Have you found the Social Media Magic Setting that lets your online business soar?
We all want people to look, listen, admire and love everything we post on social media. Imagine how quickly our accounts and businesses would grow if we just knew the Social Media Magic Setting! James West explains the formula.
Let’s have a show of hands. Who wants to get more likes/comments and shares online? That’s all of you I guess? Of course you do. We spend our precious time writing pithy and inspirational words, adding a healthy mix of well-used hashtags and a few cheeky ones(!) to accompany our beautiful pictures. We schedule these posts to land at optimum times and we share them across all our carefully curated social media platforms. Build it and they will surely come.
But they don’t. Yes, you get a few likes, but not as much as you hoped for. Not one person took the time to answer your thought-provoking question. No one left a comment at all. In fact, when you stop to think about it, most of your followers couldn’t even be bothered to double tap the screen or press the ‘like’ icon as they scrolled down the screen. You’re disillusioned - you put in all that effort for THAT.
So you do two things. You give up, or you search for answers. Why is no one showing me the love, you ask, I’m putting in all this effort, I’m doing it properly, why aren’t I getting results?
Who can help?
You might come to someone like me. I run a media company and a business networking group. I’m an ex-journalist who’s been in the marketing and communication business for 20 years. I train people how to use social media and blogging to get attention and build a following. Surely I’m the sort of person who knows the secret formula. Surely I can tell you the Social Media Magic Setting?
The good news? Yes, I know the Social Media Magic Setting. The bad news? It’s not a button that you press. It’s not a hidden way of tagging or sharing your content. It’s not something you can outsource or pay for an app to do for you. The Setting can only be accessed by fundamentally changing your approach to social media. It works, but it’s a long game.
I know. You’re disappointed. You might even feel like I’ve mis-led or even cheated you. I’m sorry, but this doesn't change anything: there is no magic ‘button’. There’s no ‘trick' that will instantly mean that your content is coveted and loved. There’s no shortcut. But there is a formula that is proven to do all the things you hope to achieve with social media - you just have to accept it first.
The Social Media Magic Setting doesn’t need to manipulate social media algorithms* or employ cheap tricks to gain following. It works because it acknowledges something that we all understand very well: human nature.
To explain how it works, think back to the introduction to this article. We all pour great effort into our social media content and get little love or reaction in return. We all crave attention and get disheartened when we’re ignored.
But think about it a bit more. We’re all in the same boat. If we all set out with the same objective, to be heard, and get rejected, what behaviour are we displaying? We are ‘broadcasting’ our message. In simple terms, most of us are effectively jumping up and down, screaming “look at me, look at me” and get redder and more frustrated the more people ignore us. Well, if 95% of us are doing the same thing, why should we expect any other outcome than being ignored? After all, if we’re behaving appallingly, why would anyone praise us? And more importantly, who exactly do we think is going to like/share/comment on our stuff when we’re all jumping up and down?
The solution to this vicious circle eludes most people. They either try to cheat the system, dump the problem on someone else, or give up. But if we think about human nature and turn this idea on its heads, there’s a very simple solution: stop acting like the 95% causing the problem. As an alternative, why not join the 5% who approach social media differently?
For argument sake, say you post on social media. Someone who you’ve never heard of likes your post. They leave a comment - they’ve actually read what you’ve said and commented accordingly. They thank you for sharing your conent, and they follow you. They may even send you a direct message to follow up on the conversation and you might get to know more about what they do.
Givers vs takers
That would be great wouldn’t it? How would you feel if this happened to you? And most importantly, how would you feel about the person - the GIVER - who made that effort to listen/engage and support what you’re doing? Only a very cold or short-sighted person would fail to take an interest in the GIVER. And I bet the next time you see something they post, you’ll like/read it.
Unfortunately, there’s no magic trick for finding the people who act this way. But that’s okay because you don’t need to find them. To stand out and be loved online, you simply need to become THAT person. Become the GIVER that you wish would like/comment and share your content. Becoming a Giver is free, it’s easy and it’s transformative. You don’t even need to have a large following, you just need to be genuine and positive.
If you take this approach, you will gain followers. As we’ve already seen, most of us would follow someone who displayed kindness and showed interest. Most of us would reciprocate this interest by liking and commenting back when we see posts in future. This means the GIVER will grow their following.
But this approach is more than just the cynical pursuit of amassing followers. This approach does something more profound. It will help you build relationships. Yes, that’s right. We get so caught up with the hyperbole and minutiae of social media that we forget the ‘social’ part altogether. It’s fallen slightly out of fashion, but we used to call it ‘social networking’, because its purpose is to connect people and facilitate conversation.
Be honest, when did you last build a relationships using social media? It’s okay, you’re not alone! But the fact that social media isn’t being used in the right way means it’s ripe for savvy people to take advantage of. Social media gained popularity because it plays on our simple humans needs. We want to connect and learn and grow our network. We want to share our opinions and have our ideas validated. Ultimately, we want to feel part of something, not ‘talking to ourselves’ in an empty room. We can’t always find that person because they are few and far between. But we can become that person.
Practicing the formula
So there you go. I’ve told you the formula. Try it. Spend a week helping and supporting others. Be altruistic. Put aside any thoughts of self-promotion. Don’t try to sell anything. Don’t even post anything. Just listen/comment/like and champion others. Just for a week, support people, take an interest, share their stuff.
It’s obvious when you think about it. Once you’ve listened, people listen back. If you don’t grow following and the things I’ve explained don’t sink in, then come back here and tell me the Social Media Magic Setting is nonsense. Deal?
Of course, there’s loads to learn once you've grasped the approach I've explained: countless techniques, tools and strategies. But without the foundation, you will fail. Walk before you can run. And if you want to make sure you're doing it right, come to an ONLE meeting. We practice what we preach and we teach you the rest.
James West is a co-founder of ONLE Networking.
*If you are interested in the geeky science bit, the altruistic approach I condone is complementary with social media algorithms. All social media platforms want their users to help grow the network, so if you’re a person who is active - liking/sharing/commenting - you are more likely to appear in newsfeeds because you are helping grow the network and improving its vibrancy. Everyone is a winner!