One of the questions I keep getting from travel professionals is “How do I get more social media followers?” and the answer is both simple and complicated. At the end of the day, there are a few key things to remember; 1) people are looking for interesting people with interesting content with whom they would be willing to engage. By “engage” I mean read, comment, post, tweet and re-tweet. 2) quality of friends / followers is important, but despite what you’ll hear, quantity is important as well. After all, if you have 100% of your followers engaged, but you only have five followers, then you’re basically wasting your time. Your goal is to get as many actively involved, engaged friends, likes, followers and subscribers as possible. This is an ongoing effort which should never end.
So, how do you create interesting content? Easier said than done, right? Sure, we can all crank out a few blog posts we think are interesting, but keeping it flowing is a challenge. For one thing, we’re all busy and writing interesting, meaningful and relevant blog posts takes time and effort. I’m not sure about you, but I’m fairly overextended to begin with. So, I have recently determined my “social” activity needs scheduling like everything else. I now make “social time” a priority on my schedule, meaning I block time in the evenings or weekends to get to social media activities. I even go so far as to block at least thirty minutes a day during the week, for my work accounts, to dedicate (almost exclusively) to social. This is in addition to the efforts put forth to “be social” in all my online reading, etc. and by that I mean I always share interesting reads, always comment when I have something to say and always re-post or re-tweet something I find interesting. In all, I now dedicate about four a week to social media, including writing posts and scheduling them. I write about topics about of which I’m passionate and knowledgeable. Further, if you know me, you’ll know I am not short on at least these three things; opinions, humor and sarcasm. These help me keep my posts and tweets fun, dare I say provoking in some fashion. Yea, I’m from Jersey. You got a problem with that?
The next thing to getting more followers is making sure you’re both socially engaged and a voracious reader. Yes, this requires more time. Find the best blogs in your field and read what others are saying. This will not only keep you up to date, but educate you, thus validating your existing opinions or helping you form others. Then, share, share, share. Keep in mind one thing; not everyone, even your closest friends, will want to read everything you post. Also, different platforms call for different sharing activity. Here are my personal sharing activities by platform.
Twitter: I try to post five times a day or more. Twitter is very “right now” and with the numbers of people posting, frequency helps you get noticed. For me, Twitter is about A) promoting a blog post I’ve written, B) getting people to read and share articles of interest or, finally, C) point people to the promotions I’m pushing and to my public speaking events. Remember though, you only have 140 characters (120 if you’re writing something you hope to be re-tweeted) so you need to use them sparingly and in a fashion that begs to be clicked. As an example, at a conference at which I’m speaking, one of the topics is about travel agent specialization. In that speech, I tell agents why and how they should specialize. The tweet for that event is “#travel agents, Specialize or Die” along with the link and ending with “via @johntpeters”. Short and attention grabbing is the way to go on Twitter. I normally have two types of tweets for this type of event. In one, I link directly to the conference registration page. In another, I link to my blog post which also tells people why they should attend. Then, in that post, I link people to the conference registration page. I use Hootsuite to schedule most of my posts and I work a few days ahead of time. I normally spend all my “social” time on Sundays to schedule my tweets for Monday to Wednesday. As far as when these tweets *appear*, I post 80% of my tweets to appear during office hours. I find these get re-tweeted far more frequently than my after-hours tweets. While we’re on the subject of re-tweeting, I do that as often as possible. For one, I find my followers like how I share posts I find interesting. They take something I re-tweeted and then share it with their followers. That is the idea after all. Another reason to re-tweet is to “share the love” with others. You RT them and they’re more likely to RT you.
Facebook is different. On Facebook, I post three or four times a day. I normally do half of my posts for work and half for personal topics. In all cases, I try to show the human side of me. I’m a card-carrying member of “TMI” (too much information) and am often more of an over-sharer than not. So, to be friends with me on Facebook means you’ll hear about me, my family, my opinions and a variety of sarcastic comments. Sure, I also post about professional items, work projects and any speaking engagements, but in most cases, I do try and make people laugh. After all, we don’t laugh enough anymore. On Facebook, I also post pictures and videos. These might be direct from my iPhone or via Instagram (complete with image filters). On Facebook, I often post (what I hope to be) thought provoking comments. These might include questions about favorite vacations, funniest kids questions or quotes or pretty much anything that comes to mind I find interesting.
I’m going to cover Google+ in another post. I’m on the platform, I use it and have recently really started to see the promised SEO coverage, so I’m inclined to keep at it. I’m no expert though and have no real case study to show I’m successful there. I’m just being honest.
In all cases, I follow/friend/like people and companies I enjoy, read, respect, use. I’m not following anyone because it will get me more followers. I LIKE Huffington Post because I like their coverage. I didn’t LIKE Williams Sonoma’s Facebook page this morning for any other reason than Roasted Chicken & Brie Frittata I cooked using their recipe was a big hit at breakfast.
Finally, I’m not perfect. I am sometimes too busy to post, too tired to be a voracious reader or too knee-deep in work and kids to do all the things I’ve listed above. Life, after all, just happens.
If you’ve found this post useful or at the least intriguing, follow me on twitter (@johntpeters) or on Facebook. If not, read it again. You obviously weren’t paying attention the first time around. See? Sarcasm.