The toughest part to any journey is starting out. Social media, especially, may be one of the most difficult treks to make if you’re a small business owner looking to create a solid fanbase.

 

It’s difficult because there are so many pages like you attempting to do the same thing. Did you know that there are over a billion active Facebook users? Did you know that there were 42 million pages, as of mid-2012? One can only wonder how large that number is now, considering there are so many businesses seeing the potential merits and rewards of being prominent and influential on social media.

 

At One Twelfth, all of the accounts we run could be categorized as either a small business, a company looking to make their presence felt in America, or a niche market. It wasn’t easy, but these accounts have made progress on account of our patience, as well as experimenting with what types of posts were successful.

 

But that’s no reason to be discouraged. All you need is patience and these four tips that are guaranteed to improve your brand on social media.

 

1. Identify your audience

 

There’s no point in posting if you don’t even know who you’re posting for. This is the exact reason why you should be adamant against buying your likes and followers. Those false fans might make your page look more attractive at first with a few thousand likes on the page, but your engagement numbers will be disappointing once you notice your fanbase has absolutely no interest in what you’re posting.

 

The key to building anything, whether it’s a business or a home or a relationship, is a solid foundation. Your real fans, the people who are aware of your product or service and use it, need to be your foundation. Once you establish that, you can use word-of-mouth, attention-getting events, and a consistent presence to build up your fanbase.

 

It’s more rewarding to have an honest 1,000 fans than 10,000 fans that have no idea what you’re selling. The likes and comments and shares will come. It takes patience to build up a small business on social media, what with so many other pages attempting to garner attention from you.

 

Which is why the following point is so important in directing that attention to your site:

 

2. Stage an attention-getting event

 

According to socialmediastratgiessummit.com, here are the top five reasons why people follow brands on Facebook:

 

5. Ability to offer feedback

 

4. Entertaining content

 

3. Product assistance and customer service

 

2. To stay in the know

 

1. Promotions and discounts

 

For further reinforcement, a study, done by Get Satisfaction in 2011, revealed that 37% of the likes on a Facebook/MySpace page and 44% of followers on a brand’s Twitter did so because of special offers and deals. Taking second place, for both sites, were that they were current customers. Entertaining content finished third.

 

Can you blame them? Think about why you would follow a brand. Is it simply because you like the brand, or because they give stuff away? Everybody loves a giveaway, and you should, too, if you’re the one running the page. Because not only are you showing your appreciation to your current fanbase, but you’re only attracting new potential customers because of your willingness to take a loss and depart with one of your products.

 

It doesn’t have to be much, either. In my latest blog, I learned that a single penny was the difference in an entire page’s fanbase favoring one product over another:

 

“When Ariely offered buyers a choice between a Lindt ‘Lindor Truffle’ for 15 cents — about half of its usual cost — and a Hershey Kiss for 1 penny, 73% chose the Lindt because of its apparent value. But when the price of both items was lowered by just one cent to 14 cents and free respectively, 69% of shoppers took the free Hershey Kiss.”

 

It doesn’t take much to convince your followers that you’re generous. It doesn’t have to be a once-a-week thing or even a monthly thing, just enough that will keep your audience at the edge of their seats and waiting for more.

 

Plus, using buzzwords like ‘Free’, ‘New’, or ‘Guaranteed’ are huge if you’re holding a sale or trying to attract some attention for a specific product or service.

 

3. Engage and interact

 

People use social media not just for your giveaways and discounts, but because it’s the best form of customer service ever created.

 

Think about it. Where else can you get a direct link between you and, for example, Reeses’ Chocolate? Before social media, you’d have to call, wait for who-knows-how-long, and then hopefully speak to a human representative that will likely give you a generic company response.

 

Now with social media, you can inquire of anything you want of your favorite company and, if the page is run correctly, should merit a response from them.

 

Community managers, engaging and interacting with your followers is the best way of creating transparency. There is no way of telling your fanbase that there’s a human behind the account and the computer screen than directly answering the compliments, complaints, and questions of fans. It just shows that you’re going the extra mile, that you care, and that you’re willing to take the time out of your day to help that individual.

 

One thing I will say is to not answer a customer with a generic, fill-in-the-blank response. If they wanted that, they could have called the company and received the same response. Take the time to show each and every one of your fans that you care. It will pay off.

 

4. Have perspective

 

There is nothing more important running an social media account than having perspective.

 

By perspective, I mean you yourself sitting at your computer, going through Facebook or Twitter, noticing things that catch your attention, and then quickly asking yourself, “Why did I like this post or tweet more than any other?”

 

You’re no different than your followers. They, too, scroll through mostly filler until they come across something that’s eye-catching and makes them stop for a few seconds. Social media is just another cog in our increasingly fast-paced world. You only have a second or two to make your point. Whether it’s with a catchy headline or an interesting photo, your impact has to be immediate and swift.

 

That usually means not creating long-winded posts with paragraph-long posts. The most effective posts are usually the ones with the shortest description and an attractive image that momentarily grabs your attention. Those are the posts that will make people stop and stare.

 

There’s so much information flying at you at every second that it takes a special kind of post to make you actually stop scrolling. Use perspective to think about what catches your eye (perhaps it’s a specific word or picture) and then apply it to your own page.