When you are first starting out, and even when you have built a large audience, it is important to continue to network and build your audience. Every social media website, be it Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and even Pinterest, can work to your advantage…if used correctly.

So, how does social media actually help networking?

According to a published article on The Next Web, compiled by social media management platform Hootsuite and We Are Social (Kemp 2017), there are over three billion people active on social media. That is quite a large number of potential audience members, community members, and professionals who could potentially end up viewing your work and supporting your brand.

Growing Your Brand

An important thing to keep in mind when on social media is that you are growing your brand. If you are trying to sell something, promote yourself, or anything else, your social media is a snapshot or a reflection of who you are.

How you engage and interact with people is an important aspect of that, especially if you are seeking their help, viewership, or patronage. Respect comes to be a big part of networking, regardless of whether you are on social media or off it.

LinkedIn is a great option for professionally growing your brand due to the very nature of the network. Patrons of LinkedIn are there to connect, discuss, and interact in a professional manner, which can open up a lot of opportunities when it comes to introducing and expanding your network, as well as what you bring to the table. Engage in discussions around your niche, whether it be content creating in general, streaming, games, game development, etc, and develop meaningful connections with others who could help you succeed or advance your brand. You can’t do it alone.

Competitors

When you first enter a space as the new kid on the block, it can seem like you need to do anything you can to grow, and grow fast. That can sometimes mean attempting to undercut potential competitors but those same people, who are also striving to make a mark for themselves, can also be your greatest strength.

Let’s consider a streamer for example. Take a look at what other streamers are doing to generate traffic and use that to formulate your own unique ideas, highlight your personality and what makes you different. According to Twitch’s FAQ, there are over two million active broadcasters, 27,000 of which are revenue-earning Partners. You have to find something that sets you apart.

Now, when the word ‘competitor’ appears, it can have somewhat negative connotations attached like you are all arrayed on the starting line together but only one person can be victorious. That being said, you can and should keep an eye on your competitors, just to see what content they’re creating and what genres they are sticking to or expanding into.

For example, you can use Twitter Lists to keep track of streamers and content creators in your particular areas of interest. Twitter Lists are curated groups of accounts you can use to bundle a series of users into one location, as a reminder or just for convenience. Your Twitter Lists can be set for the public to see and join or can be set to private, as a personal record.

Get the ‘there-can-be-only-one’ notion out of your head, make friends with other streamers, bloggers, content creators, and gamers in general. Work together to bolster all of your aspirations and continually grow with your community, your friends, and new arrivals.

Social media works wonders in this regard with everyone trying to carve out a section of the internet to call their own. Article links, video links, gameplay videos, and going-live posts are everywhere. Retweeting these links, watching or reading other created content and, most importantly, leaving positive comments can work wonders.

Promoting

Promoting your content is important, especially when you’re still growing and social media is the perfect tool for this. Publishing your content, letting followers know when you are going live, posting links to videos, art, or cosplay you’ve created, and more, are all types of self-promotion of who you are, and your brand.

There are a few things to watch out for;

  • Auto DMs: Particularly on Twitter, some people will set up an auto DM (direct message) that will go out to all new followers, advising them to check out their content. Keep in mind that this may not be a great first impression and can put a lot of people off.
  • Spam: Don’t consistently spam links to your content over a short period of time, as this can clog the feeds of your followers and just generally be irritating.
  • Promoting in Someone Else’s Stream: This is generally a big no-no, as you are essentially trying to steal viewers from other streamers, as opposed to earning their viewership. It is also quite disrespectful to streamers and content creators.

Respect Your Audience

As mentioned above, respecting your audience, especially if you are trying to expand that audience, is the number one priority. Yes, you need to be engaging and entertaining but you also need to treat people with the respect they deserve. A surefire way to lose people is to act entitled or like you deserve their time and viewership.

There are many ways you can easily respect your audience, particularly on social media, including:

  • Chatting with and engaging with your audience, in the form of replying to comments, starting discussions, and encouraging people with their goals and interests.
  • Commenting on other people’s posts, articles, and going-live announcements with excitement and encouragement. You don’t always have to have a narrow focus on your own band and career and be constantly talking about it, dazzle people with your amazing personality and wit, and make them want to find out more about you. This may lead to more viewers, readers, and a bigger community.

Building A Community

One of the most important benefits of social media is providing the ability to build a community of people who enjoy who you are as a person, as well as the content you create. The more interactions you have, the longer you’re creating, the larger your community will grow. Social tools such as Discord are used to great effect as a hub for communities with similar interests to interact.

If you’re unfamiliar with Discord, it’s a social platform designed for text, image, video, and audio communication, developed primarily with gamers in mind. You can set Discord channels up for everything you can imagine, from talking about a specific game or games in general, setting up matches, or just talking about everything and anything. With the creation of Discord channels, you’re creating a specialised sphere that players can find and join if they’re interested. For example, if you really enjoy talking about the competitive Halo esports scene, there’s probably a Discord dedicated just to that, and if there isn’t, you can make one very easily.

Get to know your audience, learn what they enjoy, ask people what content they would like to see, and basically treat them as people, not just as part of your follower or subscriber count.

Hashtag

As stated above, we live in an interconnected world where everything we could ever want rests at our fingertips. This includes specialised communities and niches waiting for you to join and make your mark. Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest, in particular, thrive off hashtags. Whether you are a gamer, streamer, writer, or space-cowboy, using hashtags both to search for posts and to designate your own, allow it to reach the right audience.

After all, you might not gain much traction speaking to a mixed audience compared to speaking to those who are already interested. Or to put it another way, you might not get the right reception talking about steak while surrounded by vegetarians.

While on the topic, it’s important to know how to use hashtags properly in order to expand your reach. First of all, don’t go overboard with the hashtags. According to Twitter Support, the ideal number is just two hashtags, keeping the post clean, and not flooding your followers with convoluted, hashtag-heavy content. This is flipped on Instagram, where you can add up to 30 hashtags on a single post, getting as detailed as you wish. However, the magic number in regards to Instagram posts rests around 11, as you don’t want to crowd or overwhelm your audience.

It’s also important to consider which words to add as a hashtag, particularly when you don’t have room to cover every possible angle. How specific you decide to make the hashtag comes down to what you feel is right and the type of post you are creating.

But how do you figure out which hashtags to use? First off, you can check what the top influencers in your industry are using, as they may be using particular hashtags which are emulated by their large audiences. If you’re trying to start a conversation about current topics, you may want to check out which topics and tags are trending. Twitter will generally present, ‘Trends For You’, which you can view and explore at your leisure. Alternatively, you can use the Explore area of Instagram to view popular posts under specific categories and discover what hashtags they’re using.

But when picking hashtags, it’s important to be specific to the topic you’re discussing or promoting. Whether you’re tagging the name of the game or adding in #streaming, you have to try to keep your hashtags concise and relevant. Just be aware that the more specific your hashtag, the smaller the audience may be.

Social media offers a lot of opportunities for growing a community and developing a network of individuals who enjoy what you have to offer. All you have to do is be willing to put in some effort.

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