One of the biggest things we've brought to the attention of our clients lately is the importance of a strong network. Size and engagement play a role, but it really all hinges on one thing: great content.
Look Before You Leap
One of the mistakes many businesses make is committing to social sites that require at least semi-constant content creation. On sites like Twitter and Facebook if you're not actively publishing content on a regular basis, then your profile is doing you no good; you'll never build a network of any size with a page that sits unused. Unfortunately, not just anything will do. Bad content can be just as pointless as none at all; if people don't see you posting anything they care about, they're not going to like or follow you. Before you make the leap into the land of social media, make sure posting is something sustainable that you can handle. If you don't think you have the time or manpower to maintain profiles, pass.
Give 'Em Something to Talk About
For some sites and businesses, creating content is not a problem. While regular posting is great, though, it's only one piece of the puzzle. It's called social media for a reason, but many people tend to under utilize the social aspects. Everyone knows that a bad experience can lead a customer to take their business elsewhere, and while it may sound cheesy, a great social presence can do the opposite and build great brand loyalty. Being engaged with your friends and followers–even (especially) if it's on topics that aren't necessarily business related–can help give your digital accounts a personal feel as well as keeping your name on people's minds even when they're not actively pursuing your products or services. Whether it's asking fans questions, answering theirs, or just joining in a conversation, interaction is essential to building a strong network.
Size Doesn't Matter As Much As You Think
While a large audience can be advantageous for getting your name and links out there and bringing traffic back to your site, it's not the be-all end-all. Quality content and engagement can help you here; active fans are more likely to share your posts with their own networks, multiplying your reach with the click of a button. The bigger the network the better, so if you can build a relationship with pages/profiles with large networks and get them to share your content, it can be a great boost for you. That's a whole 'nother can of worms though... another post for another time!
Patience is a Virtue
No sugarcoating: it will be slow going. On the internet these days we're always hearing about videos, people, and pages going viral. Unfortunately, that's not how it works for most of us. Most of us have to fight for every single follower and continue that fight to maintain them. You're not going to get a massive and active following in one day, but if you follow the rules and work for it, you can set yourself up for success in the long run.