I am going to share some tactics you can use to attract genuine followers to your social profiles – with emphasis on the word genuine. The tactics I will share will help you gain real followers who are valuable to you as a business.
Whenever I do a Q&A session or facilitate a training event for a client, one of the most common questions I get asked, is “how can I get more followers?” My response is to explain that you shouldn’t get too hung-up on Follower numbers. Follower count is often referred to as a “vanity metric” because it serves only to feed your own vanity – i.e. the number of followers you have doesn’t guarantee you any real business benefit.
Just because someone follows you, it doesn’t mean that they are actually going to buy anything from you, engage with your content or even have any genuine interest in what you have to offer.
However, there are two key reasons why Follower count does matter.
The first of these reasons is trust. If someone visits your profile and sees that you have a high follower count, this can give them a positive perception of your business. If a high number of people are following you, it suggests you have something to offer that a high number of people are interested in. As your follower count increases you also build more trust with the social networks themselves.
The second reason is that if you want to use social media as a way to grow your business, you need to attract genuinely interested individuals to what you have to offer. In that respect, follower count does matter – but more specifically the number of genuine followers you have matters. The key to all of this is that you need to build your follower count in an authentic and secure manner.
Those of you who follow me on Instagram will know I strongly advise against anyone buying followers. This quick route to achieving a high follower count is pointless in my opinion.
None of the accounts you gain as followers will have any interest in your content, meaning you will not see any uplift in engagement despite gaining new followers. This can also make the fact that you’ve bought followers, stand out like a sore thumb. If you have a huge follower count but your number of likes and comments is really low, it will not inspire any confidence in potential new followers. As I mentioned at the start – you’re feeding only one thing – your own vanity and that isn’t going to grow your business. In fact, I would actually say it will do the opposite and damage your business.
So, let’s get on to the tactics I recommend to grow your number of followers in the right way. The first is to make sure you have optimised your social media profiles. Your profiles are where you need to tell your potential audience who you are, what you can offer and why they should choose you over your competitors. On Facebook, you have an “About” section – make sure you use this to its full potential and put some real thought in to what you say in it. On Instagram your bio is crucial, particularly as you only have 150 characters available.
Including a few strategic keywords that describe what you do or offer, in your profile name will increase the chances of your account appearing in someone’s search results.
When someone is searching for a product or service, they are likely to search for keywords related to what they are looking for, rather than a particular brand name. For example, my profile name on Instagram includes my name and what I am offering: Stuart | Instagram Growth Coach. Be as clear and concise as you can to get the best results.
Other important things to consider, include your profile photo – is it good quality and does it show your face? Sometimes people ask is it better to use a photo of me as a person or a logo for my profile photo? I would say that unless your business or brand is known for a well-recognised logo, a photo of you smiling is much better. It will help people to feel better connected to you as an individual as it puts a face to the name – rather than you being a faceless logo. You should also think about how your feed looks. When someone new comes to your profile, does your content look inviting and make someone want to click on it to see or read more?
The second tactic is to promote your social profiles through your other communication channels. In your e-mail signature you can include clickable links to all of your social profiles. These don’t have to be written as text either – you can use clickable icons for each social network that could help drive additional traffic to your profiles. You should also provide links to your social profiles on your website. If you have been provided with a website from your direct selling company, ask them if there is an option available for you to have your social profiles displayed on your web page. It may even be possible for you to embed a small feed of your recent posts rather than just a clickable link to your profiles.
Think about all the other touch points you have with people and how you can promote your social media through these.
Business cards, delivery bags, receipts, stickers, banners … you could very easily promote your social media by adding your profile names to these.
The third tactic follows on nicely from number two and it is to cross-promote your social profiles. By cross-promote, I mean to promote a social profile on another of your social profiles. For example, if you are going to be doing a live video on Facebook, promote it on your Instagram profile. You could even use the countdown sticker on an Instagram story that people can use to get a reminder of when your Facebook Live video is about to start. You shouldn’t assume that just because someone is following you on one social network that they are also following all of your other profiles too. Make sure links to all of your social networks are given on each profile.
Number four is one I shout about all the time, particularly on Instagram, and it is the use of hashtags. Hashtags are really important, particularly in helping you to attract new followers.
Research shows that using at least one hashtag with your Instagram post will increase your engagement rate by over 12%, compared to a post with no hashtags.
In short, hashtags are terms people can search for to find content. They always begin with # and then the word or words straight after with no spaces. Whilst hashtags can be used on many social networks, they hold the greatest value on Instagram. You can use up to 30 hashtags per post. Research the hashtags that are right for your content / niche / industry. Try to avoid using too many “large” hashtags - i.e. hashtags that have been used A LOT of times. Using only these hashtags, will result in your post being an effective “needle in a haystack”.
As a general rule of thumb, try to use a mixture of 15 hashtags that show between 5K - 100K results in a search in Instagram, 10 hashtags that show 100K - 500K results and 5 that have in excess of 500K results.
A quick time-saving tip is to save several lists of relevant hashtags that commonly apply to your content to the notes app in your phone. You can then easily copy and paste the bulk of your hashtags to your post and then add post-specific ones manually. And one word of caution, if you have a private profile, your posts won’t be publicly searchable despite using hashtags, so if you have a profile for your business, make sure it is public.
Tactic number five is becoming known and a valuable resource within your particular niche.
This is all about adding value and helping people rather than trying to sell.
You can do this through joining Facebook groups relevant to your industry or niche and answering questions posed by others, that you have expertise in. For example, if your products are cosmetics, you could help provide some makeup application tips to someone who has asked how to achieve a particular look for a special occasion. On Instagram, you can comment on posts that use hashtags relevant to your niche. It is important that you do this seriously and make sure that your comments are genuine, relevant and valuable and not just a couple of emojis. Through helping people in these public forums, you are promoting the value you can offer people and this may attract others.
Number six is an extension of number five, and it is being genuine and authentic. Posting content isn’t enough. You need to be engaging and interacting with your audience if you want to be successful. Responding to the comments people make on your posts is really important here. If people can see that you are helpful and responsive to comments, it helps to build a positive perception of you and your business.
If you looked at someone’s post and see that lots of people have commented or asked questions but the account hasn’t responded to any of them, it isn’t going to go very far in making you think they are a helpful, customer-orientated business is it?
This tactic does take time – building genuine relationships isn’t achieved overnight, but when you do achieve it, you’ll often find that the people you have delighted will be only too happy to tell others about you and this kind of advocacy for your business is invaluable.
Whenever you try a new tactic to increase your number of followers you need to assess the impact it is having. That is why tactic number seven is to check your analytics. After you have tried something new, take a look at your analytics to see what impact it has had. Now, you may need to give it some time before you truly evaluate how successful something has been but making this evaluation part of your social media process will keep you growing. It will allow you to make informed decisions about the tactics that are working well and those that aren’t.
Number eight is for Instagram and it is to fully use stories to their full potential. They will help you get additional exposure and allow you to, use location tags, mention other accounts and take advantage of numerous interactive features.
The ninth tactic is live video. Live video, on any social network, will help increase your visibility.
Live video helps a business to show authenticity, through embracing the potential risk of something not going completely to plan, so be brave and give it a go if you haven’t already tried it.
The tenth and final tactic is to reach new followers through the use of paid advertising. A notable benefit of using paid social advertising is that it allows you to hone in on specific audiences, rather than using a scattergun approach in the hope that you’ll hit some of the right people. Social networks allow you to target people to an extremely granular level of detail, unlike other traditional marketing channels that are generally “one-size-fits-all”.
If you’re new to social advertising, I would recommend starting small so that you can become familiar with what options are available and try out different things. And, before investing heavily in social advertising, I’d recommend that you are completely confident you are doing everything you can to maximise your organic posts. I would definitely aim to do everything you can organically for long-term, sustainable success on social media, rather than trying to use paid ads as a short-cut to success.