Social media marketing can’t be reduced to any one metric. Many entrepreneurs and marketers new to the strategy often overemphasize the importance of followers, doing whatever it takes to earn more.
Unfortunately, chasing raw numbers this way often leads to decreased quality, fewer engagements and, overall, a weaker social media presence -- especially when those followers are bought through cheap third-party methods, such as Fiverr gigs.
Still, if you’ve got the rest of your strategy in check, there are distinct advantages to having more followers. The trap most people fall into is thinking that all followers are equal, and that any new follower will have the same value as any other. In reality, a follower who is engaged and familiar with your brand is far more valuable than the “average” follower; and it’s an increase in the former category that’s really going to mean something for your brand.
One new engaged, loyal follower is far more valuable than just about any number of uninterested impulse-followers. So, how can you increase this segment of your audience?
With these five tips, you can work on doubling the size of your social media following, without ever sacrificing the quality of your audience:
1. Post higher-quality material.
If you want to attract more followers, or entice the followers you have to stick around, you’ll need to produce a consistently high-quality stream of content for your audience. “High-quality” is a vague term, but what you’ll want to do is focus on content that’s original, practical and shareable. If it has some kind of emotional resonance with your audience, that’s a good start.
Producing and syndicating content like this will make your audience members more engaged and increase the likelihood of their sharing your material with their own friends and followers. This is the way to differentiate yourself in a crowded market.
2. Consistently reach out to new people in your target audience.
It’s called “social” media for a reason: People are generally open to communication on social media channels. Don’t be afraid to reach out to new individuals who aren’t yet following your brand, especially if they’re already engaged in a public conversation.
For this, you may want to use a personal brand as an extension of your corporate brand; this will make your approach seem friendlier and more human.
3. Engage in existing conversations.
Conversations are happening all around you, all the time, on any social media platform you can think of. Many fall directly into your niche as a company. So, seek out those conversations using social-listening software, or by following key brands in your space or even by using the search feature that most social platforms offer.
You’ll find threads with dozens of participants, discussing some central question or idea. Contribute your own thoughts on the subject matter, and do so with sincerity -- you’ll demonstrate thought leadership and increase the visibility of your brand to new audiences, in the process.
4. Consistently work with other influencers.
Influencers are your big gateway here. They’re the powerful social media users who already have access to tens -- if not hundreds --of thousands of followers, and a huge reputation in your space. Work with them however you can. That might mean a content collaboration, an interview, mutual exchange or even a conversation.
You’ll cross-pollinate your audiences and earn a better reputation just by being associated with a respected influencer. Do this with a number of them, and you’ll start to see your follower numbers grow fast. Just be sure to maintain those relationships for the long term.
5. Reward your followers.
Rewards are another important step that many marketers miss. Go out of your way to reward your followers. You have several options here, and there are no “wrong” ways to go about it.
You could sponsor a giveaway, distribute free premium content or even just go the extra mile and be sure to respond to every tweet or comment you receive from your audience. Make your followers feel appreciated; not only will they be more likely to stick around for the long haul, but they’ll be more likely to tell their friends and family about you, which can have a massive impact on your total number of followers.
Remember, your priority here has to be on follower quality, not quantity. Focusing only on the numbers is going to hurt you in the long run. You don’t have to turn any followers away, but try not to measure your success exclusively in terms of the number of followers you were able to attract.
Be sure to measure and emphasize subtler modes of engagement, such as likes, comments, inbound traffic and, of course, conversions once they get to your site. Only then will your follower quantity start to mean something valuable to your brand.