Whenever I talk to people about social media marketing, it seems one of the most common questions is “how do I get more followers?”.
While we all know having lot’s of followers sounds great, it’s not always what it’s cracked up to be. You could go onto some less than reputable website’s and buy lot’s of fake followers – but it’s not going to help your business.
So I decided to cut to the core of it – and speak to some fellow social media experts – to find out how to grow a real customer following for our business accounts on social media.
I’d love to hear what you think – please leave a comment and share this guide if you found it helpful!
It’s a long guide, so feel free to click a link here to jump to the social media platform you’re most interested in; or sign up to our email list to get the guide in a full pdf you can print out.
Jump to “Growing a customer following on” :
Growing a customer following on: Twitter
Twitter’s my personal favourite for connecting with people – including customers. So here’s some tips from the experts on how you can grow your customer following on Twitter.
A Goddess’s top ways to get more followers
- Tweet regularly. For my clients I do ten tweets per day at busy times. E.g. morning commute, lunchtime and 9-11pm is the busiest time on Twitter. Start by following people you are interested in and admire. Sometimes they will follow you back. Thank them if they do. (not by dm….never use auto dm)
- Be consistent. If you are the expert in Social media, we want tips. Share your knowledge with us, tweet other people’s articles and tag them in the tweets. Trust me they will be happy you have shared it for them.
- Take part in Twitter chats. There are plenty of hashtag Twitter chats out there. E.g. #Britishbizparty #Belfasthour and one for almost every county in the UK too. Take part. Jump in and say hi! Your followers will start to soar.
- Assist others. If you retweet others tweets they will be delighted and will usually Thank you for it. If they do, continue the conversation. Keep the engagement going and have a chat. Create a list of active or favourite tweeters so you can keep an eye on what they are up to and not miss anything.
- Be positive, keep away from controversy. This is your business, so keep it nice, no bitching about others.
- Be authentic and the followers will come…..people are watching and talking….others will start tagging you and recommending that others follow you.
Engage & Find Your Customers
Twitter now works on an algorithm so it isn’t guaranteed that your intended audience will see your content. Engage and converse, and place yourself directly in front of your audience. Twitter is a platform, that if you are a small business, your customers won’t come to you, you have to find them. Twitter is a fantastic platform to find out information about your customers, from where they shop, to where they eat and drink, whom they associate themselves with. This is first class market research, which you can, as a brand or business owner completely immerse yourself in and use it to build customer loyalty, build relationships and offer them the gratification that they are looking for.
Use the 6 B’s
My top tip to get more customers following you on Twitter is to follow the 6B’s. Be committed which means having a good profile picture & interesting bio. Be Consistent with your approach, you need to do a little bit each and every day, remember it’s a marathon not a sprint. Be Interesting with what you tweet. Use video, Gif’s, photo’s emoji’s and stickers. Ask questions, add value to others, help and support others and share others tweets. Be interested in others on Twitter. Join in on conversations, reply and engage with others. Be authentic, just be yourself and finally Be social. Have fun, listen to others, join in when you can and remember the key is to create advocates not to try and sell to everyone.
By incorporating a relevant hashtag in your tweets you join in an existing conversation and make yourself aware to other participants. As well as using Twitter Search, users can browse by hashtags by clicking on them, so by using a hashtag your tweets are easier to discover. Keep an eye on hashtags that are trending and used for TV programmes and join these conversations if they are relevant to your business or brand. For example, if you’re in the business of writing CVs then tweet about Channel 4s, The Job Interview including the #TheJobInterview in your tweets. For maximum impact, tweet during the programme when the conversation level is at its highest. Aim to include one or two hashtags in every tweet with an absolute maximum of three.
Check your timing
Timing is crucial, so make sure you’re scheduling your tweets and activity for peak times. Tools such as Buffer can help you identify when these are, but for Twitter the most popular time for posting is usually between 12pm and 1pm. If you tweet during this time you are increasing the visibility on your feed, which in turn means more eyes on your brand.
It’s also worth considering what time your current followers are most engaged on Twitter, too, as posting then can encourage them to share your content, helping increase your following. Some simple testing will tell you when your tweets have most impact and see the most engagement, so make sure you’re optimizing your scheduling as much as possible.
If you’re running a PR campaign or generally trying to push a story to the papers, create a relevant and catchy hashtag. These won’t always come off, but when they do, they can become viral. You just need to first consider how a hashtag is going to be received and that it can’t be reversed to make a negative story around the brand.
Find out what TV-shows your audience regularly watches. You can live-tweet your response to big moments on the show. This will help to intrigue current followers, as well as potentially increase the following from other interested fans of the show. You will also most likely be just targeting an audience within your country, as they will be the people discussing the topic at that point in time.
Search, search and search some more. Using the ‘easy’ search bar or Twitter’s advanced search you have the ability to search every tweet sent which is around 6,000 per second. This basically means that you can connect with people who share your interests and passions; who may be talking about your brand but not @mentioning you in their tweets and most importantly those who need your advice, expertise and may quite possibly be your next customer. For ease of use you’re also able to save up to 25 of these searches so next time you log in you can simply select the search, click and start reading the tweets you want to see.
Get involved in trending topics
Make sure your Twitter presence is up engaging with trending topics and stories! Tap into what’s going on in the world and tie in into your industry to reach a much wider audience. The Olympics is happening now – can your business get involved? Is there any viral content of the week that you can hob on board with? Keep on top of current events, TV programmes, and other news stories to pitch in where you can. Engaging with a conversation that’s already going on can be so effective, and so much easier than generating the conversation from scratch yourself! Think a little outside your brand’s normal content, and the results can be amazing.
My favourite way to get conversations started, relationships built and ultimately get the right people following me is to answer questions. Whether it’s a quick reply to someone’s tweet to help them out, or tweeting out guides I’ve written specifically targeted at answering my customers common questions, I find reaching out and being helpful is a great way to build up a customer following on Twitter.
Get on Twitter Chats
Twitter chats are my favourite way to network with real customers online; and ultimately speaking to people and developing relationships will get them to follow you – and become customers! The key to twitter chats is to find the right one where your target market is hanging out and not being promotional when you get there.
You’re bound to find a chat that’s relevant to you using this handy list from Tweet Reports.
Answer questions and show an interest in others first – if they like you, they’ll be much more likely to follow and buy from you later.
Growing a customer following on: Facebook
Facebook is still an incredibly popular social network that’s not to be ignored – more than likely your customers are on it, if not all of them at least some. The trick is to find out where they are within Facebook – and learn how to get them to notice you when you find them.
Building a Facebook following organically is difficult and takes a lot of invested time and understanding. Facebook competitions and exclusive promotions will allow customers to engage and encourage them to share content.
Share interesting content
Try not to be too salesy on Facebook, save this for Facebook advertising. Instead share interesting articles and content that encourage people to click, which then converts into website traffic and conversation.
Open a shop front
Facebook now has a shop front, where you are able to sell your best selling products. This is great to build customer retention, and you can create weekly promotions and ‘Products/services of the week.”
Join Facebook Groups
Facebook Community Groups are a great way to publicise your business and access your audience directly. Search for them and request to join, and share updates, information and advice. This will quickly convert to Facebook page likes.
Target your Facebook Ads
It’s hard to build your audience on Facebook these days without advertising, so bite the bullet and pay to promote your Page. You can be very specific about who you can reach in terms of targeting. You can specify an audience using demographics, relationship status and interests. You can also publish ads in front of your newsletter subscribers and website visitors; people that have already shown an interest in your business. Before creating a campaign and committing any budget, be sure that you have an attractive, interesting and entertaining Facebook Page. There’s little point in paying to attract people to your Page if there’s not going to be anything there for them when they visit.
Deliver good content
If your goal is to increase the number of people who ‘Like’ you on Facebook, the best way to do this is to become known for posting content that they find of value. Consistently uploading high quality and relevant information will encourage users to see you as a useful or important resource. They will want to ensure that they hear more from you and so will be compelled to ‘Like’ your page.
As well as increasing the number of users who ‘Like’ your brand, posting content that your audience want will also see engagement increase, too.
Offer discounts and exclusives through your Facebook page
Let’s face it, every customer is interested in a deal, and one of the best ways you can drive loyalty is by incentivising customers to join your Facebook page by offering exclusive discounts. This might be something as simple as offering deals on your Facebook page before you do so in your shop or online store. However, we have found that we get the greatest benefit by offering money off if you found it through Facebook.
One way to implement this is to create exclusive coupon codes, which you post to your Facebook page. You can tell customers about this by email or in-store (if you have a store), but you’ll get the most benefit when customers start telling their friends and family about it, in effect generating you free marketing.
Use “Pages to Watch”
Keep an eye on your competitiors by using the ‘Pages To Watch’ function which is a handy way of keeping tabs on your competitors. Housed within your ‘Insights’ you can benchmark your pages growth rate, content output and engagement levels in the ‘Overview’ section against that of your competition. Even better than this, selecting ‘Top Posts From Pages You Watch’ (in the ‘Posts’ section of ‘Insights’) allows you, at a quick glance, to see the exact posts which are driving engagement. Why do you need to know this? Because by keeping a keen eye on this you’ll be able to understand what engagement tactics are working and tweak your own in a similar way.
Facebook Ads with optimised landing pages
Consider using Facebook adverts to increase your following on the platform. Coughing up to Facebook might seem a little daunting at first, but with the right amount of input on your end it can be completely worth the effort and money! Begin by gathering a thorough view of your page’s current audience through the analytics so you know who to target your campaign to. Keep to a low budget at first and always have a beady eye on the campaign’s analytics. Last but absolutely not least, make sure you have some ninja landing pages – a dedicated, optimised destination for your Facebook followers to land on will help ensure you get the conversions you’re looking for.
Optimise your About Me section with keywords
Under the About me Section include ‘searchable’ keywords, but try not to overuse them. Think of keywords your ideal customer will use to search for you and your services, and this will help you come up higher in Google for the keywords used in your description.
Personally, I think businesses use video far too rarely. My videos tend to skyrocket in terms of sharing, likes, comments – and even attracting followers – compared to anything else. I believe it’s because videos are easy to consume, you don’t need to go to another website and if you’re giving your customers interesting and useful content – they’ll follow you because they want to see more! I know it worked on me with Sausage Dog Central’s videos – I only want to see more video’s of cute dogs, so you can bet I followed them!
Growing a customer following on: LinkedIn
LinkedIn is a great place to network online, especially if you’re in a B2B market; but how do you get the attention your business deserves?
Get your employees involved
Your employees are probably going to be your best chance of seeing an increase in LinkedIn follows for your company’s page. Encourage your team to join LinkedIn (if they haven’t already) and see if they can list your brand as their current employer, as this will mean more potential pairs of eyes on your page.
You could also include a link to your company page in staff email signatures, and make sure that employees feel comfortable sharing or ‘Liking’ updates posted on your company’s LinkedIn page, from their own profile.
Give them a reason to connect
LinkedIn is the professional network and should be treated as such, building connections there is easier to do than any other social media platform. Yet so many users get it wrong unlike the mass follower tactics you would employ for say Twitter, on LinkedIn it is one at a time over time.
The golden rule is to make it personal and to let your potential new connections know WHY you should connect. Often people are reluctant to connect if they do not know you well or you are not connected to at least some people already in their network.
A connection message I would use would be:
I came across your profile recently and I thought their could be some synergy in being connected. I only share FREE and topical information on implementing social media for your business.
Use your personal page
When using LinkedIn for business, always use a personal profile over a company page. In my experience, a company page for direct lead generation is not going to bring you much return as people buy from people and having a face behind a status update is much more impactful than sharing as a business.
With a company page, you have very limited capacity with what you can actually do on LinkedIn – you can add status updates and you pay for advertising, which is not the cheapest option and that’s pretty much all you can do. But with a personal profile, you can actually use LinkedIn search function, you can find your target market, you can reach directly out to your target market and you can generate leads completely free of charge.
Keep your profile up to date
Keep your profile up to date as this will help customers contact you, and customers love to get to know the person behind the business, and this allows them to on a professional level (without them requesting to be a friend on your personal Facebook page).
Publish specialist articles in your industry
Try to publish as many LinkedIn articles in your specialist area as possible, as this will build your creditation and integrity. And you will quickly become the go to person within your industry.
Reach out to prospects
One great thing about LinkedIn is that messages sent are actually also sent directly to people’s email inbox. So if you know someone who’d be a perfect customer, but you don’t have their email – contact them on LinkedIn. Keep it personal and try to focus on developing a relationship before selling – they’ll be much more likely to buy from you and become a follower that way!
The key to building a network on LinkedIn is to get active. Many business people are just ‘on’ LinkedIn but they don’t actually ‘use’ it. More than any other social network, LinkedIn rewards activity. Even a simple Like of an update can get you and your profile photo displayed on the news feed of your connections. Start building on your activity on LinkedIn by engaging with other people. You can congratulate them on a new job or perhaps comment on an update or article. Then start to post your own updates and publish your own articles. Once comfortable with this regular activity, then join a few Groups that are relevant to your or your clients’ business sectors and take part in discussions. Finally you can seek out prospects and connect with them using Advanced Search followed by a message. It’s worth considering LinkedIn Premium which gives you the ability to directly message LinkedIn members even if you’re not connect to them, as well as other benefits.
Growing a customer following on: Instagram
Instagram, somewhere between Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, is full of images – and potentially your customers! So here’s our experts giving you some tips on how to reach out to them.
Tell us your story
Telling your story with social media is incredibly important. Your story, and other stories, are memorable and more interesting than a sales-driven feed, and exactly what social media is for.
Instagram has just added a really great feature called Instagram Stories. Now you can add images or 10 second videos to your story, write over them, or add a filter. The app will play one after another when your followers watch it.
This helps you to share updates throughout the day, adding to a compelling story, and keeps your audience engaged just like on Snapchat. The stories are also shown at the top of the app, giving storytellers more exposure than if they were lost in the feed.
Why use Instagram? The beautiful image-driven platform attracts the glossy magazine culture, and the beautiful content is a big pull for creatives and the younger social media audience.
If you’re not on Instagram or haven’t used it for a while, now’s the perfect time to come back and give it another go.
Be creative with your posts. Too many businesses rush out a photo of people working within their office and then wonder why their fan base hasn’t increased. Consider which hashtags will work, be creative with the photography and don’t overdo it with the editing when it isn’t needed. While many businesses take photos on the spot and run with them, I prefer to plan out at the start of the week exactly what posts will be pushed out when and exactly who we are targeting.
Use relevant hashtags
It’s hard to avoid hashtags on Instagram, and for good reason. They are a key way of increasing your following. Relevant hashtags mean that users not already following you can find your content, land on your profile and if they like what they see, are potentially going to follow you, too. Make sure to use hashtags that are relevant to your brand and the rest of your Instagram posts, as well as your audience, else you may disappoint users rather than see an increase in followers!
Run a giveaway
Running a giveaway on Instagram can do wonders for your follower count. Customers always love getting free stuff, and are more than happy to follow a few rules to get involved. To qualify for entry, have users follow you, repost a picture, and hashtag your business’s name or a catchy phrase, and watch your follower count clock up. Teaming up with a prominent Instagrammer or blogger in your industry can be an amazing way to really boost this, and this way they do the promotion for you!
Post high quality images – often.
Post often, and post high quality images. Try not to use stock images or product shots. Lifestyle images, interior shots and beautiful scenery usually work best and gain the most engagement.
Follow your competitors following
To build your following, monitor your competitors. Look at whom they’re following, and follow them, like their photos and comment on them. Place yourself directly in front of them.
Keep to a theme with your hashtags
Keep to a theme, as a business, try not to be all over the place and use the correct hashtags, and if relevant tag in the correct people.
Use Instagram video as much as you can. You can now film up to 1 minute, so enough time to keep your audience engaged. However, remember to keep it straight to the point. Most people access Instagram from their phone, and often when they can’t listen to it, so use subtitles or video content without sound.
Growing a customer following on: Reddit
Now, you can’t have followers on Reddit – but it is an amazing social network, not to be ignored. If you write great content (and you have thick skin) – Reddit can make your website go viral.
Choose your subreddits wisely
If you’re looking to attract attention through a subreddit, make sure you choose carefully before posting. You need to find a subreddit that has a good audience already (I usually aim for 20,000+ subscribers) but also one that is going to be genuinely interested in your content.
You can use the subreddit search through Reddit; make sure to read the particular subs description and rules before posting though. Not only will it makes sure you don’t break rules and get kicked out (some places only allow text posts, or only let you post after you have a certain number of ‘Karma’) it will also ensure you are definitely posting to the right kind of people.
For example – I joined the subreddit “nosleep” (being an entrepreneur means I often suffer from insomnia). I thought “OH great! There’ll be lot’s of people like me sharing tips on how to get a better night sleep.” How wrong I was. It’s full of scary stories aimed at making it impossible to get to sleep. Lesson learned; but also a happy accident since I love scary stories!
Get viral and submit your blog posts
One of the most effective (and cheap!) methods that we’ve found for social media marketing success is viral marketing, or more specifically submitting blog posts to the website Reddit.
Reddit is insanely viral, and it is very easy to generate traffic to your content through the site. There are endless amounts of communities on the site (known as ‘subreddits’), and you’re bound to find one which is at least vaguely related to the content that you’re promoting. This is the perfect opportunity to drive some relevant traffic to your website and possibly even start to build an audience around your content. The platform is free to join and you can start submitting content immediately.
Create your own subreddit
If you want to scale your social media marketing efforts even further then you could create your own ‘subreddit’ dedicated to your brand. You can then invite existing customers to join the subreddit or try to build an entirely new audience on the platform.
Viral traffic isn’t as valuable as traffic from a loyal audience, so there are some limitations to this method. But you can still build an email list and generate a social buzz with viral marketing, which is why Reddit is still a valuable platform for social media marketing.
Using Reddit to Grow a Social Media Audience
If the goal is to grow a social media audience using Reddit, the brand should start by creating amazing content that delivers value to a specific niche. They should then take the time to become familiar with the rules and culture of the various subreddits related to their niche. Once they have a comprehensive understanding of the subreddits, they can start to share their content with the subreddits in a non-promotional way. This means taking the content off of their social media accounts and sharing it through Imgur.com (image sharing) or through a text-post directly on Reddit. The one exception is video, which has to be shared via YouTube or another video hosting site. If you share high-quality content consistently in a community, members will start to ask about who you are and where they can follow your content.
Overall, the strategy is to give and give until users start asking you to share your links to the social media platforms where they can follow you directly. If you start by sharing your social media links, your posts will likely be marked as spam and you could potentially be banned from a specific community or the platform as a whole.
Growing a customer following on: Snapchat
Snapchat is fairly new to the marketing scene, although it’s been in my pocket for years! It gives a little snap shot into your favourite people’s lives – so how do you gain a customer following using it?
Show behind the scenes
My top tips to success are showing behind the scenes, showing your personality and showing the in-between moments, because that’s what Snapchat is all about. It’s not a perfectly polished Instagram post that’s filtered. It’s not a carefully considered blog post. The beauty of Snapchat is the fact that it is those in between, raw, real moments. So I think for success I would say, be real, be you and make sure you’re showing people the parts that they don’t see on other social networks. Go deeper into conversations with those that engage with you, ask questions, understand others perspectives and make sure that you are also consuming others content and not just producing content.
Promote your account offline and online
When it comes to Snapchat, there are a few ways in which brands and companies can get actual customers to follow them.
Firstly, by posting/including their Snapcode on any receipts or promotional material a customer may get after making a purchase – the company should increase in followers quickly. If there is a simple code to scan to follow your brand on Snapchat – why would your customers avoid that?
Secondly, promote exclusive offers and competitions on your Snapchat – customers will always engage with a network if they feel they are gaining something in return.
Thirdly, print your Snapcode and place it within your window (if you have one) – that way customers and browsers can scan as they shop and follow you too!
Setup a QR code on your other social media channels
SnapChat isn’t relevant to everyone’s business, and the demographic is lower than most other platforms. However, the SnapChat is the best platform to develop a strong social influencer and celebrity endorsement campaign. Create a SnapChat QR Code and place it on your other social media channels. A scan converts into a follow.
Snapcode – Snapchat
If using Snapchat, you will know the difficulty in finding other’s profiles. You therefore need to embrace your snapcode. Highlight on all other social platforms and anywhere else is pertinent to your business.
Growing a customer following on: Pinterest
I love Pinterest; it’s full of ideas, articles and all sorts of interesting things. But how do you use it to grow your customer following?
Optimise your profile
Pinterest is not a Social Network as you may think, Pinterest is a collection of ideas, a visual discovery engine, and this comes from horses’ mouth. On Pinterest we pin, repin create boards to inspire us with our next project and Pinterest can really help businesses with SEO if we set us our account properly and optimize our website for Pinterest. With the right visuals every business can gain a captive audience. For those that are new to Pinterest make sure your profile is optimised before moving forward.
What being optimised actually means on Pinterest:
- Complete your business account profile
- Verify your website
- Set up Pinterest Boards, at least 5 to begin with
- Find and pin content
- Create content on your website which you can pin and share on your Pinterest account.
And of course the benefits will start showing quicker than you envisaged:
- increased awareness
- additional blog traffic
- new leads
- increased sales
Overlay text on images & get involved
If your company is creative or your products particularly visual, getting on Pinterest is an amazing way to reach your customer base and tap directly into their interests. Create some beautiful boards featuring your products, and engage with other users, keeping it social and laidback. Make sure you add a pin-it button to your website to allow browsers to pin your content to their own boards and get you noticed. A great tip is to overlay text to images in blogs so when they’re seen out of context on your boards, users can still tell what they’re about!
Send your customers mood boards
In my view, Pinterest is still very Americanised. However, Pinterest is a great tool to utilise in your email marketing campaigns. It allows you to put together mood boards, wish lists and ‘style it’ boards. Send these boards to your customers for inspiration, linking in a particular product. This will allow them to visualise your products and gain ideas.
Engage with popular pins
One tip for getting yourself more visibility on Pinterest – and therefore increasing the chances of gaining followers – is to engage with popular pins. These are pins that have been repinned, liked and commented on frequently and appear in the ‘popular’ section of the platform. You can take advantage of their popularity with a genuine, meaningful comment, which not only opens up a dialogue between your brand and the pinner, but also means you might increase your visibility amongst other Pinterest users.
However, you should always ensure that the pin is relevant to your brand and that your comment shows that you know and care about the subject matter. If not, it could come across as insincere and even spammy!
Growing a customer following on: Extra Tips
Since our social media experts were so full of tips and tricks, I didn’t want you to miss out on them even though they don’t quite make up their own category – so here’s all the extra tips they had for getting a customer following online.
For me, Tumblr is probably the most underrated social media platform for social media marketing out there. Over the years it has become unfairly associated with angsty teenagers and bad fan art, but if you’re willing to wade your way through the nonsense you’ll find a plethora of marketing opportunities across a wide range of industries. Like Reddit, users on Tumblr are predominately anonymous, and are generally less concerned with maintaining a clean-cut appearance on their profiles. For this reason, companies that sell slightly taboo items can often be wildly successful on Tumblr. But even if your product isn’t controversial, you’ll still be able to build a decent following on Tumblr and promote your brand successfully. Tumblr has a ‘viral culture’ like Reddit, where much of the popular content that ends up on Facebook and Twitter originated on sites like Tumblr, so it’s the perfect place to gain some traffic to a good piece of content that you’ve been working on.
Make your social media icons clear
Make sure your social media icons are clear and easy to find on your site. The footer is perfect as this is consistent across your site and is where people will tend to expect to find contact details. Always double check that the links work, too! The same approach should also be applied to your email communications.
Set up tracking
Offline marketing and PR can be as valuable as online, however, it can be more difficult to track sales and results. When placing your business in offline magazines, create a unique code for readers to use, or an incentive to sign up to the mailing list. This will help you track and analyse where traffic is coming from.
If you are placed in online press/articles, ensure that they use a keyword enriched press release, and back links to your website/online profile.
Print your profiles everywhere
Sneak your social profiles onto just about everywhere. On leaflets, on the products, napkins, pens, banners, anywhere you can!
I just wanted to make sure I thanked all the amazing social media experts that took part in this article; thanks for all your help, connecting me to other experts and spending the time to share your expertise with me. I couldn’t have done this without you!
My final thoughts?
Weirdly enough, getting more out of social media means being more social. Get out there and talk to people, provide them real value, and they’re much more likely to follow you on social media and become a customer. People buy from people after all, so go out there and get connecting!
If you have any amazing tactics that you’d love included, or you have any questions/feedback, please feel free to leave a comment or get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org