We all seem quite fixated on growing large groups of connections across multiple social media platforms these days. Thankfully most credible businesses have long since passed the “he who has the most connections wins” mentality. Yet that is not to undersell the value of a large, targeted and engaged following on-line. I don’t think I have ever spoken to anyone who said “we seem to have too many followers, how do we get rid of them”.
There is an undeniable connect between having a great social presence, and perceived influence and credibility in your market place. I have watched with great interest the different strategies many successful on-line operators have used to leverage value from their audience. These range from podcasters selling advertising on each episode, to bloggers promoting affiliate offers for commissions. Don’t get me wrong, I am fully in favour of these entrepreneurs doing what they do. The fundamental difference in these examples, is that whilst these people and businesses operate very successfully in the on-line world, they also keep their tribe safely off-line.
It was not that long ago that Facebook openly promoted, and provided the ability to build big follower bases. I know many businesses that pursued this strategy diligently and prospered from their efforts. That is until Facebook practically wiped out their organic reach, and started charging to access what many thought was their own databases.
Many companies have also fallen foul of changes in policies from many social media platforms, and Google with their constant policy updates “AKA” Penguin, Hummingbird and Panda. Leading to, in many cases, the loss of their ability to do business overnight.
Therein lies the “WHY” you need a back up plan. The why is simply because you do not own your on-line databases, you never did, and never will!
The best option is to build your presence wherever your tribe may reside. Whether that is on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or anywhere else they may be. Once you have some momentum, start moving them to databases you do control, such as your mailing list. Here are some proven methods to do this effectively.
#1. Export your LinkedIn database
Fortunately LinkedIn allows anybody to do this. You can and should regularly export a csv file and store it somewhere safe. This will give you the name, email, employer details and of course your connections Position Description. I do this monthly.
To export your connections list:
- Move your cursor over Connections at the top of your homepage and select Keep in Touch.
- Click the Settings icon near the top right to reach the “Contact Settings” Page
- Under Advanced Settings on the right, click “Export LinkedIn Connections”
- Select the file type and click Export.
If for any reason your LinkedIn profile becomes compromised, and you need to set up a new one. You can import this list back into a new profile once you have set it back up. It also allows you to contact a particular connection directly if the need arises.
Whilst you now have all of your contacts email addresses etc, it is not necessarily a license to start emailing them at will. A better option is to create a campaign designed to have them opt-in to your external database. Usually a Free report or short course etc that your connections would find valuable work best. You can then send them links to your website to gain access via LinkedIn.
#2. Export Your Facebook Data
Again Facebook makes this easy enough if you know where to look. You can download your friends list, photos and videos, all of your posts and more. Here’s how:
- Click on the “Account” icon in the top right corner
- Scroll down to “Account Settings”
- At the bottom of the page you will see a link to “Download Your Information”
Once you click on this link you will be requested to re-enter your password and you are done and you will receive an email from Facebook. Ensure you download and store the file ASAP as, for security reasons, it will only be available for a few days.
Exporting the details of people who have “Liked” your page is not quite as simple, to be honest your best options are to use third party services such as Agorapulse
Creating incentives for your followers to again opt-in to your lists on your website should be a regular part of your on-line activities. Facebook now gives you the ability to create a call to action and send people to external locations such as your website or landing pages, so use them.
#3. Request an introduction
One of the most powerful tactics at your disposal is to use your current connections to introduce you to like minded connections. Many social media platforms allow you to view the connections of your connections. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram to name just a few. Contact lists are always about quality not quantity, and a personal introduction is potentially the biggest ice breaker available. If you requested just a couple of personal introductions per day, you would likely have up to 50 high quality new connections every month.
I find connecting via LinkedIn the most beneficial, using the tag feature to group your connections by profession, country or whatever metric suits you makes filtering your data very simple. As LinkedIn allows a complete download of high quality data, you will always have access to these people at will.
Of course your content strategy should always remain true to providing value and positioning your self or your company as the go to place for what it is you do. However sharing links to articles, the “About Us”, special offers, or any other relevant content on your website is great for
#5. Don’t Forget your email signature
Consider how many emails you send every month, likely hundreds. These days having HTML signatures is not an expensive process and Fiverr is a great place to connect with people who will create yours at very affordable prices. The obvious benefit is a much more professional looking email, the other is the ability to have a link to your social profiles. Additionally a link to your website with a call to action to entice that opt-in can be added.
If you were under any illusion you owned all of that hard earned social presence, now is a good time to start taking back control and create your back up plan.
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