10,000 followers makes you an influencer. That’s the word on the social media street. 10,000 followers and you can start charging companies just to be associated with you. Having even more followers will make you even more money, but 10,000 followers is the base amount you are aiming for. But why 10,000?
Having 10K+ followers makes you an influencer because it means you have influence. It means that when you tweet, your audience is large enough that people are certainly going to listen. You’ll definitely get some likes, some shares, and your message will almost certainly spread. This means that 10K+ followers is a good goal for any social media account aiming to be effective.
So whether you are aiming to be an influencer, or running a company account – 10K followers should be your goal. But how do you get there? The answer is both complicated and surprisingly simple.
The complicated answer is that you need to have some sort of indefinable feature that makes people want to follow you. Call it an x-factor, or simply being cool, but you need to have what people want.
The simple answer is much more comforting. You need to be yourself, and give it time. Some people ‘blow up’ overnight with a witty tweet or the perfect Instagram pic. For most social media accounts, however, it takes time to hit that quintuple digit goal. And during that time – while you’re building your audience – you should be endlessly, meticulously covering these basics.
1. Don’t ever buy fake followers or likes
Before diving headlong into what you should do, let’s start with the most important “don’t” of building a social media following. Don’t buy followers. Ever. This is because followers for sale are from fake accounts, and all social media platforms are endlessly deleting fake accounts. Facebook alone deletes over 500 million fake accounts per month.
So if you buy followers all you’ll be getting is an inflated follower account… for a little while. Soon enough these fake followers will be found and deleted, and you’ll be left with nothing to show for it. On top of that, you won’t get any worthwhile engagement from them.
While you may get some likes, comments, or reactions from your fake followers as part of the deal, these again aren’t worth anything to you.
Not only will this fake engagement be deleted along with the fake accounts, but they will also not encourage nearly as much real engagement as you are hoping for. They will also entirely skew your ability to judge what is a good post.
I’ll put it this way, this is what you can expect to happen when you buy fake followers:
- You buy fake followers and they engage with your posts
- Some dunderheads are tricked by the fake engagement and engage with the same posts
- Your fake followers and their engagements are deleted by the social media platform
- You post the same sort of content but no one engages with it
- You feel like an idiot
Bonus reason to avoid fake followers: Fake followers will never buy your products, or earn you anything except short term engagement. If you are trying to sell something, they are worse than useless.
2. Don’t be a fake
The most successful social media accounts are the ones where people are just being themselves. Sure they might have to sell things, but most of the time they are selling things they actually like. Being yourself online is easier than faking it, and comes with the added bonus of it being more effective too.
If you have a company social media account, the person who should be running it is the person who is most into what your company does. If you are a surfboard company, then you should have a surfer running the account.
If you just hire a random person to do it, they simply won’t be able to connect to the community that your company should be a part of. Having an authentic voice behind a social media account makes it much more effective and interesting.
The same goes for personal accounts. If you’re a gamer, talk about games. Don’t try and fake your way into another community, and don’t present yourself as an expert if you aren’t one. People can often spot a phoney, and being called out as one won’t help your popularity online. Just be yourself.
Also… be interesting for goodness sake. Think about what people might be interested in, and post that from your point of view. Being yourself doesn’t mean telling people what you had for lunch – it means trying to impress people with your best self.
3. Post regularly
Building a social media audience takes time. To get anyone to notice you, you have to remain noticeable for a long period. You are competing with literally billions of other voices online, so you have to work at standing out. Therefore you need to post regularly so that people see you and what you are saying, and begin to care that you exist at all.
By posting regularly, I mean both frequently and at the same time each week. Using a social media scheduling tool such as Buffer or StatusBrew is a good idea. You should try and work out the best times to post and work out a schedule so you always post at these times.
Working out the best times to post starts off with common sense (eg if you’re a teacher then you should post when school finishes), and ends with analysing the success of your tweets at different times on different days. Depending on your audience, the best times to post vary greatly. Make a spreadsheet of your tweets, and write down how they do. You’ll soon see a trend in engagement.
Once you know the best times to post, set up a schedule. This is why using a social media scheduling tool can make your life much easier. Don’t relax yet though – scheduling posts for the week shouldn’t be your whole deal, you also need to get online and post on the fly.
Filling a week with posts so you don’t have to constantly be online means that you can get on with other things. It also means that when you do go on social media, you can post and interact spontaneously, rather than focusing on just churning out content.
Combing both scheduling and ‘live posting’ will make your social media feeds much more interesting to your followers.
4. Be a part of the ecosystem
Social media is not just a delivery system for your press releases and blog posts. While it’s fine to announce these things on there if that’s all you do then no one will care about you.
You need to be part of the community. You need to like other people’s posts. You should repost people’s posts with a comment of your own, as well as simply commenting on posts. Be nice, polite, and interesting. If you went to a party and simply went from person to person speaking a sentence then moving on, you wouldn’t have made any new friends by the end of the night. Social media is social – interact on there.
You should also use the tools that are provided by each social media ecosystem. This means using hashtags and tagging people in posts. This means checking trending topics and posting as part of them. This means creating reaction posts to other people’s posts (if that’s your sort of thing). This means joining live chats, and groups (and even starting your own). Doing all of these things will get you a wider audience than just your followers, and getting your message out to more people gives you more potential for getting followers.
You also need to use the stats that every social network now provides. Check on your levels of engagement. If you post something and it’s popular, post more things like that. If you post something that fails to hit its mark, then don’t keep posting things like that. Social media is constantly evolving, and you should be too.
5. Add value
Reposting is the currency of social media. People want it and will work for it. Having your posts shared gets your message in front of more people, and gives you access to a larger audience (some of whom may follow you after seeing your posts).
To get your posts shared online, you need to make them valuable. Not monetarily valuable necessarily – although posts with coupons codes in them do work well. I mean that (at least some of) your posts should be crafted so that people want to share them to make themselves look good. The sort of things people like to share most include:
- A good joke
- An interesting take
- A great video
- Original research
- A good cause
- Public Service Announcements
- Anything with a celebrity involved
This list is (of course) incomplete. You simply have to think – if I shared this from someone else’s account, how would that reflect on me? That’s what everyone thinks when they share something, and so generating content that makes people seem cool in some way makes it much more shareable.
About 20% of people still follow back on Twitter. This means for every 5 people you follow on there, 1 is likely to follow you. This works to a greater or lesser extent on other social media platforms and is why you often see new accounts following loads of people. It’s not the best plan by any means, but being free and easy with who you follow will get you more followers.
There are some risks to this strategy as many people judge social media accounts based on the ratio of how many people they follow to how many follow them. This is known as the “cool ratio”, although I personally think it’s pretty dumb.
Regardless, following too many people just in the vague hope that they will follow back is just not the best plan. Freely following people who you think might be cool can work out great though for many reasons. If it turns out you don’t actually like them, you can always unfollow them later!
Be the best version of yourself. Be interesting, be persistent, and be smart when you post. Most of all be social. If you can do all these things for the foreseeable future, you should see your follower account keep increasing.