Whenever we talk about social media, the concept of follower count inevitably finds its way into the conversation. There’s a reason for this—while we know that social media can be a great way to reach and engage with people on a scale that few other marketing platforms can promise, we also recognize that it isn’t effective if you don’t have an audience to talk to.
While people might tell you that the follower count doesn’t REALLY matter, or that they don’t pay much attention to it, the truth is that we all do. That’s why there are people who run entire businesses based off selling followers to brands. Whether we like it or not, people look at your follower count when they open your profile. A brand with a larger follower count will look better, and people are more likely to follow larger brands on social media. Even social networks themselves reward brands for having a high follower count. Instagram, for example, allows you to add swipe-up links to your stories if your business profile reaches 10,000 followers.
While the follower count is certainly a vanity metric, it’s more than just that. There’s real value to be gained from adding followers to your social media account.
The key thing to remember here, however, is that it’s not just the number of followers that matter, it’s also the quality of followers that you add. You’ll need to be adding people who are in your target audience, and who can genuinely add something to your brand. Buying followers or bots does nothing for your brand except add some numbers to your followers list. In this blog, we’re going to be focusing on attracting real followers who are genuinely interested in your content, so that you can make the most of your social media marketing efforts.
Best ways to gain followers
A large part of your strategy to gain followers will rely on the content that you produce, but there’s a lot of basics that you’ll need to cover first before you get down to your content. Let’s take a look at some of these tips first:
Define your target audience
As we said earlier, the focus of your brand shouldn’t just be on adding followers, it should be on adding relevant followers. To do that, you’ll first need to define who these relevant followers are, so that you’ll be able to target them appropriately.
To clearly define your target audience, it’s helpful to create the profile of an “ideal customer.” The ideal customer is just a detailed persona sketch of the type of person you want to target. When you do this, try to get as specific as you can. For example, if you define your target audience as middle-aged men, you might do okay. But if you get more detailed, and say your target audience is middle-aged men who live in urban areas, have a particular household income range, and are interested in reading sci-fi comics, you’re much more likely to succeed. Basically, your ideal customer profile should at least have as much information as you’d gather from a conversation.
Give your ideal customer a name, an age, a backstory, and a nickname. This will help you see them as a real person with real needs, wants, and feelings, so that you can connect with them better and create content that’s more in tune with what they’d like to see.
Some of the information you need for your ideal customer are:
- Languages spoken
- Pain points (that you can solve)
While this is undoubtedly a great way for you to identify the target audience for your brand, you could also take a look at your existing customers for a profile. Take a list of your customers and classify them according to different metrics, such as their age, location, and occupation. Based on these classifications, you’ll be able to identify things like the most popular age group that’s using your product, and then target similar audiences.
Complete your profile
One of the best ways to ensure that people follow your account is to keep your profile complete, and updated. People are more likely to follow an account that looks “real.” Make sure you have an updated profile picture—which could be your brand’s logo—a customized header image, and a description that tells people exactly who you are, what you do, and what they can expect from you.
If you need some help with the bio, our guide can help you get started.
Apart from completing the regular bio fields on every channel, think of how you can use the features of each channel to provide even more information to your prospective followers. For example, Instagram has story highlights, where you can display a story—or series of stories—that gives more information about your brand. On channels like Facebook or Twitter, you can pin a post or a tweet that links to a blog page or a landing page where more information is available.
The goal here is to ensure that everyone who visits your profile will have access to information about your brand. This will help ensure that the people who follow you know exactly who they’re following, and that means you’ll have a higher number of relevant followers for your brand.
Post regular content
One way to succeed on social media is to keep your brand consistently in front of your audience. When you make regular updates, people are more likely to come across your posts, and then they’re more likely to remember you. Besides, no one wants to follow dormant accounts anyway.
While you might want to have a frequent posting schedule in order to keep yourself in front of your audience, you should avoid spamming them with content. This can quickly get annoying, and ruin your standing on social media. The trick is in finding the right balance for your brand.
As a general rule, you can afford to post less frequently in channels where content is controlled heavily by algorithms—such as Facebook—but you’ll need to post more frequently in channels that are more real time—like Twitter. There have been many studies that have tried to find the optimum posting frequency on major channels. We’ve gone and consolidated their recommendations for you:
- Facebook: 1 post a day
- Twitter: 15 tweets a day
- Pinterest: 11 pins a day
- LinkedIn: 1 post a day
- Instagram: 1 post a day”
Keep in mind that these are guidelines, and you can choose a different frequency based on your strategy. However, try to stick to these general figures as much as possible.
Create appropriate content for each channel
While crafting your social media strategy, it’s important to understand that different types of content work differently on each channel. The basics of this is that Facebook and LinkedIn can have long textual posts, whereas channels such as Instagram and Snapchat are very media-centric—but the differences go beyond that.
Different types of content work better on different channels purely because of the inherent nature of the channels. For example, on LinkedIn you’ll need to have a more professional tone, while you can have a more relaxed one on Facebook. Instagram captions and Tweets give you a lot more leeway to be creative in the content you create on them.
Study each channel and figure out what works best there—however, there are some similarities between channels. As a general rule, video and image posts perform the best across all channels, followed by text posts. You’d be smart to include relevant media whenever possible, irrespective of the channel that you’re on. Humor also seems to have a universal appeal, so you can also try incorporating humor in your posts when appropriate.
Engage and respond to your followers
When it comes to social media, regardless of what your goal is, engagement is key.
Social media engagement can be divided into two different types—reactive and proactive engagement.
Reactive engagement is when you wait for your audience to start a conversation with you. They leave a comment. They send you a message. They share your content on their profiles. Then, you react to it. You like their comment, reply to their message, thank them for sharing your content, etc. This is extremely important because, firstly, no one likes being ignored. When you talk to people, they know you’re not a bot that’s just posting updates, but there’s a real human actually talking to them. Besides, if anyone has a question they want to ask you, they’re more likely to actually step up and engage with you if they see you’re actively answering questions and helping people already.
Proactive engagement is more difficult, but is equally important to your social media strategy. This involves keeping an eye out for conversations that you can be a part of, even if they weren’t talking to you in the first place. Look for opportunities to step in and provide value to people, and they’ll love you for it. For example, if you’re running an entertainment venue, and you see someone asking about stuff they can do on the weekend, you can plug your shows in the conversation.
When you participate in relevant interactions like these, you’ll get the right audience to notice you, and engage with you. This way, you’ll be able to gain new, relevant followers for your brand.
A great way to do this is to invest in a social media management tool. Many tools on the market come with a monitoring feature, that allows you to track posts with certain words, hashtags, or mentions of you or your competitors. All of these can provide great benefits for your brand.
Use hashtags when you can
Hashtags are one of the most useful features on social media, if you want to find content. A simple search, such as #dogs, will throw up every post that has been tagged under it, and you’ll be able to watch puppy videos to your heart’s content.
When it comes to business, this feature becomes even more important. Say you’re a travel agency. You’re posting content about travel, and you want interested people to be able to find you. All you’ll need to do is to tag your posts with #travel and maybe #vacation, and people who are interested in your posts will be able to find your profile. This is a great way to gain followers for your brand.
When you use hashtags, make sure you’re only using the ones that are relevant to the content you’re posting. Using irrelevant hashtags can be annoying, as your content will pop up for people who aren’t looking for it.
Another important tip to keep in mind is that you don’t necessarily have to create copy around trending hashtags. While it’s tempting, and can gain you a lot of attention if done right, you must also be careful to not appear ignorant and insensitive when you make these attempts. Understand what each hashtag is for, and then decide if you want to use it to promote your business. Take a look at how Kenneth Cole used #Cairo during the middle of the Egyptian revolution.
Promoting their products using a hashtag that was trending for an uprising was seen as insensitive and caused a lot of negative attention for the brand online.
To ensure that you’re doing it right, be sure to check out our guide on using hashtags.
Follow relevant people and share their content
Finding and following the accounts of real people and businesses who are relevant to your business is a great way to build a base of connections that you can interact and build relationships with.
Sometimes, if you just follow people, they’ll follow you back, especially if your profile is fully filled out and you’re sharing good content. However, there has to be some method in choosing the people you follow—random accounts will often get you nowhere.
Here are some ways to find good accounts to follow:
- People influencers follow – The key influencers in your vertical are a great source of quality, relevant accounts to follow. This is even better if the influencers are followed by many, but only follow relatively few. This means that they’re selective about who they follow, and the people they follow are more likely to be high quality.
- Check out Twitter lists – Sometimes, people on Twitter create lists, and subscribing to these lists will give you updates from the entire list, instead of having to follow each individual person. Go to the profiles of people that you already follow, and check to see if there are any lists that you can subscribe to. Some social media marketing tools can help you manage lists, as well.
- Google searches – Sometimes, Google searches can give you great accounts to follow—a simple search of “best travel blogs to follow” can throw up a list of relevant influencers. It’s important to be careful here though, as these lists may not be updated frequently, so it’s better to test the accounts that you find and then follow them only if you think they’re still useful to you.
If you have a bunch of good accounts that you follow, try to share useful content that they put up, while tagging them for credit. You can even add a couple of lines as a comment when you share it.
This is a good tactic, because not only will you be sharing useful content to your existing followers, you’ll also be building a relationship with the person whose posts you share. They’ll usually get a notification that you’ve shared their content, and that can be a starting point for you to build a relationship with these people, as well.
Promote your social media profiles everywhere
Yes, I mean everywhere.
If you want people to follow your account, you’ll need to ensure they find your account in the first place. While we’ve talked about a lot of things that you can do within social media itself, there are other ways to gain followers.
If you’re running email marketing campaigns, be sure to include a link to your social profiles. Add social media follow icons on your websites and blogs. Include links to your social media profiles in your newsletters. Add profile links even in boards and hoardings that you’re putting up. Whenever you’re at an event, make sure to plug your social channels in your speeches, or when you’re talking to people. You can even use social channels to promote other channels! For instance, if you’re looking to grow your Twitter following, post your Twitter profile link on Facebook, Instagram, and other networks.
Sometimes, you can even make an explicit call for people to follow you on social media. When you do all of this, people are going to notice you and your profiles, meaning there will be a lot of attention generated for your brand. This is a great way for you to organically gain more followers on your profile.
Get involved in social communities
One way to reach relevant accounts is to take part in social communities whenever you can. Social channels like Facebook and LinkedIn allow you to join “groups” or “communities” of people who all share a common interest. All you’ll need to do is to find ones that are relevant to your business and then interact with the people there.
In these places, you’ll find that people routinely ask questions and share information or updates. You can make an impression by providing answers to these questions, or responding to other updates with your thoughts. Sometimes, you can even start a discussion on topics that are relevant to the entire community. People who are a part of these groups may follow you if they feel that you’re providing value to them.
Another thing you can do when you join groups and communities is to keep an eye out for people actively making contributions. Follow them, and they’ll probably lead you to other good people to follow as well.
Answer questions in other online communities
There are plenty of online communities, such as Quora and reddit, where people come together to ask questions, answer them, and share ideas and discuss them. It might be a good idea for you to create profiles in these places and answer as many questions as possible—and maybe plug your social channels when you do.
When you’re answering questions on these platforms, it’s important to ensure that you’re providing real value to the customers. The more in-depth and well researched the answers are, the higher chance you have of being noticed. What this means is that it’ll take some time to build a following through these channels, so have patience when you take this route.
Also, keep an eye out for comments or replies to the answers that you post. Sometimes, someone might ask a follow-up question based on your answer, or even want clarification to some of the things that you’ve mentioned. Be sure to get back to them and answer any questions they may have, appropriately.
While you’re following these tips, it’s important to understand that they aren’t shortcuts, or “hacks” that will increase your follower count overnight. A lot of them require you to be both consistent and persistent with your efforts, and over time, you’ll slowly see your follower count grow.
And that’s it from us for today. If you have any questions, please let us know in the comments below, and we’ll get back to you ASAP!