When it comes to the follower side of social media management, we all know quality trumps quantity. Yet the fact remains that follower count is still a significant vanity metric. You can’t grow your quality social contacts without focusing on quantity, at least as a secondary objective.
One of the questions I hear most often about social is a simple one: How do small businesses most effectively build their social following?
If you’re ready to see your Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and beyond numbers start to swell with quality connections, this article will get you on track. Below are several expert-approved tips for creating a social following that truly wants to read your content.
Tip #1: Get Over Yourself
The entire internet is now espousing the value of well-crafted content, but there’s a secret sauce in this practice that makes all the difference. If you want to build a loyal following, your content has to be truly stellar, unique, and of value to your demographic. But you probably already knew that.
The easiest way to guarantee you’re meeting these objectives is this: don’t generate narcissistic content. The majority of your offerings need to be informative, not incessantly rambling about any facet of your products. Value is not uncovered in me-focused content, but in information that is relevant to your demographic. A good rule of thumb: offer 1 piece of company-centric content for every 9 pieces of valuable shares. The result will not only be a bigger social following, but one that is volumes more loyal.
Tip #2: Create the Content People Want
So what does it really mean to create content of value? Well, you first need to know the audience you’re serving as intimately as possible; all their likes, dislikes, and so on. Once you have a clear view of your target, the types of content you create is critical. Here are some proven content types that people respond to:
- Commenting on Industry News – Provide links to the latest advances in your niche, as well as insightful commentary on what the news might mean for the industry, or how it might specially impact your readers.
- Asking Questions – By far one of the more successful techniques, but with one caveat: you actually have to listen. If your company can show a proven track record of asking poignant questions and responding to customer data, your loyalty and friend shares will go through the roof. Don’t just ask questions with the intent to ignore the answers, however, as folks will catch on.
- User-Submitted Content – Sometimes your audience will ask fascinating questions or post relevant, intriguing comments. Use these in your social campaigns to not only showcase valuable content, but to make social stars out of your biggest fans.
The goal here is to share information, not status updates, company news, or things the mass audience will clearly not be interested in.
Tip #3: Own Your Expertise
One of the biggest mistakes companies make in attempting to create a social following is to be too generic. If you don’t echo yourself as an authority or guru for your chosen space, people simply won’t engage.
The folks with the biggest followings on sites like Twitter, aside from celebrities, are bona fide experts in their fields. Roy Povarchik calls this Twitter Greatness. Your content needs to reflect this expertise, not just in the actual information shared, but in the tone as well. Write with tremendous authority, be detailed in your knowledge share, and engender a sense of credibility in everything you produce.
This means you must include actual data at times to back up any declarations, and you also need to dedicate yourself to fact-checking. If you share any information that can easily rebuked, your reputation will most certainly suffer.
Tip #4: Stagger Your Content Shares
Want to know the single easiest way to get folks to unfollow you? Over-publishing content in “bursts” across your social channels. Tools like HootSuite allows you to schedule social media blasts, spacing out content releases in ideal time frames – use them to not only space out posts, but to publish them on optimal days and times (whenever your audience is most likely to be online.)
The most grievous offense in this category are auto-generated tweets and updates. If you run a poker site that auto-tweets every time someone wins a big hand, you may think you’re drawing worthy attention to your brand. The truth is, you’re likely to gain more followers short term, but lose them as fast you as you gained them with over-sharing.
Tip #5: Offers, Offers, Offers
There’s no easier way to offer value to your audience than giving away products or serving up significant offers. That’s also a proven method for boosting your followers by double digit percentages.
The key here is to truly make these offerings valuable. A 5% discount for an online store isn’t a sexy offer. A BOGO (buy one / get one) or 50% discount is. These offers must feel truly special in order to entice folks to take action, so make them worth your while, and your customers.
Tip #6: Be Positive!
Your social media tone is directly linked to your follower numbers. Those who opt for a more negative approach, who speak poorly about competitors or take on Twitter wars with other people or brands, are hardly ever those with impressive social numbers.
Instead, craft a voice that always has a positive message shining through. There’s a reason pictures of cats own the internet; they make people happy. Adopt the same philosophy with your brand’s social shares (either with or without the cats) and your numbers will most certainly increase.