If you don’t have a social media strategy for acquiring and engaging your users, you are leaving a lot on the table. Seriously!!

Follower count on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram may come off as vanity metrics. But they have significant advantages for your business. The most significant is that they determine the reach of your messages. A sizeable following guarantees that when your company speaks, a huge segment of the world hears you.

Those golden figures are directly proportional to how much impact your message will have. This impact will further influence how you convert your audience into paying customers.

There are a ton of great ideas on how to grow your following. Beautiful ideas. But this guide will focus on how to ‘build’ your audience from zero to a substantial sum. Say 2000.

What steps can you begin to take to get from an account with zero followers to a having a little tribe with you at the head of the table?

Here are 11 surefire ways to get you there:

1.   Fill out your profile thoroughly

Let’s start with basics shall we? The journey begins here. Fill out every detail in your profile. It’s good form to pay attention to what you are adding to your Twitter bio; your about page on Facebook; and resume on LinkedIn. Add only things you are comfortable with.

Since you are a legal business, you are likely to be comfortable sharing most of the things these social media platforms ask. Add your URL, cover photo and profile. Leave nothing out.

In your bio, it helps to present yourself as an authority; a leader. Self-professed experts have an average of 100 more followers than the typical Twitter user. Other authoritative titles in your bio such as founder, speaker, expert, creator, and an author can also boost your follower count.

 

2.   Place follow widget on your website

Once your social media accounts are up, add their widgets to your website. For example, Twitter allows you add four types of this button; the share link, follow button, hashtag, and mention. At this point, the follow button is most important, so leave it in a prominent spot.

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Facebook, on the other hand, offers a colourful menagerie of these buttons; from share button, to send button, to activity feed, the like box, on to the facepile. At this point, you want to focus on getting likes on your Facebook page, so the Like box and like buttons are the way to go.

For extra exposure, add links to your social media accounts on the contact and about us page on your website.

3.  Share your social media profiles on other media

If you already have a thriving network somewhere. Say Facebook, or Whatsapp (or any other network). Inform them of your new social media colony. Include it in your newsletter. Let your subscribers know that you have a handle, and they should follow you to know even more about what you are doing.

4.   Add your social media profile to your email signatures

At the end of your correspondences, have your social media links just below your signature. Present them in buttons or add them as links.

5.  Follow relevant accounts

Here is a broadly accurate guide; most people follow back those who follow them. This rule doesn’t apply to celebrities. You already know that, okay.

Find relevant accounts of people in your niche (especially influencers) and follow them. With free tools like Tweepi or Moz’s Followerwonk, you can sauce out valuable followers of other high-value users in your niche. Filter them by recent activities and follow those who were recently active.

Make sure not to follow more than 100 persons per day. Doing so may cause Twitter to give you the boot.

6.   Keep your content smart, sharp and distinct

Content is king, and no other place is this truer that on the unforgiving, facetious social media streets. You need to craft creative, engaging content for your audience. To start things off, know who your audience is and the kind of content that appeal to them.

Whatever the demography of your audience, posts with high impact imagery generate more engagement. A recent study that analysed 1.2 million posts from 30,000 brands on Facebook found that posts with images or videos get 87% more engagement than posts that contain only text.

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Curate posts from other thought leaders in your niche but also post your original thinking. Everyone loves a good dose of humor from time to time. Use it with a flourish.

Also, make your posts distinct, especially images. Create a motif that runs through your pictures. For example, you could always mask your images with a red overlay. Ergo, anytime someone sees that picture, it is immediately linked back to your brand. Many tools help with this; ReciteThis, Pablo. Our favorite is Canva.

Also, use Hashtags. Always. It’s the best way for people outside of your network to see your tweets.

7.  Post more, post consistently

This is pretty obvious; the more you share, the more followers/fans you have. Research that analysed 36 million Twitter profiles and 28 billion tweets and found that there is a correlation between how often people tweeted and how many followers they got – those who tweeted more, got more followers.

Although the study didn’t venture to determine causation, the truth is, more posts mean more time spent on social media. This means more experience, a better understanding of your audience; what makes them tick. All these learnings will help you do more things that your tribe craves, thereby growing it.

A good hack to posting more is to take part in Twitter chats (You can find a list of those here, and here). On these chats, you could participate in discussions around an individual subject – firming your perception as a thought-leader.

Also, engage more with your audience, especially when they have complaints or have reached out to say ‘hello.’ Taking time to respond deepens the relationship between your organization and the followers.

On Instagram, ‘like’ a lot of things and leave comments early on posts (before it gets too crowded), so you get noticed.

8. Avoid bursts and all its cousins

Leaving too many updates at a time irks most people to no measure.

Although, we like our friends on Instagram, we don’t want to see their #SundaySelfie in 9D technicolor details told with many posts – clogging our TLs. This activity burst usually leads to a torrent of unfollows. A study by a group of Korean researchers [PDF] found that more than half of unfollows come as a result of bursts.

The bursts are not the only things responsible for unfollows. Respondents in the research also highlighted uninteresting topics, mundane details of daily life and automated tweets that lacked personality as motivations for unfollowing an account. You’ll want to stay away from these.

9.  Be generous

Most of your followers follow you because they like you, your brand. But it takes more than the love of a brand to keep users. For a newbie, that’s even harder because no one knows you (speak little of liking you).

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Till they do, one way to keep drawing followers by the hundreds is through giveaways. A Nielsen study for TwitterUK found that 52% of people follow brands on Twitter because of special offers or promotions. Use this to your advantage by giving out prizes and freebies on your social media accounts.

You could also hold a contest on your website that only your followers on social media can enter.

10.   Make your content tweetable

Add inline tweetable links to allow readers share some nuggets from your company blog. A tool such as Inline Tweet Sharer does this well. Customise it to have your @username, making you more visible and easier to follow.

11.   Set goals and milestones

In the end, set trackable goals. Specific goals like, ‘grow Facebook fanbase to 1 million by July 2017”. This will help you keep focused on the goal and give you a better chance of achieving it. We recommend that; to start things off, set short-term goals that are easy to reach and go upwards from there.

Featured image via gigaom.com

Do you have other strategies or tips you’ve used to build your social media follow count?  Share with us via twitter @startaHQ