How To Build and Expand Your Online Social Network

Every business, however small or big, wants more customers and leads. Every organization, whether offline or online, wants to grow and cover the maximum ground possible. But the tricky question is – how do you take that first step? How do you figure out which way to go, when there are so many routes?

Most online businesses, who are dying to create a strong brand of their own, fail to answer these three questions:

  • What is your expertise? What’s your goal?
  • Why should customers choose you and not your competitors?
  • How do customers know that your business exists in the market?

The answer to the first two questions depends on the type of business you have but the answer to the third question is universal. It is either organic or social.

Organic traffic is something which is beyond your direct control but you can leverage the power of online networks to drive a significant portion of targeted traffic to your website. The key to driving social traffic depends on how good your branding is and whether potential customers can find you on social sites where they are spending their valuable time, every single day.

If you want to grow your online network, here are some tips worth noting:

1. Find The Right Social Platform

There are a slew of social sites out there, each having a different focus and perspective. Do not jump in and try to build a universal social presence on every other social site at once. It’s not going to work and there is a high chance that you will fail without achieving anything, wasting a lot of time in the process.

Instead, find the right social platform that matches closely with the goals and objectives of your business. Start small, one social site at a time and gradually expand your reach into other social sites. For example, if you have an ecommerce site, start with Facebook and engage with your existing customers and fans. Add a Facebook fan box widget in your website, make life easy for fans to find you on Facebook.

Once you know your customer, you will have a clear idea what they are craving for. Next, create a Twitter account and promote it on your Facebook fan page.

This has two advantages. First, you are creating an alternative channel so that Facebook users who are also on Twitter, can connect with your brand outside Facebook. Second, you are using the power of one social channel to build a sub-ordinate social channel, without any added effort whatsoever.

The rule of the thumb is to pick the best platform first, grow it to its fullest potential and then drive your audience to other niche based social sites one by one.

2. Find Your Target Audience On Social Sites

To know your audience, you have to know your keywords first. What are the words that directly relate to your business? Make a list of important keywords and use them to track social users who may be interested in your product. I will illustrate this with an example.

Go to Twitter search and perform a search for your most important keyword. On the search results page, you will find a lot of tweets – some genuine users, a lot of spam and a few competitors. See what your competitors are doing, study their approach. Next, design your own marketing tactic and set up an action plan which will attract Twitter users to subscribe to your Twitter channel.

3. Engage With Your Audience And Start Conversations

Getting fans or followers is just half the work done, the other half which is equally important is to engage them via conversations. Listen to your followers and answer their queries. Solve problems and point them towards useful resources, this goes way beyond just your own site. User engagement can be in various forms e.g replies, re tweets, solving problems, organizing giveaways and so forth.

One good tactic which will give you a head start is to organize contests on your blog. You have to chuck out some money or organize sponsors for the giveaway, either way it is really worth going for. The simple answer is that giveaways have a viral nature and they spread the word about your brand in no time. To give you a hint, I gained more than 5000 Twitter followers in less than 24 hours after I announced a $100 giveaway on my blog. The giveaway was organized by a sponsor but I managed to bag a lot of attention in my niche.

But does that mean you have to regularly lure users towards cold hard cash? Certainly No. That’s cheap and probably won’t last forever. The catch is to organize something valuable which has a viral element attached to it.

You have to play with this tactic on different social sites, until you master the art of growing your online network

This guest post is written by Lior Levin, a marketing consultant for a neon sign store that offers a selection of custom made neon sign, and who also consults for a psd to xhtml conversion company.