Social media is such a valuable tool — for everyone. Celebrities and athletes use it to stay connected to their fans and entrepreneurs need to have the same approach when it comes to building a following.
I spent five years playing professional baseball — three years with the Seattle Mariners organization and two years playing in the Minnesota Twins organization. From the first day of training camp throughout my entire career, the importance of the fans was always stressed.
After all, without fans, I wouldn’t have had that amazing opportunity to play baseball for a living. Young athletes with potential for professional careers are groomed these days to build a social media following — one that they can take along with them on their journey.
Celebrities do the same — and it’s something that I see more entrepreneurs do these days as well. Why? Well, now being an entrepreneur is perceived as being “cool” — more so than it was a few years ago.
We can thank TV shows like Shark Tank for bringing more attention to the entrepreneurial space and making it appear to be glamorous, even though it isn’t. Here are some reasons entrepreneurs should spend the time to build a strong social media following.
Personal connection is invaluable
When I was playing baseball social media was a way to allow fans into our life — on the field and the road. Sometimes simply replying to a tweet thanking them for the support would make their day. In return it made them support the team more.
Celebrities, for example, can build a strong following and it creates that connection that movie studios and networks look for when casting. They know if they bring that person onto a project their following will tune in because of that connection. It’s priceless value.
Many people look to entrepreneurs for inspiration as well. By building a following and engaging with those people it creates the same type of valuable connection that can be beneficial to your business or future projects.
Your following “follows” you to other ventures
If an athlete has a large social media following and gets traded, those followers stay with them — whereas if they were following the team accounts only they would become disconnected. The same applies to movie stars and television actors — when they join a new project their following comes attached.
A lot of value in an athlete or celebrity these days has to do with his or her audience. Those eyeballs and that attention are worth something, whether it’s ticket sales, merchandise, or TV ratings.
If an entrepreneur builds a strong social media following they can leverage it to push awareness to his or her business. If that business is sold or acquired and they start a new project they have that audience to market to on day one.
Look at Kylie Jenner for example. Every time she launched a new venture she had an audience ready to buy.
It opens the door to collaborations and business deals
Athletes and celebrities are often approached with deals to promote products and services on social media because of their reach and ability to deliver messages to viewers that are paying close attention to what they are saying.
Entrepreneurs can also leverage social media followers — to secure business deals and opportunities. There is a huge opportunity in cross-promotion across social media.
Someone that owns a digital marketing agency might team up with someone that owns a photography studio and share the services the other business provides with their audience. This type of “warmed up” introduction does a great job to drive new business because it’s coming from a referral source that the audience already is familiar with and trusts.
Creates an on-demand audience
If an athlete posts on social media there is an audience engaging with that content immediately. This can be leveraged to share team news or even just news or opinions that are important to them. It gives them a voice.
Any large social media account, from a popular celebrity to a meme page has an audience available to them 24/7. This is something every entrepreneur should strive to create as well.
Think of how much money is spent on marketing, whether it’s email marketing, Facebook ads, search engine optimization, etc. Getting in front of people costs money and there is no guarantee that the audience is going to be interested in what you are offering.
People following an entrepreneur on social media clearly have an interest, so if a new product or service is launched, that audience not only will have high interest, but it’s also an audience that can be marketed to at no cost.
It’s an asset you can build for free
It should be crystal clear that building a social media following is something everyone should do. From athletes and celebrities to entrepreneurs and business owners. It’s a highly effective marketing tool.
The best part? The cost.
A large social media following is something that you can build for free. The largest followings in the world were built naturally and there is one thing responsible for that growth — content.
While an athlete or celebrity might have an easier time attracting attention, that doesn’t mean an entrepreneur can’t take the same approach. You have to think about what your audience wants to see. What kind of content is going to trigger them to hit that “follow” button and give you their attention — if you can identify this you will experience success on social media.
This article was originally written by Dominic Blanco for Entrepreneur Magazine.
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.