Growing a Social Following
You can find thousands of articles that have been written about ways to grow your social media following, but one of the things that most articles fail to cater for is actually growing them from nothing.
We all know how Coca Cola, Pepsi and the like have built enormous social media followings, but what if you’re not a huge brand? How about if you’ve just set up a blog and had no real online presence beforehand?
This month is what we are going to focus on – the first 3-4 months of your social media campaign.
One thing to mention before we get started is that it’s really easy to get disheartened during the early stages of your social media campaigns. Things are slow at the beginning and it can feel like you’re running in circles a lot of the time.
The reality is that most social media campaigns won’t really deliver any real results until you’ve got a fair few months into them. Even then, depending on what niche you’re in, it can take much longer. The most important thing to remember is to keep focused.
Have a strategy and stick to it – even if it feels like you’re going nowhere.
Oh, and the final note is that you don’t spent a fortune either.
Starting from 0
So you’ve just set up your blog. You have a new website and you’ve finally managed to get your custom email address to work. You’re all ready to start making waves online and it’s time to hit your first million likes on Facebook.
First, you need to decide on which social networks are going to be right for your content.
Choosing the Right Channels
This is a really important decision because the last thing you want to do is dedicate a load of time, effort and resources (and money) into growing a social following within a specific channel, only to then find out that it’s not delivering the right results.
The main thing to consider is who your target market is and what type of content you’ll be producing.
Contrary to what many people say, there isn’t really a right or a wrong answer here. We see lots of examples of brands and blogs that carve out engaged audiences within unlikely social networks – it’s all about how you deliver your content to the audience you’re targeting.
With our clients, imagery is a must. With this in mind, we choose social channels that would play to the strengths of the content used. At the same time, we don’t choose too many channels as this could spread our time too thin, with little success.
The primary channels that we use for our clients are:
The main objective of the social campaign was to drive back targeted traffic through to our clients websites. Within these five channels, we feel we have the best possible chance.
Differentiating Your Content
Once you’ve decided upon the social media channels that you’ll be using, you need to consider how you’ll differentiate yourself from your competition. There’s a lot of noise in social media, so you want to ensure that your posts stand out from the rest.
You don’t need to reinvent the wheel here, but consistency is key. The way that we have separated posts from our clients competitors is through the imagery.
Each of the photos that we take for our clients are resized to fit perfectly within Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest etc. Then, using a simple overlay, we add the useful tips and facts for example.
This takes around 10 minutes for each post and has such a big impact on the engagement levels and brand recognition amongst followers in the long term.
If you’re not great with image editing tools like Photoshop or GIMP, here are a few online tools that you can use which are fantastic for developing custom imagery.
Don’t underestimate the power of good imagery, or at least consistent imagery. Within channels like Facebook, Google+ and Twitter, image-led posts have a much greater engagement rate than any other.
If you start creating custom images to share on social media then you need to make sure that you have a process in place to create and share them as easily and quickly as possible.
Checking Out Your Competitors
Another huge source of inspiration can come from analysing what is working for your competitors (and what’s not working).
The first step is to identify some of the leaders in your niche. We usually start with some simple Google searches.
For example, if we were looking for competitors of social media marketing, I’d search for terms like ‘social media’, ‘content marketing’, ‘social media blog’. It sounds really obvious, but this is the simplest way to find lots of similar blogs, and blogs are a great source of inspiration for social media campaigns (mainly due to the volume of content produced).
Once you’ve collated a list of around 20-30, it’s time to extract their social media profiles. You can go and do this manually by visiting their website and then finding their social links (usually via some icons at the top or bottom of the page), or you could use a tool like BuzzStream (paid tool) that will automatically pull in any related social media profiles and email addresses.
Once you’ve collated all of the social media profiles, it’s time to gather their total follower counts (if you did this via BuzzStream then you’ll already have this data). Again, you can do this by manually visiting each of the social profiles and copy/pasting the values over, or you can use a little bit of automation via scraping.Once you’ve got a nice big list, you can sort each competitor by the size of their social media following. This will allow you to pick 5/6 of the top competitors to use as a benchmark, whilst also going in and running an analysis of what works for them. This left me with a nice breakdown of my competition’s social presence.
Growing Your Following
So we’ve talked about getting your imagery right, keeping consistency in your posting and how often to schedule your posts, but you’re probably thinking, “This is all great, but I’m not sharing my content to anyone because nobody is following me!”
Well, don’t worry. The aspects that we’ve covered within the previous section of this post must have been considered before you even think about growing your social media following.
If you have no strategy to begin with, you’re doomed to fail.
Seeding your First Followers
Getting those first few followers can always seem tough. You’ve got a load of great content to share, but nobody to share it with – not an ideal situation.
Don’t start worrying just yet though; everyone has to start somewhere.
Long-Term Growth Strategies
Quick wins are great, but there’s a lot more to growing a social media following than just relying on people following you back. You’ll need to map out a long-term strategy to keep momentum going within your campaigns and also ensure that you don’t lose any of those followers that you’ve worked so hard to acquire.
That’s it for this month! We hope some of these tips might be useful for you.
If you want a marketing partner that is passionate about helping you grow your business then get in touch. It’s what we’re best at.