Originally appeared on FunnelMagazine.com December 16, 2017

Signing up for a profile on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, (the list continues) is the easy part. Next comes the hard part, figuring out what to post about, keeping all your accounts active with regular posting, and attracting new followers – real people. It’s a lot of work! All in addition to running your business and maintaining your website.

You have to come up with a plan.

A social media profile should not replace your website. Sit down and think about all the social media profiles you have – write them out on paper – in addition to your website and then go through and note which one you like being on the most and which one your ideal customers are on the most. Yes, most people are on all the major social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, etc.) but which one do your customers interact with you the most?

Once you figure out the one social media platform to focus on, then start working on the content you want to share. Now keep in mind that you can still be on all the other social networks, but you’ll share your posts on them later. Right now you need a starting point and the focus needs to be on the one network that you connect with your customers the most on.

For example, Facebook is my main go-to social network. It provides me with the largest possible audience and it allows me to not only share my content but more importantly – easily – share others. Yes, the same could be said for other social networks but again Facebook is still on top and has always made it easy to share without limiting your characters.

You see, everyone wants to grow their followers in hopes that a higher number will then attract more followers.

If you go to someone’s business page for instance on Facebook and see their page only has 100 likes vs another page that has 2,000, chances are you’re going to question the page and not want to follow it, right? We are naturally programmed to go towards the higher number because we equate the higher following to mean its more popular – it’s more attractive! When it comes to social media, a higher number of likes or follows won’t help you in the long run if you don’t have the engagement factor – engagement is the key to success! Engagement is what leads to sales.

Vanity Metrics AKA everyone wants you to like and follow their profiles.

“Hey, I can help you grow your followers overnight. You know that it doesn’t look good when people check out your social media profiles and see such a low number of followers. Let me help you get more followers and it won’t cost you much. Plus, you can have 2,000 overnight.“

Does any of that sound familiar?

Everyone seems to be so concerned with these “vanity metrics” (the number of likes and followers they have). The engagement part is just an afterthought or forgotten about altogether. A great sales tactic, but it creates a false need – having a higher number makes you think you’re doing really good and that people actually care about what you have to say. You may think, “I provide amazing content on my profile, but if I don’t have a decent amount of likes and follows then people might pass it up.” This pressure has coerced many people to “buy followers” in order to help them stand out more. This is not the solution and is wasting your hard earned money.

[bctt tweet=”You don’t buy your friends so don’t buy your followers.” username=”Ed_Troxell”]

If you want to stand out on social media, then you have to be willing to do the work. The whole reason you signed up to be on social media, at least it should be, was to start a conversation and engage with your customers.

Social media is a powerful tool that will grow your online relationships which in turn will grow your business if you do it the smart way – by focusing your efforts on engaging in conversations. The magic happens in the comments!

It’s not about the numbers, it’s about the relationships.

When you stop worrying about the number of likes and followers you have and start focusing on the relationships by engaging with people in the comments anything can happen and it can happen with just one person. You just have to be willing to take the extra 30 seconds to provide value – simply answer a question or prob a little more to see what the other person is really thinking about – and you will see your online relationships grow instantly. Remember, likes and follows don’t pay the bills-paying customers do.

Yes, it takes a lot of work because you have to actually be present (show up) and engage (comment and provide value – don’t sell here) but when you do this consistently (repeat) people will notice you.

Repeat after me:

Show up
Engage
Provide value
Repeat

Yes, it’s actually that simple! Now you know the secret. Are you ready to join the conversation?

If you would like to learn more about growing your relationships check out this article on “The Harvest Method – How To Grow Relationships With Content Marketing” By Kyle Gray. I met Kyle on a Facebook live through commenting. We started the conversation there before moving it over to Facebook messenger.

From there I was asked about my story about growing relationships and the next thing I knew I was being featured in this article – you’ll see when you get to “Help Their Audience.” Again, it all started with me taking the time to show up, engage, and provide value – my insight.

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