Social media marketing remains one of the most popular online marketing strategies because of its approachability, versatility, cost effectiveness, and best of all—its potential for long-term growth.
As your audience grows, all of your efforts become more effective—you’ll be reaching a bigger audience, sporting more engagements, and accordingly, you’ll get a higher return on investment for everything you post.
The key, therefore, is building a big enough audience to yield those returns, and that means attracting more followers.
So, how do you get more followers?
Here are 101 ways to attract and retain new social media followers.
First, I want to clear up a few misconceptions about what having lots of followers really means. The “follower” metric may change in name—“followers” on Twitter and Instagram may translate to “likes” on Facebook, “connections” on LinkedIn, and “subscribers” on YouTube—but in function, it remains relatively consistent. These are people who have noted your brand as one to stay in touch with online, and they’ll receive updates from you as you post them. In theory, the bigger this number is, the better; having more people to distribute content too means your content will get more viewers, and it’s an indirect measure of your brand’s popularity.
However, don’t get too carried away by this idea. The quality of your followers matters a great deal as well; for example, you’ll see much higher engagement and effectiveness with a strong, loyal, dedicated audience of 100 than you will with a disinterested, apathetic audience of 1,000. This is why it’s vital that you avoid buying cheap likes or followers directly, and instead attract them naturally with your own content and ongoing efforts.
It’s okay to use each social network’s paid platform to buy followers (such as buying likes through Facebook’s own platform), but avoid buying likes or followers from third-party vendors, as these followers will actually do more harm than good – they’re usually fake accounts or disinterested people who get paid some small amount of money to “like” or follow online brands all day.
They’ll almost certainly stop following you after a short amount of time, and even if they continue to follow you, they’ll have no interest, and thus no engagement, in your posts. This lack of engagement will cause social network algorithms to consider your content as being lower quality than it actually is, which can cause your organic reach to fall. This, in turn, causes you to have to pay more to achieve the organic visibility you otherwise could have had.
Imagine a brand – brand A – that has 100 real followers, and averages 30 engagements per post. That’s a 30% engagement rate. Now, imagine a competitor –brand B – that has 100 real followers, and 100 bought fake followers (for a total of 200 followers). Each post still gets 30 engagements, for a 15% engagement rate. Facebook and other social networks take note of your engagement rate, and give priority to brands that tend to have higher engagement rates. So by purchasing 100 fake followers, brand B reduced its engagement rate, which causes its organic reach to drop, compared to brand A.
Now, brand A has less followers than brand B, but it actually reaches more people with each post. This is why more followers can lead to more value for your brand, but only if you truly earn them.
With that being said, let’s dig into how you can earn more followers for your brand. I’ll start by exploring some general tactics and approaches you can use to attract more followers, then dig into a handful of strategies for each of five major social media platforms that matter most: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube.
These are ways to get new followers on virtually any platform:
Your first tactic for attracting new followers happens before you draft your first post, and before you even claim your social media profiles. You have to come up with a strategy for what type of followers you’re going to attract and how you’re going to attract them. Who are you trying to target? What types of platforms do these users rely on for communication? How do they use those platforms? What content do they need to read? The more specifically you can target a niche, the better. Plus, you’ll need to consider your competition, differentiating yourself as much as possible so you stand out in the crowd.
When you move to claim your brand’s profiles on various social media sites, make sure you’re filling out your profiles completely. If you just have a company name with no description, people won’t have any idea what to expect from you, and they probably won’t end up following you. On the other hand, if you have a profile that’s completely filled out, not only will users have a greater volume of more accurate information with which to make a decision, they’ll also see that you take your presence seriously. This isn’t a difficult or time-consuming process, so there’s no excuse not to do it.
(Image Source: Facebook)
As you’re filling out your profile, you’ll want to spend some time optimizing it for keywords and phrases that your target audience might search for. For example, if you run a pet store, you might use phrases like “pet store in Seattle,” or “best pet supply store in Seattle.” Most users rely on Google and other general-form search engines to conduct their searches, and you’ll get some potential ranking benefits here, but this is more targeted to users looking for brand profiles on social media sites specifically, using their respective search functions.
If you want people to follow you, you need to make it easy for them. Most people won’t go out of their way to find a company on social media, but if they see a convenient link to a company’s profile page, they might take that bit of extra effort. For starters, make sure you include links to your social profiles on your website, both on the homepage and on your contact page (and you can check out AudienceBloom as an example). You’ll also want to include these links on as many outbound communications as you can (such as email footers), and display your social presence on any physical, tangible marketing assets you may have, such as business cards. The more exposure you give yourself, the better.
Along similar lines, it’s far less likely that someone will copy and paste the link to your article on their personal social profiles than it is they’ll click a button to share your article directly. Encourage more people to share your material by featuring social share icons on all your blog posts—and don’t worry, it’s easy to do. This won’t allow a person to follow your brand directly, but it will generate much more exposure for your brand on social media channels, which should lead to the pickup of at least a few extra interested followers. Just look at any of the posts on the AudienceBloom blog and you’ll see our social share buttons, which include counters that show how many times each post has been shared.
If someone has willfully subscribed to your email newsletter, they’re interested in your brand. If they weren’t, they would have unsubscribed by now. Therefore, everyone on your email subscription should have a vested interest in following you on any social media platforms where your presence exists. Take advantage of this by promoting your social media presence via email; start by including links to your main profile pages, but also create calls-to-action such as “be sure to follow us on Twitter for more special offers and the latest updates,” and consider embedding social content, such as your brand’s latest Instagram photos.
This isn’t a glorious tactic, but it is an effective one, especially when you’re just starting out. There’s something of a “popularity of popularity” effect in social media; people will be more likely to follow you if you already have lots of followers. Accordingly, in the early stages, when you have almost no following to speak of, it will be hard to generate initial momentum. Instead of trying to recruit strangers, simply ask your employees, friends, family members, and other people you know personally to help you out. Most people will be willing to spare the time it takes to click your “follow” button that you set up on your website.
In this same vein, you can make a callout to people with a vested interest in your business, such as clients, partners, and vendors. Depending on the nature of your business, this may be essential to your collaborative operations; for example, clients can get updates about when your app is undergoing maintenance, or your partners can stay in the loop with your latest marketing promotions. Hopefully, you’ll be able to pick up at least a few dozen extra followers here, especially if you pledge to follow them all back.
Your brand voice may not seem like it’s an important feature of your presentation on social media, but it can have a massive impact on how people interpret your messages. For starters, you’ll need to develop a brand voice that’s both appealing and distinct from your competition; what makes you unique? What makes you valuable? This could be anything from a wicked sense of humor to an air of almost-overconfident grandeur. Once you settle on a brand voice, keep it consistent across all your platforms and everything you post—any deviations here could make people unfollow you.
Consistency is what’s going to make people stick with you for the long haul, so in addition to applying consistency to your brand voice, you’ll also need to apply it to the way you post. For example, if you want to become known for producing stellar infographics, you can’t post them erratically or unpredictably; try posting a new one once a week, or every other week. Instead of posting updates randomly as you think of them, try to post at the same frequency every day and every week, so people can get used to the rhythm at which you post.
Your on-site content contains some of the most valuable marketing assets your brand has. Promoting them via links on your social media platforms has a two-pronged effect; first, you’ll fill your social feeds with more valuable material that your followers will appreciate, and second, you’ll promote your content so it becomes more visible and more effective. When you do this, make sure you pair your article with a catchy, compelling headline or lead-in; your original headline may be suitable, but be sure to adjust it if it needs some extra flair.
As a general rule, you’ll want to post at least once every day (with possible exceptions for the weekends). First, this gives your users a degree of consistency; people will be more likely to continue following you if you’re providing them with a consistent flow of content. Second, this shows your commitment to being active. New prospective followers who browse through your older posts will see how consistent you are in posting every day, and will be more likely to follow you. Just keep in mind that some platforms—like Twitter and other fast-paced feeds—typically favor multiple posts per day.
Live streaming video is one of the more recent fads taking over social media. Because Internet speeds are faster and more available, users are equipped with mobile devices, and they’re demanding more in-the-moment content, live video has become a majorly popular form of engagement. Consider doing a live feed on your Facebook profile (or through Periscope on Twitter). As for the topic or situation, that’s up to you. You could live-stream your attendance of a speaking event, give a monologue, or even host a Q&A session that keeps your users engaged. Just make sure it’s in-the-moment and valuable for your followers.
Don’t underestimate the power of a good joke in attracting new followers—even if your brand voice is traditionally more serious. People love jokes because we enjoy the feeling of pleasure we get from laughing; this feeling draws us closer to the brands and people that made us laugh in the first place, and also compels us to share that feeling with others. This is why especially clever or humorous jokes have a tendency to get shared and liked thousands of times. It may take you some time to think up something good and original, but when you do, don’t hold back.
(Image Source: Twitter)
Hashtags are the social media world’s way of categorizing and organizing information; they were originally developed as a way to make it easier for users to search for certain subjects (not to mention introducing their own contributions to search). If you learn to harness them properly, you can optimize your own posts for social searches. For example, if I were to distribute this article on social media I might use categorical tags like #socialmedia or #morefollowers. Just be careful here; if you stuff your posts full of too many hashtags, or if you use hashtags inappropriately, you could end up appearing foolish or amateurish. I have a quick reference guide to proper hashtag use that I published on Forbes.
Don’t forget that social media is a two-way street. As much as you want to post and have users comment on your material, other users are making posts and hoping for comments and interaction as well. If you give them those comments, they’ll take notice, and they’ll be more likely to follow you as a result. Find individual profiles or posts with hashtag searches or with social listening software, and comment on ones you think are interesting. Even something simple like “awesome post! I loved the section about wildebeests” can get you noticed and hopefully, earn you a new follower. Just make sure you’re being sincere.
You can also use social listening software and other modes of content discovery on social apps to find discussions that are already in progress. Try to find topics that are in the process of being hotly debated, questions that are in the process of being answered, or other threads of discussion with high levels of user interest. Present yourself as an authority, offering your own perspective and advice (preferably with data or anecdotes to back you up). This will demonstrate your expertise and introduce you to new followers simultaneously, giving you the chance to earn many new followers.
When you first start out, you probably won’t see much engagement, but as you start to grow, you’ll notice more and more users actively commenting on your posts and engaging with material you publish. When you notice one of these comments, respond to it—you can thank a user for reading your piece, agree or disagree with a point they’ve made, or ask them for more details about what they think. Anything you do will make you seem more appealing to the user in question, and will make you seem more invested and engaging to other prospective followers.
(Image Source: Twitter)
You should also take some time to follow accounts that are relevant to your brand. You can start with “who to follow” and similar suggestions on each platform, and use search features to find more. This will have a number of different effects. First, your newsfeed will start filling with more diverse forms of content (and therefore more opportunities to share and engage). Second, your activity will be noticed by those accounts, and many of them will reciprocate by following you back. Finally, you’ll be introduced to more users who might be interested in your brand. A good place to start is by identifying your competitors’ social media profiles, then finding a list of their followers (which is typically easy to do). Simply follow your competitors’ followers and you’ll target people who have already expressed an interest in your competitors’ products or services.
Sharing is a powerful tool in the social media world, and it’s not one you should neglect. Take the time to peruse content that’s being posted by other people in your industry, influencers, as well as some of your individual followers. When you find something your audience would find interesting, share it. You’ll help fill your daily “valuable content” quota, and you’ll simultaneously make someone’s day. If you share a user’s content, they’ll be far more likely to share some of yours in the future.
Influencers are social media users who already have access to lots of followers and command a ton of admiration in their respective fields. Even getting mentioned by an influencer could potentially expose you to hundreds of thousands of new users, so it’s in your best interest to find out who these people are and keep track of them. Keep an eye on how and when they post, and jump on any opportunities you see to engage with them directly. For example, if they involve themselves in a discussion, you can debate them or back up their points with your own data. Or, you could go the direct route and ask them a question of your own. The key is to get yourself noticed, and hopefully mentioned. You can use BuzzSumo to find influencers quickly and easily in any niche.
If you want to go a step beyond just engaging with influencers, you can go out of your way to promote their material. This might involve sharing one of their posts with your audience, or something more involved like writing a follow-up or response to their original pieces. Either way, this is a fast way to get noticed, and if you continue scratching their backs, they’ll be more likely to scratch yours. They may share some of your content once they notice how active you are, or you might open the opportunity to ask for a favor directly.
Speaking of asking for favors, as you build up your relationship with a given influencer, you may eventually ask for an opportunity to collaborate on a piece of joint content. There are many ways to collaborate in content marketing, and any of them can be valuable; for example, you could engage in an interview, each write a different section of a cumulative piece, or each contribute a bit of research to a bigger whole. The advantage here is that you’ll be able to cross-promote your piece, giving you access to a huge new breadth of new followers.
Contests are somewhat gimmicky ways to attract new followers, but you can’t argue with results. The idea here is that you’ll offer the general public an incentive for engaging with your brand. You might ask them to “like” your Facebook page, follow you on a given platform, share a piece of your content, or use a specific hashtag. If they do so, you’ll give them a chance to win a prize (either randomly or determined by some round of evaluation, as decided by you). Contests give users a reason to engage with your brand, and are highly shareable, making them prime opportunities to attract new followers. The only downside is that these users might be more interested in your prize than your actual brand. You can use a tool like Rafflecopter to hold your contests & giveaways.
(Image Source: Social Media Week/STAR Fine Foods)
There’s never a bad reason to post visual content on social media. People are far more likely to engage with visual content than they are with written content, and photos are one of the easiest ways to produce it. You don’t need to be a professional photographer; in fact, you probably have a pretty decent camera on your phone already. All you have to do is take a picture of something marginally interesting, or couple an appropriate image with an interesting caption. There are no rules here; more photos will help you stand out in searches and newsfeeds, giving you more opportunities to attract more followers.
Visual content isn’t limited to photography or real-time video, either. You can spend time creating your own visuals and potentially earn even higher follower attraction and engagement rates. If you have access to a professional graphic designer, you can design your own infographics, charts, and graphs to make a huge impression with your followers. But even if you don’t, you can create your own illustrations and doodles for a similar effect. Sometimes, the amateurishness of your work can endear you to your users more than sleek professionalism ever could. Don’t be afraid to bust out the stick figures.
I already covered the potential of live-streaming video, as well as video as a form of photography, but you can also create graphics-based videos, like the video versions of infographics. These can be used to graphically illustrate abstract concepts, accompany another piece of content like a written article, or simply entertain your audience. These generally take some time to develop, and require the hand of an experienced designer, but their engagement rates tend to be high.
Social media is also a valuable place to sneak preview any new features, new products, or other company developments before they officially go live. This is a way to reward your existing followers for following you, which will increase your retention rates, but it’s also a way to seem more appealing to fans of your brand who aren’t following you yet. If your concepts are interesting, they’ll be shared often, introducing you to extended sections of your target audience. Plus, you’ll be able to gather some initial feedback before you finalize your concepts.
Trending topics are ones that are seeing exceptionally high posting volume. They tend to last only a few days or weeks, but at their peak, millions of users will be posting about and looking for content about the trend. Generally, these are categorized with hashtags, enabling you to research the latest trends manually by monitoring posting rates. However, you can also use social listening software, or specific content research software like BuzzSumo or Google Trends to find out what new topics are trending. Just make sure you have something valuable to say about the topic, and aren’t just brandishing it as a tool to boost your own popularity.
(Image Source: Hashtagify)
times are more valuable than others when it comes to social media posts. For example, most platforms see a spike in activity around the noon hour, but each platform has its quirks. For example, Pinterest sees far higher rates on weekends, while Twitter declines sharply after about 3 pm on weekdays. You can aim to post at the most popular usage times to get in front of more people, but keep in mind that others are pursuing this strategy as well—it may be worth testing your posts during off times, when your content is less likely to be lost amidst the noise.
Social shares are a powerful way to get new followers; when a user shares a piece of your content, it’s instantly exposed to a new audience you previously had no access to. Moreover, this kind of share functions as a kind of personal recommendation—if your friend shared a piece of content, you’ll be more likely to read it than if a stranger offered it. Try to make your content more shareable to achieve this. You can do this by making it more entertaining, more surprising, more practical, or by appealing to some specific emotion. For further help on making content shareable, see What Makes Content Shareable & Why It Matters for SEO.
As your brand grows in prominence, you’ll start getting questions from social media users looking for advice on topics in your niche. When you encounter this, answer those questions—give a good answer, and you’ll almost certainly win a new follower, while also getting more visibility for other prospective followers. If users aren’t asking you questions directly, you can use social media search functions to seek those questions out and answer them the best you can.
Consider hosting live events at your office or in the general vicinity, and live update those events as they unfold. For example, you could host a lineup of local speakers to talk about their journeys in entrepreneurship to a local business audience. Use social media to announce and promote the event, getting as many signups as possible, then use those platforms to soft-broadcast the event to your followers from all around the country. Take photos and video, and keep your users updated as the event rolls on with quotes and key takeaways.
If you’re looking for an alternative way to gain more followers and please your existing customers are the same time, consider adopting social media as a branch of your customer service department. This is especially useful if you offer a tech product, like Software-as-a-Service (SaaS). You can use your social profiles to keep users abreast of new updates, downtime, how-to guides, and tips, and answer any user queries that come in. Some brands even create specific “help” channels on social media for this purpose—but that designation is up to you.
One of the most important elements of a modern content marketing strategy is getting featured on external publications. The idea is to write guest posts for other blogs and include links back to your own site; doing this helps you increase your brand visibility, reputation, and earns you referral traffic (not to mention higher organic search rankings). But don’t underestimate the social media potential here; as long as your author profile features links to your social profiles (as it should), this representation will give you yet another outlet to earn new followers. You’ll get even more exposure if those external publications then share your content on their own social media channels while tagging you in the posts (which they usually do).
Take a look at when and how your competitors are posting, and find a way to complement it. This will help you stand out in users’ social media feeds, and may help you target a differentiated segment of your shared audience. For example, if you notice that your competitors frequently post around midday on weekdays, consider targeting the early-morning or evening crowd instead. Just make sure you measure your effectiveness here and make adjustments as necessary.
Notice how prominent the differentiation theme is here—it’s critical if you want to attract and retain a following of your own. Take note of the types of things your competitors are posting, and try to offer something different. Do they tend to focus on written content updates, in short bursts? Opt for longer-form material or visual assets to complement them. Do they tend to focus on how-to and tutorial content? Try more advanced troubleshooting, buyer’s guide, or alternative forms of helpful content.
This is where your analytics platform of choice is going to come in handy. I highly recommend using Google Analytics to analyze your incoming traffic. When you get all set up, take the time to analyze how your posts are performing. Posts that attract the most likes, shares, comments, and click-throughs should be regarded as “successful.” What is it that these posts share in common? Try to pin it down to a handful of key features, and replicate those features in your campaign’s future.
Conversely, you should also look at some of your worst-performing posts. Are there any posts that received significantly less interaction? Are there some that users tended to respond to negatively? What was it about these posts that made them fail? This happens to everyone; you just have to learn from the experience and move on.
Sometimes, the best way to get shares is to simply ask for them directly. If you have a breakout piece of content you think is worthy of being shared, ask your followers to help you by spreading it outward. For example, you can frame your post by saying, “we spent a lot of time researching the topic and want this information in public hands, so help us out by sharing with your friends and followers.” Don’t do this for every post, or even most of your posts; instead, reserve your requests for only the content that you feel most confident in.
Most brands try to play it as safe as possible, sticking to familiar subjects and familiar themes they know their audiences will like. And it’s true that sticking to objectively valuable, appreciated topics is a sure bet to see a positive return. However, occasionally it’s worth the risk to stir up some controversy. Posting a strong opinion, going against the norm, or doing something that’s shocking or unexpected can have a dramatic effect on how you attract new followers. You’ll generate discussion, gain more visibility, and polarize your audience, leading to more (and more loyal) followers in the process.
Let your followers know when you have something big in the works. For example, you can announce that your company is launching a new product, reveal that you’ve reached a major milestone, or unveil your plans to move the company. Doing this shows that you value your readers, and just as importantly, you’ll stir up lots of likes and comments. In turn, this will increase your visibility to prospective followers and increase the size of your audience.
(Image Source: Facebook)
People want to be rewarded for following you. Providing content and entertaining, informative posts is a good start, but you can go a step further by offering your audience exclusive deals, specials, and promotions. For example, you might post a coupon code for your social media audience only. Of course, “exclusive” here is relative—your followers could easily share this information with others. The point is, there’s an appeal to following a brand with a history of rewarding its social media following.
The more engaged your users are with your brand, the more visible your brand will be. For starters, any posts that receive attention—in the form of likes, shares, or comments—will instantly be ranked higher in other users’ newsfeeds, as Facebook determines them to be more valuable. Also, the thread may appear in the newsfeeds of friends and followers of the engagers as well, furthering your prospective reach. Get your followers to engage more by calling them specifically to take action—ask them to “like” or comment on a post in a creative way, such as stating a strong opinion and asking them to “like” it if they agree with you.
Most social media platforms will automatically generate a list of accounts it recommends for you to follow, cultivated from accounts you already follow, your type of industry, and your posting history. Though you don’t want to go crazy and follow every account that’s suggested to you, this section is worth your perusal. Look for valuable accounts to add to your newsfeed, or potential sources of new followers you can poach. It’s a great discovery engine, and it does all the work for you in advance.
Another way to get your followers engaged is to simply ask them a question. This is especially effective when paired with a link to a blog, or another source of information. For example, if you post about the “top strategies for improving sales,” you could ask your audience what strategies they’ve found to be successful in the past. Brittney Brombacher, a Youtuber in the video game industry, has a mini-series on her channel called “Whatcha Playin’?” in which she discusses games she’s currently playing, and asks viewers to share what games they’re currently playing too.
Facebook and some other social media platforms allow you to create polls for your users to take, which you can harness for almost any application you can think of, from gathering opinions on a piece of news to brainstorming new content ideas. This is very similar to asking questions of your audience, with one key difference; in a poll, users can see what other users have said quantitatively analyzed, which fuels another level of discussion.
Unless you’re running a minimalistic campaign, chances are good you’ll be managing multiple social media platforms simultaneously. If this is the case, you’ll likely encounter new followers at different rates and from different areas with each of your platforms. If you cross-pollinate your accounts, by referring your followers to your other profiles, you could build all of them up more quickly.
Though most of your social media interaction will start and end online, don’t forget that you find new customers and meet new people in real life as well. Make an effort to promote the existence of your social media profiles in real life, and you’ll definitely see an uptick in your following. This can be something as simple as a “follow us on Facebook” sticker on your door or something more personal, like personally asking each of your clients to follow you on social media before they leave your office.
There are dozens of apps available to help you schedule and manage your social media posts. Though there is some danger in automating your strategy too much—making your brand seem impersonal or uncaring—there’s also a value in scheduling some of your posts in advance. Not only will it save some time for you and your team, it will help you ensure a more consistent, frequent mode of posting. Just make sure you keep it in careful balance with your in-the-moment updates and responses.
Don’t underestimate the power of storytelling, even in a social media format. People love to hear anecdotes, and they have an easier job of interpreting and retaining information if it’s told in a format with a beginning, a middle, and an end. Take to social media to share an anecdote about your professional experience, or tell the story of a client you’ve helped, or to illustrate a complex topic in the course of a narrative. Even if it takes you a few posts to get through, your audience just might love it.
Personal brands function like mini versions of your corporate brand, except they’re tied to individuals within your company, rather than your company brand itself. These personal brands, carried by team members like your CEO or team leaders, will work almost like brand ambassadors, promoting your core content, getting guest posting opportunities on external publishers, and of course building up their own social media followings. You can cross-pollinate these followings, earning more visibility and followers for your corporate brand while reaping the benefits of the personal touch your personal brands will offer.
Try to include more verbal commands in your posts that instruct your users what to do. For example, if you post a link to your article, you can ask them to “read about the latest _____” (though you should avoid the word “click” specifically), or you can ask them to “comment with your thoughts on the matter.” The simple presence of these words will spark more interaction, which will lead to more visibility and of course, more followers. Just be careful not to go too heavy-handed with this strategy, or you’ll turn people away.
For the most part, hashtags are best used in their natural environment. You can use them to succinctly describe whatever’s happening in your post, or leverage a hashtag that’s already become popular to get some extra visibility for your brand. But if you want to encourage more people to post about your business, you can consider creating your own, branded hashtag. Generally, these are best reserved for contests and special events, as people will need a strong motivation to use a new hashtag. Just be aware that it takes a lot of effort and damn good timing (or a massive existing audience) to get a branded hashtag trending.
Other brands on social media aren’t your enemies—not even your competitors. If you learn to see them as friends, or in a more exploitative context, as opportunities, you can earn tons of new followers. Collaborate with the other brands you see on social media, working together on a mutual piece of content or just conversing with each other. When you cross-promote this way, you’ll exchange some followers, both gaining visibility and reputation in the process. Everybody wins when people use social media to be social.
No matter how much you wrack your brain or how long you spend brainstorming, there are only so many new content topics you can come up with on your own. When you’re fresh out, or when you want a more precise, numbers-driven way to find new content, rely on an external tool like BuzzSumo or Feedly to help you generate ideas. Here, you’ll be able to find new ideas for posts, zeroing in on top-performing content in your industry to help you figure out what your audience might like to see and what has been working for your competitors.
(Image Source: BuzzSumo)
Try to expand your horizons by experimenting with different mediums in your social media campaign. For example, if you’re used to posting short written updates, try longer posts with an accompanying image. If you’re used to taking still photos of your environment, try switching it up with a video. Consistency in tone, frequency, and subject matter is important, but you’ll also need to change things up if you want to increase your visibility and explore new ways to reach your audience even more effectively.
Whenever you get the chance, add some personal touches to your social media feeds. Relying on personal brands as extensions of your corporate brand can help here, but don’t be afraid to post images of your employees and clients, and show off your personality in your posts. Taking a selfie with a cat may be a break from your usual, professional posting regimen, but it will remind your followers you’re human, helping you attract an even wider, more interested audience.
(Image Source: Telegraph/Taylor Swift)
This goes along with the last tip about writing more personal posts. People love to see other people, whether they want to admit it or not. We’re social creatures, and our gaze is naturally drawn to other human faces. Make sure you’re taking pictures and video of other people whenever you get the chance, whether it’s one random person using your product, or a group of people congregated at your office party.
It’s incredibly tempting, especially for new social media marketers, to use social media as an advertising platform, posting about your products on a regular basis and essentially making a pitch to your following. Though it might seem like this is a good way to drum up more sales, the reality is it will turn your followers away. Prospective followers who see your profile and timeline filled with advertise-y language will turn tail, and you’ll likely lose some existing followers in the process.
This is a tactic you’ll want to use if you’re working with influencers or other collaborators, or if you have a special relationship with any individual followers in your lineup. Tagging a user in a post will instantly bring it to their attention, and they’ll sometimes respond to it in some way—whether that’s a like, a comment, a retweet, or a share. Make sure your content is relevant to them and have at it; it’s a great way to guarantee a minimum level of engagement and earn some more visibility for your brand.
Social listening software is a way to “tune in” to the conversations of your followers and target audience on social media. On the surface, you can use it to figure out what people are talking about and what topics are popular, so you can create more focused, relevant content for your audience. However, you can also use it to see what users are saying about your brand by plugging in your company or product names and monitoring social mentions. It’s a great way to find new people interested in your company (and gather some stealthy feedback while you’re at it). Personally, I use Google Alerts and Buzzsumo Alerts for this purpose.
Every once in a while, you’ll have an unfortunate misstep in your social media marketing campaign; you might offend your audience, post something untrue, or otherwise unintentionally make your brand look foolish, the way DiGiorno Pizza did simply by misunderstanding a hashtag. However, if you’re careful, these missteps can be opportunities; acknowledge your mistake, offer an apology, and make it up to anybody who you offended, and you could spin it into an opportunity for greater visibility and a better overall reputation.
(Image Source: Adweek)
People love free things, and rogue followers are always looking for valuable brands to latch onto. Give away free things—even if it’s just premium content—and you’ll naturally attract more people to your brand. This effect will obviously amplify with the quality of the free “thing” you offer. Just be aware that the audience you attract with free giveaways may not be the audience most invested in your brand.
News is unfolding all around us, all the time, both in the context of your specific industry and on a national level. Stay tuned into these major news sources throughout the day, and when a news story hits that’s especially relevant to your business, your industry, or your customers, comment on it. Even recapping the story briefly with a summary of your thoughts can help you ride the trending topic and get in front of new potential followers.
Social media is a great place to post your opinions—that is, beliefs that are open to debate. This can be mild, such as stating your opinion about the best way to drive downtown, or more intense, such as your judgment on a new technology that’s taken your industry by storm. Strong opinions elicit strong reactions, which means you’ll generate more discussion, and attract more followers as a result.
Even though you’ll be posting on behalf of your corporate brand or organization, it’s still a good idea to frame all of your status updates in a first-person perspective. Social media rose into existence as a way for individual people to connect with one another, and that’s still the primary way people want to use it. Making your brand seem more personal with this simple first-person perspective should make it more appealing to anyone even marginally interested in following you.
Even though I’ve spent half these items preaching about the importance of consistency, it’s also important to change things up from time to time. Try some content topics you’ve never considered before. Ask someone else in the office to draft some posts. Tinker with your posting frequency and scheduling. If nothing else, these changes will help you understand what is and what’s not effective in your campaign. Plus, the changeup will likely appear favorable to anyone following you for the long term.
If you generate content and post ideas for long enough, eventually, you’re going to run out—and if you don’t run out, you might end up on a deviated path that starts diverging from what your users actually want. Get back in touch with your users by starting a social media discussion about what they most want to see, or even what kind of content you post that they would like to see more of. Collect their recommendations, analyze the results, and most importantly—give them what they’re looking for.
Just because your content is a few weeks old doesn’t mean it’s not valuable anymore—especially if it’s a piece of evergreen content. Keep a running list of all your old articles and on-site posts, and regularly work them back into your social media posting schedule. As long as you don’t post the same articles or topics too frequently, you can generate renewed interest in your older material and fill up your posting queues with new content. Just change up the headlines from time to time to keep your newsfeeds fresh.
I can’t think of any subject, industry, or topic that couldn’t be facilitated with helpful tips and tricks for users. If you’re used to posting how-to articles and similar forms of instructional content, you can pull tidbits and key takeaways from these pieces to form standalone posts. Otherwise, you can develop these on their own to give users throwaway tips and techniques throughout the days and weeks. For example, you might offer advice on how to make a purchasing decision in your industry, or a “life hack” on how to complete a certain task more efficiently. Show off your authority, and aim for lots of likes and shares.
AB tests are usually reserved for the paid advertising space, but they can be just as valuable in the social media world. The general idea behind an AB test is to host two variations of a given strategy, an “A” version and a “B” version, then compare them to see which one is more effective. In the social media world, this might mean making the same post at different times of day, or linking to the same article with a different headline to see which post tends to attract more followers. With these tests, you can easily learn what does and doesn’t attract new followers, and adjust your overall campaign accordingly.
Social media platforms know they need to keep changing if they’re going to survive. Not only do they have to keep up with the changing landscape of hardware, they have to keep user trends in mind and fend off competition from other platforms. That’s why it’s common for social media platforms to constantly roll out new features and functionality for their users. When you see these features emerge, try using them as soon as possible; doing so will attract lots of attention from new and old users alike (and will put you ahead of the competition). For example, when How-to pins recently emerged on Pinterest, the first line of users taking advantage of them saw crazy high engagement rates.
(Image Source: Social Media Examiner/Pinterest)
Your business doesn’t exist in a vacuum, and it won’t remain the same indefinitely. You’ll offer new products and new services to new audiences, you’ll grow, you’ll hire, you’ll move, and you might even change your strategic direction. When you do, you’ll need to adjust your social media profiles to accurately reflect your new positions. Not only will this help your brand remain “fresh,” it will also expose you to newer, more relevant audiences who might be interested in following you in the future.
This is a hard one to define, since viral content is so hard to achieve on its own. Only a small percentage of content posts attract any attention at all (in the form of shares and links), and an even smaller percentage than that “goes viral,” attracting hundreds to thousands of shares and links. This content is the best of the best in terms of quality and value, but also must surprise the audience or appeal to their emotions in some powerful way. Getting a piece to go viral is a shortcut to earning thousands of new followers, but even your pursuits should do a good job of attracting more people to your brand.
If you’re desperate to start building momentum, or if you’ve tried some of the strategies above but aren’t growing as fast as you’d like, you can consider going the paid advertising route. Some social media platforms allow you to promote your main profile or a specific post from your profile for a relatively small amount of money. Generally, you can count on earning some new followers easily this way—but they may not be as relevant or as interested in your brand as followers you attract naturally.
Facebook offers a handy feature for some brands that allows you to selectively target the people who see your post. This may seem like a strange feature for organic social media marketing, as on the surface, it seems like it should be a paid advertising option, but there’s a clear incentive for Facebook to do this; with more brands selectively targeting their audiences, more users will see content that is specifically relevant to them. Using the target icon on the lower-left of your status update box, you can filter out certain members of your audience you don’t want to see your post; this will allow you to post better-focused content and attract more followers who are genuinely interested in your brand.
(Image Source: Social Media Examiner)
Facebook has made a number of recent algorithm changes designed to decrease the prevalence of content from brands and organizations in user newsfeeds, in favor of posts from other individuals. For many publishers and brands, this was a serious blow; however, it’s possible to overcome this obstacle. If you want to maximize your visibility for new audiences, adjust your focus to quality over quantity. When it comes to organic visibility in newsfeeds, like potential, and share potential, it’s far better to have one truly remarkable piece of content than dozens of filler posts. Find a way to stand out.
People tend to favor organizations and brands in their own area, so using the location-tagging feature for your status updates can be a major advantage. It’s also going to make you easier to search for if people are looking for a local solution. This is especially useful when you’re posting images or updates from a certain event, such as a tradeshow or industry gathering in a specific city.
There are many features that differentiate Facebook from its contemporaries, but one of the newest is the addition of emoji reactions, which allow users to respond to posts in more emotionally expressive ways than simply “liking” it. Attracting a specific type of emoji reaction, or a variety of them, is a good way to make your post more visible—and it can also help you gather information about your current following. Try to elicit a “wow” reaction with surprising content, or post something outrageous that encourages “angry.” Even better, spark a discussion with a controversial post and let your users post all kinds of emoji reactions.
Events have long been a staple feature of the Facebook platform, and they continue to be a main reason why people use it. Creating public events for things happening in or around your office can help you attract the attention of people who have never heard of your brand before (especially if the event is interesting). Invite all the fans and followers you can think of, and ask them to invite other people they know. Even if they don’t show up for the event, they’ll be more likely to follow you after seeing your event listed.
Take a look at some of your competitors on Twitter. Chances are, some of them already have hundreds or thousands of followers. You can close this gap eventually by going your own route, but why not take advantage of the audience that’s already there? Obviously, their followers have expressed an interest in your industry, so it stands to reason they’d also be interested in following your brand. Follow the people who follow your competitors, and many of them will likely follow you back. ManageFlitter is a fantastic tool that can help with this process.
Twitter got popular because it offers a slightly different approach than its biggest contemporary, Facebook. Users are forced to restrict their updates into bite-sized snippets of only 140 characters. Because of this, users tend to post updates in greater frequency, which tends to clog up newsfeeds. Cumulatively, these signature features have turned Twitter into a fast-paced, in-the-moment platform where people turn to get up-to-the-minute updates. If you want to attract more Twitter followers, you need to indulge them in these fast-paced conditions by posting live updates of what’s going on around you when you’re at an industry-related event.
You already have links to your Twitter profile on your website, but that will only get you so far in enticing your website visitors to become Twitter followers. If you want to engage them further, use Twitter’s API calls to embed tweets on your website directly. Depending on how you set it up, this could feature a rotation of some of your brand’s most recently posted tweets, giving users a sneak preview of what they’ll get by following you. Giving users a preview of your tweets without them having to do anything is a good way to win new followers, but only if your tweets are engaging and/or interesting.
Twitter features a “pinning” option, which allows you to select one tweet that stays at the top of your profile page. When a prospective follower judges whether or not to follow you, they usually scope out your profile and your most recent tweets. Showcasing one of your best tweets at the top will help persuade them that following you is a good choice. If you have a tweet that’s generated lots of likes and shares, that’s the one to pin.
People love to use Twitter at events like conferences or tradeshows. Most events, even small, locally-organized ones, have signature hashtags that promoters encourage participants to use in their social posts, which has a few critical advantages for you if you attend the events. First, you can post about your attendance and have an easy way to get found by other participants. Second, you can set up a search filter for these hashtags to find other people who are attending the event—and you can then network with them in-person. An in-person relationship is the single easiest way to get a new follower, and someone you meet at a tradeshow or other event is just about the highest-quality type of follower you can have.
Instagram is all about images, and your images need to make an impact on users if they’re going to follow you. One of Instagram’s biggest claims to fame is its provision of specialty filters, which help you edit your images and make them more appealing. If you want to show that you know what you’re doing, stand out in users’ newsfeeds, and generally attract a bigger audience, you need to know how to use these filters effectively. Generally, the filters Clarendon, Gingham, Juno, and Lark tend to attract the most likes.
Instagram newsfeeds quickly get filled with photos from other users, so if you want any hope of standing out in a newsfeed or search results page, you need images that stand out. One of the best ways to do this is to dominate the space of your image with a single, bold color. For starters, choose an image—or create one—that features many shades of a single “general” color like blue or red. Then, make sure your subject occupies the full space of the photo (you can edit this after taking the picture). This will make your image “pop” out and probably get you some extra likes, too.
(Image Source: Fast Company)
Instagram users tend to be especially active on Sundays. Since Instagram is often a place to show off your adventures, it’s rarely used on weekdays, when most people are at work. On Fridays and Saturdays, people are busy out doing things, so on Sunday, they get to catch up on everything they might have missed and post the images they may have delayed when experiencing something in the moment. Long story short, it’s the best day to post if you’re interested in attracting more attention and followers.
Instagram, like Twitter, is an in-the-moment platform. People appreciate seeing photos and video of events as they’re currently unfolding. They’ll also be more likely to follow a brand that visits their location or is active in the area, as its content will likely be more relevant to them. To take advantage of these realities, use Instagram’s geotagging feature as often as you can. All you have to do is click the “location” button when uploading a photo, and Instagram will show where you are. If you want to use the geotagging feature even after you’ve left a given area, make sure your mobile device is tracking your location so your photos are tagged with where they were taken.
People want to follow Instagram accounts that feature the best images, so if you want people to follow you, you need to give them an idea of what they can expect. For this, I recommend including some embedded Instagram posts on your website, perhaps on your home page or in a dedicated gallery of its own. Since all the images you post will be relevant to your business, this should also improve the engagement rates of your website, possibly even influencing conversions.
On LinkedIn, it’s easy to create a page for your company, and you should do so. You should flesh it out entirely, filling in all the details of your profile and posting semi-regularly. However, when it comes to growing an audience of followers, it’s better if you focus on your individual accounts (the personal brands that will support your Company page). Individual accounts have access to more features, such as Groups, and are more likely to earn new connections on what is, essentially, a professional networking platform. You can then use your LinkedIn connections as a conduit to promote your corporate brand or other social accounts.
Though many people use LinkedIn as a way to find and engage with people digitally from all around the country, it’s good if you also use LinkedIn as a way to cement your connections with people in real life. When you attend professional networking events or meet new people in the workplace, ask to connect with them on LinkedIn—most people will be open to it if they have an account, and it’s an easy way to quickly build your number of connections. Plus, any new connections you make this way will already be somewhat familiar with who you are.
LinkedIn Groups are one of the most powerful sections of LinkedIn, which is part of the reason you should rely on your individual accounts more than your company account in the first place. Join a number of Groups that are relevant to your industry and brand, including locally-based Groups, and peruse them regularly for conversations you can participate in. For example, you could offer your insights on a recently posted blog, or voice your opinion on a piece of news that just came out. Making your presence known—and participating intelligently in conversation—will make people reach out to you as a new contact. For a deeper dive into how to use LinkedIn Groups for marketing, see The Definitive Guide to LinkedIn Groups for Marketing.
Groups are also a common place for people to ask questions, which is the perfect chance to show off your knowledge and authority in your industry. If someone’s asking for advice, give it to them. If they’re dealing with a problem, give them a potential solution. If you need to do a bit of extra research to back up your opinions, go ahead and do it, and cite your sources. It will show that you’re committed to actually helping people. The person whose question you answer will almost invariably want to connect with you, and you’ll also set the stage to connect with anyone impressed with your answer.
Whenever you “encounter” someone significant on LinkedIn, go ahead and connect with them. By “encountering,” I’m referring to practically any kind of meaningful engagement you make, such as conversing in a Group or commenting on the same piece of content. In your request, mention the circumstances and your reasoning behind connecting—most people don’t like cold connections, but as long as you have some justifiable point of entry, you’ll be fine.
On YouTube, the key way to get “followers” is to earn subscribers for your channel. If you haven’t yet created a channel for your brand, that’s the first step—it’s like creating a profile for your brand. However, it’s not enough to simply fill in the details and let your channel exist on its own. If you want to attract more subscribers to your YouTube channel, you’ll need to set up your brand channel to be as unique and appealing as possible. Customize your layout, choose your headlines and background images carefully, and pick a color scheme that fits your brand. You want people to have a differentiated and memorable experience when they first encounter your channel.
YouTube now gives you the option to make a “trailer” for your channel, which is exactly what it sounds like—a short video that pitches the types of videos and content your channel will be producing. For many users, this will be all they need to see to decide whether or not to subscribe to your channel, so you need to make it compelling. Generally, the more straightforward you are here, the better. In fact, you can use a brand representative to engage with your audience directly, speaking into the camera and bluntly explaining what types of videos you produce. Just be sure to include your unique value proposition.
Just like with the other social media platforms, people won’t subscribe to you without some kind of incentive. It’s not something most people seek out, so if you want people to subscribe to you, you need to ask them to. Feature calls to action throughout your YouTube videos, channel page, and even on your website and other marketing materials. For example, you can create annotations for your YouTube videos that encourage users to subscribe to your main channel or check out your other videos.
Search optimization isn’t just about Google. You can optimize your videos for both Google and YouTube search by paying careful attention to how you name, tag, and describe them. First, title your video with a catchy, compelling headline that not only attracts attention, but features a handful of keyword phrases that users might search for when looking for content like yours. Then, write a concise, detailed description void of filler words that accurately describes your content. Finally, choose key tags that best represent your video—these are what help YouTube categorize and display your video for users to find, and the more users there are finding your videos, the more subscribers you’ll earn.
If you want to attract more subscribers and keep them around, you’ll need to produce videos regularly—probably not every day, like some social media platforms demand, but aim for at least once a week if you’re serious about your presence here. Because most people who subscribe to YouTube channels do so immediately after viewing one of the channel’s videos, you’ll want to make sure all of your videos end on a high note—a punchline, a key takeaway, or an inspiring thought that ties everything together. This will leave your users wanting more, and serves as a perfect opportunity to ask them to subscribe.
There you have it. At this point, you should have all the knowledge and ideas you need to grow a larger audience of social media followers. You don’t have to use every strategy on this list for every profile you’ve claimed, but even a handful of successful, consistent executions here should put you in a universally better position. If you’re just starting out, this might seem intimidating, especially since your early growth rates will be marginal at best, but stick with it, and eventually your social media presence will flourish.