A One-Size-Fits-All Social Media Strategy

I grew my following on Twitter (now X) 700 to 100,000 followers in less than two years. I did this with an 80/20 focus: 80% of my content was about marketing (with a key focus on content marketing), and 20% was about my interests and life observations. I’d comment on others’ tweets, and I’d obviously post my own tweets. A lot of them went semi-viral. And each time they got massive reach, I’d get an influx of several hundred to a few thousand people overnight.

I applied a similar approach to LinkedIn and now have 43,000 followers. But LinkedIn has been so much easier. It wasn’t that much work to add LinkedIn publishing to my Twitter cadence and to repurpose my existing content. After that, I tried adding on Instagram. But uh… then it all got to be too much. (I only have about 800 followers there, and on a “good” week I will post once.)

I’m often asked for social media advice. If I had to start from scratch, would I do the same thing today? Mostly, yeah. While the algorithms have changed and content competition is fiercer, the fundamentals haven’t changed. (But with the current state of Twitter/X, where daily active users are reportedly down 18% from last year, I wouldn’t start an audience there today.)

This is my current advice for starting a social media presence from scratch. I strongly believe that these principles can apply to just about anybody, whether you’re an individual, a brand, B2B, or B2C.

This image is kind of a spoiler because I’ll go into greater detail on this 300 words from now…

Go where your audience is.

You can probably find out where your audience is by asking a sampling of customers where they hang out online, and by seeing where your content competitors are most popular on social media.

Fortunately, to get a data-backed answer from a much, much larger sample size, you can run a quick SparkToro search. Run a search based on a keyword your audience searches for, or a niche website they visit. Or if you have a paid account, you can search based on how someone publicly self-describes on social media (e.g. search by their job title).

I have a feeling you, dear reader, are a marketer. Probably in B2B marketing specifically. My SparkToro query for people with the words, “B2B marketing” in their bio, shows that relative to the average web user, you are more likely to use LinkedIn:

These results show that YouTube has the largest share of visits from this audience of B2B marketers. And yowza! Looks like Quora might be great place to consider growing a presence, as B2B marketers are much more likely to use the platform compared to the average web user.

Personally, if I were to start from scratch today, I’d start with LinkedIn. I’m better at writing than I am at being on camera or shooting photos (so I wouldn’t start with YouTube or Instagram). Plus, everyone has at least dozens of connections already on LinkedIn. So even if you’re starting from the beginning, you’re not exactly starting from zero.

Consider user intent while you map out your content strategy.

There are three key questions to ask yourself as you figure out your pillars, and start filling in that editorial calendar. These questions will help you better define the content that will help you meet your goals.

  1. How can you align your (or your brand’s) value with a user’s intent on a specific social network? This will help you figure out your purpose on a specific social media platform. It answers why you exist in that space, and why people should pay attention to you.
  2. What are the actions you want your prospect to do? In a given quarter, you’ll likely have a series of actions you want your prospects to do. These are likely to be a mix of following you, engaging with you, signing up for your email list, booking a demo, buying a ticket for an event, purchasing the product, and/or more.
  3. How can your content nudge them towards that action? Understand that not every desired action is equal. If you want engagement, compel your audience to comment — this is a relatively low lift. If you want them to book a demo, this is a bigger ask that requires you to build awareness and trust over time. Are you creating content that makes you deserving of that reward?

When you do some sleuthing on your social platform of choice, hopefully you’re paying attention to the existing conversations, learning what’s top of mind for your audience, and taking note of trends or patterns. I have a couple of Twitter/X lists that I check from time to time. I also have a bunch of favorite follows on LinkedIn whose content I read. (And I even like skimming the headlines and articles by the LinkedIn News team!)

You can also do some of this analysis through SparkToro. In the Keywords tab, you can see Google Search insights like the keywords your audience Googles; the most popular keywords from last quarter; Search Modifiers or Topic Filters (screenshot below) which clue you in on some content types to create; the most common SERP features (like related searches, featured snippets, knowledge panels, and much more!); and finally, Related Questions, or the question-formatted queries that appear in their Google Searches.

Search “topic filters” from Google (left), and SparkToro V2 aggregation into “search modifiers” (right)

Whew. That’s a lot. To be clear, SparkToro doesn’t know that your audience is searching for these things on social media specifically. But if they’re searching for them on Google, there’s a good chance they wouldn’t mind seeing the content in their social media feed.

Let’s go back to my target audience of B2B marketers. According to SparkToro, some common Search Modifiers in their searches include template, strategy, tool, and more. See below!

Common Search Modifiers or Topic Filters. These appear at the top of the SERP!

Maybe I ought to consider making a free template that my audience can grab from social media. (Actually, yeah, I should definitely do that, especially to promote this very blog post!)

Focus on one platform exclusively until you gain traction.

Over the long term? Keep tabs on the popular content in your niche. Get a feel for what your audience cares about. Create content that addresses what they care about. Keep testing different content types — remember, Search Modifiers and SERP Features can guide you on whether you ought to create templates, produce video, take better product photos, etc — and see what’s resonating. Creating content, engaging with users, and rinsing and repeating is a lot of work. You’ll want to make sure you’re developing a sort of fluency in a social channel and that you have a repeatable creation process before you add a new channel to the mix.

To get you started right now? Ultimately, the goal in social media is to get seen — to get impressions. And if you don’t have a lot of followers, how are people going to see you? Why, they’ll see your insightful, witty, comments on other people’s accounts, of course! But don’t just pick huge accounts. It won’t make sense to try to boost your visibility in Katelyn Bourgoin’s audience if you’re actually trying to get seen by plant enthusiasts in Epic Gardening’s audience. Make sure you’re engaging with the accounts that are most influential in your specific niche or industry.

Oh yeah, SparkToro has a search for that. Using another example — this time, a free query — you can see some Hidden Gem social accounts that are followed by people who frequently visit DTC plant website TheSill.com. Look at that! A list of accounts to find, follow, and engage with on your social platform of choice.

My last piece of advice here: Make it as easy as possible for someone to understand who you are, what you post about, and why they should trust you. This means making it clear in your bio why people should follow you, along with the minimum amount of social proof needed to substantiate your credibility. Then your content needs to deliver what you’ve promised. It’s simple. It just isn’t easy to stay on topic, repeatedly, and over a sustained period of time.

I can’t tell you how many social accounts I’ve seen that stake their claim as a Head of Marketing who’s gotten to $1mm ARR or whatnot, who then tweets about politics and real estate. Look, there’s nothing wrong with just posting about whatever you’re interested in. I’m just saying, if you’re putting it out there that you’re an expert in your field but then you post information and opinions unrelated to that expertise, you’re sending mixed signals to an audience who might be looking for those tips on getting to $1mm ARR.

Once you gain traction and have a repeatable process for content creation, expand to your next social media platform.

At this point, maybe you’re four months into your LinkedIn posting. You have a bunch of mini-blog posts that you’ll turn into longer blog posts (uh… kinda like this very blog post that you’re reading, derived from this LinkedIn post).

Those mini-blog posts can also become short video rants that you post as Instagram Stories or Reels. And maybe you have several designed carousels that got decent traction — which you can then repurpose for your Instagram account. There you go. There’s the fodder for your next social platform.

Just make sure to do as I say, not as I do. 🙂 Don’t burn out and then half-ass the effort with your third social platform.