There are those who argue that the total social media followers on social media channels is nothing but a vanity figure.
And in some ways, they’re right.
If you’re sweeping Twitter and following every account possible, seeking only a follow-back in return, then yes, your follower count is an empty figure, made up of bots, phonies and those get-rich-quick scammers.
Plus, what’s the value of a following that includes little to no target customers?
Zip. Unless you’re just going for appearance.
But what about accounts that have built significant followings over time, with quality content, thoughtful engagement and strategic campaigns?
Not only do they have a follower count that looks good, they have a following of quality consumers.
Whether your business or brand is completely new, or just new to the social media scene, you’re going to have to start somewhere. And that somewhere is 0, when it comes to followers.
So what can you do to make your social media efforts matter from follower count 0 – 1,000 and beyond? And earn a quality following at the same time?
The last thing you want to do is start blindly following everyone you can, only to end up with a vanity follower count that’s just another empty figure.
These 18 tips will show you how to increase your social media followers – all while your follower count is still in the single digits.
- Tip 1: Decide what your social media goals are
- Tip 2: Identify the social media channels that are right for you
- Tip 3: Define your audience
- Tip 4: Know who your competitors are
- Tip 5: Create and share valuable content
- Tip 6: Include images that “wow”
- Tip 7: Engage with your followers
- Tip 8: Respond quickly – and kindly
- Tip 9: Establish win-win relationships
- Tip 10: Keep active
- Tip 11: Cross promote on your various social media channels
- Tip 12: Use hashtags…strategically
- Tip 13: Feature your social icons on your website
- Tip 14: Don’t be afraid of social media tools
- Tip 15: Deploy a social media content calendar
- Tip 16: Realize the benefits of automation
- Tip 17: Monitor and analyze performance
- Tip 18: Give paid ads a go
Tip 1: Decide what your social media goals are.
You can’t start your journey without a destination.
Ask yourself, what am I trying to achieve with building out a social presence for my brand or business?
If you’re going for brand awareness, then you’ll be aiming to reach as many people as possible and earn a ton of impressions. If you’re looking to drive more traffic to your website, then you’ll want to share content with smart CTAs that inspire click-throughs.Here’s a hint: your social media goals should essentially be a modified version of your current business goals.Click To Tweet
For instance, new businesses looking to spread the word about the products and services they offer would likely want to use social media for brand awareness. Brands launching an e-commerce platform or opening up an online storefront would probably be more focused on driving traffic to their website.
Establish a main goal so you have a focused direction for the tactical things you do each and every day.
Tip 2: Identify the social media channels that are right for you.
Once you know what you’re trying to achieve, you need to decide which social channels are going to get you there.
It’s pretty standard for most businesses to have a Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn page. But based on your goals and your type of brand or business, you may want to use these in different ways. Or make your main focus another social channel like Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, etc.
For example, say you run a bug spray company called ByeBugs and you want to inspire more online sales. You might use Facebook for general business information and to share helpful industry articles with links and CTAs to drive traffic back to your website. Twitter would be helpful to share articles, answer customers’ questions or even handle customer service issues. You’d want a LinkedIn presence to connect with other local businesses and customers, to help people find your company via google search and to share general business information.
But focusing on Instagram would likely be a bad idea for ByeBugs.
Not sure any potential consumers would want to look at pictures of nasty infestations or videos of mosquito swarms dropping out of the sky… And cans of bug spray aren’t anywhere near pretty enough to tag your BFF on.
Now, if you run a smoothie company, and you’re looking to increase brand awareness, you’d definitely want to take advantage of the visual aspect of Instagram. You could share beautiful pictures of raw ingredients, artfully positioned, or even photos of happy, fit customers stopping by for a post-workout snack.
Every social channel has its strengths and weaknesses. Direct your focus to the accounts with strengths that support your business and overarching goals.
Tip 3: Define your audience.
You’ve established your goals and pinpointed the social channels you’ll use to achieve them.
So…who exactly are you trying to reach?
Correctly identifying your audience directly impacts the strategy you should use on each of your social media channels.
It used to be that only young people had a Facebook page or a Twitter account, but times have changed.
And with so many social media channels, it can be tough to keep up or even understand the nuances of all the social media channels your audience might be on.
While the average age on channels like the more business-oriented LinkedIn will always be greater than that on newer channels like Snapchat, you’ll likely be able to reach all age groups on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn – depending on what you share and where you share it.
But even though your potential customers may be present and active, it doesn’t mean they’re going to notice you. You need to really flesh out who they are to make sure you’re sharing content and speaking in a tone that appeals to them.
Consumer research and company sales data will give you greater insight into who your target customers are. Market research, focus groups and testing over time can help you learn how best to reach them.
Further still, social channels like Twitter offer built-in analytics that can show you the times of day your audience is most active and which of your updates get the most engagement.
But with 0 followers, you’ll have to make some progress before those kind of metrics will be of any benefit to you.
Tip 4: Know who your competitors are.
You can’t have a smart business strategy on or off social media without a firm understanding of who your main competitors are.
You need to identify who they are, who they’re trying to reach and how they’re doing it. You need to know how they’re positioning themselves in the marketplace and what tactics they’re using to try to get ahead of you, their competition.If you can properly define your competitors’ positioning and offerings, then you can position yourself to fill a market void and plan your marketing strategy to reach an untapped market segment. Click To Tweet
Or, you can make plans to target the same audience with a stronger, unique approach.
You’ll also want to remain aware of how they manage their presence on social media – so you can avoid their mistakes, modify their successful endeavors for your benefit and keep your ear to the ground on any impactful industry trends.
Tip 5: Create and share valuable content.
No matter what goals you have or social media channels you use, you’re going to need interesting, original content to share with your audience.
Most companies source this content from their blog.
Got one? Great.
Need one? No sweat.
Setting up a blog page with the help of your developer or a web consultant is a relatively simple process, especially if you’re using a platform like WordPress. Once the page is there, that’s when the real work begins.
Start building out content with your target customer in mind. What kind of information will they be needing or wanting from your business in order to 1 – view you as a trusted resource in your industry and 2 – make a purchase?
And once your content is built out, you can make sharing your content a breeze with a social media content calendar.
But please keep in mind how will this information shared on your social channels help further your business and social media goals?
Tip 6: Include images that “wow”.
To further the blog content discussion, don’t forget to give considerable thought to accompanying images.
Think about it…when you’re scrolling through your social feed and you see a super intriguing picture of something that appeals to your interests, you’re going to pause for a closer look. On the other hand, you’re likely to miss a wordy, text-only update or one with an overused, generic stock image.
Images that “wow” are even more important for highly visual brands that are putting a large amount of effort into channels like Instagram.
Take, Sonja, the owner of a smoothie company, for instance. With a target customer of say fitness-oriented women and men, ages 20-45, she may want to share an article on the health benefits of delicious blueberry smoothies.
Sonja could do all the research in the world and make they copy fantastic…but if her photo is a blurry shot of some sad looking blueberries on a cutting board, she’s not likely to catch the kind of attention she’s looking for.
If she decides to post a well-lit photo of fresh smoothie ingredients, set in a clean modern kitchen instead…now that’s another story.
When and where your brand and objectives support it, photos are always the best option. No need for fancy photography equipment or hiring a freelancer. Most smartphones today take shots that are essentially on-par with professional photos.
If you’re concerned about your lackluster eye for design, check out Instagram for inspiration – see what other companies are doing, in and out of your industry, and modify it to fit your brand.
If original photos don’t make sense for your company, avoid stock photos at all costs.
Try a free image creation site like Canva. It’s easy to use and offers a wide range of templates in different shapes and sizes to fit whatever kind of image you’ve got in mind.
Tip 7: Engage with your followers.
Even if you have a smart strategy in place when it comes to creating and posting content and updates, you’re not going to make the impact or earn the following you want without engaging with the followers you have.
Thank people for following you and like or comment on their content.
Follow other people – for a reason, not just for a follow-back – and introduce yourself and your company, when appropriate.
Retweet articles and content related to your brand or business (while avoiding direct competitors) and tag the writer or company. This may earn you followers or further engagement from not only those companies, but also their audiences.
And you can even leverage social media automation to help you better engage with your followers.
Engaging shows your audience that you’re a real person that really cares about their wants and needs.
They’ll be more likely to make a connection, follow you, and buy from you when that trust is earned through positive, thoughtful interaction.
Tip 8: Respond quickly – and kindly.
Showing your audience that you care enough to answer their questions and concerns goes a long way.
Make sure that you’re responding quickly to any service issues or product-related questions (most customers expect a response within an hour) and reply with the kind of respect and consideration you’d expect when reaching out as a customer.
Remember: everything you share on social media is public. That means the way you handle each and every customer is how every other member of your audience assumes that you will treat them.
So be nice. Even when it’s frustrating.
Tip 9: Establish win-win relationships.
Besides earning quality followers and elevating your brand image, engaging with your audience can help you establish some mutually-beneficial connections.
As you’re interacting with various individuals on social media, keep an eye out for any people or brands that would be considered social media influencers (large following, high resonance and an established presence). These are people/brands that others view as thought leaders in their various industries or genres.
These are people other people listen to.
By identifying key influencers in your market and developing a relationship with them through quality, meaningful interaction, you’re essentially earning yourself trustworthy, un-affiliated brand ambassadors.
These brand ambassadors may be willing to share your content, offer product reviews, write guest posts on your website, endorse your business…and for nothing but your offer to do the same for them.
Support from happy customers and trustworthy influencers makes a much bigger impression on an audience than a company talking about itself.
Tip 10: Keep active.
What do you think when you come across a social media channel that last shared an article 4 months ago? Or one that leaves customer questions unanswered for weeks at a time on Twitter or Facebook?
You think they either don’t care, their accounts are obsolete or their business has cratered.
One of the most important things about building a social media presence for your brand or business is to never let it “go dark”. Make sure you’re sharing content multiple times a day, once a day at the very least, and don’t go more than a day without engaging with your audience in some shape or form.Keeping active on social media shows the online community that you’re readily available, in-touch with the latest news and updates, and that you’re engaged with your customers and your business.Click To Tweet
“Going dark” is a good way to sabotage your credibility and get forgotten in the constant buzz of the social media world.
Tip 11: Cross promote on your various social media channels.
If you’ve got more than one social media account, you might as well have them all working for the benefit of each other, in addition to the whole, right?
Ask your followers on one channel to check out your other channel(s) and follow you there too. This is a great way to reach people who are already active on social media and interested in your content.
Because if they support your brand and like what you’re sharing enough to follow you on Twitter, it stands to reason that they’ll probably have no issue following you on Facebook as well. This is particularly true for followers who you’ve built trust with over time through engagement, or those who are happy customers.
Just be mindful of how often you share these kind of updates. No one wants to be bombarded by a slew of tweets saying, “Be sure to follow me on Facebook too!” Talk about pushy. And annoying.
Tip 12: Use hashtags…strategically.
It seems like no one will ever come to a solid consensus on hashtags.
Too few. Too many. Really important. Not important at all.
So which is it?Think of hashtags like dessert – something you put at the end of the “meat” of the update that adds to the context. You want enough to be satisfied, but not enough to be sick.Click To Tweet
Hashtags help organize and group content on social media so people interested in particular topics can find similar conversations all in one place.
Think about hashtags like keywords on social media. Do your research to identify hashtags that:
- Are relevant to your brand, business and target audience
- Have a high search rate
- Are specific enough to prevent your content from getting lost in the chatter
Use hashtags strategically in your updates to direct focus and conversation. One or two powerful ones are more than enough.
Don’t assume more is better. Being one of those people who pollutes every post with 15 hashtags is a quick way to alienate and irritate your audience and make yourself look like a social media amateur.
Tip 13: Feature your social icons on your website.
It’s pretty much standard in this day and age that the header or footer, and sometimes, right or left rail, of every website has a collection of icons linking to that company’s social media accounts.
Because, again, what better way to earn new followers and elevate your social media presence than by reaching those already interested in what you’re offering?
It’s a quick and easy update that builds an instant connection between engaged parties and forums where they can engage further.
And while you’re at it, you should also feature your social icons in your email signature. Just think of how often you send email. Each one of them is an opportunity to plug your social media within your email signature. You can quickly and easily create a professionally designed email signature with social icons for free with an email signature maker.
One way you can easily feature your social icons on your website or email signature is through a QR code. QR code generator tools like Beaconstac allow you to create a QR that users can scan and be taken directly to your social media pages.
Tip 14: Don’t be afraid of social media tools.
The whole point of using tools is to make tasks easier. Hammers, cars and refrigerators were all invented to save time, solve a problem or do something more effectively with it than without it.
All social media tools are designed for the same purpose: to make whatever it is that you’re trying to do easier, more effective and less time consuming.
So what social media tools should you use? That depends on what you want to achieve.
Want to schedule out a week of posts in advance on Instagram? Give Buffer a go. Want to monitor conversations about your company and competitors? Hootsuite can help with that.
No clue where to start when it comes to deciding on the best social media tools to fit your business needs and your budget?
Tip 15: Deploy a social media content calendar.
Social media isn’t your only focus. You’ve got a business to run.
And you won’t always be at the top of your game with a minute’s notice or have the time to share content on social media in real-time, multiple times a day. Understandably, it’s hard to focus when you’re going in and out of meetings all day, answering e-mails and picking up calls.
Don’t let your social media strategy suffer at the hand of poor planning.
Set aside a block of time to build out a content calendar of updates for your social media channels – days, weeks or months in advance.
By doing so, you’ll have a list of ready-made updates to share throughout the day or upload into a scheduling tool.
Naturally, these will be much more effective when you’ve taken the time to plan them out when you’re focused, not distracted by everything else going on.
You’ll also be gaining back more time to spend engaging with your followers, creating original content, etc. – all things that further your social media and business goals.
Make your life easier. Start building your social media content calendar today.
Tip 16: Realize the benefits of automation.
As your list of updates, blog content and follower count grow, you’ll have less bandwidth to be scheduling updates from your social media calendar by hand.
Once you have a collection of original content that you’re actively sharing on social media, you’ve got everything you need to get started using social media automation.
Automation is essentially just taking your social media content calendar one step further by cutting out the manual plotting of posts at various times and dates and, well, automating it.
This is the entire reason I created Bulkly – to gain back the time I spent on social media administrative tasks and put that back into the strategizing and engaging that directly impacts my business goals.
All you need is $12 a month to get started, plus a Buffer account.
In your Bulkly account you can import your past 100 social updates sent by Buffer for each social media account and curate them directly inside Bulkly.
Then choose how often you want Bulky to send them and that’s it.
It doesn’t get much easier than that.
And if you’re starting from scratch (or already have a social media content calendar built out), you can easily transition that data into Bulkly as well.
The process would look like this:
- Download the CSV file template from the Bulkly website.
- Fill out each of the columns: group (so you can stay organized), content (status update text), URL (link to add to status update), image link (link to image, if needed).
- Save your CSV file.
- Upload your CSV file to Bulkly’s content upload section.
- Adjust the posting schedule to your preferences and save.
- Click activate.
These posts will now be sent to Buffer to fill up your queue and be posted to your social media accounts according to the schedule you’ve selected.
See? No worrying about organizing themes, dates, times, etc. over and over and over…every few weeks or months to a nauseating degree. Now, you select all of this information in Bulky one time and it does the repetitive work for you.
And to top it all off, using a tool like Bulkly affords you all the additional benefits of using a content calendar: greater efficiency, more time to spend engaging with your audience, greater focus when it comes to handling customer service issues diplomatically, etc.
If you’re interested and are looking for more information, feel free to check out the Bulkly website or contact me personally with questions here.
Tip 17: Monitor and analyze performance.
The best way to detract from all the time and efficiency you gain by investing in social media automation is to waste your time doing the wrong things – and repeating them.
No one expects you to get everything right the first time. That’s what social media testing is for.
Before you really hit your stride on social media, you’ll need to try different things, evaluate their performance and then go back and adjust for the next time.
So it goes without saying that you need to have an analytics tool in place to deliver the social media metrics you’re looking to measure, the ones directly related to your goals.
Don’t panic. You don’t have to be a certified social media analyst to source and cypher the data you need.
Some social media channels like Facebook and Twitter offer their own built-in insights sections where you can evaluate the performance of your updates – everything from engagement to comments to shares – with lists, charts, graphs, etc.
Other paid tools like Google Analytics, Sprout Social, Buzzsumo, etc. cover both basic and in-depth performance analysis at various price points, depending on the tool or package selected.
Tip 18: Give paid ads a go.
Algorithm changes, bots, overcrowding and automation have all significantly altered the visibility of organic updates on social media. Not in a good way.Don’t get me wrong, with smart planning and execution, your organic social media efforts will still get you results – they’re the “meat and potatoes” of an effective social media strategy.Click To Tweet
But you might want to give paid ads a go, to reach a larger, different audience.
These can get pretty complex. For example, Facebook offers pages of instructions when it comes to building out lookalike audiences, categorizing users by interest or hobby, selecting various ad formats, etc.
My recommendation? Start organic. Pick your best (or worst) performing social media account. Review the paid ad instructions for that particular channel. Try a small ad campaign, using your strongest content. Track and analyze performance.
Did it offer promising results? Try it again, given it makes sense for your budget.
Was it a flop? No biggie. Give another channel or approach a try.
One of the best things about social media is how quickly and easily you can pivot from one tool, strategy, method, etc. to the next.
So don’t be afraid to test, test, test and test some more.
How to increase your social media followers
A high follower count on social media might turn some heads and beef up your image, but it isn’t everything.
Especially when you’ve gone about it the wrong way – by buying followers or following bogus accounts only for the guaranteed followback.
Because the bots and scammers aren’t buying. And they’re probably not going to engage or even read your updates either.
You want to aim for the perfect combo: looks and substance.
And the only way to get there is by thoughtfully and strategically building out your social media strategy to earn yourself a high count of quality followers.
Whether you’re currently at 0 or 50,000, these 18 steps can help you reach the number you’re working toward – and get the most out of your social media marketing efforts along the way.