Social Media List Building: Why To Start & How To Do It

Start treating your subscribers equally by building your social media lists with new free products

Social media list building requires less effort than building your email list. Less effort on the side of the subscriber, because you won’t ask for an email address, and less effort on your part because you don’t need to create a whole elaborate name-squeeze page for each an every one you release.

As I mentioned in my blog post yesterday, your lists of Facebook fans and Twitter followers can be just as important as the email lists that you’ve been curating for years. In fact, according to my research, you may see a 1000% difference between website traffic from your email list and Facebook fan page.

That’s because social media is more filtered, especially Facebook. While emails need to go up against spam filters and bounced emails, you don’t have to worry about that with Facebook because everyone is a qualified lead. They are real people, with active accounts. Twitter is known to have a higher click-through rate than Facebook, based on the fact that it’s an entirely text and link-driven platform with only 140 characters to send a message; A glorified social RSS feed in some cases. Facebook, has a better “open” rate however, because Facebook users have smaller “lists” of their own.

In any case… is it worth sacrificing an email address to get a “like” or a Twitter follower? The simplest answer is yes. As publishers, we are subscriber-centric businesses. While subscriber used to only refer to magazine, newsletter, membership and email subscribers—it’s come a long way since then. Someone who subscribes to your content doesn’t necessarily end up in a database on your own servers. Your Twitter followers and Facebook fans are in the hands of their respective platforms. That doesn’t mean, however, that they interact any differently.

In the same way that people open an email from you every day, they are just as likely to read your tweets or click on your Facebook status updates. With email, you need to convince the reader to click further and visit your website, whereas with social media, they need to visit your site before they even get the content.

Now getting to my point—the answer is yes, yes, a thousand times yes. Yes, you should focus just as intently on building your social media following, or lists, as you do you your email lists.

This means that you can build them in the same way, and it shouldn’t be any harder than what you’re doing currently. First, you should begin by deciding what to create as a free product. You don’t want to offer the same products as you offer to collect email addresses, because these free product won’t require an email address and you don’t want to lose subscribers who are already being driven to your current landing page.

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Social media list building tip #1: Name your free product appropriately

Remember that social media users will be looking for your product to be all-inclusive. These tech savvy subscribers know how to Google what they’re looking for, so you product will need to really appear to be more than what they can find somewhere else with a simple search. Here are the steps for coming up with a free report (or other product) title that you’ll be giving away.

  • Research audience interest and keywords using the Google Keyword Tool.
  • Review the most frequently asked questions posted to your online forum.
  • Determine which of your paid products are the best sellers.
  • Examine your magazine cover stories to determine which have the best sell-through.
  • Review your direct mail results to determine which teaser lines create the most sales.
  • Review the subject lines of your most successful email marketing campaigns to determine which create the highest open rates.
  • Determine which sessions at your live events are the most popular.

Here’s a tip that every online editor and copywriter should know: Many people start their search by typing the words “how to” and a verb in the query box. Adding “how to” and verbs to your primary keyword phrases can result in optimal rankings for just about anything, but they’re especially helpful in writing a free handbook, report or white paper.

Social media list building tip #2: Find content for your free products

Free reports don’t need to be written from scratch. And if they are, they can be reused and distributed into blog posts later on. Here are three methods for creating free report content:

Aggregate – This method includes taking content that has already been published in either the free or paid areas of your website, or both, and aggregating them into a free report. The addition of content only paid members have seen may intrigue the free subscribers enough to begin a paying account. If not, you are still combining a significant amount of content to help build circulation.

Extract – In this method, pull out popular content from your magazine or newsletter and make it available as an individual free report. You will have a better chance of reaching new subscribers with your best material. Use this method if you are seeing a lot of interest in a specific topic as you won’t be blindly testing its interest. The evidence is already there for you.

Summarize – This method works the best when you already have a book created. Take content from each chapter in the book and summarize it.

White papers and special reports don’t need to be heavily designed. Many publishers simply create templates in Microsoft Word and export them as PDFs once all the content is loaded.

This method of list-building will have your readers thanking you for not asking for an email address in exchange for your valuable information. Posting new free products regularly on these platforms (perhaps even for a limited time) will keep people on your list, anxiously awaiting your new releases.


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