Each social networking site has features that are unique to them but usually all have users that can ‘follow’ brands and individuals so that they can see their updates. The following is applicable to the most popular sites: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Pinterest.
Which is better?
Many solopreneurs wonder what is the difference between advertising and social networking. The simple answer is that advertising allows you to target a select group of users and present them with an offer.
You choose the audience and the message you want them to see. You will likely vary your message according to the different audiences that you’re targeting.
You can focus on getting your message out to users who may not have been exposed to your products yet. For example, you create a post about your newest hobby related t-shirt and pay to have this post promoted to users that have an interest in that hobby.
Then users who see your post will have the option of clicking through in order to buy your t-shirt.
Social networking is about getting engagement and selling your products organically, i.e. without paid promotion.
You post relevant information that’s generally useful and/or funny. Focus on building a relationship with your followers.
For example, one of your followers asks about the best paper to use for mixed media. You then provide a link to your blog where you discussed various papers used in arts and crafts and your eBook that you’re selling on organizing craft supplies.
The follower who asked the question then goes to your blog and loves what she reads. She buys your eBook and even shares your website with her followers. This is social networking and this is how it can help your business grow.
Unless you paid to promote a post, your followers are going to be the only ones that see it.
If you’ve already built a large following who love what you’re doing, then you may not need to use advertising to get buyers.
This is where building a personal relationship with your followers can really pay off. If followers trust you, they’ll probably share your posts with their own followers. This results in even more growth because those folks will then want to follow you.
One important thing to keep in mind if you’re trying to decide between social networking or advertising is the amount of time you have available to dedicate to social networking. If you decide to sell your products through social networking, it can take quite a while before you see sales from your posts.
This is because building relationships online takes time. It’ll take time to get users to follow and trust you. Advertising doesn’t usually take as much time for you to see sales because you’re skipping the relationship stage and moving straight into the selling stage.
Remember that different audiences respond to different tactics. You’ll want to consider this before deciding between social networking and advertising. Some audiences prefer a relationship-based approach.
Building Your Community
All social networks have active communities in a variety of niches. If you want to get the word out about your online business, then you need to find followers who are in your niche or are interested in the information or products within it.
You can start by looking at influential people in your niche. For example, if you run a craft blog and want to grow your brand, then look for influential craft bloggers who are already using various social networking sites.
Follow these users and look through their social profiles to see who they follow (and who follows them) and follow some of them. And on a side note, bloggers who are in your niche can often turn into affiliate partners if you take the time to connect and interact with them.
Once you’ve followed a good amount of the influential bloggers, then start looking for the enthusiasts in your niche. Enthusiasts are often fans of your favorite bloggers and love the niche you’re in.
They may or may not be making money from the niche but they are passionate about it and they would likely be open to the idea of making money this way. Connecting with the enthusiasts is important because these are the people that will happily tell their followers and friends about you.
They don’t care if you’re a big brand or not. They just want to share about their niche and find others who feel the same way. While it can be tempting, don’t follow too many users in a short period of time. A lot of platforms actually have limits that they impose regarding how many you can follow in a certain timeframe.
Spammers will often follow hundreds or thousands of users each day and then post annoying and obnoxiously repetitive messages. So to avoid looking like a spammer, try to follow just 20 to 50 new users each day at the most.
If you want to grow your follower base in a hurry, you can use advertising. Each platform has their own way of doing it but be careful because the cost can add up.
There will usually be a word next like “sponsored” to your profile to let users know that they’re being advertised to. The good thing is that you can sometimes choose to only pay for when someone actually decides to follow your account.
That means that if you decide you’d like to promote your account but no one new follows your account, then you don’t have to pay. However, this is highly unlikely to happen.
Keep in mind that you choose who you’d like to promote your account to by interest or location. This is helpful if you want to target only knitters in Chicago or jewelry makers in the United States.
For Twitter, another way to find new followers is to search for Twitter chats online. Most niches have a regular chat once or twice a month. Participating in these chats is a great way to build connections and grow your following.
There’s more to discuss but I’ll end it here.