Keyword Strategy will be Shutting Down on March 28, 2013 Read details

My Universal 2-Step Plan to Succeed on any Social Network

by Fraser Cain on January 17, 2013

SEO now requires great content and a solid social media presence. You need to have these two factors working in concert to get love from the search engines. Creating great content is relatively straightforward, and you have total control over it. But social media seems like a mystery. How can you break through the noise and establish yourself on a social network. How can you build credibility?

Whenever there’s a new social network that I’m trying to build credibility on, I always try to do two things:

  • Improve the social network itself
  • Connect people together on the network

Find me anywhere on the internet, and you’ll generally see I’m doing these two things, again and again and again.

Both of these strategies require planning and creativity, and need to be adapted for the network you’re participating in.

But the great part is that you can follow this approach with a clear conscience. Instead of attempting to extract value from other people’s networks (like a spammer), you’re injecting value. You’re making the social network better by your presence. Of course, some of the goodwill rubs back on you again, and helps with your own social media efforts. You’ll make friends, I promise you.

At the time I’m writing this article, I’m currently circled by about 700,000 people on Google+. My Universe Today twitter account has about 32,000 followers. Pinterest is growing quickly with more than 9,000 followers. Facebook: 21,000 fans etc.

(You can see I’ve invested most of my efforts into Google+.)

1. Make the social network better

When most marketers join a social network, they ask themselves: how can I utilize this network to give me benefit (moar clickz pleez)?

Wrong question.

I take a look at the current state of the social network and ask myself: what needs improving, how can I make things better? Then I set about creating content, or developing some kind of solution that makes the social network itself more valuable.

On Google+, I organized the Virtual Star Party, where we connect a bunch of telescopes into a live Google+ hangout. This is a project that makes Google+ a better social network. It lets Google show off the capabilities and potential of its network.

But you could use the same process on a forum, Linkedin, Twitter… anything. Join the network, look around, figure out what needs improving and then get to work.

Here are some examples:

  • Create tutorial articles to help new users use all the features of the network.
  • Write an FAQ, or collect together the greatest posts of a forum. Hopefully the moderators will sticky it.
  • Share every helpful tip and trick you’ve discovered with the network so other people can learn from your experience.
  • Create software tools that other people can use to automate their interaction with the network.
  • Help other members improve their posts. Offer to do additional research or writing to take their ideas to the next level.

Obviously, there’s a risk that you’re investing your time and money into someone else’s property. But there’s also the chance Google will make a documentary about you: Google+: Fraser Cain’s Virtual Star Party.

The social network gives you a built in audience. People have collected together for a reason. If you can make their experience of the network better, they’ll be happy, the social network will be happy, and you’ll make some new friends.

2. Connect people together

Help people find each other. Turn the spotlight away from you and onto the worthy people in the network.

In the beginning of Google+ I started maintaining my Super Science Circle. This was a shared circle containing all of the people I could find on Google+ who were regularly posting about science. I then shared this circle out to help these people gain more friends, to connect them with each other and foster the science community on Google+.

Now I’m putting my efforts into the Communities feature of Google+, helping the members reach an ever widening audience. Come join the Space community, the largest community on Google+, with 85,000 people at the time I’m writing this.

Again, you can imagine how you could do this in other ways. Follow Friday on Twitter, video reviews on YouTube, interviews on your blog. Your goal is to help as many worthy people build their followings as possible.

Here are some examples:

  • Create a channel on YouTube just to curate and highlight the best videos and creators.
  • Maintain a shared circle on Google+ for people who match a certain interest.
  • Highlight amazing Facebook pages in your industry
  • Constantly recommend people in Twitter. “You should follow John, he’s always tweeting the funniest stuff”
  • Showcase other peoples’ websites in your blog
  • Start a podcast with a bunch of other experts in your industry, to highlight their skills.
  • Organize a conference or convention for your niche.
  • Organize networking events for people in your industry, like HIRLs (Hangouts in Real Life).
  • Create playlists on YouTube to showcase amazing videos.
  • Help people discover cool bands on Soundcloud.

I know it sounds crazy, but the trick to succeeding on social networks is to not focus on yourself. Make the social network better and make other people’s lives better, and everything will fall into place for you.

I guarantee it.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

stevyv January 20, 2013 at 11:34 am

nice post fraser

fraser January 20, 2013 at 11:21 pm

Thanks Stevyv. :-) Let me know if there are any specific social media networks you want to try and crack. I’ll try to brainstorm some ideas.

mrbrown77 January 23, 2013 at 4:37 pm

Another great post. I love the push to improve the communities we are involved in. This is something I am working towards this year in a heavy way.

Also just started a Podcast about 4 weeks ago and then realized you are doing Podcasts and have been for awhile. I’ll be paying more attention to the things you’re adding here in the future – great stuff.

BTW, no social buttons to share this content from your site or am I missing them? :)

fraser January 24, 2013 at 6:00 pm

Thanks mrbrown77, I appreciate that. I’ve got “more podcasts” on my big todo list, so I’m going to be continuing them shortly.

jcmilligan January 28, 2013 at 9:12 pm

Love this. Exactly how you build a presence on any social media site.

fraser January 28, 2013 at 9:13 pm

The landscape changes, but the action plan should remain the same. If you’re not focusing on those two things: adding value and connecting people, you’re probably getting the most out of it.