As we approach the 2020s, social media is in the “mature” stage of its product life cycle and, arguably, heading into the “decline” stage. Yet it remains unique as a vehicle for obtaining free publicity among large groups of engaged followers. The response to a well-judged social media post can far outweigh anything achievable via advertising, while social media also provides a platform for customer interaction and problem-solving.
However, that’s of little consequence if your brand new social media account has no posts and no followers. This is where every account starts out – even today’s influencers had to construct their presence from nothing. Only a well-established company can expect to build followers on social media simply by having a presence and waiting for people to find them. The rest of us need to follow more organic – and time-consuming – methods to build followers on social media…
1. Identify who you want to target.
Of course, you want followers. But British ones? Millennial ones? High net worth ones? Defining ideal audience personas helps to determine the type of content you should be generating. If you end up with followers with very different ideologies, that’s a welcome bonus.
2. Generate a well of original content.
Before launching the account, amass plentiful content to populate it with. Tapering down social media activity over time is understandable, but prospective followers will find a new account with ten posts far more enticing than an account with just one post.
3. Follow legitimate, relevant accounts.
If your business involves gardening, don’t fill your Following list with obscure metal bands and former partners. Equally, a local business should seek out local audiences. Their patronage and awareness of your brand might be beneficial long-term, rather than simply being of personal interest.
4. Complete your profile.
Never launch a social media account without establishing a detailed profile. Photos, straplines, bios and even keywords should be incorporated to let prospective followers know who you are and why they should follow you. It also provides SEO (search engine optimisation) benefits, potentially supporting outbound links to a chosen URL.
5. Post regularly.
Don’t let social accounts become dormant, or look neglected. Add original content (or links to interesting third-party material) frequently. Comment on news, trends, and reports, but avoid divisive issues like Brexit that might entrench people against you. Ask questions, encourage discussion and start debates.
6. Engage with your followers.
Log in on a daily basis if possible – weekly at the very least – and don’t just arbitrarily ‘like’ other people’s content. Comment on it. Start discussions about it. This interaction helps to ensure your content appears more prominently in other people’s timelines, which tend to be algorithmic rather than chronological.
7. Cross-promote different platforms.
If you use Twitter and Instagram, write a post for one and edit it for the other to double its reach. Encourage people on one platform to access the others. Build followers on social media by promoting accounts via email signatures, marketing documents, business cards, and PowerPoint presentations.
8. Consider social advertising.
But isn’t social media supposed to be free, you cry? Well yes, it can be. But social ads bolster content visibility, especially on Pinterest and Instagram. Within defined budget parameters, this is a great way to quickly and organically build followers on social media.
9. Use hashtags.
Some people deploy these as a lazy shortcut, but hashtags expose your content and comments to audiences who’d otherwise never see it. Check the hashtag is relevant, however. A rugby website using the hashtag “hooker” for social posts could find its content appearing alongside a very different type of ball game…