How to Boost Your Social Media Presence According to Philadelphians Who Know

They've all been there and share the pitfalls you should avoid.

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The ins-and-outs of social media can seem like an overly complex ecosystem of hashtags, photos and conversations. To gain a strong presence through it all can seem impossible, but the Philadelphians quoted in this story say they’ve built their platforms by following a few rules. Here’s their top advice on how to grow a social media presence for a business or brand.

1. Sell an authentic brand

Establishing a social media presence is about being true to who you are and what your business represents. You should think of having a social media presence as an extension of your brand. Who are you? What is your focus? Having consistent branding across all social media networks is helpful in identifying who you are and what your company represents. From your username to your photo setups, all of this is branding and represents who you are and how people can identify you. – Desiree Peterkin Bell | president and CEO, DPBell & Associates

Create content with an authentic voice. As much as you’ll want to copy someone’s else path, followers and brands relate to an influencer with some substance all their own. – Sabir M. Peele | freelance brand consultant & creative Director at Men’s Style Pro

Don’t be afraid of yourself. Establishing a presence online should be a natural extension of yourself, your personality, and most importantly, your professional work. Avoid being overly curated or too perfect. Just because you have many followers doesn’t instantly make you a leader, expert, or guru. Be human. – Neal Santos | photographer and owner of Neal Santos Photography

2. Stick to real followers

There are very few shortcuts for growing followers. I recommend steering clear of services out there that promise thousands of followers in a short amount of time. These types of services do grow your followers, but you will experience very low engagement rates. – Alicia Lapann | creative director at Mole Street

A pitfall is buying followers and likes. The bottom will fall out eventually, or you’ll go broke trying to maintain that kind of social media lifestyle. – Sabir M. Peele

Don’t play the comparison game. It’ll drive you nuts and force you to create content that’s not authentic to your brand or voice. And don’t just focus on numbers, either. I love working with micro-influencers for clients and branded events because they tend to have a more targeted and local reach versus larger influencers (and not to mention are more affordable to work with). Someone could have 1,500 followers but have a high level of engagement (likes, comments, and shares) and that’s the type of online buzz that’s going to turn online fans into paying customers. – Melissa Alam | entrepreneur, digital marketing strategist and photographer

The most important advice I can give on building your social media presence is don’t buy your followers. It’s hard work, and takes a while to build up a social media presence, but credibility is much more valuable than 1,000 likes from a bot. – HughE Dillon | freelance photographer and blogger

3. Create a routine

Make a plan for when you post and how frequently, and which mediums you use to post on. You won’t have a presence or be able to grown one effectively if you are posting infrequently. You cannot have a passive approach to social media and just assume because you create an account, the followers and likes will come. – Desiree Peterkin Bell

Create a yearly content calendar. Write down each month of the year from January through December and begin writing overarching topic ideas next to each month. Think about seasonality. For example, if you love to share content about food, you can craft a yearly content calendar based on what’s in season. If you work in the advertising industry like me, you can craft a yearly content calendar around what’s happening in the industry: annual conferences like SXSW, award ceremonies, and if you’re an avid traveler in the summer, you can focus your summer topics on advertising trends overseas. Next, you want to take your yearly content calendar and build out a detailed monthly calendar. Open up a spreadsheet, write the month at the top and start detailing out daily content ideas for each day of the month based on the overarching topic you decided upon for that month. The key to a successful social media presence is to plan out your posts in advance. – Alicia Lapann

Find your posting groove. With so many social media platforms, it’s easy to want to post all the time. However, finding a consistency to your posting will give followers some semblance of your post frequency. It’s always good to build anticipation. – Sabir M. Peele

4. Be consistent across mediums and platforms

Take a hard look at your personal strengths. It takes time and effort to craft great content, so my first recommendation is to focus on the channel that “comes naturally” to you. Are you a great writer? Twitter will be a natural fit. Do you prefer to tell stories using images? Instagram is your best bet. It sounds simple, but this really is the first step to success. Your followers will love your content if you love to create it. – Alicia Lapann

Be as social in person and in real life as you are online, because it works both ways. Be engaging, be active, be compelling. Give your followers a reason to maintain that connection with you online or in person. – Neal Santos

Choose a name and use it across all social media platforms. It’s important to have consistency, and ease of use for people who are looking you up on your various social platforms. Sometimes when I post something on Instagram using a person’s social handle, I automatically share it on Twitter as well and it’s so annoying when it’s not the same handle used on that platform. – HughE Dillon

5. Engage with followers and other influencers

Some pitfalls are simply posting content and not trying to engage with an audience. Social media is just that—”social.” Interactions and engagements are key. – Desiree Peterkin Bell

Engaging with followers, brands and influencers with increase visibility and show that you’re a real person. – Sabir M. Peele

Engage with your following in ways that aren’t just promotional. It turns your business profile into the voice of a friend or acquaintance and creates loyalty. – Melissa Alam

When building your social media presence, in this case it’s not a “build it and they will come” kind of thing. Sure, it’s important to have good content and post every day at least once, but it’s important to follow like-minded people and comment on their postings. People are curious and they’ll click on your name to see, and often, they’ll end up following you in return. – HughE Dillon

6. Create impactful content

There can be a lot of superfluous information out there. To establish a presence of note, and even be an influencer with followers and likes, engage and share content that is helpful, relevant and timely. For example, if you are in the business of supporting, and increasing the number of Black female political candidates and offices held, sharing vital information and data about why this is important, what data exist today, and news and reports on this topic, relates directly to your business focus. – Desiree Peterkin Bell

Be your own editor by simply putting yourself in your follower’s position. Ask yourself questions like, “Do my followers want or need to see this content I’m about to post?” “Is this content true, thoughtful, unique?” “How will my following react?” “How does this content reflect my brand or my character?” “Does this reflect poorly on myself?” “Would I show or display this content to someone in a real life social setting?” These are questions you’d ideally set out to answer each and every time you post, to help guide your professional brand in the right direction. – Neal Santos

Post quality content, provide your audience value and actively start conversations. The social media world is oversaturated with profiles, so you need to stand out with great content, design and/or aesthetics. Invest in equipment like cameras, lenses and editing software to help you create quality photos or graphics that people will want to share. My other recommendation is to provide value with content catered to your audience. Provide them with tips, advice, humor, shoutouts, giveaways or a “behind the scenes” (or #bts) look at your day or company. – Melissa Alam