Building Your Ideal Following on Social Media

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Starting anything from scratch can be tricky – especially when you don’t know the tricks!

For people who’ve got the basics of online social networking and not much more, launching an account on Twitter, Facebook or Google+ is often downright frustrating. How do you get your target audience to “like” and follow you if they don’t know you exist?

Our wonderful social media strategists are excellent at “mining” for new followers for our clients, that is, seeking out people who might be interested in connecting with them. I asked two of our strategists, Jonathan Sellers and Josh Wheeler, to share some of their tips. Their information will help whether you’re starting from Ground Zero or trying to build on what you have.

First, they explained, their suggestions apply mostly to Twitter, the easiest platform for quickly making connections among strangers.

“It’s hard to network on Facebook with all the changes they’ve made,” Jonathan says. “If you’re new and trying to promote a brand, you have to pay for advertisements. If you’re a brand that already has followers, you have to pay to get your posts seen by all of them through ‘promoted posts.’ ”

It’s difficult, but Jonathan and Josh agree: You really do need Facebook.

“It’s the largest social media platform, so you’ve got to be there,” Jonathan says. “People on other platforms who want to know more about you will go to Facebook. They’ll read your ‘About’ information, see how many ‘likes’ your page has, and look to see the kind of content you post.”

It’s easier to mine on Google+, and some of these tips will help you there, but Google+ requires a bit more effort than Twitter.

“On Google+, there’s a lot more communication required to get people to +1 you” — follow you back in Google-speak, Josh says. “You need to ‘like’ their comments, ‘like’ their photos, add your comments to their posts.”

On LinkedIn, the platform for professional networking, a tool called People You May Know provides an easy way to invite connections. The tool identifies other LinkedIn users with whom you have something in common, and you can send them an invitation to join your network.

As for Twitter (and Instagram), here are some strategies Jonathan and Josh use when building followers for our clients:

Look for “influencers” – journalists who are relevant to your topic. One of the advantages of Twitter is, because of the brevity of posts, it’s much easier to make connections with high-profile people and corporations. Look for reporters, editors, talk show hosts, bloggers, etc., who are likely to have an interest in your industry or message. Post interesting content and mention them using their Twitter name (their handle). If your company produces handbags, for instance, you might search twitter for “fashion bloggers” and get a list of bloggers and their handles. In this case, you might choose @Fashionista to target. You can see their Twitter posts tend to spin off the news. What’s newsy about your handbags? Are they eco-friendly? Are you donating a portion of sales to charity?
Create a post with your angle and add a link to your website – ideally, a place on the site that provides more details.

Search for keywords on Twitter relevant to your business or product. These searches will turn up Twitter users with an expressed interest in your subject area. So, if your handbag company produces purses made from recycled materials, some keywords might be “fashion,” “handbags,” “recycling,” “sustainable,” “women’s accessories.” Check out the resulting list of profiles and, if they look like people who might be interested in your products, follow them. They’re likely to follow you back!

Follow the followers of others in your industry. Despite what you may see others doing, don’t try to “sell” them on your company. Simply add to the interesting dialogues by sharing your own witty observations or insightful information.

Of course, if you’re starting fresh, you can build your base by inviting friends and family to follow you on any social media platform. They will because they like you (I hope!), and their accounts will expose your message to all of their followers, some of whom may connect with you.

Social media is an essential component of any marketing plan, so if you’re still not there, it’s time to make the leap!

Staying connected,

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