I like to be on the cut­ting edge when it comes to uti­liz­ing social media and con­tent. With the social land­scape chang­ing so often, we have to con­stant­ly be stu­dents of it, striv­ing to find indi­vid­u­als whose con­tent stands out from the crowd — to learn from and emu­late.

Being “more inter­est­ed than inter­est­ing” means that I take the oppor­tu­ni­ty to learn from the top social media influ­encers, allow­ing me to dupli­cate their social media fun­da­men­tals to improve my online pres­ence.

I often con­sult my team mem­bers about the con­tent that they enjoy most on social media. This is how I came across Eliot Robin­son, the young entre­pre­neur and oper­a­tor behind the @dunk account with more than 2 mil­lion fol­low­ers on Insta­gram. Robin­son has built a mas­sive com­mu­ni­ty based on his unique brand of bas­ket­ball con­tent. His com­mu­ni­ty-build­ing tal­ent even caught the atten­tion of super­star entre­pre­neur Gary Vayn­er­chuk, who asked Robin­son to help expand his social media pro­files, result­ing in more than a mil­lion new fol­low­ers across Vaynerchuk’s plat­forms.

I was eager to learn more about what makes the @dunk com­mu­ni­ty spe­cial. So, I phoned Robin­son to get his input on my two keys for cre­at­ing an engaged social media fol­low­ing: con­tent and col­lab­o­ra­tion.

Con­tent is still king.

Today’s best social media strate­gists focus on aggre­gat­ing con­tent on their plat­forms. They ele­vate their own brands through col­lab­o­ra­tions with oth­ers, lever­ag­ing their con­tent, while also min­i­miz­ing oper­at­ing and pro­duc­tion costs. And the bet­ter your rep­u­ta­tion for social media excel­lence becomes, the more users you’ll find who are will­ing to work togeth­er for lit­tle-to-no com­pen­sa­tion. This tech­nique allows you to aggre­gate valu­able con­tent on your social media plat­forms and avoid con­tent cre­ation process­es that waste time and mon­ey.

Accord­ing to Robin­son, incor­po­rat­ing humor and putting your own per­son­al spin on the con­tent of oth­ers adds per­son­al­i­ty to your posts and allows for per­son­al expres­sion, which pulls in your audi­ence. You must find a fre­quen­cy, a com­bi­na­tion of truth and aware­ness that res­onates with oth­ers. This is key for any pub­lic fig­ure, and espe­cial­ly true on social media.

Be sure to bring an ener­gy of cre­ativ­i­ty when it comes to your con­tent. As Robin­son advis­es, “Post things the view­ers want to see, rather than sat­is­fy­ing your own pref­er­ences.”

Originality and emotion build better relationships

One impor­tant facet of social media suc­cess is main­tain­ing strong rela­tion­ships with view­ers, read­ers and lis­ten­ers. That’s why I make a point of reply­ing to almost every­one who inter­acts with my con­tent, whether it’s on Face­book, Insta­gram, Twit­ter or YouTube.

Experts in this field, like Robin­son, advo­cate build­ing long-last­ing rela­tion­ships with your audi­ence by con­sis­tent­ly post­ing con­tent that is 100 per­cent your own. Orig­i­nal con­tent gives fol­low­ers insight into your life (and mind), which aids in devel­op­ing a stronger con­nec­tion.

Emo­tion is anoth­er tool heav­i­ly uti­lized by many social media strate­gists. The best social media pages use emo­tion­al pulls to devel­op con­nec­tions between them­selves and their audi­ence. In my con­tent, I do my best to address and solve com­mon prob­lems that my fol­low­ers expe­ri­ence, such as being told “no” or expe­ri­enc­ing the emo­tion of embar­rass­ment. This pro­vides val­ue that they might not get else­where.

These days, there’s a vast amount of focus on neg­a­tiv­i­ty. But, if you add com­po­nents like humor, excite­ment or hope to your con­tent, you’ll gen­er­ate a stronger attrac­tion to your com­mu­ni­ty.

The role of partnerships

Social media pro­fes­sion­als like Robin­son are able to cre­ate and main­tain part­ner­ships with oth­er tal­ent­ed con­tent cre­ators by lever­ag­ing their inter­net pop­u­lar­i­ty and suc­cess. Robin­son also cites a need to have the first rights to the con­tent of oth­ers, how­ev­er, as orig­i­nal con­tent is much eas­i­er to mon­e­tize.

This strat­e­gy of com­bin­ing lots of valu­able and unique con­tent gives users the abil­i­ty to stand out and flour­ish as a one-of-a-kind social media account. For this rea­son, I lever­age my own brand to con­nect with icons in the sports, busi­ness and inspi­ra­tion fields, in order to col­lab­o­rate on new con­tent.

One of my best recent social media col­lab oppor­tu­ni­ties came from work­ing with the @motivation_mondays Insta­gram account. I did an inter­view on Insta­gram Live, along with the cura­tor of the account, and answered ques­tions about inspi­ra­tion and moti­va­tion from the account’s fol­low­ers. Not only did I help to cre­ate some great orig­i­nal con­tent for @motivation_mondays, but I cap­tured con­tent to share on my own page and gained many new fol­low­ers in the process.

This mutu­al­ly ben­e­fi­cial exchange is the essence of a com­mu­ni­ty. Both giv­ing val­ue and gain­ing val­ue is what col­lab­o­ra­tion is all about!