With so many businesses marketing on social media these days, it’s always a bit of a surprise when clients come on board without so much as a Facebook page. But then again, I can understand.
When you’re just starting out, having few (or zero) followers can make social media feel like a waste of time and resources. You posts photos and updates, but nothing happens. The lack of results causes a lot of business owners to throw in the towel without ever really seeing what social media marketing can do.
I get excited about starting social media accounts from scratch, but I’m not gonna lie– getting them off the ground can be a challenge without paid advertising, and not everyone wants to go that route.
So, if you’re creating brand new social profiles, or you’ve hit a follower plateau…
Here are seven things you can do today to gain new followers.
Follow and Engage with Other Users
Start by following other users in your industry, niche and/or neighborhood. Following major publishers and news outlets will certainly help you stay up to date, but those users aren’t as likely to follow you back. So, focus on following as many real people and highly interactive businesses as you can.
Next, invite your target audience to follow you by interacting with them. The most important tip I can give anyone who’s marketing a business on social media is to actually be social. When users realize there’s a real person behind your business page they’ll be much more likely to follow and engage with you.
On most social networks, finding and interacting with real people is pretty straightforward. But on Facebook, business pages are prevented from interacting with personal profiles that way. It makes building an organic following more difficult, but it keeps Facebook bearable on a personal level, so no complaints here. One of the only ways to interact with real people then, is to “use Facebook as your page,” scroll through your home feed, and interact with people by liking and replying to comments they make on other posts. If you reply, just be sure you’re adding real value to that person’s life or your efforts to gain a follower may be in vain.
The reply is also a function of Twitter that’s highly interactive but doesn’t get used as often a it should. If you reply to someone’s tweet with a relevant question, you could spark a conversation and wind up building a beneficial relationship.
Add Social Widgets to your Website
You see social media buttons on almost every site you go to asking for a Like, Tweet or a Follow. We have them all over our website, including at the top and bottom of this blog post. Adding social widgets allows you to tap into your existing audience for social followers, and it allows your website visitors to follow and engage with your social media pages without having to access the networks and search for you.
Invite Followers From Other Networks
Let’s say your follower numbers are growing more rapidly on Twitter than on Instagram. To even the scale, send a tweet inviting your Twitter followers to find you on Instagram. You can do this regularly and more casually by simply sharing your Instagram posts to your Twitter account.
Tell people about it in real life
The people who follow you “irl” are the most likely to follow you online, so invite your friends, family, co-workers and customers to like your Facebook page and other profiles. You’ll build a firm foundation of users who already support you and who’ll be glad to give you a like, comment or share.
Try putting a decal, flyer or sticker in a storefront window, near your cash register, on company vehicles, or any other prominent place where the public might see it. The social networks don’t supply these, so you’ll likely need to have yours made, which gives you some creative freedom. As KissMetrics suggests, consider including your company’s unique value proposition in there somewhere to give your potential follower an idea of what’s in it for them.
Join and engage with groups and communities
There are groups of users on every social network discussing the very things you joined social media to talk about. These groups are a gold mine of potential new followers, so find them and join them!
In some cases, the best way to connect with members of these online communities is to use hashtags. For example, if you want to reach people who are interested in eco-friendly products, you might use hashtags like #ecofriendly or #green. I like to use Topsy to find out which hashtags get used the most.
On Twitter, users gather to have regularly scheduled “chats” organized by hashtag. To go along with our eco-friendly example, you could join the #greenchat conversation, which happens every Sunday at Noon. TweetReports.com has a pretty good list of those tweet chats here.
List your profiles on social directories
When in search of popular users to follow in any given industry, there are a number of helpful websites and directories you can use to find them. If you also wish to be found, it wouldn’t hurt to list yourself in the same places. So, take a few minutes to add your social media accounts (and a bit about yourself in most cases) to these sites and others:
Run campaigns and offer incentives
One of the biggest opportunities for new followers lies in your second-degree connections. Your followers’ followers. To reach them, encourage your followers to engage with their friends directly on your post. For example, you could post something funny and say “tag a friend who needs a laugh.”
You could also run a campaign where you come right out and politely ask your followers to invite their friends to like your page. Most people won’t participate unless there’s something in it for them, so consider offering an incentive. You could say “Tag a friend in the comments and if they like our page, we’ll send you both a promo code for 10% off!” This tactic is obviously the most involved, but it could prove to speed up that follower-to-customer sales funnel.
Have more tips for organic follower growth? Leave us a comment below!