Nearly every company uses social media in some form today, whether they’re active on every popular social network or maintain a profile on the major players but dedicate little time and effort into engaging their followers. Being on social media today is a must for brands and publishers. But it’s not enough simply to be there; you have to build a compelling presence that not only attracts visitors but engages them. Only then will you motivate visitors to stick around and hit the “follow” button because they can’t wait to see what you have in store.
Of course, growing your social media presence and increasing your following is easier said than done, especially today when the competition is fierce. Standing out from the crowd may seem like an insurmountable challenge, but it can be done – with a little finesse and some proven tactics. These 25 actionable strategies are proven ways to start growing your social media presence today.
1. Define Your Audience
The very first thing every brand must do if they want to grow their social media presence is define your audience. If you don’t have buyer personas for your target customers, now’s the time to create them. You should also consider other audiences you might be targeting on social media, such as influencers or industry thought leaders. Create personas for them, too.
You’ll use your target audience personas to inform your research for the next several tips, but they’ll also come in handy later. So, keep them on hand and up-to-date.
2. Identify Key Social Media Networks to Focus on
Once you have a better understanding of precisely who you’re trying to attract on social media, you can find out where to focus on building your social media presence. There’s no point in dedicating hours of time, effort, and money to marketing on Pinterest if just 0.5% of your entire target audience ever visits the platform, for instance.
Keep in mind that your target audience will likely be different for each social network. One segment of your audience (or one buyer persona) might spend most of their time on Facebook, for example, while another may be more active on Instagram. Depending on who you’re targeting, industry thought leaders and certain buyer personas may be more active on Twitter and LinkedIn. There’s no single formula that works for every business, so it’s worth the effort to define your audience for each platform.
3. Create a Great First Impression
Screenshot via @teva on Instagram
It’s time to spruce up your social media profiles and pages to boost engagement. It’s not enough simply to create a basic profile or page for your brand and try to attract followers; you need to give them a compelling reason to stick around, and it all starts with the first impression. Add an attractive header image and profile photo to your profile and fill in all the information about your brand like your website, your address, and a description of your business. (Check out these posts for information on the ideal Facebook header size, examples of great Facebook cover photos, the perfect Twitter header size, and how to create the perfect Instagram profile picture.) Filling in all the relevant “about” information for your brand makes it more likely that your profile will show up in relevant searches, essentially making your profile more discoverable.
Mention your brand #hashtag in your Instagram and Twitter bios, along with any current promotional #hashtags you’re using and links to your website or other social media profiles. For example, Teva highlights its #StrapInToFreedom hashtag along with strategic, consistent branding on its Instagram profile. Pro Tip: Instagram only allows you to include one link in your bio, so use an Instagram bio link tool. Instagram bio tools allow you to create a landing page (which serves as your single Instagram bio link) where you can share multiple links with your followers. Some of these tools even allow you to customize the look and feel of your landing page to match your brand.
4. Identify the Best Days, Times, and Content Types for Each Social Media Network
After you’ve identified the key social media platforms to focus on, you can drill down to discover what days and times your target audience is most active on those platforms. This step is essentially when you’re creating your plan of action. Create a detailed analysis of each of your target social media platforms, including research on when your target audience (for that specific network) is most active (which will inform your posting schedule) and the types of content most likely to resonate with that audience that are compatible with the social network’s format. You can’t post a 1,000-word article in a Twitter post, for instance, but you can on LinkedIn or even Facebook.
After creating your initial plan of attack, it’s time to create some content and test, test, and test some more. In other words, your plan of action will evolve as you identify what works best with your audience on each social network.
5. Spy on Your Competition to Identify Gaps, Shortcomings, and Successes
Screenshot via Facebook Audience Insights
If you have competitors with an active social media following, take a peek behind the scenes to find out what’s working for them and what’s falling flat with their audience. Use tools like Facebook Audience Insights to discover how your competitors’ audiences are engaging with different types of content. Copy what works, but do it better.
You can also use competitive analysis to identify gaps, such as common challenges your audience faces that your competitors aren’t addressing or relevant topics they’re not discussing. Giving your audience something they can’t get anywhere else is one of the most effective ways to establish your brand as an authority and start growing a loyal social media following.
6. Create a Social Media Calendar to Maintain Consistency
Using your research from the previous step, create a social media calendar to schedule posts across each social network on the ideal days and times to reach your audience. It’s like an editorial calendar but for social media. You’ll want to include details like the topics for each post, content format, and any assets required (graphics, etc.) that you’ll need to create in advance.
Creating a social media calendar will help you manage your social media marketing workflow and stay on schedule, posting consistently to continue building momentum and giving your audience fresh, compelling content to keep them engaged. Knowing what content you need to create in advance helps to manage the process of working with graphic designers, content marketers, and any other team members who need to be involved in any step of the process. When planning your social media calendar, you’ll want to keep the next tip in mind, too.
7. Cross-Promote Your Content Across Multiple Channels
Each social media network is different, and they all require a different approach to social media marketing. But that doesn’t mean you can’t promote the same content across all your channels; it just takes a few tweaks to customize your visuals and written content.
You need to accommodate not only each platform’s unique image requirements and character limits but also your audience’s preferences. Your Facebook and Instagram audiences might be more inclined to engage with a video, for instance, while your Pinterest audience might be more inclined to click on a flashy infographic or impressive photo. So, repurpose your content into various formats and get more mileage for every asset you create by mixing and matching images, videos, and written content to create unique posts for every social media channel.
8. Leverage a Social Media Scheduling Tool to Streamline Posting
Screenshot via CoSchedule
Keeping up with posting content across a multitude of social media networks can easily become overwhelming even for the most seasoned social media marketers. Leverage a social media scheduling tool to queue up your social media content days or weeks (even months!) in advance to ensure that the content keeps flowing, even if you have other tasks to attend to.
There are dozens of social media scheduling tools that support all the popular social networks like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube, Snapchat, Pinterest, and more. Some have extra features like a social media inbox to centralize your mentions and direct messages to ensure prompt follow-up or post recycling features that automatically cycle evergreen content to maximize your mileage for your cornerstone assets. And, don’t forget to install social media share buttons and follow buttons on your website to enable one-click sharing and following.
9. Create Relevant Industry Content
Screenshot via @lushcosmetics on Instagram
Don’t solely focus on promoting your products and services; it’s one of the quickest ways to send your followers packing. Instead, create content around that are relevant to your industry and your audience and find creative ways to tie them in to your business. Lush Cosmetics leveraged this tactic with a #PlasticFreeJuly promotion encouraging followers to make one small change to their skincare or beauty routines to reduce plastic waste.
The tie-in? The company focuses on “naked” products without frivolous packaging made from fresh, natural ingredients. Naturally, switching from a regular bath or beauty product to a Lush Cosmetics “naked” product was the perfect way for followers to participate in #PlasticFreeJuly and do their part to protect the environment.
10. Stream Your Social Media Feeds on Your Website
Screenshot via POWr Social Feed
Streaming your social media feeds on your website can attract interest from website visitors who may not have thought about looking up your brand on social media. A plugin like POWr Social Feed makes it simple to set up a customized social feed on your website, displaying posts from any social network, including Facebook Pages, Facebook Events, @handles and #hashtags from Instagram and Twitter, YouTube playlists, and more.
The POWr Social Feed plugin automatically pulls the latest posts from the feeds you choose to connect, arranged in a beautiful gallery on your website. You can even fine-tune your content mix by manually choosing which posts to display and which posts to hide, so you can create a totally customized, fresh feed of content that’s perfectly in-tune with your target audience’s interests and preferences to maximize your social media shares and follows. Who knew keeping fresh content on your website was so easy?
11. Get a Boost with Sponsored Posts or Ads
Screenshot via ContentStudio on Facebook
Don’t let the word ‘advertising’ intimidate you; social media advertising can actually be quite affordable – and highly effective – when done right. Facebook offers a variety of ad formats and options, and you can start with a budget as low as $5 a day for many ad types. By promoting your best social media posts or running an ad campaign, you’ll boost brand awareness and attract more visitors to your profile to increase your social media following.
Facebook’s Audience Insights is widely regarded as one of the most comprehensive audience targeting tools available, allowing you to fine-tune precisely who sees your ads based on life events (weddings, graduation, etc.), age and other demographics, interests (what pages, blogs, celebrities they follow, etc.), and other characteristics. Using this tool, you can create custom audiences for each campaign to promote posts or ads that resonate with that specific buyer persona’s needs. You can even use Facebook retargeting ads to re-engage visitors who left your website without making a purchase or signing up for an offer – while simultaneously attracting them to your Facebook Page to encourage a follow.
Facebook isn’t the only game in town, though. Instagram also offers several ad formats and options, and because it’s owned by Facebook, you get to leverage the Facebook Ads Manager to manage campaigns and balance your ad spend across both platforms. Twitter and LinkedIn are also viable social media advertising contenders to consider, along with platforms like Pinterest, Snapchat, and YouTube. The key is choosing the platform that allows you to reach your target audience at the right price, with ad targeting options that meet your needs.
12. Piggyback on Trending Topics
Screenshot via Google Trends
Facebook and Twitter have trending topics features that highlight current trends on their platforms, but they’re not the only tools at your disposal to keep tabs on trending topics. You should have at least one social listening tool in your arsenal, which will not only make it easy to keep up with brand mentions but also the hottest topics among your audience. Other tools like Google Trends, Feedly, and BuzzSumo help you keep a finger on the pulse of what’s being talked about around the world.
Not every trending topic will be a natural fit for your brand, but flex your creative muscles to find unique tie-ins to capitalize on the most popular topics of discussion of the day, week, or month. Brainstorm on ways to tie your brand and your content into relevant trending topics that resonate with your brand and align with your brand’s values, but don’t take unnecessary risks and try to force a connection that just isn’t there. Trust us, your audience will notice, and they won’t be impressed. When you do find a good fit and a relevant tie-in, be sure to dig in to discover any popular #hashtags on the topic and incorporate them in your posts for better visibility.
13. Be a Problem-Solver
Your business exists to meet a need, solve a problem, or make your customers’ lives easier in some way, so focus your social media marketing efforts on filling those gaps, too. Sharing information that answers questions and solves common problems earns likes and shares, in turn boosting your brand’s visibility to a wider audience. For instance, if multiple customers or prospects are asking the same question, write a post (with a helpful, aesthetically pleasing visual, of course) explaining the solution. Your audience will be more likely to share these posts to offer value to their peers or followers.
Likewise, if everyone’s been asking for a new product release or new feature, promote it heavily when you roll it out. “You’ve been asking for it, and it’s finally here!” promotions build excitement and encourage sharing.
14. Give Your Audience a Glimpse Behind the Scenes
Screenshot via Netflix on Facebook
Audiences engage with brands they can feel a human connection to, so don’t be afraid to give your brand a personality – but do make sure it’s consistent across all your social media platforms and in line with your brand identity and values. One of the best (and most enjoyable) ways to create that connection is to give your audience a glimpse of behind-the-scenes happenings, like Netflix does on its Facebook page with this behind-the-scenes look at filming one of its latest releases. That can be as simple as photos of your team at the office or at a company get-together, or, in the social-distancing era, photos of your team members working from their home offices or a screenshot of your company Zoom call.
Another way to give your audience a glimpse of the human side of your company is to host casual Q&A sessions or “Ask Us Anything” events on Reddit or other social platforms. A live video Q&A session on Facebook, Instagram, or YouTube capitalizes on the engagement power of video while creating an opportunity for your audience to get to know you better in real-time.
15. Leverage the Power of Influencers
Screenshot via @foodrepublic on Instagram
Influencer marketing is one of the most popular marketing tactics today, and for good reason: It’s a relatively straightforward way to expand your audience by getting someone with authority and a large following to talk about your brand on their social media channels. Celebrities aren’t the only influencers; industry thought leaders and popular social media personalities can often be more effective because they’ve established a stronger bond and sense of trust with their audience. (And, some audiences are so overexposed to the ever-growing number of celebrity sponsored posts that they simply tune them out.)
Consider allowing an influencer to “take over” your social media account for the day, engaging with your followers, answering questions, and posting random tidbits or commentary. When doing a takeover, be cautious when selecting an influencer to partner with and consider setting some ground rules in advance to ensure that the interactions are in line with your brand values.
16. Cultivate User-Generated Content
Screenshot via @wiltoncakes on Instagram
Cultivating user-generated content (UGC) is a highly effective strategy for growing your social media presence. According to the Nielsen Consumer Trust Index, more than 9 out of 10 consumers (92%) trust organic UGC more than they trust traditional advertising. Not only does UGC build trust and credibility with your audience, but it also saves you time on content marketing and social media marketing. You’ll also benefit from higher brand engagement: According to Relevance, UGC has a 28% higher engagement rate compared to regular brand posts, and YouTube videos created by or featuring users get ten times more views compared to branded content.
To cultivate UGC, ask for testimonials and encourage your customers to share photos and videos of themselves using your products or services. Invite your fans to submit fan art or creative uses of your products for a chance to be featured on your profile. Ask engaging questions to get your fans to share their ideas or opinions. Dedicate a #hashtag to your UGC campaigns to easily track the content generated by your users. Keep in mind that you don’t have to share every piece of user-generated content, but highlighting the best and celebrating your most loyal brand advocates is an excellent way to boost engagement and grow your followers. Beyond simply sharing photos and commentary that your customers post on social media, you can repurpose UGC for use in advertising campaigns or on your website – but be sure to ask permission first.
17. Engage with Your Followers
Growing your social media presence relies on engagement. New visitors to your social media profiles won’t be motivated to follow you if your social media pages are like a barren wasteland, with occasional comments and questions from followers that go ignored. Your audience wants to feel involved in the conversation, so make a point to respond to comments, mentions, and questions to create an interactive experience. You can also boost engagement by posting quizzes, polls, and contests that give your followers an incentive to interact with your brand.
Don’t focus exclusively on engaging followers on your own profile; instead, expand your horizons and engage with other users across social media as a whole. You can follow relevant hashtags, for instance, and comment on other posts and get involved in discussions. Follow relevant influencers and thought leaders and engage with their content. These tactics will get your brand (and your social media profiles) in front of a larger audience, and when you interact with other users who like what you have to say, you’ll earn new followers.
18. Use Negative Feedback as an Opportunity
Building on the last point, more consumers are turning to social media for customer support, so responding to negative feedback and questions is more important than ever. The last thing you want to do is ignore a customer’s plea for help (that’s not a good look for anyone), so stay on top of your game and monitor all mentions, direct messages, and comments to respond promptly to both positive and negative feedback.
Engaging only with followers who have positive things to say about your brand creates the impression that you don’t care enough to follow up with concerns or address customers’ issues. Even if a customer raises an issue that needs to be addressed in more detail on another channel, respond to their complaint or comment to acknowledge their concern and ask them to message you with an email address or phone number so you can follow up. Above all, use negative feedback as an opportunity to showcase your brand’s desire to build long-term, trusting relationships with your followers and customers and use followers’ feedback and suggestions to make improvements to your products, features, or services.
19. Monitor Your Analytics and Adapt
When you’re not sure what works, test different strategies, formats, and types of posts to discover what resonates with your audience. What are your top performing posts? What do they have in common (content format, topic, audience)? Are your followers engaging less and less with your brand on certain days or times? The answers to these questions provide actionable insights you can leverage to fine-tune your social media marketing efforts.
While most popular social media platforms offer analytics (at least for business accounts), there are many third-party tools that provide comprehensive social media analytics across multiple platforms. Centralized analytics allows you to compare data to identify trends such as a shift in your audience’s preferences. For example, as new social media networks emerge and trends change, your audience may shift their usage habits significantly, using an old favorite less and less in favor of the latest popular platforms. A shift in audience behavior should drive a shift in your social media strategy.
20. Tap into the Power of Visuals (Including Video!)
There’s no question that visuals drive social media engagement. Visual content is 40 times more likely to be shared on social media, and images improve information retention, too. According to Brain Rules, people remember only about 10% of the information they hear three days later, but when a relevant image is paired with that information, they retain 65% of the information three days later. Articles that include images get 94% more total views than those without images, and posts with images get 650% more engagement compared to those with only text.
The stats on video marketing are even more compelling. Tweets with videos get 10 times more engagements compared to those without video, and video is more engaging on Instagram than any other type of content, generating an average of 150 comments compared to an average of 65 comments on image posts and 80 comments on carousel posts. In general, social media videos generate 1200% more shares compared to images and text combined.
Convinced? If you haven’t yet invested in tools and resources to produce high-quality images and videos, now’s the time to do so. Use stock photo sites to source high-quality images for your website, blog posts, and social media posts, and experiment with image creation tools to create custom, eye-catching graphics to highlight intriguing data and other information. Some stock photo sites offer stock video clips, too! Dip your toes in and try several types of videos, like animated explainer videos, how-to videos, casual behind-the-scenes videos, and more. Go live to host a Q&A session or give your audience a peek behind the scenes. If the idea of video production makes you queasy, check out some useful video creation tools that make it easy to produce high-quality videos.
21. Strategically Share Curated Content
Sharing content from other relevant brands, influencers, thought leaders, and industry publications may not drive traffic back to your website, but it can certainly help grow your social media presence. There are dozens of content curation tools that can help you identify top-performing content to share with your audience.
Curated content shouldn’t be the only thing you share, nor should all your posts be self-promotional. The key is finding the right balance to build your audience’s trust and establish your brand as an authority in your niche. Choose content that’s relevant to your audience and incorporate curated posts into your social media marketing mix. Create intriguing headlines and add commentary to curated posts to give them a personal touch, and curate content from a variety of sources like blogs, industry publications, newsletters, and social media.
22. Ask Questions and Solicit Feedback
Screenshot via @sephora on Instagram
Ask for your followers’ opinions. People like to be heard, and they like to feel like they’re contributing, so ask them to get involved in the conversation. For example, you might share a news article and ask your followers to share their thoughts and opinions.
Don’t shy away from asking your followers what they’d like to see from your brand. If you’re not sure what type of content, contests, or interactions your audience enjoys, ask them. Ask them what topics they’re interested in discussing and host an interactive chat or Q&A session, like Sephora did featuring a team member on its Instagram account. Demonstrating that you value your audience’s opinions and preferences goes a long way in growing your social media presence and establishing trusting relationships with your fans.
23. Recycle Your Evergreen Content
Your content marketing mix likely includes timely, newsworthy content as well as evergreen content (a.k.a. pillar content or cornerstone content). Evergreen content tends to be longer and more in-depth, so it usually takes more time and money to create. So, why waste all that effort by sharing your evergreen content once and then letting it fall by the wayside?
Use a tool like Edgar or RecurPost to recycle your evergreen posts automatically, based on parameters and schedules you set in advance. You should also consider sharing your top-performing posts more than once, as long as the content is still timely. The average tweet has a lifespan of 23 minutes or less, so by sharing your best content multiple times (without going overboard), you’ll reach a larger audience.
24. Run Contests and Giveaways
Screenshot via @livetheshore on Instagram
Contests and giveaways can be a quick and effective way to increase your social media followers. By incorporating elements like asking for shares or #hashtag mentions to enter a contest, you’ll get your brand in front of more social media users – and because your current followers will be kicking-off the sharing, and social media users tend to connect with like-minded people, you’ll be reaching more members of your target audience, rather than just the social media sphere at large. Partnering with relevant brands, like Live the Shore did in a recent Instagram giveaway, gives you opportunities to tag influencers and other relevant brands to reach their audiences, while cross-promotion with partners also expands your reach. Live the Shore’s contest offered a sweet prize: a @yeti cooler filled with @northpointbrewing beer, allowing them to tap into both Yeti’s and North Point Brewing’s audiences.
There are tons of fun social media contest ideas, from simple giveaways to photo challenges, like or comment to win, share or repost to enter, tag-a-friend contests, “caption this” photo contests, trivia, games, and more. Get creative and cater your contests and promotions to your audience’s preferences. (Maybe your typical audience isn’t the type to share photos of themselves, but they’ll come up with catchy photo captions all day, for example.) Also, be sure to follow the rules and contest guidelines for the social media platform on which you’re running the contest.
25. Keep an Eye on Other Brands for Innovative Ideas
You shouldn’t just be monitoring your competitors but also keeping an eye on the most popular brands on each social platform. When they try something new and it’s a huge hit, take some inspiration and replicate their tactics or put your own spin on it.
For instance, you can use Facebook’s Pages to Watch feature to keep tabs on other popular Facebook Pages in your niche and monitor their top-performing posts, or use social media listening tools and other monitoring tools (like BuzzSumo) to get some insight into the most effective content on the latest popular topics. Take some inspiration from what’s working for them and do it bigger and better, or make it your own with some innovative tweaks.
These 25 tactics are proven ways to grow your social media following. Start with the basics and then implement a new tactic or two periodically to discover what works best for your business. Looking for a simple way to boost your social media followers? Install our social media follow buttons to enable your website visitors to follow you on their favorite social media networks with a single click. They take just minutes to install, and they’re completely free to use!