so·cial
[soh-shuhl]
adjective
1.Pertaining to, devoted to, or characterized by friendly companionship or relations: a social club.
2. Seeking or enjoying the companionship of others; friendly; sociable; gregarious.

The very meaning of SOCIAL is to be friendly and seek companionship of others. But what
happens when you get on social media for the first time is something similar to attending an 8 th
grade dance as a transfer student. There’s a huge gymnasium with loud music, the geeks are
over in the corner having a conversation by themselves, you definitely don’t want to be the first
to approach the snacks, the only people you know are the two kids from math class nice
enough to let you sit at their lunch table, and only your mom and the pesky pubescent boy
you’ve been trying to get rid of all week thinks you’re cute. Now let’s break this metaphor
down. The gym with loud music is this huge, intimidating online space with lots of ads, bots and
fake people vying for your attention. The geeks are the “social media gurus” and experts in your
respected field whom you follow but don’t follow you back. The unapproachable snack table is
the ads you’re afraid to munch on to grow your audience. And the two people in math class,
your mom and Frisky Freddy are the four people who decide to follow you because they think
you’re an OK person. So here you are on Twitter or with a Facebook page and you only have a
handful of followers. What do you do next?

Growing your social media audience can be intimidating but it’s not very difficult; it just takes
time, patience and consistency. So here are a few ways you can get a jumpstart on growth.

1) Once you launch a profile, cross-pollinate. All platforms have a place where you can add
friends from your email account, Facebook or Twitter friends. Clearly if you’re new to
Facebook or Twitter this doesn’t apply, but I’m sure you have lots of email contacts if
you’re in any semblance of business. The easiest way to get followers is to alert those
who already know that you are on social media. Email your current client list letting
them know they can follow your business online now. Request that your personal
contacts LIKE your Facebook page or follow you on Twitter if you have a personal
account.

2) Incentivize the first responders from tip #1 to share your profile. Contests always win
over new followers when they are executed correctly. Let your current followers know they can enter to win some of your products or services simply by sharing your profiles with others. Just like referral systems in the real and tangible world, people love to be rewarded online.

3) Pay for ads. I know this sounds cheap and sleazy. Nobody likes to prostitute their wares
online (except for the spammers and annoying affiliate marketers). But you have to
prime the pump sometimes to get an influx of virtual friends. Target your ads to those in
your market that you want to reach. Speak their language in the ads and possibly follow
a nod from tip #2 and incentivize them to follow you. It’s like the 8 th grade scenario
again only your mom bakes cookies for you to take to school. Sure, you paid for those
friends but in the end everybody likes cookies and if you’re a cool person to follow
they’ll stick around and get to know the real you anyway.

4) Don’t buy friends though. There are services out there who are hocking likes and follows
for cheaper than a bad night in Vegas. Most of those profiles are bots, spammers and
fake people who would never buy your products anyway. You don’t need groupies.

5) The best way to tap into your groove at the dance is to be consistent with posting. It’s
like entering the center of the floor with confidence and doing exactly what you came
there for. Once you’re out there long enough people will join you and socialize. Even
though its “virtual reality” people need to know you’re authentic, that you provide
something they want and that you will be interactive. So post away! And don’t forget to
thank followers when they join your circle and talk to them. Some will be wallflowers
and watch you from a distance but others will see how much fun you’re having and
want to get down with you.