In 2020, over 3.6 billion people worldwide were using social media, with that number projected to increase to nearly 4.41 billion by 2025.
That’s a lot of potential consumers to reach.
Your following can not only impact the decision of people trying to decide whether or not to follow you, but also social media influencers and other businesses who might be willing to collaborate if you have a strong enough following to make the endeavor worthwhile.
Curating a large following can benefit you and your business even beyond the constraints of any given social media platform. In fact, social sharing sites can help to boost SEO and drive traffic directly to your website.
Seems like a worthwhile investment, right?
These tips are not listed in any particular order. They’re all important, but you may find that certain methods make more sense for your brand and business model.
1. Build A Strong Brand Identity
Whether it’s a certified business or a personal brand, you should still have a cohesive brand identity. This goes far beyond simply slapping a logo into your profile picture and calling it a day.
Your brand’s identity should emanate through every post. Decide on your predominant color scheme, filters, graphic designs, tone, etc. Everything you post and comment on should be a reflection of your brand’s voice. People are drawn to brands that have an identity.
Take, for example, Splat Hair Dye. Since this brand is all about color, it’s no surprise that bright, vibrant colors would be a critical part of their branding.
The unicorn and rainbow emoji in their bio immediately tell you they have a fun, whimsical voice.
And although they rely largely on user-generated content (we’ll get to that point in a minute), the images featured on their Instagram page still feel cohesive to the overall branding.
They also have a link directly to the main website in their bio and created a unique hashtag to encourage engagement (another point we’ll visit shortly).
What is your brand’s voice?
Is it fun and colorful with an upbeat, casual tone? Or is it more serious with a muted color scheme?
Once you make those foundational marketing decisions, you’ll be able to start building a brand that people will recognize.
2. Follow Relevant Accounts
Just like any healthy relationship, there has to be give and take – meaning you’ll gain followers if you’re a follower yourself.
That doesn’t mean an instant follow-back for anyone who likes your account. Think of it more like networking.
Who is posting great content that inspires you? Who might be an influential brand advocate you could partner with down the road?
Some ideas to find relevant accounts you can follow:
Groups and Communities: Facebook, LinkedIn, Reddit, and other networks allow you to easily find and join groups. While this is a great tool for content ideas and finding new accounts to follow, contributing to these groups can also be a fantastic way to gain exposure for your brand.
See Who Influencers Are Following: Especially pay attention to influencers who have a positive follow-to-following ratio, meaning they have a lot of followers but are selective about those they choose to follow back. The people they follow are likely to be high quality.
“Best People to Follow” Lists: These lists are published online for various industries and areas of interest. While they can be great resources, they aren’t always carefully curated, so use caution and vet these potential influencers before you follow them. (Example: Top SEO Experts to Follow)
3. Actively Engage With Your Followers
If you’re on a date and you spend the entire dinner talking about yourself without giving your partner a chance to get a single word into the conversation, chances are you won’t be having a second date.
The same principle applies to social media.
Instead of treating your social media platforms as nonstop advertising campaigns, invite connections and conversations. Reply to comments on your posts and encourage genuine discussions.
4. Post Share-Worthy Content
If people are going to follow you, they expect you to post content that excites and engages. Followers should want to reshare your posts!
Some of the post types that earn frequent shares include:
While it’s risky to express a strong opinion about an issue, it can gain a lot of engagement. Just be sure you back up any claims with evidence to support your case, and tread lightly on sensitive issues that might backfire and negatively affect your brand.
You should be on top of your industry’s trends and forecasts, and if you can be a reliable source of what’s current, you’ll become a go-to for updates.
Delivering breaking news stories is one of the best ways to stay relevant, but it does require some serious time and dedication to stay one step ahead and consistently be one of the first sources to cover the story.
Whether you’re verifying or challenging somebody’s argument, people respond to data. Creating citable data is great for both social media shares and SEO.
There’s no denying it – cute and funny rake in reactions. People love animals, babies, kids, humor, insightful quotes, and anything else that brings a smile to someone’s face.
Think of creative ways to incorporate this type of subject matter into your brand while staying aligned with your established tone.
5. Create A Calendar To Schedule Strategically
The key is to strike a balance between posting frequently enough to stay relevant but not posting so much that you’re spamming newsfeeds and becoming a nuisance.
In addition to planning out your social media calendar, consider investing in tools that will allow you to schedule posts ahead of time – preferably in a single dashboard, so you don’t have to worry about forgetting to post on time.
6. Cross-Market Across Your Other Social And Marketing Platforms
Are you utilizing every opportunity to connect your audiences? At the very least, your website and newsletter should have links to your social platforms.
You might also consider promoting awareness of one platform on another. For example, a tweet encouraging people to follow and use a special hashtag you created on Instagram for an event.
7. Choose Targeted Hashtags
Hashtags can be a great way for new followers to discover you, but try to focus more on specific hashtags and less on generic ones that are inundated with too much competition.
For example, #love has more than two billion photos connected to it on Instagram. Your post is going to be buried immediately.
Make sure your hashtags are more targeted so they’re actually working in your favor. You can search for hashtags being used in relevant posts or try a tool such as Hashtagify to get analytical data and alternative suggestions.
In this example, adding another word to “love” to make it more specific (#lovegardening) is a much more feasible hashtag to target.
You can also create your own brand-specific hashtags, like Splat did with #splatsquad, to encourage their followers to share photos. This is a great way to bring in user-generated content.
Screenshot from Instagram.com, September 2021
8. Seek Out Press Features, Interviews, And Speaking Opportunities
Having a notable presence in the real world can make a big impact on your followers in the digital world.
Every presentation is an opportunity to reach someone who might like what you had to say and then actively seek your social account to hear more.
9. Build Partnership Campaigns With Companies And Brand Advocates
Joint content campaigns between non-competing companies can generate fantastic exposure.
And the best part? You have the potential to tap into a brand-new audience. An ideal partnership will mutually benefit both brands by allowing each to gain new followers and overall exposure from the other.
Influencers and brand advocates are another huge opportunity. User-generated content, especially from partnerships with prominent influencers, can generate high engagement. Contests, drawings, and affiliate flash sales are also popular.
10. Utilize Analytical Data To Tailor Your Strategy
Understanding the performance of your content can help you make better strategic choices.
This can include which type of post is performing best with your current audience, what time of day translates to the most views, what demographics you’re primarily reaching, et cetera.
Don’t ignore this data! It can provide valuable insight into what you’re doing right and where you could use improvement.
Many platforms offer their own analytics tools, but you can also invest in free or paid third-party tools such as Sprout, Hootsuite, Buffer, Later, and many more options.
11. Loop Your Customer Service Team Into The Plan
An active social media account inevitably invites customer complaints.
In 2017, only 12% of customers with complaints reached out via email, live chat, and social media, but that percentage rose to 43% in 2020, according to the Wall Street Journal. And of those unhappy customers, 55% who reached out on social media never received a response.
Because these negative comments are being posted on a public forum, your reply is going to be under close scrutiny. Potential customers will be watching to see how you take care of your existing customers.
It’s a good idea to loop your customer service team into your social media plan, either by coordinating with them to stay informed on company policies and resolutions or by plugging your Customer Experience team into the fold so they can reply directly to unhappy customers.
Cultivating A Strong Community Of Organic Followers
Remember, growing followers organically is a time-consuming endeavor. If you find a “hack” that promises staggering results overnight, it’s likely a scam.
Fake followers aren’t going to benefit your brand in the long run. Social media platforms have become adept at identifying bots and fake accounts and then purging them, meaning you’ve wasted your money and have nothing to show for it.
Even worse, fake followers who don’t interact with your content can hurt your brand’s credibility when real people are looking at your account.
The purpose of gaining followers is to increase ROI and create genuine buzz about your business or products that results in people sharing, discussing, shopping, and engaging with your brand.
Fake followers won’t accomplish any of those goals.
You’re running a marathon, not a sprint. Put in the time and effort and it will pay off.
Opinions expressed by Digital Journal contributors are their own.
Breaking through the constant clamor of the social media world is no easy feat. With the world more interconnected than ever, attention isn’t just a valuable commodity, it’s the currency brands and marketers trade in. This bustling digital bazaar has brands tripping over themselves to capture even a fleeting glance from consumers, and while some do it successfully, many often fail. Blue Tick Ltd is one of the pioneering brands that understand the rhythm and flow of the online attention economy.
Under the dynamic leadership of its founder, Dylan, Blue Tick doesn’t chase attention — it commands it. A community marketing expert with wide-ranging expertise, Dylan has always had a keen eye for what works. Thanks to his fascination with the nuances of social media strategies and consumer engagement, he proudly holds a bachelor’s degree in marketing communications and a master’s degree in digital marketing. That fascination was also the catalyst for Blue Tick, an enterprise that reimagines the connection between brands and their communities.
“In school, I led several successful social media campaigns that not only increased engagement with campus events but also brought significant online attention to my academic community,” Dylan recalls. “After graduating, I founded a community marketing company called Blue Tick.” This community doesn’t merely aim to increase visibility but strives to forge a bond with audiences through authenticity and innovation. Unlike traditional advertising, community marketing is about creating a living, breathing ecosystem around a brand.
At Blue Tick, the focus isn’t on broadcasting messages but on creating dialogues, recognizing that a personalized touch can turn a passive observer into an active participant and brand advocate. In a digital terrain where every brand is a storyteller, Blue Tick’s narrative is distinct. It isn’t about adding more noise; it’s about fine-tuning the message to reach the right ears. Their approach is both an art and a science, melding creative content with a laser-focused targeting system backed by robust data analytics.
“My work has proven that combining creative content with precise targeting can create impactful online experiences,” Dylan explains. Blue Tick’s marketing campaigns aren’t just seen but felt. The content they create isn’t just encountered by consumers; they experience it. As Dylan explains, “Our campaigns are more than just text and images; we also include interactive content, gamified elements, and storytelling that make the brand more vivid and interesting and stand out in the busy world of social media.” Every campaign they roll out isn’t just a series of ads; they’re the opening lines to a conversation that makes every single person feel seen and heard.
Data-driven decision-making is another of Blue Tick Ltd’s pillars. The company meticulously analyzes consumer data to understand preferences, behaviors, and trends. This insight allows them to craft marketing strategies that are not only creative but also incredibly targeted. “The content I receive is more relevant, making me more likely to pay attention, share, or make a purchase,” says one consumer, highlighting the impact of Blue Tick’s data-driven strategies.
Over the years, Dylan’s team hasn’t just understood the landscape of social media marketing; they have redefined it. As their success proves, community marketing succeeds because consumers become brand ambassadors who not only love the products but also feel a deep connection to the brand’s ethos. With Blue Tick, it’s clear that the future of marketing is not just about reaching audiences; it’s about speaking directly to the consumer’s heart, turning every campaign into a conversation, and every consumer into a community member.
DEAR READERS: Companies of all kinds are finding it imperative to build a digital strategy to compete in a world where almost everyone is shopping and doing business online. How can small companies, including startups and those with just a few employees, get the kind of following on their websites and social media platforms that they’ll need to succeed?
It is a problem many companies are trying to get their arms around, according to everyone I reached out to. Here are a few tips to get started on the road to social media success:
Develop clearly defined goals. “Determine your objectives, whether they are enhancing brand awareness, generating leads or driving sales growth, as they will serve as guiding principles for developing your strategy,” suggests Dmitriy Shelepin CEO and head of SEO at Miromind.
Identify your ideal followers. That means going beyond demographics like gender and age, according to brand consultant Faith James, CEO of The Personal Branding Consultancy. “It’s important to go deeper into their psychographics — how they think, what motivates them, what their core desires are,” James says. “By focusing on the psychographics, you focus on the emotional connectors that build a stronger connection which goes beyond just the transactional ‘buy my stuff.’ ”
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Choose and prioritize platforms. Shelepin says it is crucial to choose platforms “that resonate with your desired audience and align with your business objectives,” and suggests focusing on one or two of those platforms “to deliver quality over quantity.”
Provide value. James says value can come in various forms, but stresses that it boils down to “helping your audience get a small win in the areas that are meaningful to them.
“If a hair salon is looking to grow their following, they might offer tips on their website and social media platforms such as ‘How to Have Your Hair Color Last Longer,’ ‘3 Tips on How to Beat the Humidity Frizz,’ or ‘How to Avoid Chlorine Damage While Swimming at the Pool,’ ” James says.
Value also can come by educating and informing your audience with things like educational blog posts that establish industry expertise, Shelepin adds.
Invite engagement. This is an essential step, James stresses. “In all instances, the business would invite the audience to share their own hair drama stories, share their own tricks they are using to make their hair color last longer, and invite the audience to submit their own questions about hair care,” James explains.
Build relationships. “Use social media to connect with customers, respond promptly, and share relevant content,” Shelepin says.
Don’t forget about email. It is a great way to maintain customer relationships and to deliver exclusive content and special offers like discounts, Shelepin explains.
Shelepin acknowledges that businesses won’t realize success in the digital realm overnight, but stresses that success is possible to achieve.
“It’s important to maintain consistency, in creating content and engaging on media platforms, as building an online presence takes time,” Shelepin concludes. “By adhering to these strategies, small businesses can cultivate a strong digital presence, enabling them to thrive in today’s competitive landscape.”
How to support small businesses this holiday season
Buy gift cards
Attend a holiday market or bazaar
Post on social media
Kathleen Furore is a Chicago-based writer and editor. You can email her your career questions at [email protected].
LinkedIn continues to expand its own identity verification offering, via a new partnership with Persona which will enable users in more regions to confirm their ID in the app.
As you can see in this sequence, with LinkedIn’s new ID verification process, users in certain regions now able to confirm their ID documents with Persona, in order get a verification badge added to your LinkedIn profile, which confirms that you’ve uploaded and verified your government ID with one of LinkedIn’s partner providers.
You can see the verified icon next to my profile name in the second image, which adds another level of assurance that I am, in fact, a real human being, with a government ID linked to my identity.
LinkedIn initially launched ID verification for users in the U.S. back in April, via a partnership with identity platform CLEAR, which is best known for providing faster check-in at airports. LinkedIn then expanded its CLEAR partnership to enable users in Canada and Mexico to also confirm their documents, with this new partnership providing the ID confirmation option to a lot more users.
“In Argentina, Australia, Bangladesh, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Indonesia, Kenya, Malaysia, Morocco, Nigeria, Peru, Philippines, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, the identity verification is performed by Persona, a third-party identity verification service. It’s available in each country for those with a valid NFC-enable passport.”
(Note: It may not be available to all users in all of these regions as yet)
So, the requirement is that you need a government-issued passport, with an NFC chip, and a means to scan that chip in as part of the process, though Persona notes that “if you’ve ever used your phone to tap for payment, then it is NFC-enabled”.
So now, a lot more LinkedIn users will be able to confirm their identity, and add an extra layer of assurance to their profile, helping to let people know that they are dealing with an actual person, and that your information is more likely to be legit.
That’s been part of the justification for X’s broader push on ID verification, which has now stretched to charging new users in some regions a small fee to interact in the app.
X owner Elon Musk has repeatedly noted the rising risk of AI-enabled bots taking over social apps, with user payments, in his view, being the only way to stop them. But LinkedIn’s trying another approach, and it does seem like providing free ID confirmation will be more widely adopted, which could make it more effective in this respect.
And by outsourcing the actual verification element to a third party, it’s also less labor intensive, though it does also mean that another group is involved, which can make some feel a little uneasy about sharing their documentation and selfies.
Still, it’s a pretty simple process, and it’s free, and if LinkedIn starts putting more emphasis on verified accounts, by say, ranking them higher in search results, that could get a lot more people taking it up, and adding a gray tick.
The other question then is what do CLEAR and Persona get out of this deal?
In both cases these ID platforms get more data, with users also required to open a CLEAR account when confirming their info via its system. Persona will also take in some user data, which will expand its database, though you can opt out of letting either company keep your info in perpetuity.
Persona also notes that it will generate “facial geometries for both the image obtained from your government ID and the user submitted selfie”, which it will then use in its analysis with your ID to confirm your info, though Persona won’t keep your geometric data on file.
Essentially, you’re going to have to trust your ID data with another company, which not everyone will be comfortable with. But if you’re okay with it, again, the process is easy, and it could add some extra assurance to your LinkedIn presence.
You can learn more about LinkedIn’s ID confirmation options here.