Build Audience & Influence With 30 Days of Deliberate Social Media Strategy

In the next 30 days, you could dramatically increase the size of your audience, gain a better appreciation of the type of information your followers crave, and increase overall leads and engagement. Before I explain how, you should know that this hypothetical project will be anything but a shortcut.

The Project

On Sunday, October 22nd, I sat in the audience listening intently as Jordan Syatt delivered the final presentation of the day at our 6th annual Cressey Sports Performance Fall Seminar. Having grown an Instagram following of just a couple of thousand on up to more than a quarter of a million in roughly a year, Jordan had earned the right to address a room of nearly 200 fitness professionals on the topic of social media strategy.

During the early stages of his presentation, Jordan mentioned that his employer and mentor, Gary Vaynerchuk, had issued him a challenge during the first handful of weeks that he was working with him: Pick the social media platform (or platforms) of your choice, and commit to three posts per day for a thirty-day period.

I opened the calendar application on my phone as he went into more detail on the challenge and considered what the next thirty days of my life looked like. If I were to start the following morning, I could publish my 90th post right around dinner time on the eve of Thanksgiving. What the hell, I thought...let's do it.

A couple of important notes before I get started:

  1. I realize my social media following is anything but huge. A number of my readers have many multiples of my following, so please don't interpret my message as an attempt to position myself as a social guru.

  2. I did not apply this project to the Cressey Sports Performance social media accounts. This was strictly a personal branding endeavor.

How I Attacked It

Moving from an average of roughly three posts per week to three posts per day required a dramatic shift in my creative strategy. I knew that I'd fall flat on my face after a day or two if I didn't systemize my approach to content creation, so I built it into my schedule. I was first introduced to the concept of deliberate practice when I read So Good They Can't Ignore You by Cal Newport, and this project ultimately became an exercise in deliberate practice of social media content curation and creation.

The first thing I did was to create a daily checklist to help me track output. What doesn't get tracked, doesn't get done. 

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Every evening, as my wife and I sat on the couch watching mindless television, I spent 10-15 minutes scrolling through my own blog archives in search of inspiration. I'd flag specific quotes or posts as a whole, and set them aside to be revisited the following morning. When I arrived to my office the next day, I would begin with a 30-minute period where I would outline my three tweets, and my three Instagram posts for the day. I then created three Instagram post drafts which could be revisited later in the day, and loaded my three prepared tweets to my Evernote application so that I could cut and paste when needed.

My primary objective with this preparation strategy was to eliminate the need to be brainstorming content ideas at a time when I needed my head clear to execute my usual CSP-related tasks.

While I could have used a structured publishing service such as Hootsuite or Buffer, I chose to stick with the resources at my fingertips, and programmed alarms in my phone to remind me that it was time to publish at 10:30am, 2:30pm, and 6:30pm.

Where Am I Going to Find 90 Ideas?

Roughly 90% of the material I shared during this process was recycled content that I'd published in recent years. It didn't take long for me to realize that this was the perfect opportunity to make old content new again. If you've been publishing a blog, creating videos, or churning out other forms of informational content consistently for a year or more, you likely already have all of the information you need to populate 90 posts in the next 30 days.

I've published my fair share of "listicle" posts in the past, so pieces such as 10 Considerations as You Search for the Perfect Gym Location easily served as 10 different Instagram posts. The material was already outlined and written, so this was just a matter of creating a corresponding visual and copying the blog text into the Instagram image description. (Content Creation Tip: If you are looking for an image editing application, I recommend either Canva or Wordswag)

My second content goldmine sat within my Twitter archives. Did you know that you can download every tweet you've ever published in a single excel file? This gave me easy access to more than 1,000 previously published posts that could either be screen-grabbed for an Instagram post, or reformatted into an attractive visual using the image editing applications mentioned above. You can find a step-by-step guide to downloading your archives here.

My third consistent source of content inspiration was my newsletter archive. I have published 72 weekly "Friday Four" newsletters to date. Every Friday I send off an email containing four pieces of content I consumed over the course of the week that will influence my future blog material and challenge me to think differently about how I manage Cressey Sports Performance. My primary objective each week is to share some business-specific information from outside of the world of fitness. Whenever I was in a little bit of a creative rut during this 30-day period, I would dig into these archives and find an article to share along with a memorable quote from the text. (If you're interested in receiving this weekly email, you can access old broadcasts and sign up here)

The Outcome

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If you're a fan of vanity metrics, you'll be interested to learn that I increased my Instagram audience by 50% during the month. I also tripled the previous daily pace of adding new Twitter followers. Additionally, I saw massive upticks in impressions, profile visits and mentions according to my Twitter analytics . In the end, I found a great deal more value in building my ability to influence as a result of this process than I did from building the actual size of my following, but that number grew nonetheless.

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I was reminded of the importance of repeatedly exposing my audience to my unique area of expertise. The noticeable increase in content output prompted dozens of unsolicited "shout-outs" praising my material, including more than one mention on Facebook, which wasn't even one of the targeted platforms. This kind of social proof can't be purchased; you've got to put in the work to earn it.

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The most important lesson I learned during this process is that as your audience grows over time, it is careless to assume that new fans have bothered to discover what lies in your archives. I wrote a number of blogs that I am especially proud of during a time that nearly no one was listening. This 30-day challenge presented an opportunity to bring that material back from the dead. If you've previously published content that you continue to stand behind today, you likely have plenty of new followers who are unaware of it's existence. Pull the "old stuff" out of storage and treat it as evergreen content.

Moving Forward

This experience was both time consuming and rewarding. It will likely be awhile before you see me churn out this volume of material on such a consistent basis, but I can now comfortably commit to a post per day on each platform without hesitation. If you're going to attack this project, I'd encourage you to start with a single platform. In hindsight, choosing to focus on both Twitter and Instagram simultaneously created more headaches than I may have needed. If three posts daily is entirely out of the question for you, target two and hold yourself accountable to it. Tell a handful of friends or colleagues that you intend to make it happen, and allow them to keep you accountable to the commitment.

Most importantly, regularly remind yourself of this: If publishing quality social media content three times a day on multiple platforms were easy, everyone would do it. It isn't.