Social media is all about who you know and how you interact with them. When it comes to engagement though, there is always a big learning curve to start. How do you get people to follow you and start commenting or asking questions?

There are plenty of theories on this, but for my money, the simplest solution is to be proactive. Posting endless reams of content and doing nothing to encourage people to engage is a waste of energy. Instead, take half the energy you spend writing, recording or hiring and use it to follow and engage with other people.

Who though? That’s the big question. Who do you follow and what do you respond to that will provide the greatest possible return on your time investment? Here are some things to keep in mind.

Thought Leaders in Your Sub-Niche

If your products deal with search engine marketing, follow thought leaders in that field, but get specific. It’s easy to go out and follow people like Matt Cutts or Rand Fishkin, but they are unlikely to follow you back and engage with your content. You’re competing with tens of thousands (if not more) people also trying to engage and draw followers from those audiences.

Instead, get specific. Find someone in your subniche that focuses on specific details related to your site. For example, if you write a lot about video marketing strategies as a tool to boost search rankings, follow Mark Robertson, a video SEO expert with 6,000 followers. He is much more likely to respond to your tweets and questions and promote your content to the people following him.

Be an Equal

Don’t gravel or send queries to the people you follow. This is not a traditional publishing space. It is a social space and social interaction is measured only by follower activity and engagement. If you have something useful to say or a question that someone thinks will add to their own follower base, they will respond to it, whether you’re a nobody from Wisconsin or a Fortune 500 CEO.

The key is to have the confidence of that Fortune 500 CEO whether you’re in your basement or a high-rise office. Be sure of yourself, confident in your knowledge and ready to share your ideas openly.

Ask for Suggestions

Ask people following you for suggestions on who to follow. Be willing to admit you don’t know some things, go out and find people who do know those things and build your following base. This works not only Twitter but on Facebook, where you should Like a fair number of Pages so you can interact with those people on behalf of your own sites.

The key to social media is engaging with people as intellectual equals. Forget about the socioeconomic standing of you or your company. Build a foundation that gives you people to respond to a large potential audience that might follow you in turn.


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