It’s a fact: your social media marketing strategy is only as good as the work you put into it. If you set up profiles on a handful of channels months ago and haven’t done much since to increase your followers, you can’t expect to drive much traffic back to your site or find leads for your business. Many business owners do exactly that, then assume that social media doesn’t work to increase sales.
That’s simply not the case. A successful social media campaign requires constant nurturing and patience. And as I outlined in my article “Myth Busted: My Industry Isn’t A Good Fit For Social Media,” even businesses in “unsexy” industries can achieve positive ROI from social media marketing. A strategic plan of attack is the key to growing your follower base, which tends to snowball over time. Here are 10 ways to grow your following on social media channels.
1. Follow people in your target audience
How many followers would you like to have in the next six months? Pick a number and then work backwards to figure out how much effort you need to put in to achieve that goal. If you don’t have many followers currently, simply following people in your target audience is a great way to accrue new followers. Many people automatically follow-back anyone who follows them, and many others will receive a notification that you’ve followed them, which can be a great way to raise awareness and attract the attention of people who you’d like to follow you.
There’s no sense reinventing the wheel to find followers. Tools like TweetAdder, which helps you find people to follow based on keywords and search criteria can automate some of the process of following people, which in turn will bump up your follower numbers. Social Buzz Club lets you post updates for others to share in exchange for points. Find tools that make it easier to connect with others, then maximize them to grow your network.
Be sure not to abuse this tactic, though. Doing it too much could get your account suspended or banned if moderators deem you’re being spammy. Most social media channels have a daily limit of people you can follow within their terms of service; be mindful of these limits and respect them.
Over time as you build your reputation as a thought leader within your industry, more people will naturally follow you, as well as follow you back.
2. Share Other People’s Content
This works on pretty much every social platform: when you start to share others’ content, they start paying attention to you. Put more attention on the smaller players; you’re more likely to get reciprocal attention if you share another small business owner’s content than a high-profile influencer who already has tons of people sharing their content.
When it comes to social media marketing, you must first give before you receive. Build a reputation for generosity and you’ll see reciprocation by other players in your industry.
3. Focus Your Content
If someone were to look at your Google+, LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter profile, would they see a theme in the content you share? Or is it all over the place? The more you zero-in on a subject, the more target followers you’ll attract. If you run a software company for the HR industry, your content should focus on topics HR managers and small business owners care about. Write about hiring, management, scheduling, and training.
There are a few reasons to do this:
1. Twitter and LinkedIn use your content to make recommendations for who should follow you. If you’re targeting HR managers, they’ll be told they should follow you.
2. When people search specific keywords, you want your content to appear. Look into what hashtags you can include to appear in those searches as well.
3. People start to associate you with content on those topics, and will re-share it.
4. Leverage Google Authorship
Google is a behemoth when it comes to social media. It’s even surpassed Twitter’s average monthly users (255 million) by about 45 million. One reason for this is that marketers realize that they get better exposure in Google search results by participating in Google+ and implementing Google Authorship.
Google Authorship can not only boost your presence in search results, but also builds your personal brand and makes it easy for people to add you to their circles from search results. Just make sure that for any site you to which you contribute content, you link to it from your Google+ profile so your avatar and link to your profile appear next to your content in search results. This helps boost search visibility by expanding the vertical space of your search result, and also adding your Google+ avatar next to your content in search results, drawing the user’s eye and attracting more clicks.
For more information on Google Authorship and how to implement it, see my article, “The Complete Guide to Google Authorship.”
5. Keep Your Updates Consistent
The more frequently you update your social channels, the more people will see your content and follow you. You never know what will catch people’s eye in their streams, so it’s imperative that you’re consistently delivering valuable content and links so that you not only land in their stream but they also want to follow you to get more.
More social media updates will help you get more exposure in people’s social media streams, which will also help increase the number of shares you get, further broadening your reach. Just make sure you don’t sacrifice quality for quantity; useless or boring updates will get your brand ignored or blocked eventually.
6. Build Your Facebook Profile to Attract More to Your Page
Facebook’s tricky in that you can add friends through your personal profile, but not to your business page. So you can use your profile as a sort of funnel to get people to Like your page. Friend people that fit your target demographic, just like you would on any other channel. Then after you’ve built up a relationship with them, invite them to Like your page.
7. Make Your Social Icons Prominent on Your Website
This is the simplest way to get more followers, and yet so many business owners overlook it. People expect to see those social icons at the top of a website page, so make sure yours are obvious and that the links work. There’s nothing worse than when people click on icons with dead links.
8. Include Your Profiles in Your Email Signature
Another way to make it easy for anyone who emails you to connect socially is to include the links to each of your social channels right in your email. Also include them in your company newsletter.
9. Join LinkedIn Groups
Groups help people with common interests gather together. Find the ones your target audience spends time in, and start contributing valuable insight and content there. You can link to other members, and will likely see others do the same to you if you’re truly providing valuable information.
10. Build Relationships with Industry Influencers
Finding and building relationships with industry influencers is an excellent way to quickly expand your reach, brand awareness, and audience. Tools like WeFollow are great for helping your identify key influencers by keywords. Follow these influencers and interact with them; build a relationship and soon they’ll start helping you achieve your social media goals. Remember, social media is all about being social; don’t be afraid to reach out and build relationships!
Keep at it. Building a substantial social media following takes time and energy, but ultimately is worth the payoff of increased traffic to your site, establishment of you as a thought leader, and more sales. For help maximizing your Facebook and Twitter campaigns, see my article, “How to Maximize ROI on Your Facebook and Twitter Campaigns.”