The What’s Trending brand spans a YouTube channel with almost a half-million subscribers, a Twitter handle with more than 800,000 followers, a Facebook page with more than 700,000 followers, and an Instagram account with more than 100,000 followers.
Living up to its name, it serves up a 24/7 feed of the most viral and shareable content across the web. And it’s been recognized by the Emmys, Webbys, and Streamy Awards for its interactive, digital content.
This success is in large part to the company’s cofounder, CEO, and host Shira Lazar. Having started her career as a TV journalist, Lazar has hosted countless red-carpet events and live-streamed interviews, accruing hundreds of thousands of social followers of her own on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. She’s also been named one of Fast Company‘s most influential women in technology and The Huffington Post’s “Women in Tech to follow on Twitter.”
With her finger on the pulse of the changing social landscape, Lazar is sharing her best social media marketing strategies for entrepreneurs looking to grow their following online.
Let’s take a look.
Facebook and Twitter audiences are the easiest to grow.
Lazar points to Facebook and Twitter as the platforms that are most conducive to building up that follower count.
“Facebook has made share-ability so easy,” she says. “We had an easy time growing there.”
Still, there is a caveat: Facebook growth comes with a price, especially now that algorithm changes favor posts from friends and family over posts from brands and publications.
“They cut everyone off, but at least they give you the option to like boost your reach with ad campaigns, which does help gain some traction,” Lazar says. “It’s inherently social as well. If just a few people share your content on their pages, it lends to discovery.”
Meanwhile, Lazar identifies Twitter as the network that’s easiest to create content for.
“It’s easy and cheap to constantly create content with copy, GIFs, and images, whereas a platform like Instagram takes a lot more investment,” she says.
She also notes that Twitter is great for driving discovery of your brand, since it includes features like hashtag searches, Twitter Moments, trending conversations, and recommended users.
Instagram and YouTube are still tough nuts to crack.
Instagram may be lauded as the fastest-growing social network, but Lazar stresses that it’s still tough to drive engagement there – even if you have millions of followers.
Her solution? Create a new account.
“On Instagram, what we’ve seen right now is that it’s easier to drive engagement on a new account than an old account,” she says. “The algorithm favors new activity versus older accounts that might have a lot of followers, but aren’t as engaged.”
YouTube has also been historically enigmatic and troublesome for creators looking to build an engaged community.
“YouTube is changing algorithms and there’s also no social component to it anymore,” Lazar says. “On Facebook or Twitter, I can repost or like your content, and then my audience discovers you through my activity. But YouTube took away its social functionality.”
Identify patterns among your content and competitors.
You don’t need to have a data team that rivals the Starship Enterprise crew to grow your audience. You just need to have a small group of people with their ears to the ground. At What’s Trending, for example, each person tracks their own metrics – including the social editor, website manager, and video distributor.
“We’re just a small team, but we have weekly check-ins where we’re looking at what worked, what didn’t work, and why we’re seeing certain patterns.”
They’re also checking what competitors and industry players are doing through market research – but still staying focused on building their own, unique strategies.
“It’s a balance between looking at those things as inspiration and mixing that in with the vision of your brand,” Lazar says. “Ultimately, just because a strategy works for someone else doesn’t mean it’s going to work for you.”
Be flexible and willing to change with the landscape.
If there’s one constant about the social landscape, it’s that nothing is constant. Platforms, audiences, and tools are always changing.
That’s why Lazar says the most important quality for an entrepreneur is humility. If you’re leading with your ego, you’ll be too hard-headed to change with the times. If you can remain humble and flexible, you’ll open yourself up to opportunities for growth.
“Level up based on yourself, not others because that could be a dangerous game,” she says. “So many companies tanked because they were just going with the bubble. Don’t be too attached to your plan or your model because things change quickly and you need to be able to react while still like staying grounded. It’s like The Matrix.”
That’s why the other most important skill is to identify – and stick with – your mission. Let that be your North Star instead of flashy tools and platforms, which come and go.
“It’s really about figuring out your ‘why’ and what you’re trying to bring to the world,” Lazar says. “What’s your mission? You can know every trick in the book but it’s not sustainable unless you believe in it and what you’re doing.”
Which strategies are you using to help grow your audience and achieve that goal? Tell us below in the comments!