If you’re serious about growing your social media following, you’ve come to the right place.
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.
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.
These types of thought leadership opportunities can be a great way to build links to your website, too.
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.
Image by Alexander Bahena
Julia McCoy is a serial content marketer, entrepreneur, and bestselling author. She founded a multi-million dollar content agency, Express Writers, with nothing more than $75 at 19 years old. Today, her team has nearly 100 expert content creators on staff, and serves thousands of clients around the world. She’s earned her way to the top 30 worldwide content marketers, and has a passion for sharing what she knows in her books and in her online course, The Content Strategy & Marketing Course. Julia also hosts The Write Podcast on iTunes.