In the first article of my 5 part series on growing your social media presence, we went over why you should or shouldn’t put effort into growing your follower base. In this article, I’m assuming you do want to pursue growing your follower base, and assume you understand the best way to do it is cheaply, since we know that social followers are unlikely to have a big effect on your bottom line, anyway. That’s why I want to focus on a handful of what I consider mandatory, cost effective ways to get more followers every brand or organization can employ to get more followers.
There are already hundreds of listicles out there telling you how you should max out hashtags, develop amazing content, and pay influencers to build your social media following. You don’t need me to write another list like this. My article is a little different.
In this article, I’m going to challenge you to consider some other tactics for getting new followers that aren’t necessarily super clever or sexy. What all of these things have in common is that they require a little work up front, but if done correctly and are periodically maintained, are “set it and forget it,” “always on” tactics that are guaranteed to keep followers flowing your way, with little labor on your part. Any brand or organization, no matter its resources can use the tips presented in this article and customize them to their needs.
Before you Begin
Before you begin, you need to get clear about your resources. This is the step that everyone skips. When was the last time you analyzed how much time and money you’re able to spend on developing your social media presence? This answer will of course be different for everyone. But many companies don’t explicitly plan this. For some brands, a “cost effective” strategy for acquiring new followers could mean allocating $500 per month to the endeavor, while for others, it could mean $5,000.
A good social media manager will want to know what their budget is, why, will document it, and will report on results. Simple reporting like this is a little bit of extra effort that can go a long way. Whatever you decide, document it, periodically report on it, and adjust your strategy according to the data.
Example: You pay a social media coordinator $20 an hour, 40 hours a week, and they spend ⅕ of their time directly trying to influence your follower count. That’s (very roughly) $160 a week to your employee, and roughly $8500 expense per year to you.
Add to that a paid campaign, such as a Facebook “Likes” campaign, with a budget of $500 every 3 months, with an average cost-per-follow of $0.90-$1.00. That’s roughly another $2000 annually.
Let’s say you also decide to partner with an influencer to get more followers, and you spend $500 on a one-time social activation with them. Then let’s say you do a give away, where you give away one of your products for free. That costs something, too.
Knowledge is Power
In the example above, before you know it, you’re spending $10K+ annually just on acquiring more followers. For many brands, that could be just fine, while others may discover they are over or under budget. Your business is the investment you are capable of knowing best, so why not take full advantage of it? If you aren’t aware of costs, how will you make informed business decisions that drive better business outcomes?
5 Guaranteed, Cost Effective Ways to Get Followers
That said, here are five ways to find followers that every brand, no matter your resources, should take advantage of. These are all pretty no-brainer ways to increase your followers little by little. They may require a moderate amount of effort up front, but will continue to pay dividends over the long term.
1. Make an Outstanding First Impression
Your social property is one of the first places people will look to find out more about you or your business. People may use social media to “get to know you,” even finding your social property before they find your website or your physical business.
Speaking from personal experience, I use social profiles to see if a business…is still in business. This tip is especially good for local businesses to keep in mind. Give your profile visitors helpful information. Tell them your store hours, about potential closures, about what’s in stock, about upcoming events and anything else that brings your business to life.
If someone comes to your profile, and they find it hasn’t been updated in 6 months, if the link in your bio is broken, if your first post is generic, uninformative or generally has no value, you are making an impression. A bad one. And that visit to your profile won’t likely result in a follow.
This doesn’t mean you need to invest in expensive visual content or a fancy copywriter, or that you even need to post every day, it just means that you should look at your profile through the eyes of a brand new visitor and think about its appearance. Your profile ought to appear professional and welcoming.
Keeping your profile up to date and maintaining its appearance is not only great for capturing potential followers, it’s great for overall brand awareness and improving consumer perception.
2. Use the Same @handle Across All of Your Properties
Ideally your social handle is exactly the same as your business name with no special characters. People will search for you on social media using the name of your business, not your clever tagline or anything else you think is related to your brand but wouldn’t immediately come to mind for your prospects and customers. Consistency is a basic component of good branding which should be reflected by your social channels.
You want to be able to literally say out loud follow @myamazingbusiness without explaining 10 slightly different handles. You want to be able to print it on your business card and put it on your packaging without it taking up a lot of space. This will make your customer service representatives, sales representatives, brand ambassadors and everyone else’s lives easier when they want to promote your social channels.
3. Take Advantage of All Your Other Channels
Use your newsletter, your website, purchase and shipping confirmation emails, email signature, product packaging, business cards, employees, cash register, direct mail, booth collateral… every owned channel available to you, to promote your social channels. Embed social posts on your website. Embed them in your newsletter. And always take the extra time to craft compelling copy that makes the user want to check out your social properties. You don’t have to be an amazing copywriter, nor do you need to hire anyone. Just ask people what they think of what you’ve written. Asking just about anyone for feedback and having one extra set of eyes proofread your copy goes a long way!
Invest in this once, check up on it occasionally, and you’re greatly increasing the likelihood of people finding you on social media, which means you’re not looking for them, which is putting time and money back on your side.
There are caveats to this to be aware of. For instance, including your social channels at the bottom of your newsletter means there’s a chance that someone would click over to your social channels instead of clicking through to your products on your website. This is something to consider. Avoid competing with yourself, and focus on one call to action.
4. Build Long-Term Relationships with Like-Minded Partners
Find like-minded brands and organizations which aren’t your direct competitor who want to participate in a long-term mutually beneficial exchange. It can be a lot of work to find, establish and maintain partnerships, but it doesn’t have to be. Working with two or three partners is better than making one-time deals with 20 different brands every year. On the other hand, one could argue that fresh partners lead to new opportunities. Feel free to experiment with both. but collect simple data so you can better understand what is working best.
Finding ongoing ways to collaborate with your partners means repetition, which is good for brand awareness. Create a formula you can recycle. Again, capture baseline data so you can understand what to expect from these partnerships. This will also give you some leverage when you go to negotiate with the next potential partner.
5. Turn on Paid Social Advertising
Every brand can allocate some amount of funding to sponsoring posts and buying likes. Whether it’s $5 or $500, determine your budget, and start sponsoring your best performing posts from your most engaged channels.
Sponsoring / boosting posts is not rocket science. Social platforms are incentivized to provide DIY self-serve ad creation vehicles that are easy to use because they want you to spend money with them. Every brand should do this. This might sound silly, but spending money has good energy attached to it. It means you mean business and is a way of “paying yourself first” that investment gurus claim is vital to growth.
I hope these tips give you plenty of food for thought for finding followers, and helping followers find you. A few of these strategies require some nurturing and education up front. Once you reach an agreement with your partners and gain a basic understanding of social advertising, these methods shouldn’t require very much labor from you or your team in the long run. You can make it more complex and time-consuming, but you don’t have to.
What do YOU think? Please tell me in the comments below. I enjoy reading and responding! ??❤️?? (If you find typos or broken links, please let me know!)