A few short years ago we were writing articles desperately trying to convince business people to take Facebook and Twitter seriously as a tool to connect them with customers. The results were mostly dire – those companies embracing social media used it as a channel to force feed would-be customers unwanted sales dirge. Nowadays the picture is very different.
Companies know social media increases their ability and ease of reaching out to a big base of consumers. On the flip side, social media has shifted the balance of power into the hands of customers, giving them a very public platform to express their satisfaction or dissatisfaction with a brand. No company can ignore the importance of social media as a channel to engage customers and other stakeholders. And securing social media interaction for your brand has never been so important as now it is thought Google and Bing paying a lot of attention to ‘social signals’.
So how do you kick start relationship building through these channels? Here are 18 ways to build a following and get customers, as well as would-be customers, talking to you.
Your first step is to create accounts with the services you intend to use. Don’t spread yourself too thinly – you want to keep these accounts updated regularly so focus on the main ones (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn).
1. Create good profiles
If a person is interested in following you, this is what they will look at, so make ’em good. Work on social media sites as a person who is associated with a brand, not as a faceless company. In other words, be a real person, a name – put a face to that name, be authentic.
2. Link to your social accounts – from everywhere
Put a link anywhere you possibly can – email footers, websites, at the foot of blog posts/articles, website downloads, letterheads, compliment slips, envelopes, reports, product packaging. Make it really easy for people to follow you from your website content. Actually invite them to follow you (e.g. ‘follow me on Twitter’) rather than just putting a Twitter icon there.
3. Build up an initial following
People are more likely to follow what other people are following so you need to kick start the process. Start with everyone you know including everyone who works at your company if you have one, friends, family, etc. Ask your initial group to interact with your posts to create interest. Keep asking, nicely and say thank you for retweets and shares.
You can buy twitter followers, facebook page likes etc (you can also buy likes on individual posts). I don’t think this is a bad thing to kick start a page – it makes it look more active and people are more likely to join in. Don’t go crazy though – you’re not buying genuine likes or followers here and by buying in followers, you are diluting the response vs. your reach.
4. Post content on trending topics
You’re looking for followers in your industry/interested in your industry so post content on trending topics within that industry, that the followers you are targetting would be interested in. Don’t just post your own content – talk about what’s going on elsewhere in the industry, offer your opinions, invite people to respond.
On Twitter, mark your posts with a hash tag # for the topic.
5. Follow those that you want to follow you
Don’t just follow anyone, look for people who you’d like to follow you. These might be prospects, clients, influencers in your industry, media, etc.
6. Use ‘@reply’ to join in the conversation
…or to start your own conversation with them. Your aim is to establish yourself as a bit of an expert in your industry. So be the first to talk about what’s trending.
7. ‘Re-tweet’ posts by these people
Use the old style RT so that the user will see that you are retweeting (see here for more guidance).
8. Get in with their friends…
Interact with people that influence the people you want to follow you. See who your targets are following and start interacting with those people too. If they follow you, so might your targets.
9. Ask a favour…
When you develop a relationship with influencers, don’t be shy to ask for a re-tweet. If you have a good relationship, ask them to invite all of their friends to become fans of the page.
10. Post offers exclusively for your followers.
Really do make these exclusive to people who follow your account. Not only is it building followers but it’s also rewarding those who stay with you.
11. Run a competition
For example, this could be open to all people who have liked your page (or followed you) before the closing date. Encourage people to share the news about the competition.
Check individual sites as both Facebook and Twitter have strict rules about running competitions.
12. Tweet and post during live events
…that relate to your industry, using the # tag on Twitter to flag the topic.
13. Keep up to date
Keep all of your accounts up to date with fresh content. Answer any questions posted up regularly. Ask questions. Keep things interactive. Your customers should see this as a real channel to speak to you and feed back on your service.
14. Advertise on the sites themselves
Ask people to ‘like’ in your adverts. Look at the way other Facebook advertisers do this effectively. They don’t just advertise a service or product but encourage you to like if (for example) you agree with a statement. E.g. “Marmite – Like if you love it!”
- If you’re serious about increasing followers, send users to your facebook page or twitter profile rather than your corporate website.
- On Facebook, create special landing pages for these ads that are incentivised / relevant to the ad – these will have far more success than sending people to your wall.
- Rotate your ads. Keep them fresh. Interest dies off.
- Test your ads to find the best versions – e.g. test 20-40 different versions.
- Target a single interest per ad and use the demographics to filter them to your most likely customers.
- Assume you’ll get 3 seconds of the ad viewer’s time – make it snappy.
15. Get listed
Add yourself to directories eg Twiends, WeFollow, and Twellow.
16. Guest blog
…and link to one of your social media accounts eg Twitter. Try BloggerLinkUp to find some brilliant blogging opportunities.
17. Spread your feeds around
Add feeds of your updates to other places where you can. e.g. LinkedIn, your blog, etc, so your posts show up there too.
18. Leverage follower help
When you’re near a milestone (e.g. 500 followers) ask your followers nicely to share so you can make that milestone. People are often happy to help out small personable businesses and don’t forget that each share goes out to their entire friends list. Don’t forget to say thanks!
Do you have any more tips for how people can gain more social media followers? If so why not share them? And don’t forget to follow me on Twitter 😉