As hardworking optimists, it’s natural to think about your social media following as a gradual incline, rising indefinitely toward the horizon. As you invest more time in your strategy, learn more about your audience, and start to build an even better reputation, the theoretical model almost demands that your following rise proportionally.
It can therefore be disheartening if and when you see your social media following reach a plateau, or even worse, start to decline. You’re following the same strategies that led you to a steady rise for so long, yet inexplicably, you’re starting to lose momentum.
First, don’t panic, this is a situation most, if not all social media managers encounter at one point or another, and it’s typically a natural part of the ebb and flow of social media popularity. When you encounter it, employ one or more of the following strategies:
The number one cause for followers leaving is boredom. If a follower feels like he/she has nothing left to gain by continuing to follow you, he/she will leave. It’s really that simple. One way to stave off boredom (or reverse boredom completely) is to experiment with new types of content. Do you usually syndicate links to your blog posts? Consider paragraph-long summaries right on your social profiles. Do you usually have audio-only interviews? Try switching to videos. These will allow you to maintain the directives of your existing content strategy while simultaneously breathing new life into your rotation.
Of course, if the content strategy itself is the problem, new mediums aren’t going to help you any. You should also experiment with some new topics, as content focused on the same-old, same-old tends to wear down audiences rather than exciting them. Try writing about more of the latest happenings—read news articles and monitor your competitors closely to get the latest scoop on your industry. If that doesn’t work, you can become more adventurous, and try topics that no one else in your industry has covered. In this case, the more controversial you go, the better.
Unless you’re posting several times an hour, it’s highly unlikely that people would leave you because you posted too often. If you notice people leaving you, try ratcheting up the frequency of your posts on all platforms. Ramp up Twitter to at least once every hour. Ramp up Facebook to at least four or five times a day. For these purposes, a post scheduler can be helpful, but don’t become reliant on one. Instead, take the time to actually log in and write new posts. People can tell the difference, and the more personal your messages are, the higher retention rates you’ll earn.
When it comes to building a successful consumer-brand relationship, there’s something to be said for a personal, almost friendship-like experience. But those personal connections are peripheral—what really keeps people loyal to a brand are inarguably valuable returns. If a consumer starts to feel that he/she is no longer objectively benefiting from a given situation, he/she will jump the ship. To prevent this, work to introduce more objectively valuable promotions through your social channels. Hand out coupon codes, give away free samples, and offer discounts to anyone who engages with your brand.
Sometimes, people will leave because they simply don’t feel a personal connection to the brand—this is the level of “friendship” I alluded to in my previous entry. The best way to nurture this relationship is through one-on-one conversations in a social context. If someone comments on one of your posts, respond to them and ask them a follow-up question of your own. Reach out to individuals in your following and get their thoughts. This type of strategy is intensive, but the people you reach out to will remain loyal to your brand for far longer than anyone else in your roster.
Building a greater network of influencers is going to do two things for your brand. First, you’ll get some residual star power. If you communicate frequently with other influencers in the industry, you’ll be seen as a greater overall authority, and the respect your current followers have for you will begin to grow, preventing them from leaving on a whim. Second, you’ll build your audience faster. Just getting mentioned by a few major influencers should be enough exposure and momentum to reverse the majority of your losses and get you back into positive follower growth territory.
This is a somewhat risky strategy, as reaching out to someone who is likely annoyed with you might harm your reputation more than it helps. However, just one good answer from a departing follower can illuminate the very nature of your follower loss problem. For example, you might learn that your follower left because you cut out a weekly promotion a few months ago, and you can therefore reinstate the promotion to prevent future losses.
These strategies should help you identify the root of your problem and safely course-correct your campaign back to the numbers you want to be seeing. Of course, don’t be startled if you have hiccups along the way—you’ll undoubtedly experience multiple starts, stops, and following anomalies even as you do everything correctly.