Jim's Marketing Blog

Marketing ideas to help you grow your business

Social Media: How to build a large, valuable network

This post is all about how to build a bigger, more valuable social network.

I recall reading a blog post once, where someone asked, ‘How can I get more followers on social networking sites?’

The blogger replied, ‘Do something worth following!’

This is where your story comes in!

That advice may sound a bit harsh, but it’s absolutely correct. As regular users of social networks already know, the Internet is filled with business owners, talking in an average way about average sounding businesses. As a result, they make very little progress with their social media marketing.

Their challenge is that they tend to focus on looking for strategies or software, which they can use in order to attract more followers – when they should be looking at the story they are expecting people to follow and share.

It’s their story that’s broken!

What’s the story?

Every business and business owner has a story. Your story is built around things like:

  • The product you provide.
  • The quality of your customer service.
  • The attitude of your team.
  • The unique value you bring to your marketplace.
  • My story looks like this.

When we look at the social networking accounts of 99% of businesses in the same niche, we find them saying the same things, to the same people about a service that sounds the same as their competitors. It’s dull. It’s an uninspiring, uninteresting story, which people will not want to embrace or share. People are attracted to (and share) the remarkable, not the bland.

[quote]No matter what social media marketing strategy we use, unless we have a compelling story we will be wasting our time. [/quote]If our social networking updates are just like most other small business owners, we blend into the background. We render ourselves invisible, by simply adding to all the noise on Twitter and Facebook, etc.

So, what’s the answer?

In my experience, the business owners who build the most valuable social networks are those who have something different to say. They have a story or message, which people want to share. They get people talking about them, because they’re worthy of people’s attention. They stand out, because they are not just like the others in their niche. They tell people about what matters to them, knowing it will resonate with the kind of people they want to connect with.

As you know, most business owners on social networks do the opposite. They try to build a large, valuable network by pushing more and more messages out there. They focus on volume not value. They hope that by being busy, their predictable story will spread. Many of them schedule uninspiring messages to go out whilst they are asleep – as if it’s the number of tweets and updates, which is causing the problem.

If you are not seeing the social media marketing results you want, check how compelling your story is. Is it attractive enough to get people talking about you and telling their friends? Are you mirroring what others are doing or are you standing out?

In short: Give your business a story, which people will connect with, embrace and share with their friends.

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  1. Thanks Jim for this post! In a nutshell building a large social network for your business is all about telling a unique but compelling story! “Give your business a story which people can connect with, embrace and share with their friends”

  2. Jim:

    You’ve nailed it BUT the challenge is how do you be “different?” That’s what I struggle with the most. I’m a local SEO consultant and I follow numerous blogs in my industry (your blog being one of them). To be honest, while they all have great content, none of them are really “different” or stand out.

    It’s one of the reasons why I haven’t made a single post on my own blog or have gotten involved in social media – what could I possibly bring to the table that would be so different that people would be compelled to follow me? Everyone is just rehashing the same stuff for the most part.

    If I’m having this struggle – and I’ve been an Internet Marketer since 2005 – imagine the struggle your local business owner has “being different” to stand out in the crowd? Then there is also the added challenge that not too many people want to follow certain types of businesses. Who the heck is following businesses like Bob the Plumber or ABC Law Firm?

    In short, I think your post sounds great in theory, but there isn’t enough meat here to apply the theory.

    Travis Van Slooten

    • As Carmelo says in the following comment, it’s not about trying to be different – it’s about bringing your unique personality to the front and building your story.

      Thanks for the feedback, Travis.

  3. Your story is not much more than the unique personality you infuse into your product/company/service. It’s YOU … it’s your culture.

    I used to think it had to be complicated. You’re so right, Jim, it’s the simple combination of the unique values you bring to the world. It’s not the quantity or the tactics. It’s not necessarily some amazing tale of struggle and adventure – you don’t need that if you don’t have that.

    It’s not easy to really GET this. But, when you do, you realize this, you’re no longer afraid to put yourself out there in a world that has come to value and reward transparency.

  4. Hi Jim – I’m enjoying exploring your site. I think the most difficult thing for me as a business owner is finding the time to do it all. I haven’t spent nearly the amount of time I’d like to on my social media. I’m amazed at the quantity of content you have here. I have a number of articles designed to support corporate video production clients on my website and blog, but each one takes quite a bit of time to write. I haven’t found anyone with knowledge of the industry that I’d trust to write for me. How do you write quality content on a regular basis that’s unique and meaningful, while you’re running a business? I’d appreciate any tips. Thanks!

  5. Great post Jim… That story, that ting about you and your brand that makes you so unique is crucial, otherwise you end up digging for treasure on a barren beach.

    Love this post

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