Building a Fruitful Social Media Presence Is Like Growing a Garden

Many people think that when they launch a social media marketing campaign, they will have multitudes of friends and followers, grow their e-mail list by thousands and suddenly earn a six figure income within a very short amount of time. I’ve had many clients and potential clients who believe that within 3 months, they ought to be in that category and think that if I cannot make that happen for them, I’m not worth my weight in salt.

This type of thinking is the fault of so called on-line gurus who make such ridiculous promises and forget to mention the amounts of money and time they invest in order to come up with these numbers (which may or may not be manufactured).

True, there are some personalities who have grown their followings and lists very quickly but they have worked tirelessly in order to do so. They do not just put out 3 tweets a day, post once on their Facebook page, add something to their LinkedIn stream and rest on their laurels. They do NOT spend 20 minutes a day on social media.

Building a social media presence is like growing a garden. It takes a plan, tools, addition of nutrients, removal of weeds, fertilizer, and dealing with bugs and other garden predators in order to reap a good harvest of fruits, veggies or flowers. I love gardening and I love social media so it just makes sense that they require similar approaches.

1. The Plan

Even now (in the northern hemisphere where it is still winter), gardeners are thumbing through their seed catalogs, determining their needs and ordering their seeds. They may already have harvested, dried and stored seeds from last year’s harvest (think heirloom tomatoes) that will be used in this year’s garden. Those in the southern hemisphere might be ordering tubers, bulbs and trees.

If these folks don’t yet have a garden, they will need to plan where to put it so that it gets the required amount of sun, has good drainage and is convenient. They’ll need to determine which plants, trees or bushes grow well in their climate and what types of foods they like to eat so that their work is not without reward.

The most important thing is not to plan anything more than you can handle.

In social media terms, this means examining each social media platform, its nuances and what type of businesses tend to hang out there. In other words, who is your ideal client and which social media platforms do they utilize the most?

Which social media platforms resonate with you and are more likely to be used? Some folks are confused by Twitter; others are bored by LinkedIn and others are infuriated by Facebook’s many changes. So choose the one(s) that you’ll use.

Again, the most important thing is not to plan anything more than you can handle. Choose 2 at the most and concentrate on learning and growing those social media platforms first. Then you can add another as you see fit.

2. The Tools

As we all know there are many gardening tools out there but there are a few tried and true tools that just work better than other. A pitchfork, a shovel, a rake, a hoe, a post hole digger, etc are all good gardening tools.

There are also tools that can be used in Social Media.

Besides the basic sites and their corresponding smartphone apps there are Hootsuite, Market Me Suite, Tweetdeck, Buffer, Sprout Social, and a myriad of other tools that you can use to leverage your time on social media. Do some research to see which one(s) resonate with you.

3. Addition of Nutrients

Just like most soil needs added nutrients such as peet, sand (if it has a lot of clay) and composted materials in order to produce a great crop, so does your social media.

Setting up your social media profiles correctly utilizing your keywords, your website and other social media links (as space permits), adding your photo and some interesting tidbits about you is a great nutrition for your social media platforms.

Social media nutrients also come in the form of content (both your own and curated content).

Your own content can be tips for success in your particular niche or blog posts that offer valuable information to your readers.

Curated content is content that you find and share from trusted folks in your industry (or who have provided general interest information). It might even be inspiration quotes.

You may have noticed that I did not include sales pitches in the nutrient category BUT if you have cultivated (another gardening word) a great relationship with your followers, your offerings will more than likely be seen as a nutrient.

4. Fertilizer

All plants need fertilizer to help them grow.

Social media needs fertilizer, as well.

I believe that this comes in the form of tribes, twibes, Tweet circles, sharing circles such as Social Buzz Club, Facebook share groups, etc. Also included would be submission of your articles to article sites such as EzineArticles and posting and commenting on other folks’ blog posts.

5. Removal of Weeds

Weeding is something that I do NOT enjoy but it is a necessary evil. It was especially evil when I lived on 10 acres of newly reclaimed land that was absolutely full of napweed. I must have spent 16 hours a week just pulling weeds! Because of that, I came to understand why God created winter – to give weed-pullers a rest!

In social media, removal of weeds is necessary but thankfully much more easily accomplished.

I have seen a lot of my compatriots scaling back on their Facebook friends because they have lost contact with those with whom they want to keep in touch or they have become concerned with who actually sees what they are sharing (you don’t necessarily want strangers looking at photos of your kids or homestead, but yet you want to be real and share a bit of who you are).

Many women have chosen not to be involved with Foursquare due to security concerns – no need to encourage stalkers.

On Twitter, it’s a bit of a different scenario. Twitter only allows you to follow 10% over the amount of people who are following YOU. If you follow someone who does not follow back, and it’s not someone whose content is that important to you, you may want to discontinue that follow.

There are a couple of tools that can be used to find and unfollow Tweeps who are not reciprocating your follow. is one source. and are a couple more.

With LinkedIn, it’s pretty obvious who has not accepted your invitation to connect.

6. Dealing With Bugs and Other Predators

Aside from the bugs, we have a lot of deer, elk and moose in our area. And while they are beautiful to watch, they can devour my entire crop of heirloom tomatoes or bed of tulips (which they aren’t even supposed to like) within 5 minutes. Because of that, we have had to put up fences… TALL fences. The dogs can’t stay outside because of the coyotes and the chicken yard is covered in netting for the same reason. You learn to adapt.

There will always be spammers, scammers, phishing exploitations, viruses and other threats to your social media accounts so you may need to erect some fences of your own.

In the social media world, you can’t even trust your real-life friends or respected advisers because THEIR accounts may have been hacked, as well.

Be extremely careful of the links you choose to click. Sadly, the links that you receive in direct mail on Twitter or private Facebook messages are probably the most dangerous ones of all. I never click on a single link that I receive in a Twitter direct message (which may be something to consider when constructing your own Twitter DMs – don’t add links; no one will click them. In fact, most people don’t like Twitter direct messages at all.)

There are also a lot of fake accounts out there in the social media world so don’t automatically follow everyone back. Be discriminating – it’s not about the numbers; it’s about the quality of your connections. You want friends, fans and followers that contribute to the growth of your business (crop), or that you can serve in some way. (I will say this about fake Twitter followers – they often have great quotes and I have been known to repeat them at times – but not as a retweet.)

7. Harvesting your Crop

Yes, this seems like a lot of work and it can be. But just like a garden, the work is more difficult in the beginning and the reward of fresh flowers, vegetables and the fruits of your labor is worth every bit of it.

The people that you meet, the relationships that you develop, the business coaching that you may find invaluable, the emotions that you share with others along this journey and the lifelong friendships that you may create as a result of cultivating a social media presence are certainly worth more than 3 months and 20 minutes a day.

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