Once you have your brand’s voice and tone defined, and have a clear mission of what your purpose on social media is, your next step will be to grow your following. Unless you’re a celebrity or a viral sensation, growing your follower base on social media will take a lot of effort and time. It can take a while to build up enough of a following where you gain momentum for the machine to essentially run itself. Here are a few pointers that will help you build a genuine following:
Don’t. Buy. Followers.
It’s embarrassing that this still happens. Twitter users become so desperate to appease someone that they buy twitter followers. We see this a lot in motorsports because race teams, drivers, photographers, etc., want to be taken seriously. Lying is not the way to do it. There are many easy ways to spot this kind of fraud.
- Common sense: If you see someone who isn’t famous or in any kind of spotlight have over 8,000 followers, then something is definitely wrong. In sports car racing specifically, the really personable drivers and teams will have between 5,000-25,000 followers. They’re on TV, they’re all over the internet, they have sponsors who support them, so it makes sense they’d have that many followers. If a small brand or a “normal” person has an amount close to that, chances are they’re mostly fake.
- Observing the Response: If someone has more than 5,000 genuine followers, almost every tweet will get a significant amount of favorites and retweets (although sadly, you can purchase these too). But if you see someone with a large following barely getting a response from every post, then their following is fake. You can also observe their fan response over time as well and look for any sudden hikes. On sites like Instagram, this is very easy to spot. If someone has a suspicious amount of followers and likes on their photos, go back and look at the follower response from posts done 6 or 12 months ago. If they could barely break 40 likes, and are now getting likes upwards of 200, when they’re not a celebrity or haven’t become a viral sensation, they’re probably buying their image they want you to believe.
- Twitter Audit: Several websites offer this service, each using a different algorithm to go through a sample of an account’s followers, and based on that sample, judge how many of those accounts are real or not. There currently isn’t a way to make this process 100% correct, but it will help gauge how honest someone is about building their brand.
So why is this a big deal? If you’re on twitter for business reasons, you’re compromising the integrity of your brand. No one wants to build their brand with a deceptive partner who is looking for the shortcut. You’re insulting your followers and prospective clients and partners by hoping they’ll believe your perception verses the reality. Although a large number may initially attract partners or sponsors, when they’re looking for their return on investment, it will become quite clear things aren’t as they appear, and by then, you’ve lost their trust.
Balance your follow/followers ratio
Building a large following can take a lot of time, and one way to get your account noticed is to follow those whom you would like to follow you back as well. As with everything in social media, this is acceptable, but only in moderation. If you’re following 10,000 accounts, that tells me you don’t really care about those 10,000 people, you just want them to follow back.
In the same way that following too many accounts looks desperate, following too few accounts looks arrogant. As a brand, you want to show you support your industry, partners, supporters and influential contacts. When I see an account follow few others or none at all, it tells me their only priority is to be heard, and the only conversation they’re interested in is one they start.
Instead: Follow accounts that are related to your brand, and ones you genuinely would like to interact with. Follow sponsors, clients and influential contacts. Follow longtime supporters whom you already interact with on a regular basis, but don’t feel obligated to follow everyone.
Interact with Your Followers
This is incredibly basic, but many miss the mark. Social media exists because of one main reason: People want to belong to something. Whether it’s through being informed, being heard, or both, they’re on social media to connect.
Whatever you do, don’t be desperate. Instead of begging for followers, be interesting! Give them a reason to follow you. If you’re sharing unique ideas and content that people find interesting, people will want to follow you. If you guilt them into doing it by begging, they’re probably just going to mute you anyway and never see any of your posts again. Don’t do a stream of tweets at well-known brands or people to get attention. That’s a great way to get blocked or muted because they’ll assume you’re just another stalker (Social media, stalkers, and crossing social boundaries are different topics for another time).
Instead: Be interesting! Give them a reason to follow you! Answer questions, but also post unique content or ideas that will generate conversations and get your followers familiar with your brand. Build relationships with them. This will not only improve your impressions long term, but it will also strengthen your overall brand.
Links Followers Will Click On
When you share a link with your followers, it’s important to tell them what you’re sharing, and if possible, why they should click on it. With the overflow of content these days, it’s no longer enough to just say “look at this link.” Incentivize.
Let’s say you follow a podcast on twitter, and they post a link to their latest episode. Are you more likely to click on a link that says “Check out this cool episode: [LINK]” or would you instead click on something like “Check out our most recent episode where we discuss big changes in F1’s qualifying and get exclusive insight on what it means for competition: [LINK].”
If you’re using Facebook to automatically post links to twitter or vice versa, stop now. It’s lazy and almost never displays all of the information you’re trying to get across. Facebook and twitter are two very different mediums that require two different ways of speaking and interacting. Take the time to learn both and to post to each individually. No more “I posted a gallery to Facebook. View here.”
Getting a proper introduction and link to fit in a post can be frustrating, but it’s important to connect to your fans, especially when you have something to show them.