I’m a big believer in the philosophy that — when it comes to social media followers — more isn’t always better. I’ve seen it countless times with my clients over the years, people wishing they could have tens or hundreds of thousands of followers. We often think that more followers = more successful, so we spend a lot of time and energy trying to figure out how to get more followers on social media. I get it! I do it too. However, that’s not always in the case.
One of the first things I ask my clients before we create a social media strategy to do is to identify a social media “personality” that they identify with. This could be someone in their industry, someone who writes in the same genre — basically, you’re looking for someone who has a social media platform that you think is both awesome, *somewhat* attainable (aka, not Taylor Swift), and goal-worthy.
Usually, they send me the profile of someone who has been around for 5 to 10 years, has an established fanbase with at least ten thousand followers, and they say something like, “I just think this person is doing amazing on social media. I would love to have ten thousand followers.”
But what they don’t realize is that your quality of followers matters just as much — if not more than — your quantity of followers.
I know what you’re thinking. “Great, we’ve all heard the phrase quality over quantity. But how does that help me get more followers?” Let me explain.
When I scroll through the pages of these people with ten thousand followers, more often than not, their engagement is horribly low. One page in particular had over thirty thousand followers (sounds amazing, right?) but when I scrolled down her profile….zero likes. One like. Maybe the odd post with twenty likes and a handful of comments.
What good is thirty thousand followers if they’re not liking, commenting, or clicking on your posts?
Instead of spending countless hours trying to get those numbers to skyrocket, I want you to think of getting more followers on social media as an investment. Whatever techniques your using, you should always be asking yourself — is the return-on-investment, or ROI, *worth* what I’m putting into this? That could be your time, your money, or your mental health. (Side note: please don’t buy followers.)
The answer doesn’t have to be an enthusiastic yes, since we know most good things require some sense of struggle, but it shouldn’t be a “hell no.”
With that in mind, here are some of my favorite strategies to help you get more followers on social media who are engaged, quality followers without spending *every single second* of your free time and energy on marketing.
1. Join an online community.
Every time I join an online community — whether it’s a Facebook group, a Twitter chat, or following an active hashtag — I end up making wonderful connections. It’s happened countless times, and it works.
How to make it work for you: The key here is engagement. When you join an online community, it should never be about you and what you can get out of it. It should be about building relationships, giving value, and maybe you’ll get some value in return.
When I join a Twitter chat, it’s because I genuinely enjoy sharing information with people, having conversations, and helping. As a result, I usually gain a good number of authentic, quality followers whenever I participate in one.
The same thing happens on Facebook, a Tailwind Tribe for Pinterest, and Instagram. When I engage with people, they’re far more willing to engage back.
2. Be authentic and provide value.
People need a reason to follow you, and generally that falls under the category of ‘value.’ What value are you providing to your followers? Why should new people want to follow you? What will they get out of it?
How to make it work for you: Be yourself on social media (or, if you’re an introvert, be whatever makes you the most comfortable) and think about what people are getting out of following you. And no, the opportunity to read your book isn’t enough. Is it entertainment? Then make sure most of your posts are *actually* entertaining. Is it informative? Is it something else?
Think about why you follow people. Obviously, I follow my friends, but I also follow a lot of authors, podcasters, and entrepreneurs — and 99% of the time, I follow them because they provide some sort of value to my life. Maybe I love the tips they share about building a business or maybe they’re just hilarious. But that value needs to be (somewhat) evident from the get-go.
3. Check your analytics and optimize.
If you don’t have a business account, it might be time to consider switching to one. I love using analytics on social media to tell me which posts are performing well and which aren’t. This helps me learn more about my audience so I know how to do better and attract even more followers.
How to make it work for you: Look at your Top 5 most popular posts over the last 3-6 months. (You can do this without analytics if you feel like scrolling down.) What were they about? When did you post them? What day of the week/time of day was it? How are they different from your Top 5 least popular posts?
From there, figure out how you can do more of the high performing posts and less of the others. Posts where people are more likely to engage and share = posts that are more likely to encourage new followers to follow you.
4. Follow the right people.
Do. Not. Follow/Unfollow. Just don’t do it.
While there’s nothing wrong with cleaning out your following list from time to time, following and unfollowing people to get more followers is spammy and ineffective over the long term. You might end up with inflated numbers, sure, but you’ll also end up with a fake audience that isn’t actually interested in supporting your work. (Which sucks.)
How to make it work for you: Instead, follow people who have the same interests as you. If there’s another author on Twitter who has a super-engaged audience and you tweet about the same things, head over to her profile and scroll through her recent tweets. Check out the ones that have the most engagement, click to see who has liked/retweeted/commented on it and follow those people. If they follow you back? Awesome. If not, no hard feelings.
But you’re engaging in *targeted* outreach based on interests, who they’re already following, and the type of content they clearly already like. You should also do this with any online communities you join — follow other writers, entrepreneurs, creatives, and more. These people aren’t your competition, they’re your potential cheerleaders and teammates. They’ll help boost your content to their followers (and vice versa.) Together, everyone wins.
5. Use Twitter lists to build relationships.
Here’s the hard part. I always tell people that Twitter is like a cocktail party — if you want to be successful on Twitter, you need to imagine that you’re walking around the party having conversations with people. You don’t drop a box down into the middle of the room and scream, “Hello. I have a book for you to buy.” That’s how you get thrown out of public libraries.
Instead, you get to know someone. You ask them what they do, what they enjoy, and you start to lay the groundwork for quality interaction. Maybe you talk about the weather or a great book you just finished, a mutual friend, or a funny joke. Only after you’ve started having a conversation can you even *attempt* to mention that you have a book.
How to make it work for you: Your intention here matters. If all you care about is what you can get out of people, this is going to be hard. But if you understand that your readers, customers, and followers want to engage with you then Twitter lists are the *perfect* tool to make that happen.
Instead of having to swim through your newsfeed to find tweets to engage with, Twitter lists let you segment people into different groups (including private lists!) that you can use to keep everything straight. I have lists like: people I actually know, literary agents, fellow Wattpad writers, social media marketers, people in Nashville, and more. They’re all kept separate, and all of the tweets are chronological (whaaaaaat?) This means you can be *super* intentional about who you’re engaging with and when….without having to spend hours aimlessly scrolling through Twitter.
Over time, these strategies have helped me gain thousands of followers across all of my social media platforms. More importantly? They’ve helped me keep my engagement rate *crazy* high, which is what matters the most. Now it’s your turn — give them a try, and let me know what you think!