If you want to learn how to increase the amount people share your content or the number of people you are connected with on any social network then this post is for you.

I will explain some simple concepts to help you achieve your business goals using social media.

help me with social media please

The email or call every company’s “social media expert” gets

I was asked by someone to help set up a successful LinkedIn group (you can replace this with Facebook page or twitter account). This person had an idea that social media was a marketing channel for them to tell people about products and services they sell. They wanted to know why no one had joined the group and none of the sales people would invite their customers to the group? For me to be able to explain to that person why it doesn’t work like that, it made me think about why people use social media in business. This advice would work for any social media platform such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn etc where one of your goals is to increase the size of your network and the engagement you have with that network.

Paul Greenburg speaking at the social business strategy summit 2012

Self interest vs selfish?

When I was listening to Paul Greenburg keynote at this year’s Social Business Strategy Summit, he talked about the concept of self interest in social business. He goes on to say that self interest is not the same as being selfish. This comment helped me think about how I explain to people why and how they should use social media.

The idea of self interest is a very important one. People in business are more than likely using social media because they can use it to help them achieve something themselves.

For the purpose of this post I will assume you already know what it is you are looking to achieve with social media. If you are not clear, check out this post about  why to use social media or google your question.

As a content creator you want to get your message to as many people as possible so that you can increase your influence. You need to have the following three things

1. Something to say
2. People to say it to
3. People who will want to spread your message

You need to get into the minds of the people who you want to share you message.

1. Have something to say

This topic is covered in some of my other posts ( 6 tips to kick start your business social networkhow to find ideas to write in your blog and  How to write your first blog). In a nutshell you need to figure out who you are and what you want to be known for. Your social networks are a publishing channel. If someone was starting a magazine or a tv channel they would have to figure out what their target market is interested in. When starting or trying to grow your channel you should know exactly what the people you are targeting are looking for and interested in. (HINT: It is unlikely to be your product. It might be an answer to the problem your product fixes)

2. Have people to say it to

When you have figured out what you want to say, you want people to connect with you to share your message with a larger audience . You can not really accelerate this process. Social Media is a meritocracy. Followers who want to follow you are earned not bought.  You can buy fake followers for vanities sake but these account will not be sharing your content so hold no real value. It takes time to do it the proper way. Make sure you have a clear bio on your profile so people know who you are and what you share. If they are interested they will connect.

3. Have people who will want to spread your message

This is key. For you to have something people will want to share you need to have something worth sharing. Very few people will share something because you tell them to or if you incentivise them to share.

For you to understand why people share things you need to get into the mind of the person you want to share your stuff. People share not because of what you said in your content but because of what it says about them for sharing it.

Think of it like a designer label pair of jeans

jeans close up

Most people who spend double or triple the price of a normal pair of jeans, do it  because of what it says about them when they wear the jeans. They might be trying to show people their wealth. They may be trying to say they are different. They may be trying to say to people they think they deserve a higher status than people give them credit for.  Ultimately, they will buy that pair of jeans because of what it says about them.

Bringing that concept back to social media. People will share your content not because of what you say but because of what it says about them.

Example – Do you want people to think you are funny?

i think i am funny

If you want people to think you are funny and somebody tells you a funny joke, you will want to tell your friends because it will make them laugh. If people laugh that reflects well on you because your friends think you’re funny.

My final thoughts

If you want to start using social media, think first about how you want be viewed by people and secondly what can you do to add value to your target market’s life. If you don’t have anything that will add value to that person’s life, either don’t waste your time with social media or don’t expect any good results.

Your thoughts?

What value do you think you add to any of your followers? Have you any other way to build up followers or a online community? What tips could I have included in this guide?