As with many goals, building an online presence suffers from the chicken and egg problem - we all know that once you have tons of followers, it's easy to get more. Similarly, after you have tons of posts, it's easier to post more. But how do you get your initial followers? How do you create your first few posts? We break it down here.
Every big goal starts with a game plan. "Building an online presence" can feel like a massive goal. Instead of focusing on the ambitious nature of the end state, break your goal down into steps. List out things you'll need to do like choosing a social platform to get started on, creating an account, understanding your intended audience, creating content pillars, developing topic lists, doing research on each topic, etc.
But don't just keep your list on paper. Actually schedule each task on your calendar so you know when you are getting to each task.
If your end audience is everyone, it's effectively no one. If your content is overly general, it won't resonate enough with any single group.
Pick a specific audience you want to create content for. If you're a fitness guru, maybe your target audience is aspiring marathon runners or beginner weight lifters. If you're a mom, maybe your target audience is other mothers of young children. If you're an interior designer, maybe your target audience are first time home buyers in major suburbs.
Once you've defined your audience, define the content pillars. What are the top 5-8 topics your audience cares most about? List them out and start creating a list of social media or blog post topics that fall under each of these pillars.
Reach out to people who've built social followings or created content you love. Ask for their advice on best practices and how they overcome their biggest challenges and what they wish they knew.
Even if you can't connect in person with all your role models, look for articles (like this one!) that give tactical advice.
Beyond conversations and articles, do a deep dive on your favorite creators' pages. What do they do well? How has their strategy evolved? What separates their good vs. great posts? What can you emulate? What would you do differently?
Every social channel is different, and not every social platform is for everyone. Twitter is great for short, pithy posts. TikTok is great for short video content. Instagram is better for photo content. Blogs are better for written content. YouTube is better for long form video content.
Understand your own goals and strengths. Are you spontaneous or do you plan everything? Are you more of a writer or a photographer or videographer?
Understand your audience - where do they spend time?
Then, pick your initial channel based on the intersection of your goals, strengths, and your audience's interest.
It's challenging to get ourselves to stick to new habits. Find a friend to keep you accountable - ideally, your friend would also have goals of theirs (whether similar or different) they also want to stay on top of. Text check in with each other daily. Motivate each other when you're in a slump. Share your progress with each other. Celebrate each milestone together.
Ask all your friends, family, and colleagues to follow you (or follow them first so they know to follow you back). Have your biggest fans promote your new page on your behalf so you can tap into their social networks as well.
Tell people you meet or catch up with about your new social account. While not everyone will remember to follow you, it's a numbers game, so the more times you mention your page to people, the more people will check it out and give you a follow.
Engage with existing posts. If a well followed influencer posts a question or even a general post, add a thoughtful response and start a constructive conversation with people in the comments. Some of the influencer's followers will see your thoughtful perspective and become your followers as well!
Go on podcasts or blogs. They usually have their own followings and when your guest feature goes live, your social links are usually included, so you can tap into the followers of these media platforms too.
If you already have a social following on a different channel, share your new social account with your followers there (or better yet - make a Beacons page so your followers can find you all in one place!).
Getting started truly is the hardest part. Instead of looking at the mountain ahead of you, take the first step. Make one post. It may likely be your worst post ever, and you'll probably look back on it and laugh at how horrible it was, but everyone starts somewhere. Without the first post, you'll never improve and you'll never build your online presence.
Your early followers can be some of your most loyal ambassadors. Show them you care about them. Answer their comments and DMs. Host a live session where you speak with them directly. Do 1:1 chats with them. Promote their work. Give them shout outs. Ask for their opinions. The more empowered you make your followers feel the most likely they are to stay engaged and be an even bigger advocate for you.
So what are you waiting for? It's time to get started! By following these tips, you're well on your way to kickstarting your online presence 🧨