How to Grow Your Social Media Audience

“How do I get more social media followers?”

Fan acquisition can become a tricky game. How do you get more people to listen to your message on your preferred social network? What types of content build brand loyalty and encourage engagement? How can you tell if fan engagement is authentic?

Quality over quantity is key.

A valuable fan represents someone more apt to engage, share, and be driven to purchase.

Let’s explore the good (and bad) ways to grow your social media audience.

Pick the Platform

For starters, identify which platform will work best for your brand.

Facebook, a general “catch-all” platform, will typically net you the most followers and engagement. Depending on your product, the type of content you promote, and the way you develop your social media persona, your brand could become more impactful on Twitter, Instagram, or even Snapchat.

Select one major platform and focus on it. Sure, you can have secondary social platforms, but your strongest content should lead on whichever one fits your buyer persona best (more on that below).

Focusing on multiple social platforms at the same time can increase your visibility, but it can also decrease your impact and increase your content budget exponentially.

Find Your Followers

After you have identified your primary social platform, make it a priority to find some followers.

Examining your buyer persona is the best way to start your search. Buyer personas represent your actual consumers (i.e. the folks most likely inclined to buy your product). Discover as many like-minded consumers as possible to talk to.

We strongly recommend executing your platform’s approved Fan Acquisition program.

But how much are you willing to pay for a follower?

Determine the estimated cost beforehand with a qualified social media manager. If your product is easily consumable and accessible to a wide audience, you’ll see a low cost (we’ve done it for as low as $0.17 per fan). If you have a niche product or limited distribution, expect that price to climb as you search to find qualified leads.

Another best practice involves cross-pollination between social media platforms, especially when it comes to launching a new account.

It’s OK to promote your Instagram account on your Facebook page. In this day and age, not everyone gets the scoop strictly from Facebook. Someone may express more interest on Twitter or even Snapchat. Try to avoid posting the same content across all platforms. Give your fans a valuable reason to follow you on another account using unique photos, platform-specific contests, user-generated content, and more.

Explore contesting as another means of building your following.

Incorporate creative hashtag contests for Twitter and Instagram, add a Follow or Like button to your current contest page, or even create exclusive promotions for your fans (making it shareable to new fans as well). Remember to consult each platform’s restrictions and permissions regarding contesting.

Create Compelling Content

By now you have your platform and you’re on your way to gathering a bigger audience. Now comes the most important part, content.

All too often, brands have an if-you-build-it-they-will-come attitude, which couldn’t be further from the truth. Compelling content that resonates with a large portion of your audience is one of the best ways you can keep your audience growing.

Essentially, compare your social channel to a television channel. By lacking high-quality content that appeals to your audience, they will eventually find their entertainment elsewhere.

Your content should honestly and authentically reflect your brand’s image. This can be done by keeping a consistent sense of design, theme, and tone in your posts.

Your content acts as an extension of your product.

For instance, we love Totino’s Pizza Rolls’ Twitter account. These pillowy pizza puffs have taken this to heart and post funny, lighthearted, and quirky content that resonates with their key purchasing demographics, Millennials and Gen Z. They know the aren’t a “serious” meal so they create content that is bite-sized and consumable. Just like their product.

Sometimes it can seem like an uphill battle to get good content to be seen. This is where Post Boosting can help. With even a simple budget, you can geotarget your content to a specific audience. For instance, Facebook offers the opportunity to boost posts to existing fans’ friends. This allows like-minded people to see and enjoy your content.

Beware “Like Farms”

Now to the ugly side of getting more fans.

A process technically banned by Facebook allows you to purchase a group of fake accounts in bulk. Those accounts are run by “Like Farms” where the corrupt entity logs in and engages with your page through liking a post or leaving a comment with multiple accounts. This makes it appear like you have an engaged audience to the average user. But beware! This creates a false audience that has no direct impact on the ultimate goal, sales.

When social media first hit the ground running, the sign of a quality page equaled the number of followers it had, but most platforms changed their algorithms to combat fake followers.

What’s the new metric for success? How engaged the bulk of your organically (or “legally” acquired) fans interact with your page.

You can usually spot who has bought fans by comparing their number of followers to individual post engagement. For instance, on Facebook, a brand with no bot followers will have between 1-4% of their total audience engage with a thumbs up, heart, or other emoticon on a post. A farmed account will have much, MUCH lower engagement rates. If you want to get into the nitty-gritty of Facebook’s attitude toward fake likes, check out their official position.

Align with Affiliates

If it agrees with your brand goals, you can tap into new audiences by aligning with brand affiliates. For example, Kansas City-based, multi-market brand Grace’s Best Cookies partners with local, established mom blogger groups across the Midwest who host seasonal events for families. Grace’s Best Cookies contributes product for swag bags and silent auctions, typically in exchange for sampling opportunities and high-quality content to share on social media. Affiliate marketing helps Grace’s connect with their target audience an authentic way.

Vet out your options by considering what these partner ambassadors or communities can offer. Moms with elementary school aged children make up a large percentage of Grace’s target consumers, so these event sponsorships with major potential reach, sampling exposure and unique content make sense for their brand.

For a newly launched brand that is geared to Gen Z or Millennials, a fully-vetted and proven influencer can work wonders. It gets your brand seen by your target consumer and ties your product to a Brand Ambassador that brings clout.

But for every success story, there’s countless failures. Just because someone has millions of followers does not guarantee victory. Take the case of Arii, a fashion influencer who had over 2.6 million followers and tried to launch her own clothing line. After a ton of work and money to create quality content, she failed to sell more than 36 t-shirts on launch.

Word of caution – beware the stereotypical Instagram “influencer” set out on a quest for free stuff.

In the end, when it comes to building your audience on social media, stick with what’s simple and actionable. Genuine followers are out there. Offer potential fans value with every post and promotion. Give them a reason to keep coming back!

For the latest tips and tricks on how to grow your social media audience, follow us on LinkedIn. 

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