The Top 5 Tricks for Getting New Followers on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Youtube
Any individual or business that’s gotten involved in the world of social media marketing eventually finds themselves wanting more followers. It’s a natural appeal; having more followers is akin to having more popularity, and whether you’re after greater brand visibility, a better reputation, more traffic, or more paying customers, popularity is generally a good thing.
Social media marketing remains one of the most popular marketing strategies available, in part because of its approachable learning curve and low capital requirements. But too many entrepreneurs consider these qualities and make the mistake of assuming they’ll be able to build a massive following without much effort or investment; the reality is, if you want followers, you’re going to have to work for them.
To get followers, you need to provide value, consistently, and engage with those followers to keep them around for the long haul.
There are plenty of articles on the web giving you ideas of what to post on social media, or tips on how to be more appealing to your target audience, but these tend to be broad, or even ambiguous pieces.
Instead, I’m striving to give you a more concise, relevant version: the five most important, most effective means of building up a following on each of five main social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and YouTube.
Table of Contents
Should Followers Matter?
Before I go any further, I first want to address something about the nature of social media followers—namely, I want to explore whether followers should even matter in the first place. For many marketers, social media followers are the be-all, end-all indication of social media marketing success, but this isn’t necessarily the case.
ROI Versus Fluff Metrics
There are many metrics you can use to measure the effectiveness of a social media campaign, but the most important one is actually an amalgamation of different metrics—your return on investment (ROI).
Your ROI is calculated based on the number of new paying customers your social media strategy has generated, which you can calculate based on the number of new inbound visitors your social campaigns have generated and how much those customers have spent with you. You can then compare these figures to how much you’re spending on your campaign—in terms of time and money—and figure out what kind of profit your strategy is yielding.
ROI is a hard, reliable figure that translates your social media effort to a monetary cost.
Fluff metrics, by contrast, may look good on paper, but they don’t necessarily translate to any real value. For example, followers are considered a fluff metric; what does it matter if you have 10,000 followers if none of them are coming to your site or buying your products?
On the other hand, it’s probably ridiculous to think that not a single follower out of 10,000 would come to your site; in fact, if your audience is equally interested, more followers should lead to a higher ROI. ROI should be your “true” compass for social media success, but followers can help you get there.
Quality Over Quantity
It’s also important to acknowledge the importance of quality over quantity; in other words, all followers aren’t created equal, and it’s in your best interest to pursue followers that are most valuable to your brand over followers that aren’t interested at all.
Here’s a point that should be obvious: don’t pay for followers outright on any social media platform. These “followers” are likely fake accounts, or accounts of uninterested people just looking to make a few cents by clicking a button. They may inflate your numbers quickly, but those followers aren’t going to have any meaningful impact for your brand or ROI.
Instead, you need to focus on building your audience as naturally as possible. You’ll need to identify a target audience that’s most likely to buy from you, and target them with your strategies. I’ll dig a little deeper into this concept when we start looking at actual tactics for individual platforms, but for now, walk away with the understanding that it’s better to have high-quality, relevant followers than it is to have a sheer quantity of followers.
If you follow best practices of follower building, you shouldn’t have to worry about this much, and as long as your quality is consistent, more followers can be a huge advantage.
My first two points in this section would seem to indicate that there’s less of an inherent value to followers than meets the eye. This is somewhat true, but don’t forget there are some key advantages to having a bigger number of followers.
For starters, every piece of content or post you publish will instantly gain visibility with a larger crowd. Even if a portion of that following isn’t directly interested in buying from your brand, they may still be interested enough to read your material, or even share that material with their friends and followers.
If 10 percent of your audience is likely to share a piece, an increase from 1,000 followers to 10,000 followers would increase your reach more than 10 fold, as each new share within that audience could lead to even more shares.
The visibility factor is huge here, especially with repeated exposure. For most industries and brands, purchases happen late in the stages of the buying cycle; the first stages are all about increasing problem awareness and eventually brand awareness. With more followers, you’ll be able to subtly coax a wider audience down this buying cycle, even if they didn’t start out interested in your brand.
The Popularity of Popularity
Also, there’s an interesting phenomenon about the popularity of popularity; put simply, the more popular you become, the more popular you’re likely to become in the future. In other words, it’s possible to gain popularity by sheer virtue of your existing popularity.
This is the principle that guides so many pieces of viral content to success; at some point, maybe at 100,000 shares or views, people start to see the amount of attention this post has gotten, and they instantly treat it with more reverence or more attention.
This phenomenon compounds over time, and has a reverse effect for pieces of content that haven’t generated any shares; who would be interested in content that nobody seems interested in?
(Image Source: BuzzSumo)
This self-perpetuating cycle also applies to your follower counts in social media. At some threshold, you’ll begin to develop a better reputation by sheer virtue of the fact that you have so many followers.
You’ll also notice this reputation in potential clients and customers who may not even follow you on social media; they may do some brand research, see you have a massive following, and walk away with a more positive impression of your brand.
Reputation by Numbers
There are some caveats to using followers as a metric for your social media marketing success. If your followers aren’t relevant, or if follower counts are the only metrics you’re paying attention to, you’re setting yourself up for failure.
But at the same time, achieving a higher follower count has innumerable advantages, such as earning more visibility for your syndicated material, improving your reputation with other potential followers and customers, and proportionally increasing your overall ROI.
General Principles for Success
Before I get into the individual social media platforms that you’ll be building followings on, I want to cover some general principles for success. These are best practices, considerations, and tactics that apply to your social media strategy no matter which platforms it manifests in or what your long-term goals are. Think of these as prerequisites you’ll need in place before you can start building a following anywhere.
Choosing the Best Platforms
First, you’ll need to spend some time considering which platforms will be best to support your brand in a social context. It’s tempting to want to be on every social media platform possible, because theoretically that would increase your potential audience numbers to the highest level, but this isn’t necessarily the most efficient approach; different platforms have different strengths and weaknesses.
You’ll need to bear the following in mind when considering them:
- Medium. Different platforms have different posting formats, some of which are going to be friendlier for your business than others. For example, Instagram is a platform that caters to images and video; if your business is one that has a lot of visual production going on, this is great—Instagram will likely be one of your ideal platforms. But if you don’t have a lot of items or events to take pictures of, it probably won’t be as effective for you. Twitter, as another example, limits posts to 140 characters or less, so if your brand isn’t the type to post such short, succinct updates, it shouldn’t be a main part of your roster.
- Demographics. Demographics are another important consideration if you want to maximize the potential “quality” of your following. Every social platform is going to have a different makeup of individuals, with different total user counts. Facebook, for example, has over a billion users and they come from all over the world, with a relatively balanced makeup of age and gender. Instagram, by contrast, has 400 million users, and heavily skews toward the young adult crowd, with slight favoritism for women. This could make it more appealing or less appealing as a platform for your brand, depending on what your brand stands for, so consider these metrics carefully.
- Development over time. Don’t feel too much pressure when you’re selecting your lineup of social media platforms to pursue. This is an important decision, so you should take it seriously, but there will always be time to change course as you develop your social media strategy further. For example, you may start out focusing on Facebook and LinkedIn because they seem to be the best fits for your brand, but you may find after a few months that they aren’t returning as high an ROI as you thought they would. In this scenario, you’ll have the time and the ability to add in new platforms, or drop the ones that aren’t working.
Generally, you’ll want to choose at least a few social media platforms to manage actively, and you’ll want to claim a profile on all of them. But it’s better to concentrate your efforts on the select few that have the highest likelihood of supporting your audience in the long-term if you want to maximize your ROI.
Once you select your platforms, you next job will be to flesh out your profiles as much as possible. In fact, you should claim as many social media accounts as you can for your brand—even if you don’t intend to use them regularly—to protect your brand name usage and fill out your respective profiles. There are a few reasons for this, and they all either directly or indirectly make it easier to build a following.
For starters, new users scoping out your profile for the first time will want to see some information about who you are and what you do—some won’t care, and will follow you no matter what, but making as much information available as possible can help you secure those tentative followers. Current followers will also be able to learn more about what your company does, possibly resulting in more eventual traffic and conversions.
Filling out your social media profiles could also indirectly help your company’s local SEO campaign. Third-party review sites and local indexes often crawl social media pages for information about local businesses. Google, in turn, crawls both these profiles and third-party sites to gather more information about businesses, which it can use in its local rankings. Ranking higher for local searches could drive more traffic to both your website and your social profiles.
If you want to build a following, you need some basic material to attract a following in the first place. For most marketers, this means an endless stream of regular content. Now, what that content is exactly depends on the nature of your brand, the needs of your target audience, and the formatting of your platforms of choice. For example, on Instagram, this means regular new photos and videos posted, but on Twitter, this might mean ongoing syndication of links to content you keep on your site.
The formatting and targeting of your posts do matter, but what’s more important are the relevance and quality factors. Whatever your content is—whether it’s visual, written, short, or long—it needs to fulfill some kind of audience need, and you need to provide new content regularly and consistently. Otherwise, they’ll have no reason to stick around—or worse, no reason to follow you in the first place.
No matter what platforms you choose for your social campaign, make sure you have a good content strategy at the heart of it. If you need help planning and launching a content strategy from scratch, be sure to check out my guide on developing a new content marketing campaign.
Timing and Frequency
Unfortunately, just posting content all the time isn’t enough to warrant generating a new following. You’ll also need to bear timing and frequency in mind. Of the two, frequency is simpler because it deals with fewer variables. You’ll want to post often enough that your audience is continually fed new information, but not so often that you overwhelm or annoy them.
For each platform, this is going to be different. For example, on Instagram, you’ll want to post about once a day, but on Twitter, several posts per day is more the norm. As a general rule, at least one post a day is suggested, but this may vary depending on the nature of your brand and audience.
When it comes to timing, many studies have attempted to find the “perfect” times to post on various platforms, but this calls in a paradox. For example, let’s say users tend to be most active at noon on a given platform; in response, thousands of companies attempt to post at noon, and users’ newsfeeds are flooded with new content, so yours gets buried as white noise.
In these circumstances, posting in off times is more advantageous. All in all, it’s better to trust your own data—measuring when your brand’s specific posts are most effective—than it is to try and base your posting rhythms on someone else’s speculative findings.
One of the best ways to build and keep a following on any platform is to keep your audience engaged—that is, either actively participating or being actively acknowledged by your brand. This not only encourages existing followers to stick around for longer, but also attracts new followers because it shows you care about your audience.
There are many ways to do this:
- Respond to comments. Whenever a follower comments on one of your posts, go out of your way to respond to them. At higher levels of popularity this may not be popular, but when you’re first getting started, there’s no reason to ignore a well-meaning audience member. Thank them for the comment, and if they have something insightful to say, add to it or respond to it. If a comment is particularly complimentary or worth showing off, you can share the comment in question. This will attract new followers, but will also attract new comments, creating a nifty feedback loop that can keep your audience growing strong.
- Answer questions. Inevitably, people are going to come to your brand with questions. They may have follow-up questions or they may wish to acknowledge a piece of missing information in one of your posts; if this is the case, do your best to address their concerns. Your followers may also approach your brand with customer service-type questions; in fact, some companies are pursuing customer service through social media because of its convenience and free nature. In any case, try not to let any questions go unanswered on your watch; they’re easy opportunities for engagement.
- Get involved in discussions. Discussions are great breeding grounds for customer engagement; not only will you have the opportunity to talk to your customers directly, but your customers will have the opportunity to talk to each other. This tends to build an element of community, which is vital for your follower retention (not to mention attractive to prospective new followers). You can start more discussions by posting more debatable kinds of content, but once you’ve started them, don’t forget to participate. Your followers need to know that you actually care what they have to say.
- Like and share other content. Speaking of caring about your followers, you can also express your appreciation by liking and sharing the content that your followers, as well as other brands in your industry, provide. People get notifications when someone likes or shares their post, and it will help you stay top-of-mind in those individuals. It may also encourage those individuals to like and share your content in reciprocity.
- Encourage content creation. Finally, you can engage with your customers more by having them create and submit content to you. This develops more content that can showcase your brand online, and produces a kind of socially viral effect, encouraging more individuals to add to the collective effort.
New Outreach Elements
The operative word in “new followers” is new—so to reach new audiences, you have to engage people in new ways or new contexts.
- Finding new potential audience members. One of the easiest and most straightforward options (though also somewhat tedious) is to hunt down potential social media users who might be interested in your brand and engage with them. For example, you could find users who fall within your target demographics, or who already follow existing brands similar to yours, and you could follow them in the hopes that they follow you back. It’s an intensive, but effective strategy to grow your audience.
- Discussion hopping. You could also go a subtler route and get involved in more discussions that happen outside your own branded content. For example, you can search for trending hashtags or trending topics within your niche, find a good debate going on, and inject yourself in the middle of it. if you have good things to say and you capture the attention of the people involved, you’ll naturally attract some of those conversation participants to follow you as a result.
- Finally, you can take advantage of influencers—notable personalities or brands in your industry who already have a massive following and a reputation to match. I’ll discuss this strategy in more detail later, for the respective platforms to which it applies, but for now, understand that it’s possible to utilize their existing reputation to boost your own.
Your attempts to build a following probably won’t be effective at first, no matter how well-researched, well-intentioned, or well-planned out they are. You need to be prepared for this. Instead of plotting out and executing “perfect” social media strategies, it’s better for you to start with a basic approach and modify it over time.
In my next big section, I’ll be digging into popular social media platforms individually to discover the most effective tactics to build a following on each, but keep in mind these aren’t perfect either; some will work flawlessly for you, while others may be dead weight. Remain flexible, and adjust your strategies according to whatever new data you can gather.
Now we get to the bread and butter of this article; exploring the five major social media platforms you should consider including in your strategy, and evaluating the best possible methods for attracting new followers on each.
Facebook is by far the most popular social media platform on the planet, and its demographic makeup reflects this; Facebook users are split down the middle in terms of gender, and are fairly evenly distributed in terms of age.
The platform lends itself to a number of different mediums, including written posts, links, images, and videos, so there aren’t many limitations here, and users tend to use “reactions” in reaction to posts or get involved in short thread-based discussions on content pieces they like.
(Image Source: Sprout Social)
Facebook is intended primarily as a means of helping individuals—like friends and family members—engage with each other, and as a result, the organic reach of company and organization pages has fallen in recent years. These principles make it harder to build a following on Facebook, but there are some key strategies that can help you overcome the organic visibility barrier and attract new customers regardless.
1. Contact Leveraging
Facebook is a hard platform to gain momentum on, and the first obstacle most brands face is getting to the first 100 likes. People aren’t willing to like a page unless it’s already received significant attention—the popularity of popularity in action—but you can work past this barrier by leveraging your existing pool of contacts.
- Friends and family. Though it may seem desperate on the surface, there’s nothing wrong with asking your friends and family for a little bit of Facebook marketing assistance—especially when you’re first starting out. Are your friends and family members going to count as “high quality” followers? Probably not, but they will give you an initial audience and a place to start growing. You could even ask them to share your new page with their friends, making your circle of influence even wider.
- Existing customers. This should go without saying, but make sure your existing customer base likes you on Facebook—especially if you plan to make special offers or include other incentives for continuing to work with your business. Here, you can either call up your clients and talk to them directly about it or you can send out a mass email update to get everyone liking your page at once.
- Employees. All your employees should like your Facebook page. Not only does it demonstrate an effective team morale and collective mentality, it will also help your workers stay abreast of the latest changes and strategies your brand comes up with. You may also consider asking your employees to share content posts occasionally, in an effort to drive up engagement numbers and reach.
- Vendors and partners. Finally, you can reach out to your vendors and partners to get some likes and shares for your material. Chances are, they’ll be more than willing to help you out. Even if they aren’t, you can propose an exchange in which both of your contribute social content or followers for the other.
Contests are a major way to win over new followers, for many reasons, some of which are more obvious than others. You can run a contest organically, using a series of posts to announce the contest, set the rules, and clear up any miscommunications, or you can use Facebook’s paid advertising platform to create a custom page or campaign for it.
(Image Source: Wishpond)
To make the most effective Facebook contest possible, you have to look at the reasons why contests are good for attracting followers in the first place, and emphasize those.
- User engagement. First, contests get users engaged. There’s some level of necessary action that enters the user in a contest—this might be as simple as liking a page, but more sophisticated, engaging contests may require that users create and submit their own content. This level of engagement attracts new customers to your brand and helps sustain your relationships with them.
- Immediate value. Also, your contest will give your users an immediate value. For example, you might be giving away a $100 Amazon gift card to a handful of lucky winners; instantly, you’ve created a monetary incentive to like your page. This doesn’t exactly increase the quality of followers you’ll get, but it will aid you in quantity—and users who come to you for value will tend to stick around to see more value, so make the most appealing offer you can.
- Viral visibility. Contests give you the potential to achieve some degree of viral visibility. People like to share contests with their friends because it gives them a chance to win as well; if your contest is creative and compelling enough, it may start circulating by virtue of its content alone.
- Product distribution. You can also use your contests as ways to distribute free samples of your product or service; this, in turn, helps increase the visibility of your brand and attracts more followers to your Facebook page.
Giveaways are highly similar to contests, in that they’re intended to attract more attention by offering a unique value to your prospective followers. However, unlike a contest, there’s no specific action required by the end user. In some ways, this makes giveaways inferior to contests, as contests have a higher engagement factor, but there’s one key advantage that giveaways have for your brand: instant distribution of your products.
There are many types of giveaways you’ll have to consider. For example, you might give away a free product to each of the first 100 people to like your page, or you might tap your existing Facebook fans to give away prizes to randomly selected followers. Of course, the product, the timing, and the nature of the giveaway are all up to you.
One of the best ways to do it is to link your giveaway to some kind of future engagement; for example, when you ship out your product, you may include a note that encourages users to post about their prize on Facebook. This helps close the feedback loop, and allows your users to show off your products in real life.
Giveaways are also useful for attracting more Facebook followers when they’re targeted toward major influencers. For example, you can give a free product to a known blogger or reviewer in your industry, and have them review it on their site. Once it’s up, you can use that opportunity to maximize your product’s visibility and draw more people to your social brand.
Funneling is another solid tactic to use when increasing your number of Facebook fans, but a better term might be “cross pollination,” depending on how you use it. Through the more literal funneling method, you’ll be optimizing your efforts in other marketing areas to send as many people as possible to your Facebook page.
For example, if you engage in an email marketing campaign, you’ll include more prominent links and calls to action to encourage users to like your Facebook page, or in a traditional advertisement, you might draw people to your Facebook page rather than your website. This is a strategic decision, and should only be used if your Facebook page is a high priority.
You can also “cross pollinate” your Facebook page with your other social media profiles, or any other online space where your business exists. For example, if you already have a substantial following on another platform, like Twitter, you can make it a point to call out your Facebook efforts, and vice versa, to ensure the greatest number of people follow you on each platform.
5. Exclusive Content
Most Facebook marketers opt to have some kind of syndication on their platform; they’ll post links to their most recently published content, and syndicate older links to revitalize content from months and years past. These are excellent overall strategies, because they draw your followers back to your site, maximizing the value of each potential follower, and they increase the overall visibility and value of each of your published pieces.
However, it’s also effective to create content that’s exclusive to Facebook, catering to a Facebook audience. While Facebook has no strict posting requirements, some of the most popular posts you’ll find are medium-length entries, a few sentences long, with an accompanying image to help the message stand out. These messages, sometimes excerpts from on-site content and sometimes existing in free form, will help you reach a broader audience on the Facebook platform specifically, even if you’re still using a straightforward content marketing campaign as a backdrop.
Take Humans of New York’s strategy as an example of this in action:
(Image Source: Facebook/Humans of New York)
Overall, Facebook is one of the hardest platforms to build an audience for, which may seem counterintuitive because of its ubiquity. Because of its lack of a specific niche, vanilla demographics, and recent crackdowns on organic visibility of branded content, these are the best tactics you have to build an audience here.
For many years, Twitter was a kind of companion platform to Facebook, offering many of the same features (such as individual profiles, the ability to make updates, etc.) but with a niche format. Whereas Facebook is a kind of one-size-fits-all platform, Twitter is differentiated in a number of key ways that affect how people user it (and therefore how you can build an audience with it):
- Shorter posts. Twitter’s claim to fame is its infamous 280-character limit on posts, which some users find refreshing and others have never adapted to. Regardless of how you feel about it, this makes the platform more concise, and snappier—even though it also supports image and video functions.
- More active newsfeeds. People on Twitter tend to favor the “live update” approach, sending out tweets in real-time and often posting multiple times a day. This makes newsfeeds much more active and dynamic as a general rule.
- Public profiles. Twitter is much more public than Facebook. Rather than keeping tight-knit connections with family and friends, it’s much easier to connect with brands, organizations, or even total strangers on Twitter. As a matter of fact, it’s caused a number of spam problems for the company—but it’s a distinct advantage when you’re trying to build a brand.
(Image Source: Sprout Social)
Twitter is used by only a fraction of the people who use Facebook, and the demographics tend to skew younger—keep that in mind when selecting your platforms of choice.
Now, let’s take a look at some of the best ways to build your Twitter following.
1. Targeted Following
To get started, you can follow the same path of initiation that you did with Facebook, adding your friends, family members, clients, employees, vendors, and partners, but it’s not as important here because Twitter is such a public and open platform. Because of this public nature, there’s an unwritten norm that you can take advantage of in your pursuit of building a following: the follow back.
When someone follows you on Twitter, you get a notification, and the general etiquette suggests that when you receive this notification, you follow that person back in kind. Knowing this, you can selectively target new users to follow, who will then have a high likelihood of following you back. This isn’t a guarantee, by any means, but it will help you build visibility in targeted sections of your audience.
Be wary here; there are self-proclaimed “follow back” groups that will follow you back no matter what, but these are not the types of users you should be targeting. Instead, you should be going after the most relevant users for your brand, preserving that “quality over quantity” approach that’s so important for effective social media marketing.
How can you do this? The best way is to look for accounts similar to yours, such as competitors or industry authorities, then pull up their list of followers. These lists will contain people you know for a fact are interested in your industry, so not only will they have an ever higher chance of following you back, they’ll be a good fit for your company as an active member of your audience.
As long as you keep your efforts focused here, you can scale your account reliably; following too many people can get your account suspended. You can use a tool like ManageFlitter to automate much of the process.
2. Influencer Marketing
On Twitter, individual personalities have a higher tendency to border on celebrity, thanks to the open public nature of profiles. You can use this to your advantage by utilizing personal brands that have already developed a landmark reputation in your industry. I’ve alluded to influencer marketing earlier in this article, but here’s where it’s going to come in handy.
The goal is to get an influencer to either mention you or work with you, thereby exposing your brand to their audience and increasing your reputation by proxy. There are three main phases to this process:
- Choose the right influencers. The first step is the hardest for most new influencer marketers, as finding the right influencers can be a major challenge. Start by making a list of all the known influencers you can find in your industry; you can do this by running keyword searches relevant to your industry and noting the highest-followed accounts, or by using social media listening software or something similar to track them down. From there, you’ll want to choose the influencers most similar to your brand, and the ones who seem most likely to respond.
- Make an offer. Next, you’ll need to make an offer. It’s not fair to ask an influencer for a favor, and even if it was, they’re bombarded with requests for favors every day. Instead, offer them some real value, such as a sample of your product, a contributory piece of content, or a collaboration opportunity. If it’s valuable, they’ll be glad to scratch your back in kind by sharing a piece of your content or talking up your brand in a post.
- Build a relationship. The most efficient way to tap an influencer is to build an ongoing relationship with him/her, rather than only getting mentioned once. Follow up in the future with more collaboration opportunities, and make sure to engage with them regularly to stay on good terms.
3. Comments and Retweets
Targeted following and influencer marketing are direct and effort-intensive strategies that can almost guarantee you a boost in followers, but there’s also a subtler approach you can try. This one is based around engaging your community in ways softer and less noticeable than a full-on follow, but ones that give you a better chance to show off the real personality and nature of your brand.
The basic premise here is to engage followers and non-followers through comments (especially in the form of discussions) and retweets. Search for topics that are relevant to your brand using Twitter’s search function or social listening software, either of which can connect you to trending topics related to your brand.
You’ll be exposed to syndicated articles in your niche, conversation threads in your expertise, and general comments on topics you’re familiar with. You can use all of these opportunities to jump in and get involved. For example, you might share an article about your industry you find personally fascinating, adding in your own two cents, or you could respond to a discussion thread with an alternative perspective to enlighten the group.
These may not seem like impactful tactics, but they show that your brand is truly invested in your industry and your community, and increase the visibility of your brand through sheer quantity of content.
4. Live Updates
Twitter’s audience is accustomed to short, fast-paced updates several times a day. More so than Facebook, Instagram, or any other platform, Twitter caters to rapid-fire and sequential posts—in other words, live updates. This makes it the platform of choice for giving your audience a play-by-play of things like seminars, workshops, local happenings, or other major events. More importantly, it’s a perfect way to attract new followers.
Posting multiple times like this tends to attract an audience, and one that becomes fixated on monitoring your updates in the future. If you can get them hooked in the first few tweets, they’ll stay with you—and probably invite their friends too. Your visibility will be further compounded if you leverage the power of hashtags associated with your major event of choice.
Best of all, this tactic doesn’t have to be specific to any type of event; consider this live update of a user’s first time watching Star Wars that went viral as an example. You just have to keep your users informed and entertained.
(Image Source: Mashable)
5. Individual User Engagement
Finally, you can build your audience simply by engaging with your followers more on a one-on-one level. For example, when a user reaches out to you with a question, go out of your way to answer it fully, with as much information as possible.
Since Twitter is public, this user’s followers will all see your exchange; they’ll see you as a hands-on brand, and one that’s personally involved, and they’ll be likely to follow you as a result. Plus, any new prospective followers that happen upon your brand will see your newsfeed is full of individual engagements, and they’ll be far more likely to follow you as a result.
When Instagram first launched, few people would have anticipated that it would become the second-biggest social media platform in the world, standing today with more than 400 million users. Its platform operates with a specific niche, only allowing images and videos to be posted (with accompanying text comments as a secondary addition).
This is its major differentiator, and it’s the most important quality you’re going to have to keep in mind when building a following here; users want to follow Instagram profiles that offer the best images and videos, so content has to come first.
Beyond that, Instagram shares a number of similarities with Twitter. It’s a relatively concise platform, and one that is best suited for live, in-the-moment updates (though it’s possible to post older images as well). It’s also public for the most part, giving you access to a bigger user base and opening up more possibilities for connection with the same “follow back” etiquette.
What sets it apart from Twitter is its visual formatting, and a tendency for users to post less frequently. It therefore demands a different approach.
(Image Source: Sprout Social)
The demographics of Instagram skew toward females, though not by much, and users are overwhelming young, with more than half of all users being under 30.
1. Newsfeed Popping
The biggest problem in gaining Instagram followers is getting noticed. Users scrolling through their personalized newsfeeds will see the same square-formatted images, one after another, in an endless sweep, and most people mindlessly swipe through when they’re bored.
If you want to reach more people, and connect better with the followers you do have, you need to find a way to “pop” out of this newsfeed—the last thing you want is to offer just another sunset picture.
There are a few ways to get your visual material to stand out, but there’s one method that works better than any other—allowing one bold color to dominate your image.
(Image Source: Nanigans)
Opting for a single dominant color distinguishes your image from the dozens of photos that naturally feature a blend of colors. It’s hard to do this and still create tasteful photography, so don’t resort to gimmicks. Instead, make just enough effort to stand out from the average user’s newsfeed.
2. Hashtag Appropriation
Hashtags were popularized by Twitter, but they’ve become even more popular and widely used on Instagram. They still function the same way; hashtags serve as categorical tags that users can harness to “tag” their content as belonging to different subjects or areas. For example, if you were to post one of the aforementioned sunset pictures, you might use #sunset to aid the platform’s categorization of your content.
When users search for specific content, they often click on these hashtags or search for them, so using more hashtags generally means your content will come up in more searches and browsers—which will put you in front of new audiences. However, you can’t just stuff all your posts full of as many hashtags as you can muster and hope for the best.
You need to be choosy with your hashtags, picking the most popular ones you can find that are actually relevant to your content. Only include a handful at the end of your photos, and don’t include the same ones with every post.
Also make sure you understand the meaning and potential impact of the hashtags you choose to use—occasionally, you’ll run into hashtags with secondary or implied meanings you don’t want associated with your brand.
(Image Source: Top Hashtags)
3. User Submitted Content
One of the most efficient ways to get new followers on Instagram is to leverage the power of user-submitted content—in other words, photos and posts that your users have submitted that ultimately help your brand get noticed. This takes some of the burden off your brand, allowing your users to do some of the content creation work for you, and also expands your reach to the followers of your followers, multiplying your overall impact.
These are just a few different ways you can get the job done:
- Contests and challenges. You’ve seen contests mentioned in this guide before, and it’s no coincidence—contests are one of the best ways to generate buzz, offer a value to your followers, and get in front of new prospective audience members all at once. On Instagram, your approach needs to be a bit different, however; a simple like or comment won’t help you much in securing new followers. Instead, you’ll want to challenge your audience to submit content that adheres to your challenge rules. For example, you might offer a prize for the best photo fitting a certain theme related to your brand. This will generate more user-submitted photos, all of which will be tied to your business.
- Responses. You can also encourage more users to get involved in the comments of your posts, such as by asking an open-ended question. For example, you could take an image of a keynote speaker at a major event and ask your followers what they think of the main point of the presentation. This is a way of encouraging discussion and interaction, and will help support the popularity of your images (especially if you’re already using hashtags).
- New hashtag creation. The most practical way to use hashtags is to take advantage of clearly popular hashtags that already exist in circulation. However, there’s another strategy that can help you encourage more user-submitted content for your brand: creating your own hashtags and popularizing them. This is a tricky business, as most hashtags fail to catch on. However, if you tie those hashtags to something meaningful that people are naturally interested in, such as a special event or one of your contests, you can spark new use. If you’re successful in this, every person who sees a post using this hashtag—and not just your posts—will gain new exposure to your brand.
4. Influencer Collaboration
Influencer marketing was a solid strategy for attracting new Twitter followers, but here you’ll need a slightly different approach. The goal with Twitter influencer marketing was to get mentioned, acknowledged, or otherwise referenced by an influencer, but due to Instagram’s heavy visual content focus, it’s better to work with collaborators to produce better material together.
As usual, there are a few ways to do this:
- Co-opting work. First, you can co-opt work together, setting up a workflow or dividing up responsibilities so you both can benefit from a similar situation. For example, let’s say you and another major industry influencer are both attending the same conference; you can trade accounts for the day, or work with each other to provide complementary coverage of the event for your shared pool of followers. You might also be able to trade tips and ideas, but that won’t help you directly get more followers.
- Callout exchanges. You might also be able to achieve a mutual benefit and both gain some new followers by establishing some kind of regular exchange. For example, you and another brand might challenge each other to post on a related topic every day, or acknowledge one another’s posts to attract more visibility and discussion. This doesn’t have to be especially complicated or involved; even a basic partnership can work well for both parties.
- Personal brand networks. You can also use the strategy of a personal branding network to complement and enhance your core branding efforts. In this strategy, you’ll utilize a number of semi-independent personal brands, run by individuals who get free reign over what they post, so long as it’s related to your brand. They’ll be loosely affiliated with your brand, so you can benefit from them and they can benefit from you in turn. This works best if you have independent salespeople or account managers tenacious enough to manage their own independent Instagram campaigns.
5. In-the-Moment Posts
On Instagram, people love to see “in-the-moment” posts, taken and uploaded immediately as someone experiences something. This way, Instagram becomes a kind of window into that user’s world.
It’s a powerful way to make your account more relevant and more interesting to a bigger number of people, and it’s especially effective if you make posts in places or during times of great public interest; for example, live updating during a presentation or broadcasting your attendance of a local event could instantly bring you a greater connection with your audience and the people around you in the physical world.
Once considered to be the “next great thing” in social media, LinkedIn today is still one of the most significant social media platforms around, but it hasn’t changed much in the past several years. Instead, LinkedIn has clearly found its niche: catering to professionals looking to expand their networks for job opportunities, hiring opportunities, sales, partnerships, and general information exchanges. The user base on LinkedIn is almost exclusively comprised of professionals, and as a result, most B2C content and social campaigns fall flat here.
Building a LinkedIn audience is especially challenging because it caters so deeply to the individual; companies and organizations don’t have many opportunities to promote themselves, and individuals are usually too busy with their own pursuits to notice anyway.
Instead, as you’ll see, the best way to promote your content and your business on LinkedIn is through personal branding, which takes advantage of the system simply as it exists.
(Image Source: Sprout Social)
LinkedIn’s demographics tend to skew a bit older and more educated, as you might have imagined.
1. Personal Branding
Personal branding is a lot like corporate branding, except that it focuses on an individual. You can still use personal brands in a corporate context, as ways to increase visibility for the corporate brand—and that’s exactly what you’re going to do here. Basically, you’ll create a professional identity for a handful of your top candidates—usually your founder or CEO will be involved here, as well as some of your most important leadership positions and maybe some salespeople too.
You’ll work on fleshing out these individual profiles, rather than a corporate profile, and use them as tools to build your company’s reputation.
You’ll still want to create a company page, of course, but your personal brands will be the main conduits for traffic and visibility. The advantage of personal brands on LinkedIn are numerous:
- Platform appropriateness. First off, remember that LinkedIn is a place for professionals to meet each other and come together. Most professionals don’t want to be approached by a business or a company; this is faceless, and often a manipulative attempt to try and make a sale. Instead, personal brands are a more appropriate use of the platform. You don’t have to use LinkedIn, but if you’re going to, you might as well play by its rules and adhere to its etiquette.
- Higher trust. People are naturally distrustful of corporate brands, but they’re likely to trust a personal brand—even if it’s one they don’t know much about. Using a personal brand as a syndication tool will instantly make your content more trustworthy, and you’ll have a more admirable gateway to open and build personal relationships with your prospective customers here. As you know, trust is a major factor in being able to attract and retain a following.
- Access to more features. Companies on LinkedIn don’t have access to all the same features that personal profiles do. The best example here is Groups, which individual members have access to but company and organizations pages don’t. This is one of the most important areas of LinkedIn, so if you aren’t using personal brands to support your efforts, you’ll be missing out.
Ultimately, your personal brands will have two main goals: attracting more connections for their own personal networks, and introducing more people to your corporate brand as it exists on LinkedIn.
2. Leading Group Conversations
As I briefly mentioned in the preceding section, Groups are one of the most valuable sections on LinkedIn. Groups are closed-circuit networks of LinkedIn members who can gather in one place to post, discuss, and exchange ideas on a given topic. There are thousands of groups, from very general ones like “social media marketing” with millions of members, to niche ones with only a handful.
(Image Source: LinkedIn)
Groups are powerful because they spare you the dirty work of trying to hunt down social media users who have a certain interest or fall into a certain category; you already know every member of this particular group is interested in the subject at hand.
Through your personal brands, start creating conversations and discussion threads in your area of expertise. You might get the ball rolling with a piece of content, or with an open-ended question, or even with an opinionated statement.
If your subject is intriguing, you’ll attract dozens of people to engage with you, and at that point, you’ll have a good reason to try and connect with all of them. Trial and error works well here, as not all topics will go over well with your crowd.
3. Scouting for Problems and Offering Solutions
Another way to use Groups is as a common forum. Oftentimes, members of a given community will consult that community when they have a question to answer or a problem to solve. Obviously, these people are looking for an expert to step in and help them with a specific situation. If you can be the expert to address that dilemma suitably, you’ll instantly win the respect and loyalty of the person who posed the question in the first place.
With your personal brands, scout your most popular Groups regularly for people in need, and do what you can to answer their questions. Over time, you’ll develop a reputation as the person with the answers, and you’ll inevitably attract a large number of new connections.
If you get the opportunity, you’ll also be able to link to content on your corporate brand’s site, sending more direct traffic there in addition to forwarding people to your LinkedIn Company page. Just be careful, as posting links to your site too often could trigger a red flag for spam.
4. Physical-Digital Connections
Though LinkedIn is clearly a digital social media platform, don’t underestimate its ability to have an impact in the real world, and be impacted by the real world in turn. When LinkedIn first started to become popular, its main function was to serve as a kind of business card substitute. Rather than trading information with a physical card, people could simply connect with each other on LinkedIn.
Because of this, and because LinkedIn is more private than a platform like Twitter or Instagram, it’s a good idea to professionally network in public on occasion, and connect with any new contacts you make in real life on the platform.
Depending on the nature of the events you attend and how good you are at forging new connections, this should be a valuable way to attract new, passionate followers to your personal brand on LinkedIn, and these will generally be a much higher caliber than people you happen to pick up in Group discussions.
5. Corporate and HR Angles
If you’re interested in drawing more attention specifically to your company’s page, consider attacking the problem from a slightly different angle. On Facebook and Twitter, you’ll be posting a lot of informative or entertaining content for your audience, while on Instagram, you’ll be focusing on visually stimulating content.
On LinkedIn, it’s better to address corporate and HR angles relating to your company, as these tend to be areas of higher interest to the average user. For example:
- Corporate social responsibility. You can post about your organization’s recent efforts in corporate social responsibility, such as “going green” initiatives, or volunteer efforts you’ve led. This will attract more people to follow your brand, either because they’ll be more interested in your company or because they want to learn from your organization’s actions.
- Company history. Your company page should also show off your organization’s history. Posting about milestones, news, and anniversaries can be a big hit with the LinkedIn crowd.
- Corporate culture and HR. If you’re interested in recruiting more people to your organization, LinkedIn is the place to do it. Prospective hires and candidates will gladly follow your page, bulking up your overall LinkedIn presence and simultaneously giving you access to a wider talent pool. Be sure to show off your company culture, and make a public post every time you have a new hiring opportunity.
Most major brands, like Coca-Cola, already follow these best practices for posts.
(Image Source: LinkedIn/Coca-Cola)
Last but not least, we have YouTube, which is a bit less “social” than some of the other social media platforms on this list, in the sense that interacting with individual users is harder. It almost serves more as a content repository, focusing exclusively on video, but with more than 1 billion active users, it’s a free social networking opportunity you can’t pass up (if you have any focus on video content, which you should).
To start, you’ll need to create a Channel for your business on YouTube. This can be completely in-brand, or a unique creation related to your brand, but either way, your “follower” goal is increasing the number of subscribers to this channel. Because YouTube is a passive channel, without much room for social interaction, the main ways you need to do this are by increasing the visibility and allure of the “subscription” option, and getting users more involved with your video content in an interactive sense.
1. Subscribership Prioritization
Your first goal should be prioritizing the process of subscribing. Watching YouTube videos is a bit of a passive action, so when most users are done with a video, they’ll simply click away without taking further action. You have to go above and beyond to call those users to take the action of subscribing to your channel:
- Regular callouts. It only takes a few seconds at the beginning or the end of a video to make reference to your channel and ask your users to subscribe. A simple, “if you liked what you saw today, click the button in the upper-right hand corner to subscribe,” can increase your subscription rate many times over.
- Rewards for subscribers. If you want to attract more subscribers, you have to make the concept of subscribing more enticing, and that means offering rewards to your existing subscribers. This means posting consistent content, calling back to previous videos, and offering interactive challenges.
- Multi-channel draws. Much like the concept of cross pollination we explored in our section on Facebook, you should be willing and able to ask for YouTube channel subscriptions on more channels than just YouTube. Syndicate your latest videos on your other social media platforms, and again, always call out for more subscribers.
2. User Participation
Another way to get more subscribers is simply to get more users to participate in your channel. When users feel like they’re a part of a channel, they’ll be far more likely to subscribe to it.
- Comment threads. Your most powerful resource is the comment threads attached to the bottom of each of your YouTube videos. These can be scary places if you’re familiar with the typical YouTube user, but you’ll need to engage with your audience here on the ground level if you want to show you’re truly invested in making your channel better.
- Calls for user submissions. You can also use a competition or a simple suggestion to ask your users to submit their own video content in response to yours. For example, you may call for reaction videos or reviews.
- User-submitted content ideas. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, you can ask your users directly for how to make your videos better. You can ask for general advice, like how to better produce your videos, or call for potential topics your followers would like to see in future installments. This will win more subscribers to your side and also help you from a creative standpoint.
3. Channel Collaborations
If you’re eager to get a quick influx of new subscribers, you can also collaborate with an existing channel—the YouTube equivalent of influencer marketing. There are a few ways you can do this:
- Crossovers. For starters, you could show up in one of your contemporary channel’s videos, or they can show up in yours. Usually the way this works is one host gives a pitch for their channel, then contributes to the video at hand. It’s a good way to cross-pollinate subscribers.
- Callouts. You could also request or influence a callout from a known YouTube authority, such as by openly referencing them in some of your content, or by debating them or challenging them with a question.
- Collaborations. You could also work together on an independent and mutual piece of content, or maybe even a new channel where you work together on shared content. The sky’s the limit for this option.
- New channels. Finally, you could break your core YouTube channel into separate areas of specialty. The science-based YouTube channel VSauce is a great demonstration of this. Each channel can become its own niche entity, but they’ll all feed different subscribers between them, enhancing the reach and influence of the group.
(Image Source: YouTube/VSauce)
4. CTA Annotations
You can also encourage more YouTube subscriptions by making your videos more interactive. As I mentioned before, most YouTube views are a passive experience, so anything you can do to make it a more stimulating and user-driven experience will drive more people to subscribe to your channel.
The easiest way to do this is through annotations, which are small buttons that pop up during the course of a video; they can serve as meta references, calls-to-action (CTAs), or links to outside material. Try to include more of these in your video, so long as they’re relevant to the user.
(Image Source: Google)
5. Challenges and Contests
Finally, we have another mention of challenges and contests (are you seeing a theme here?).
For YouTube, challenges are important because they get users involved, and contests, as usual, encourage users to share your material so it reaches a wider audience. If you can tie these challenges and contests into user-submitted content opportunities, you’ll double your potential for new subscriptions.
A bigger following isn’t necessarily a better following, but with all the other elements of your social media marketing campaign consistent, more followers can yield more value for your brand. No matter what channels or combinations of channels you have at the heart of your marketing campaign, I hope the strategies I’ve listed above can help you focus and redouble your efforts to build a wider audience for your brand.
It takes time, but it’s well worth the investment if you truly wish to build a thriving brand community.
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