Social media is a fantastic way to promote your business. It’s free, you can target your posts and your audience reach is endless. Few other marketing mediums can make such claims but as any social media expert will tell you, there’s no point wasting time and energy sending out content if you don’t have an audience.
Increasing your followers should always be at the forefront of your mind when managing your social media accounts. Why? Because a large audience leads to increased brand recognition, improved customer loyalty, more opportunities to convert and of course, higher conversion rates.
On the flip side, a dwindling following will leave you trailing in the wake of your competitors and losing out on valuable marketing opportunities.
Whether you’re just starting out with your social media efforts or you’ve been trying for some time and are becoming frustrated with the lack of likes and follows, below are some great ways to increase your followers.
Understand your audience
The first thing you need to identify is who your target audience is. Customer profiling provides you with the in-depth knowledge you need in order to attract a large following. Some of the more important factors to consider include:
- Demographics – what is the age, gender and income of your desired following?
- Psychographics – what’s their personality type?
- Behaviour – what are their likes, dislikes and hobbies?
- If you’re marketing to other businesses, think about what type of company they are, how many people work for them and what their revenue and geographic scope is.
- Find your customers – in order to attract your ideal following, you first need to find them. Do they tend to use Facebook more than Twitter? What do they search for online? Where do they like to go when they’re not on the Internet?
- One of the most important things to understand about your customers is their buying behaviour. Do they make impulse purchases? Do they seek out referrals? Where do they do their research into products/services? Do they buy online? Are they more inclined to make a purchase if there’s a special offer?
- Speak to existing customers – how did they originally find your company? What made them choose you? Why do they stay loyal to you?
- It’s also worth spending some time analysing what your competitors are doing on social media. Who is following them? What content are they sharing? Which of their posts get high levels of engagement and which don’t?
Produce valuable content
Last year, 77% of adults bought goods or services online and 46% said that they rely on social media when making a buying decision. This means that by sending out content which is interesting and engaging, you could be tapping into a huge market.
Your customer profiling will really help you here because once you really understand who your audience is and what their interests are, you will know exactly how to market to them.
When posting on social media, remember that this isn’t the place for lengthy pieces of text. Social media is very visual and you typically only have seconds to attract someone’s attention and get them to stop scrolling through their news feed. Some great content ideas for your social media pages include:
Establishing connections and building relationships is one of the easiest ways to get more people following your social media pages. If you don’t have time to sit down and do this on a daily basis, try to at least do the bare minimum.
If someone responds to your post, like their comment or reply. If a follower sends you a message, try to respond to them because this could be someone who is thinking about using your product or service.
Just like you use keywords to attract visitors to your website, hashtags are crucial if you want to increase your exposure on social media. Twitter and Instagram are where hashtags are most commonly used so you should always try to use them when posting on these channels.
Hashtags help to bring more people to your pages because anyone searching for the word you’ve used will see your post. It is however important to stay on topic. You shouldn’t be commenting or posting on everything that’s trending – it must be relevant to your business.
Say you run an accountancy firm and Game of Thrones is trending, it’s not your place to comment on this. If the Autumn Statement or the self-assessment tax deadline is approaching however, this provides a perfect opportunity for you to increase your exposure through topics that a lot of people will be searching for and talking about.
One of the biggest mistakes small businesses make with their social media is posting too sporadically.
In order to attract followers in the first place, people need to see that your account is active and to retain followers, you need to provide your audience with interesting content on a regular basis.
There are many websites and tools which allow you to schedule posts in advance so you don’t have to worry about trying to remember to send out your posts every day. Some of the more popular scheduling websites include Hootsuite, Buffer, TweetDeck, SproutSocial, CrowdBooster and SocialOomph.
Running competitions on your social media pages is a fantastic way to grow your audience. Ask people to follow you or like or comment on one of your photos and in return, they will be in with a chance of winning a prize.
As well as increasing followers, this is a great way of extending your reach because every time someone likes or comments on your posts, their followers will see your content.
Again, there are a number of tools which allow you to quickly and easily run competitions on your social media sites including Hootsuite, Rafflecopter,Woobox, Pagemodo, ShortStack and Wishpond.
Tag other people and pages
Tag other pages, users and locations in your posts. This increases the likelihood of other people seeing you, page owners engaging with you and it’s also a great way to gain followers if you’re attending an event.
Regularly visit your social media insights to find out what is and isn’t working for you. You can see the posts which have received the highest engagement levels and will therefore know to share this type of content more often.
Making the most out of each social media platform
- Use images – you don’t have to use images all the time on Facebook but do make them a regular part of your content strategy. Upload photos from live events and ask your followers to tag themselves. This gets your photos in front of your followers’ friends and extends your visibility and reach.
- One of the most effective ways to use Facebook ads is to target users who already like other pages in your niche. Using Facebook’s Graph Search, find out which pages your existing fans like by typing in, “pages liked by people who like my page”. Target your adverts to users who have liked these pages because there’s a greater chance that they will also be interested in your page.
- Facebook groups are a great way to reach prospective customers. Create an industry-related group that your target market may be looking for and use it to build relationships and trust.
- On Facebook, videos now outperform photos in terms of reach. Although it is harder to produce a video they really are a great way to get noticed on people’s news feeds and are far more likely to go viral.
- Connect with other local businesses, news sources and accounts. Most of them will be happy to follow back and share some neighbourly love by retweeting and sharing your content with their followers.
- Write a blog, review or post about another brand which isn’t in direct competition with you but has a similar customer base. Chances are they will be incredibly grateful for the gesture and will retweet it to their followers.
- Joining in on Twitter chats is a great way to get more followers and build up your authority. This tool also provides you with the opportunity to engage with other users in your industry – almost like an online networking event.
- Your employees are your best brand advocates so encourage them to add their role to their profile. Your company page will automatically feature on their profile, helping to drive more traffic your way.
- Find groups that are talking about your brand or industry, join them and take part in conversations. Once people know and trust you, you can build brand awareness and promote your company page which will really help to increase the number of followers you have.
- If you’re happy to spend money on your LinkedIn strategy, you can reach beyond your network and promote your business with LinkedIn ads and sponsored updates. Using targeted criteria such as seniority, function, geography and industry means that you can make sure you’re getting in front of exactly the right people.
- Use the search function on Instagram to find popular hashtags related to your product, service or industry. Using these hashtags within your posts allows you to reach people who aren’t already following you but are looking for photos related to your brand or industry.
- Although Instagram is a highly visual platform, captions play a big role in increasing engagement. Captions in users’ feeds cut off after a few lines of text so make sure you’re putting the most compelling information at the beginning of your posts. Asking questions also encourages your audience to leave a comment, which makes your account visible to more people.
- Instagram Stories were launched less than a year ago and already more than 200 million people view them every day. Nearly one in five stories result in a direct message and a third of the most-viewed stories are from businesses.
- An effective way of attracting attention and encouraging engagement is to share live content. Whether you’ve just got delivery of a new product or you’re attending an event, take advantage of every opportunity to post a live video.
Managing your social media channels is difficult and it can be hard to compete with larger brands who have teams of people supporting them and a big budget to play with. Stay committed to practicing the techniques mentioned above however and you will soon start seeing the benefits of your social media strategy.