As a social media marketer, one of the most common questions I get asked is, how do I build my social media following? So many people seem to care about that follower count! Rightfully so, having a large following is important for brand awareness and authority.
Building a large following can take years – literally 25,000+ hours. One of my favorite social media influencers, Eren McKay has put in the work. Maybe not exactly that many hours, but I know for a fact that Eren is constantly on social media working on building her following (and being the thought leader she is). Because of her following, getting new business is natural for her. To date, Eren has over 56K Twitter followers and 110,00K Google Plus followers. Realistically, unless you create a post that goes viral or become a celebrity overnight, you probably won’t see numbers equivalent to even half of Eren’s but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. Here are five simple things you can do to build a following on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
- Share engaging content that is not all about you! Social media is a relationship-building tool – not a walking billboard for all things you and your products and services. Share content that answers questions and solves problems or is downright amusing. Why are cats so popular on social media? People love content that makes them feel warm and fuzzy. If you are like most people, you are not going to be able to churn out hundreds of pieces of original content each month. Let tools be your guide. Buzzsumo for example is great for finding the most popular content on the web. Use it to see what generated the most shares that you could in turn, share with your followers.
- Share often. Because the shelf life of a tweet is 60 seconds, you really can’t tweet too much. As a rule of thumb, share at least one tweet a day. As far as Facebook, Google Plus, and Instagram go – I typically say at minimum share two pieces of content a week, and at the max five. You don’t want to burden your followers by sharing too much! Use a tool like Buffer to schedule content in advance. The best way to streamline all this sharing is to plan it out on a monthly or weekly a basis. Then, on a daily basis, get some of your manual posts in (RTs on Twitter, shares on Facebook, etc.) and keep up with engagement.
- Engage! Social media is not meant to be a one-way streak. Join in on conversations. Listen to what other users are talking about and see where you can help them out or say something noteworthy to strike up conversation. You can monitor conversations by typing in different keywords on the search boxes of each channel. Twitter Advanced Search is my favorite. Since Twitter is so open, it’s easy to see what users are talking about. While you could engage with a simple ‘like’ if you really want to get noticed, engage with a sincere and thoughtful comment for greater exposure.
- Follow other users. Sometimes when users see you follow them, they will follow you back. Spend a few hours each week on each channel seeking out people in your target audience and follow them. Not sure where to start? Shh… don’t tell your competitors, but that’s where! See who is following your competitors and follow them. You can also follow people who are talking about your industry or similar products or services.
- This should always be your last resort after you have already done all of the above and for at least several weeks, have been posting valuable content. Instagram Advertising can be run on Facebook typically for less than a dollar per new follower. Twitter Advertising can be run right on Twitter. Twitter Advertising tends to be double the cost of Facebook and in my experience, no mater hour good the targeting is, not a great return on investment. Facebook Advertising has been great in reaching the right new audience. Don’t ever buy followers from sites that promise you followers!
As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to email me at email@example.com.
Marisa Sanfilippo is a journalist turned award-winning marketing professional who has more than six years experience developing and executing marketing campaigns for small and medium sized businesses. Her work has been featured on Huffington Post, Social Media Today, Business.com, Patch, and other publications.