Social media has evolved the way brands and consumers interact and has quickly turned into a key aspect of any marketing strategy. What was once a platform for people to share pieces of their lives has now become a great tool in fostering brand engagement, creating exceptional customer service experiences, and executing a digital advertising campaign. With this comes a number of new worries that marketers face and number one is follower acquisition.
Don’t Buy Followers
These days, social media followers have become more sought after than that infamous needle in a haystack (did anyone ever find that by the way?), and with that comes the question “how do I get more of them?” While some might jump to the questionable conclusion of buying their followers, we strongly advise against it.
When you buy followers you’re simply paying for a number and nothing more. Nine times out of ten the followers you buy are either bots, inactive accounts, or fake accounts run by people getting paid to follow you. In other words: they’re not going to engage with your brand.
This aspect is especially important when it comes to Instagram. With the days of the apps chronological timeline far behind us, engagement is key to how the new algorithm displays posts. Without real engagement, your posts will likely not show up in feed for what little authentic audience you do have, and they definitely will not show up in the explore feed.
One last thing to keep in mind is your performance metrics. Not only will it completely butcher your engagement ratios, but it will make it harder to track engagement from your real audience and get a good feel for how your content resonates with them. Without this information, you’ll have a very hard time converting your followers into customers.
Luckily there are a number of things that you can do to foster the increase of your social following without having to pay a heavy price.
If you’re not sure where to start on your follower acquisition journey, these best practices are a good place to start.
Promote your accounts
If you haven’t already taken advantage of your owned channels, now is the time. Your Website, blog, and marketing emails are the perfect place to link your social media channels to your current audience and encourage that they give you a follow.
Know who you’re talking to
Who is your target audience? Does your current following fall within that demographic? What are their buying behaviors? What are their emotional drivers? What kind of content do they consume? These are all questions you should be asking yourself. When you know exactly who you’re talking to on your social media channels, it makes it much easier to create content that will attract followers that fall within your desired demographics, and keep your current followers happy and engaged with your brand.
Actually talk to your followers
The beautiful thing about social media is that it has broken down the barrier between brands and their users - opening up room for conversation. Not only should you be posting content that gets them thinking, and starts a conversation, but you should also be joining in on the conversation. Reply to their comments, acknowledge their opinions, and make them feel heard.
While post frequencies will differ from channel to channel, it’s important that you post onto all of your social media accounts consistently. Not only are potential followers less likely to click that follow button when you post sporadically, but you’ll also run the risk of losing current followers because they feel disengaged from your brand. However, that being said…
Quality over quantity
While consistent posting is important, you don’t want to drown your followers in content - especially bad content. Each piece of content you post to your social channels should be shareable, resonate with your followers, and have a driver behind it. This is where a content calendar can really come in handy. Planning each month's content in advance makes you be more thoughtful about what you post, and ensures that you’re putting out content in a timely manner.
Yes, hashtags are still a thing, and when used correctly they can be a great way for users to find your brand. For those of you who are still a little new to this, let us give you a quick rundown:
Traditionally the hashtag was known as the symbol “#” but now it is known as a way to index keywords on social media. How these hashtags are used differ from platform to platform, but when it comes down to it, they work all the same. For example, hashtags on Twitter are a great way to find trending content - specifically when it comes to world news and entertainment. On any given day you can find users providing live commentary on current events or the latest episode of that reality show you would never admit you watch.
However, on Instagram hashtags are used in the more traditional sense of categorizing content with keywords that pertain to the photo. Let’s use “#travel” as an example for this one. If you searched for that particular hashtag on Instagram, you would be able to scroll through beautiful photos from foreign places with a few snapshots from aspiring influencers frolicking on the beach.
So, our point here is this: because of the way hashtags group together photos, it makes it easy for users to find accounts that post content that they’re interested in. Enter your hashtag strategy.
As with anything, you’ll need to do some initial research. Think about what hashtags users would be using and cruising that are relative to your product or brand. Additionally, you can use websites like rite tag and best hashtags that let you search for popular hashtag groups based on your preferred keywords and industry. Once you have your core tags picked out, start utilizing them and engaging with the users that post in them as well.
We’ve covered the best practices, now let’s dig into some methods that are a little more off the beaten path.
Get Involved in Communities
Both Facebook and Linkedin have an extensive network of groups dedicated to common subjects and interests among their members. Find and join groups that are relevant to your brand and then hop in on the conversation. Share relevant content, give insight on subjects in group discussions, and build credibility with other members to get that coveted follow.
Run Paid Advertisements
The beauty in paid social media advertisements is that a little money goes a long way and when executed correctly, they can make a big impact. However, the key to these paid advertisements when it comes to follower acquisition is engagement. When you think about the kind of content you want to promote, shy away from strictly sales or promotional advertisements.
If your goal is to sell a product or service, then promotional content works great, however in the interest of gaining followers you want your advertisement to be the right blend. Take this advertisement for example:
Let’s break this down. We can all agree that the advertisement is selling something. However, by opting for a subtle CTA like the “learn more” button opposed to “download now” or “sign up”, it doesn’t come off as overtly salesy and begging for business. Additionally, the use of both the “like page” and “learn more” buttons give users plenty to engage with. Perfectly blended content for follower acquisition.
Cross-Promotion & Partnerships
Reach potential followers by partnering with brands that aren’t direct competitors, but have a similar target audience and cross-promote strategized content to each other’s followers. Some examples of this are:
We understand that influencer marketing is a whole other can of worms, but they can be fairly easy to work and cross-promote with if you know what you’re doing. Depending on their social clout, you can often get micro-influencers to post about your brand for free in exchange for product, or for as low as $100 per post.
Find blogs related to your industry and request to do a guest blog for them and vice versa. Essentially this entails agreeing on a subject, writing a blog on said subject, and posting it to their blog under your brand name. Not only will this help you reach potential followers, but it also helps build brand authority, and gives you a nice little link for SEO purposes.
Instead of hosting a contest or giveaway on your own, partner up with other brands that have similar demographics for a collaborative giveaway. The gist here is that you all offer some sort of prize or incentive for the giveaway, each promotes it on your social channels, and set the guidelines so that each entrant has to follow every brand involved. It’s an easy way to make connections with brands that have similar values to yours, and gain social followers at the same time.
There’s no getting around it: follower acquisition is tricky and something we all struggle with. However, we hope that we these tips and tricks you’ll be able to get the ball rolling, and not be tempted to take the easy route by buying followers.