friend who is always spouting off his or her opinion without listening to anyone else’s.
My 70/20/10 rule is this: For 70 percent of the time, in order to pull our audience in and grow our fan base, we must be the bearers of good and useful information. We want to be seen as experts so we must be purveyors of knowledge, sharing interesting links to appealing articles we have found and engaging our followers in a conversation about things that THEY are interested in. That way, they are more likely to re-post, re-tweet and share this information with their own fan-base and followers. They, too, want to be seen as experts, as kind and generous bearers of information. So the more interesting the resources we share are, the more likely they are to be shared.
At least some of our time online, around 20 percent, should be spent engaging our audience in a in a conversation about things that are happening with them, a conversation that shows our human side to our online friends. It says to our followers that we are human, it encourages them to trust us and allows us to form connections that will increase the likelihood that they will want to share us with their own online fan base, just as we will share what they say with our fan base. Remember that everyone likes to feel included so remembering to acknowledge your fan or follower’s contribution to your conversation goes a long way.
Lastly, and least importantly, we are there to market our products and ourselves. So a little bit of shameless promotion is all right. As long as we do so in the same type of gentle conversation that brought us our fans in the first place. We do, after all, want to keep our reach far and wide.