Ten thousand followers make you an influencer. That’s the word on the social media street. Ten thousand 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 will certainly listen. You’ll get some likes and 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 aim to be an influencer or are 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 must have some indefinable feature that makes people want to follow you. Call it an x-factor or simply being cool, but you must 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, 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 endlessly delete fake accounts. Facebook alone deletes over 500 million fake accounts per month.
So if you buy followers, all you’ll get is an inflated follower account… for a little while. Soon enough, these fake followers will be found and deleted, leaving you 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 aren’t worth anything.
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 hope. 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
- The phoney engagement tricks some dunderheads, and they engage with the same posts
- The social media platform deletes your fake followers and their engagements
- 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 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 they usually sell stuff they like. Being yourself online is easier than faking it, and it comes with the added bonus of being more effective.
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, you should have a surfer running the account.
If you hire a random person to do it, they won’t be able to connect to the community your company should be a part of. Having an authentic voice behind a social media account makes it 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 must remain noticeable for a long time. You are competing with billions of other voices online, so you have to stand out. Therefore you need to post regularly so that people see you and what you are saying and begin to care that you exist.
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 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
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 and comment on posts. Be nice, polite, and interesting. If you went to a party and went from person to person, speaking a sentence and 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 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 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 popular, post more things like that. If you post something that fails to hit its mark, don’t keep posting stuff 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 coupon codes 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 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, so generating content that makes people seem cool somehow makes it much more shareable.
About 20% of people still follow back on Twitter. This means for every five people you follow on there; one 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, but being free and easy with who you follow will get you more followers.
This strategy has some risks, 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”.
Regardless, following too many people in the vague hope that they will follow back is not the best plan. Freely following people you think might be cool can work out great 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, your follower account should keep increasing.