5 Tips for Using Social Media to Promote
One of the most powerful tools you can use to get yourself, your projects, or your brand noticed is social media. In this day and age, just about everyone who uses the Internet is on social media to some degree, and that makes it quite possibly the best place to reach an audience—whatever audience that may be. The beauty of social media is that you can use it in a similar fashion to traditional advertising, essentially finding a direct correlation between the amount of money you spend and the results. Or you can put time and effort into it and achieve impressive results for little to no monetary costs at all.
In this article we’re going to look at five things you can do to maximise your chances of success in using social media to promote. Obviously this is not a guaranteed road to success, but by keeping these things in mind when you tackle social media as a promotional tool, you’ll certainly be on the right track.
1. Choose Your Methods Wisely
There are different ways to promote things on social media and they’re not all suitable for every occasion. For example, if you are planning to use paid promotion, make sure you have something to present to your potential audience. Simply advertising yourself will come across as narcissistic, and likely put people off. Even if your main goal in using paid promotion is just to get your name out there, do it under the guise of promoting a specific thing. If you are a YouTuber, promote your channel or one of your videos. If you’re an author, promote your book.
You may want to tackle social media more organically, rather than simply throwing money at the problem with advertisements and paid promotion. In these cases it is less about having specific things to promote, and more about building your (or your brand’s) presence online over time.
Another important aspect to consider when choosing a method is the platform you are enacting that method on. Paid promotion on Facebook is a very different animal to paid promotion on Twitter, for example. Similarly, building an organic following on Instagram requires a different approach to building a following on YouTube.
2. Don’t Over Promote
Counterintuitive as it may sound when talking about how to use a social media platform for promotion, the last thing you want to do is over promote. Social media is used for advertising but it doesn’t exist for advertising. If your potential audience feels they are being bombarded by promotional messages, they will quickly lose interest in you or your brand. This is especially true when dealing in organic promotion through regular use of the platform, but can still hold true for simple promoted content. The mood towards you will quickly sour if people feel your advertisements are being shoved down their throats.
The truth is, while everyone is mostly aware that people are out to promote themselves, most people don’t like being advertised to. Your social media accounts need to provide your followers with something worthwhile that will make them want to stick around. If, for example, you provide instructional videos on a particular topic, your Twitter account could mostly be hints, tips, links to useful resources, etc. Don’t just keep telling people about your latest video. Give them a reason to follow you that is independent of the things you want to promote to them.
3. Be Patient and Stick With It
Growing your social media presence takes time and effort, so if you want to use it as a significant promotional tool, be prepared to be in it for the long haul. You will need to grow your audience organically—and there are many articles on that specific topic—because manufactured audiences are rarely effective. What this means is that, while you can find certain parts of the web that will, in exchange for very modest sums of money, give you a large helping of new followers, these are not “quality” followers. Often times they aren’t even real people at all, but even when they are, they do not necessarily have any interest in you or what you do.
You want your audience to be made up of people who are there because they are interested in what you or brand is about. Think of it in terms of music; buying followers is a bit like playing music in a street full of people. Maybe you’ll get the attention of of a few, but most will just keep walking by. Having an organically built audience is more like playing your own show at a small venue. There will be fewer people there, but each of them paid to see you perform, and are interested in your music because they wouldn’t be there otherwise.
4. Be Proactive
You don’t want to sit around and hope your Facebook page gets noticed, because it won’t. There are billions of social media accounts out there. It’s a staggering number and one that’s quite hard to visualise, but the bottom line is that if you don’t do something to get noticed, you won’t get noticed.
This doesn’t mean spam random strangers with pleas for a like or follow. What it does mean is be active in the communities in which you want to promote to. If you’re hoping to promote your fantasy novel, get involved in fantasy related hashtags on Twitter. If you’re looking to get your acoustic covers on YouTube more views, comment on other acoustic cover videos, post short acoustic loops on Instagram, get creative. In exactly the same sense that you don’t want an audience full of people who aren’t interested in you, you don’t want to waste time building your profile in communities that have nothing to do with the things you wish to promote.
Of course you may want to participate in those communities for fun or out of personal interest. That’s fine. It just won’t do much to help your brand and should be treated more akin to a hobby or pastime than a promotional tool.
On a related note to this point, it’s also worth saying that you will struggle to maintain the level of social participation you need if your only driving factor is you want to gain a bigger audience. Ideally, the subject matter should be something you are passionate about. If the community you are participating in is one in which you would happily participate in for fun, this process will be much easier.
5. Stay True to Your Image or Brand
Whatever it is, be consistent with the image you want people to have you or your brand. For example, if you are promoting things that are aimed at children, don’t use profanity or adult humour in your social media accounts. And, these days, I would advise staying well clear of any politics unless it is part of your brand. The key thing is you don’t want people deciding they don’t want to follow you based on things that are entirely unrelated to whatever it is you are trying to promote. A musician could build a Twitter following of a few thousand people who all love his or her music, tweet something political—even if it’s something pretty innocuous—and lose hundreds of followers. And, remember, a hundred truly interested, engaged followers are worth more than thousands of uninterested followers.
Now, perhaps your image is one of controversy and opinions. In which case this tip doesn’t necessarily apply to you. But even in that case, there are things you could do or say that would cost you some of your audience. If your audience expect you to go call people out for particular activities and you let something slide, you may find your follower count dropping.
So to sum up; try use social media in a way that is appropriate for the things you want to promote, don’t bombard your followers with advertisements, be patient, proactive, and don’t stray too far from your desired image. I'll leave you with a video of a very informative AARP TEK talk on using social media to promote yourself. Go get 'em.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
© 2018 John Bullock