Digital Skilled Trade: Social Media Management

With social media exploding in growth the way it has in recent years, it’s no wonder why it’s become the most powerful tool known to businesses today.

Social media as a marketing tool

Think about marketing in a simpler way. Marketing is about putting your product on display for the passing crowds and compelling them to buy it.

Social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Reddit, TikTok, Snapchat, Twitter, LinkedIn and others provide platforms for businesses to show off their products to crowds consisting of millions of people – all at the speed of a few clicks.

How can you make money with social media in 2021?

There are multiple different ways to make money on social media these days. Here are some examples:

  • Promoting your own service-based business
  • Promoting products you’re selling in a web store (dropshipping)
  • Promoting an affiliate marketing link (sell someone else’s products and you get a cut)
  • Directing traffic to your own website where you make money from advertisements or products
  • “Flipping” accounts by growing them to a good size and then selling the accounts
  • Selling “shoutouts” (making a deal to advertise someone else’s product or account on your page)

Going forward, we will be posting detailed step-by-step guides for many of the methods listed above.

How to get started with growing a social media account

There are no hard and fast rules to creating, growing and maintaining a social media account.

That’s because there is a level of “artistry” to it. Social media algorithms favour creativity and originality. Some successful accounts follow strict brand styles and content guidelines. Other hugely successful accounts are managed by people who just have a knack for posting the type of content that resonates with the audience and the algorithms.

Putting the creativity aspect aside for a moment, what general guidelines should you follow when creating and growing social media accounts?

Determine your niche

What is your social media account going to represent? What kind of content will you post? Will you have a meme-trend Tiktok or will you have a vintage car Instagram? Choose a niche that you have a passion for because growing a social media account to a huge size can be a long journey.

Generally speaking, the smaller the niche, the less competition. For example, there’s thousands of Instagram accounts posting about “how to get better at golf” but perhaps only a few dozen accounts dedicated to “how to get better at putting in golf”.

Identify your competition

Search hashtags or keywords related to your niche and find the accounts of the top posts. These are your competition. Go to these account pages and try to find patterns for how these accounts grew to where they are today.

Look for things like bio description, brand styling (consistent color scheme, font, graphics), content type (images with captions, videos with resonating messages, etc.), posting schedule (how often and when they post), as well as audience interaction.

Identify your target audience

Your target audience are the followers of your competitors. Simply following these accounts can make them follow you back and engage with your content (since your content is similar to your competitor’s content which they are following).

Make a content plan

Are you going to post pictures, short videos, long videos, long articles or short snippets? Are you going to create the content yourself? Are you going to repost other people’s content? How often are you going to post?

These are all questions that you need to answer to get your social media accounts off the ground.

Posting consistent content that compels your followers to engage (like, comment, share) is the magic recipe for successful social media growth.

After you’ve determined your plan, you can get started with sourcing and/or creating your content. 

An effective strategy is to build up a week or month’s worth of content and then use a web app like Hootsuite or Buffer to schedule your content to be posted automatically. At least that’s one way to make social media management more efficient.

Post routinely and follow your target audience

Time to get started with posting awesome niche-specific content. In between posting, start to follow your target audience (the followers of your competitors). 

Simply follow them and wait for them to follow you back. If they do not follow you back after 2-3 days, you can unfollow them.

If you want to take it a step further, you can direct-message the accounts that you follow, or shortly after they follow you. DMs that are done right can be a quick and effective way to build rapport with your new followers.

Note: It’s important to remember that social media platforms have limits for daily actions, so don’t follow or DM too many accounts in one day. On Instagram for example, total daily actions shouldn’t exceed around 100.

Interact, engage, and put your account out there

We’ve already talked about how powerful social media can be when utilized correctly. With all of those millions of accounts, people from every country are on every major platform. 

So how do we make sure as many people as possible see our awesome content?

We put it in front of them!

Interact with everyone you can, especially accounts interested in your niche. Follow them, like their posts, comment on their posts, DM them. Interact with niche relevant posts and accounts. Do what you can to show off your own content and uplift other people’s content (without being annoying or spamming).

All of these little things really do add up. Each little interaction or engagement is your way of putting a ripple out into the world of social media. Sometimes it just helps trigger the algorithm and the next thing you know, you’re viral.

Advanced techniques for growing social media accounts

Moving past the basic techniques of following and engaging with your target audience’s accounts, there are some other tactics that can be leveraged to grow your accounts. Some of these tactics require a small budget ($10-50).

Buy shoutouts (or negotiate a deal for them)

On platforms like Instagram, Snapchat or Tiktok, it can be worthwhile to buy shoutouts from larger, more popular accounts. Shoutouts are when one account highlights another account or business to its followers. 

On Instagram for example, a shoutout might cost $15-30 and the account will let you post whatever image, video or text accompanied with a link in their 24 hour story. So for 24 hours your shoutout advertisement will be visible to that large account’s followers, and you can direct people to your own account (or even your own website).

There are other forms of shoutouts on different platforms, but the key is to make your shoutout as engaging as possible, to ensure you get your money’s worth on your investment.

Getting started with shoutouts is easy, as all you need to do is DM the accounts you would like to collaborate with. Some accounts are familiar with shoutouts and have set rates for shoutouts, while other accounts have never sold a shoutout (or made money at all with their large social media account). You should be able to negotiate with those first-time shoutout accounts to get yourself a cheap rate.

If you don’t have the money for a shoutout, you could try your hand at negotiating a deal where you try to sell something via a shoutout on their account, and anything you sell, you’ll give them 50% of the profits. I don’t recommend this route but it’s worth mentioning.

Do a giveaway

Giveaways can be an effective marketing tactic for social media as well. If you know there’s a product your audience would yearn for, give it away for free in exchange for some publicity for your account. Ask your followers to like, comment, follow, tag, retweet or any combination of these sharing activities that will boost your brand awareness.

The product itself doesn’t have to be anything expensive, but just something useful or trendy. People love free stuff!

If you can afford it, a regular giveaway is even better. A weekly or monthly giveaway gives your followers something to look forward to and keeps them coming back to your page. Make it a consistent time and day like “every Monday at 1pm” or something to that ilk.

You can even take it a step further and combine the shoutout tactic along with the giveaway tactic. This will surely drum up some buzz around your page.

Every like, share or follow puts out an exponential ripple into the social media universe. Your account can grow quite big this way.

Use automation software

There are quite a few social media automation bots out there these days. Most require a subscription but there are some free ones like Hootsuite. Hootsuite allows you to manage your social media accounts – from multiple platforms – all in one place. You can set a schedule to post content regularly, update statuses and much more.

There’s also other more “grey hat” software out there. This software can analyse competitor accounts, analyse your own account, automatically follow targeted accounts and unfollow the accounts who aren’t following back. These bots can also like, comment, and basically perform any action on social media, automatically for you.

Software like described above is frowned upon by most social media platforms, and if they detect it, can often result in banned social media accounts. But where there’s a will, there’s a way. Bots are constantly being developed and adjusted to beat the systems in place to stop them. Using proxies (fake IP addresses) can also help disguise bot actions.

Use several small accounts to funnel followers to your big account

This is a popular method used by internet marketers today, to grow their accounts. 

The method works by implementing multiple “child” accounts (it can be 3, it can be 25, it can be 500 accounts or more if scaled). These child accounts are related to the niche your “mother” account or main account is in. As your child accounts grow, you then send your followers to your main account by posting captions and links. If done correctly, and at scale, this technique can grow your account very quickly.

This technique requires some work to organize and post content to the accounts. For many social media platforms, it also requires some special tools such as proxies, to verify the accounts and prevent them from becoming blocked. 

When using a lot of accounts, automation software can also be utilized to save time on the daily actions of all the accounts.

Go Viral

Definitely easier said than done. Getting something to go viral on social media may be difficult but it’s not impossible.

You need to reverse engineer previous viral posts and figure out why it went viral. More importantly, how can you replicate it, improve it, or put some creativity into it? For example, it’s not difficult to go semi-viral or viral on Tiktok by copying a trend and putting your own funny, simple and silly spin on it.

Consistency is key

Large and popular social media accounts aren’t built overnight. They aren’t built in a few weeks either.

Stay consistent with posting and engaging, and before you know it, you’ll have endless possibilities to monetise your account.