First, one important thing to note before you read on: getting lots of followers is not the most important thing. Having 100 followers who are interested in your service or product is better than having 1,000 who don’t engage. You need to take the time to figure out what your goals are for social. Subscriptions? Sales? Donations? Signatures? These and any other ultimate goal will require different strategies.
If you’ve decided that building your network on social is a priority, here are some best practices to help guide you.
If you don’t know, find out. You can’t write content that resonates without establishing who you’re writing for. You already know who’s buying your product, who’s donating to your cause, who’s lobbying for you, who’s enlisting your services, who’s reading your work, etc. Use this to tailor your content to your most potent demographics.
If you have no idea who your audience is, check out the free native managing programs for Facebook and Twitter: Facebook Business Manager and Twitter Ads. If your company is trying to build a more robust social presence and you're willing to shell out (a lot) of money, try Crimson Hexagon or Pulsar. We've used them both here at kglobal. Crimson's big differentiator is its adaptive algorithm that learns what type of posts you want to identify and how to assign sentiment, cutting down user involvement. Pulsar's is its media-specific queries, which allow you to limit searches to hyperlinks, images, and videos.
All of these will help you shape your brand’s voice and appeal to high-yield followers.
Even when you’ve figured out who’s listening, it’s tough to generate consistent content that adheres to your message. An easy way to keep your copy on track is to develop an audience persona document. These documents give some facts and motivations for your ideal consumer; things like age, gender, location, purchasing behavior, likes and dislikes, hobbies, and beliefs are commonplace here. The more precise you get, the better. Always keep a copy handy when you’re developing content or researching anything related to social.
Twitter’s algorithm underwent a change earlier this year that made it much harder for smaller or newer brands to be heard. Essentially, Twitter now pushes tweets it thinks each user will like to the top of their timeline, a big change from its previous chronological iteration. What’s the best way to overcome this barrier? Post. If you are pushing out interesting and relevant content, eventually, people will engage. And once they engage, they’ll start to see more.
Talk with people. Potential followers, customers, thought leaders, bloggers, new hires, and vendors are all good targets that can help amplify your signal. They might even have ideas on how to improve your social presence.
Nowadays, almost every company has a website and a variety of social media accounts. It’s totally acceptable to leverage one platform to promote the other. You never know what might come of it; maybe that one Instagram user is more active on Facebook and willing to share your posts to a wider audience. Or maybe a lot of your Twitter followers have no idea you send out a weekly newsletter. Cross-promote. Then cross-promote again.
This is the most overused and transparent form of audience growth. True, it allows you to tap into larger conversations and centralizes discussions. But, everybody does it and it’s become saturated. Check out why some experts are very down on it. And they've long been discouraging it. I recommend only hashtagging when there’s a huge event (elections, Game of Thrones premiere, Super Bowl, Emmys, etc.). Those are undeniable opportunities to draw eyes to your brand but remember: those eyes probably don’t belong to people who have any interest in what you’re offering.
All in all, trying to get a mass of social media followers can be fickle and difficult. It’s important to plan a thorough strategy and draft quality, relevant content that converts users. If you follow the tips above, you’ll have a solid foundation for growing your network. The rest is up to you.