With so many people using social media across multiple different platforms––from Facebook to TikTok––it may seem as though garnering a following should not be that hard. Of course, you also must take into account that there are many businesses just like you competing for attention. That is not to discourage you but instead to encourage you to come up with a sound strategy for creating a following.
Here I share tips, tricks, and techniques to organically grow a following online.
We have all seen accounts with thousands of followers but little to no engagement and very few Tweets on Twitter. We have also seen those accounts on Instagram with thousands of followers but fewer than 100 likes and just the occasional generic comment.
It is easy to tell when an account manipulates the follower count to make it seem like they have a bigger following than they do. Nowadays social media influencers or companies can buy followers and likes. They can post certain pictures that make it appear like they are living a more lavish lifestyle than they actually are. Some even follow other users and unfollow once they get the follow back. To me, that is not authentic.
This is what you DO NOT want to do when building a following on social media. It is never too difficult to see when social media users are not being authentic with their engagement, and consequently you can lose credibility and even your account, if the platform discovers what you are doing.
The first thing you need to figure out when trying to grow an authentic audience is what type of content you want to post.
Ask yourself: Who is your target audience? What is your niche?
Once you figure that out, you need to find out what your target audience is interested in. You might start by looking at your competitors’ social media posts and examining what they post and who responds to it. What do those responses look like? Does a trend emerge?
You should also bear in mind that many people treat social media platforms like search engines. Instead of Google or Bing, they seek out names and events on social apps. This makes using relevant keywords in your post imperative. You can do this by conducting thorough keyword research, through such tools as Google Analytics. As you research, you should keep in mind the following principles:
In sum, you never know if your next follower will discover your content because of a basic Twitter or Facebook search.
Another way to connect with your niche is through hashtags. With millions of users and new posts by the second, it is easy for your post to get lost in a social media’s algorithm. On Instagram specifically, the algorithm pushes posts with the most engagement towards the top of our feeds. It is easy to overlook hashtags as superfluous text, but they really can make a difference. In fact, posts that have 11 or more hashtags tend to receive 79% more engagements than posts with fewer hashtags.
What’s more, hashtags help organize topics into organized groups. You should be searching and engaging in hashtag discussions for content you are interested in. Doing this will help you build a voice in the online community you are trying to make a stake in.
For example, every Thursday, the official NFL Twitter account posts throwback highlights of any given team or player based on the current events of the league. If you were to scroll through the comments under the post, you would be able to see and engage in all types of discourse. If you wanted to build your social brand in football, this would be a great place to build a rapport with other users in your community.
#ThrowbackThursday is a universal hashtag that essentially covers every community across social media. This might not be who you want to target. Be specific to who your target audience is and use hashtags that draw people who would take you up on your offering and end up promoting your products or services.
Makes sense, doesn’t it? You will only get engagement and build a following if there is content to regularly engage with. Now this is not to say you should spam your timeline with content all day every day, but you should have a consistent flow of quality content on your page.
One of the easiest ways to do this is with some sort of series that continues on over time. These can be 7-14-30 day picture challenges, weekly advice columns, related hashtag posts like we mentioned earlier, or periodic check-ins broadcasting on the “live” feature.
Building an organic following on social media is not an overnight thing. It takes dedication, quality content, and a deep understanding of your audience and the social app.
Authenticity is key! You will resonate better with your audience if you speak to them without trying to put on a sales pitch. Instead, just provide excellent content. Find what you are good at or really enjoy and consistently push out quality content while building and engaging with your community. The goal is for your audience to connect with your message.
It may take longer than you like, but by learning social media engagement tactics and employing the right strategies, you can grow your brand to enormous heights. It is about quality and not quantity.
You have gotten one step closer to gaining that enviable social media following. Congratulations! But don’t rest easy just yet. There is still some work to do.