Want to grow your social media following? Don’t do what I did.

 

Although I have been on Twitter for over a decade, I was still late to the party. Like many people, I didn’t really understand social media and I especially didn’t get Twitter. So, while I was early and fortunate enough to capture my name as my Twitter handle, I spent very little time back then tweeting, following, getting followers and the like.

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Dumb.

 

Some of my contemporaries were not so short-sighted and they jumped on the Twitter bandwagon with zeal. And it paid off. Anyone back then who had even a little buzz or presence was able to amass a huge Twitter following in fairly short order (in the hundreds of thousands.) And, frankly, not a few people got a large following even though they didn’t really have the chops or expertise to deserve it, but they were at the right place at the right time.

 

Once I realized that social media was not just some passing fad, I started doing the hard work of growing my social profile and presence. I did everything I was supposed to do (until I didn’t, more on that in a moment):

 

    • I created good looking social media homepages
    • I shared relevant content
    • I engaged with my followers

 

That said, I was frustrated that my following was not bigger or growing faster. So, I decided to do something about it – I bought some followers.

 

Dumb x 2.

 

I found a service and paid $99 for 1,000 Twitter followers. What a mistake. Little did I know but these were not real followers. My account was flooded with bots and fake accounts that took almost another year to clean up.

 

The lesson: There is a right way, and a wrong way, to grow your social media profile. Here’s what to do:

 

Post quality content: This is the most important rule. What you want to do is to create a feed that offers your followers content they can use. Whether you create the content or share someone else’s matters little. The important thing is to post content that people will like – that’s how you get people to follow you.

 

Mix it up: Post blogs, videos, podcasts, etc. Mix it up. Infographics and visuals especially are liked and shared, another important way to get followers: When others share your content, it is the ultimate digital word of mouth.

 

By the same token, it probably behooves you to mix up your tone as well. Sharing funny or otherwise emotional content works. Guy Kawasaki is great at this.


Use the 80-20 rule: The 80-20 rule says that 80 percent of your profit comes from 20 percent of your customers or products. The same idea should be in play here – 80 percent  of your social posting should be about your followers customers or other interests, while only 20 percent, at most, should be about you or your business.

 

Engage: People generally want to interact with you and/or your brand. Thus, the more you engage by chatting with them, re-posting their content, retweeting their tweets, and otherwise interacting with them, the more your organic following will grow.

 

Include social icons on you site, email, etc.: Include the icons of your social handles on your website, email, business card, etc. This allows those who come in contact with you to like and follow you.

 

Follow followers: This is one of my favorite tricks. There is a “Twittiquette” that says if someone follows you, you should follow them back. Now, this is by no means a hard and fast rule, but it is generally something that is followed.

 

As such, if you look at the followers of the leaders of your industry and follow them, they just may follow you back. Similarly, look for hashtags that are often used in your business and follow those people who use those hashtags. They too may follow you back.

 

Buy paid advertising: This is completely different from the mistake I made. On Facebook, you can buy Facebook ads that are designed to increase your Likes, and it works.

 

The great news is that, while all these efforts take time, they don’t cost much (even the ads are affordable.) As such, growing your social following can be one of the cheapest, easiest ways to find and get more customers.

 

Even better, they are real, as opposed to fake bots.

 

Follow @SteveStrauss and all the rest of our Small Business Community contributors on Twitter!

 

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About Steve Strauss

 

Steve Strauss Headshot New.pngSteven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest, The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can also listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business SuccessSteven D. Strauss

 

Web: www.theselfemployed.com or Twitter: @SteveStrauss

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