Want to add 5,000 new followers overnight, every night, with just a couple clicks and maybe a funny cat video? Wouldn’t we all. However, the sad truth is that modern social media success is a slow burner for most individuals and businesses. Instead of a flash-in-the-pan viral fame, the tips below will help you build long term growth at a slower rate – after all, if your customers are mainly based in Portsmouth, UK, then even if it looks impressive suddenly adding 20,000 South Korean teens or a collection of Russian bots to your follow list won’t improve your sales.
1. Give people want they want – discounts
The easiest way to gather followers is to provide something valuable in return for their attention. For an e-commerce store or other business, that’s typically a discount or giveaway. How often you need to change the offer; what shape the offer should take and how much you mileage you can get out of a single offer will vary depending on what the offer is, the platform and your industry. As an example, if you’re an e-commerce store selling a wide variety of mainly low-price items (such as office supplies) you will probably be better off Tweeting about every single discount (20% off leaver arch files!) while a car dealership might want to rave about the same offer all month.
2. Encourage responses – and react to them
Not everyone goes on social media in order to passively follow the local and international brands they love trying to spot a bargain. Many people want to interact with the brands they like, particularly if they’re a small or local company. Encourage your followers to share thoughts or snaps with you and reshare the best or funniest ones. This can be a particularly effective way to boost the signal of an offer e.g. “It’s test drive Monday at Portsmouth car sales – here are some of your in-the-car selfies from last week”. You’ll probably be reaching out to influencers in your field, and their responses can give you a big boost, but it’s important to remember than ‘no-name’ individuals may also be influential in your particular niche.
3. Tailor your content to the medium
Each social media platform has its own format, style and etiquette which means that a post that’s a big hit on Twitter might bomb on Facebook and get utterly lost on LinkedIn. It’s fine to post the same message across multiple platforms, you’re more likely to get an appropriate response from your followers if you present your material in the right format. This applies not only to the length of posts, but also number and type of images and links as well as the use of hastags and memes.
4. Be informative
Knowing that accounts with more content get more followers, it’s tempting to let your standards slide now and then in order to say something. While personal messages like ‘lunch today was chips’ might work for individuals, they don’t work very well for brands – unless you are making a joke or showing something neat. Instead, when you can’t think of what else to post, share a fact about a product or tool you sell or use. For example, a beauty salon might post regular grooming tips while a Portsmouth-based outdoor store might post recommendations for hikes nearby or retweet the National Trust’s Hampshire bluebell watch.
5. Mustn’t grumble – happiness is more shareable
OK, everyone has bad days, and sometimes, for business reasons, you’ll have to share bad news. Overall, however, people prefer to follow business and personal accounts which make them feel better about themselves and these are generally positive, cheerful messages. Upbeat posts are also more shareable as followers spread the joy around. Funny posts are the best, but it can be very hard to amuse everyone without annoying anyone, so be wary.
6. Get the technical side right
A few stumbling blocks can really sink your follower numbers. For example:
– Check your privacy settings – can people find you?
– Check your shareability – is your content reshareable?
– Check your traceability – does your content lead back to you? E.g. do images have your URL in them?
– Check your hashtags – are you using popular ones for the right posts?
– Check your links – can your followers quickly click through to your e-commerce site or brand site?
– Check your bio – is it professional and informative?
– Check your feeds – are you being automatically shared in the right places?
– Check your website – does it mention your social media accounts? Do you have a widget?
Of course, there are many other little details that can trip you up, but if it’s smooth and easy for viewers to follow you, your numbers will go up not down.
7. Try, fail, learn
Reading tips like these can make crafting each Facebook post or tweet feel much more complicated. Don’t get bogged down trying to create the perfect post once – instead post regularly and observe the responses. Did you get an uptick in follows after a particular deal post? Was a tip widely shared? Did a joke correspond with losing followers? How about a retweet? As each industry and region varies, what works for the company next door might not suit you so the only solution is to try, fail, succeed and learn.
3 ways to lose followers
Every account has up-surges and down-swings and sometimes you just have to accept that your follower graph is going to look like a roller coaster. However, these 3 factors can all trigger unfollows:
2. Nothing of value
3. Only reruns
Essentially, if you post too much in a short time (a burst); too many successive posts without any value to the user; or too much content your follower has seen before then you’ll nudge them into taking action to avoid you (i.e. unfollowing you). According to a study by a team of Korean researchers, bursts are the biggest trigger for an unfollow, so if you’ve got a lot to say, consider using a scheduling service to spread your messages out over a few days.