Growing your social media audience organically can be a time-consuming and intricate process, but it’s ultimately the right thing to do. You do not want to be the brand that purchases fake followers and likes. There are indeed ways to buy followers that are real, but doing so is only a step in helping put your brand in front of people who might be interested in you.
How do you grow your social media presence manually, though? “Manually” does not necessarily mean “old-fashioned”—you are welcome to use whatever tools are available to help you. However, you do need to be involved and hands-on when it comes to your social media strategy, so here are a few things to remember when you are working to build your online presence.
Your followers seek validation
You’ve probably heard this one a million times, but it’s true: you need to interact with your followers. You might think that you are fulfilling your end of the deal by posting intriguing content and therefore bringing them joy or information, but you need to do much more than creating content and hoping internet users stick to it like flies in honey. If you want them to continue looking at what you publish, if you want their business and advocacy, you need to give them what they want from brands: validation.
People are tired and suspicious of faceless corporations that seem legitimate, but in the end, the business experience feels–hollow. Have you ever been to a local festival and had fun chatting with the eccentric popcorn merchant? While popcorn stations are abundant, you keep returning to the same man because he has a way of letting you know he appreciates your business and wants you to walk away happy.
The same scenario applies to social media: people want to feel seen, recognized, and heard— and you should want the same for them. Interact with both followers and non-followers alike; respond to their comments, crack jokes (if it’s an appropriate situation to do so), answer their questions, and share user-generated content if they send it to you (you can also host contests and ask for this). Social media is also a convenient place to make customer service easily accessible.
Post at the right times
Internet users’ feeds are already crammed with countless posts and stories. You can make your content as interesting as possible, but it won’t matter if social media algorithms ensure no one sees it. This part is where a significant amount of strategy is required. Not only do you need to entice people, but you also need to post at the right times so that your content is presented to people who are not deliberately searching for it.
Social media analytics tools can tell you when your followers are most active and when the best times to publish are (it’s also advisable to post during slower times so that your content is not drowning in a sea of other material when your followers log on). Take a look at top industry research about when the best times to post are. Your business type matters, so for example, the most advantageous times for B2C businesses on Instagram are at 8 am when people wake up and check their feeds, 1 pm when people are bored at work or on lunch breaks, and 9 pm before folks go to bed. Don’t forget to factor in time zones, too—you cannot exactly stagger when the same post is released, so publish according to where your highest concentration of followers lives.
Use the right tools
While on the subject of tools, be sure to use the ones that make sense for your needs and budget. Social media analytics resources are remarkably helpful and can save you countless hours from turning your campaigns into games of blindfolded trial-and-error. Tools like Buffer and AgoraPulse can give you insights into details like where your followers live, what their buying patterns are, how far your posts reach, what kind of content inspires the best responses, and more. When you can see how your efforts are performing, you can adjust your strategy accordingly.
Remember to encourage your followers to share your posts to their own channels (don’t overdo it, though—no one likes being told what to do). When users love your content and want to re-share it, your posts disseminate to people who might not otherwise hear of you. If you have a blog or website, be sure to include “share” features connected to platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, Google Plus, and more to make re-posting easier for your fans.
Growing your social media presence organically requires time and patience, but using the right tools and treating your followers well will help you reach your goals. What other steps do you make a point to take when attempting to build your audience?