Posted by Dr. Pete
You’ve finally finished that epic blog post [infographic, LOLCat, Thundercats remix…] and tomorrow morning you’ll unleash it on the world. So, what should you do between now and then? You could take a nap, sure, or you could start priming the social pump early. Here are 5 tips for how to put your network to work before you need it…
i. Be Genuine
This is the pre-tip that makes all the other tips work. I honestly hate giving social media advice, because I find that just about every “Always do…” or “NEVER do…” has an exception. There are people who can Tweet out the same link 10 times a day and see great returns. There are others who can talk about nothing but what they eat for breakfast and get 10,000 happy followers.
What’s the difference? Sincerity, and a little moderation. If you’re genuine, believe in what you’re doing, and aren’t just trying to game the system, people will forgive the occasional over-indulgence. Just like we all deserve to eat a bit too much for the holidays, we’re all allowed to get carried away when we’re passionate about something we’ve created. Just do it because you mean it, and try not to overdo it.
It’s sad that I have to say this one out loud, but priming the pump starts long before the eve of your launch. The first word in social media is “social” – if you just create an account on every platform, broadcast your own links, and never participate, you’ll get no results. The only exception is if you’re already famous. The rules that apply to Kim Kardashian don’t apply to you. Life isn’t fair. If you’re already famous, congratulations – you can go read another post now.
The usual argument is “I don’t have time.” If that’s true, fair enough – focus your efforts. Better to spend quality time on one social network than just throw links at ten. Even one solid network you actively participate in can create amazing returns.
You’ve got a post scheduled, and you’re itching to click [Publish]. Why not share that excitement? Even if you don’t have a link yet, let people know you’ve got something great in the works. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with a Tweet like this:
Of course, please see Section (i) – for this to work, you have to mean it. If you’ve never been psyched about anything, or you send out this message twice a day, you’re going to sound like an ass. The best way not to sound like an ass is not to be an ass.
3. Be A Tease
This is the advanced form of pre-announcing. Did you ever watch a movie preview and it was so awesome you stopped caring about the movie you actually paid to see? Studios are great at turning short versions of their work into teasers – take the best minute or two, put it to dramatic music with a booming voiceover, and Bam – magic!
So, why not take a couple of the best bits of your post and pre-release them? It could be a bit of a copy, a piece of data, or even an illustration. For my recent dupe content mega-post, I posted this on Google+ just for fun:
I’ll admit it – this was a tease. I wanted people to think “Wow, I wonder what that post is about?” The trick, and the art, is to give people something of value (no matter how small). I honestly thought the quote was funny, and I wanted to share it. Of course, the other trick is to make sure that you don’t waste all the good bits in the previews, like almost all romantic comedies of the past 5 years.
I also did a bit of a post-post teaser, using the opening illustration:
I could’ve just as easily made that a pre-post teaser, but I was a bit afraid to waste it. I sometimes get a little too attached to my mediocre drawings. It’s all part of my charm, I imagine.
4. Create Buy-in
Have you ever seen someone post a survey asking for data or topics for a post? The magic of that tactic isn’t just that other people are helping create your content – it’s that each one of those people has just bought into your post. As soon as they provide data or feedback, they’ll want to know what you’ll do with it.
The trick to this one is that you have be specific and create something interesting enough that people want to participate. I’m not a big fan of Tweets like this:
Don’t get me wrong – it’s a perfectly valid thing to say, and it lets people know you’re human. Just don’t expect your boredom to result in someone else’s interest. If you want participation, you need to structure it – create a survey or even a simple poll, ask people for data, and generally get them invested in your idea.
It doesn’t have to be complicated. While working on a recent slide deck, I Tweeted this:
Looking back, it’s a combination of teaser + participation – by asking people’s opinions, I was trying to get them both interested and invested. Ultimately, participation is just another facet of social influence and a way to impact people in your network.
By the way, if you want to know which caption won, tune into my free webinar on Tuesday – “Future-Proofing Your SEO: 2012 Edition” (see what I did there?)
If you’re good at social media, you’ll thank the people who help you and try to help them back. If you’re great at social media, you’ll help them before they help you. Be active the day(s) before you put out an important link – talk to people, re-tweet/Like/+1 their URLs, and generally make yourself seen. Social media is all about perception. You don’t have to be online every waking minute, but it never hurts to look like you are.
Now You Know
Those are all my dirty little secrets, and my social media life is now ruined forever. Seriously, I fall back on Tip (i) – I can say this out loud, because I’m sincere. Yes, there’s method to my madness, and I probably scheme more than most people realize, but I also love what I do.
You can game social media to a point, but real success in the social world is ultimately a reflection of you. If you don’t care, neither will anyone else. If you’re excited about what you create, why not let your excitement be contagious?