How to Grow & Retain an Engaged Social Media Following

social media following

The number of Facebook likes, the number of Twitter followers, the number of YouTube subscribers… the higher these numbers, the better… right?

Well not really, and that’s why people call these vanity metrics. I’ll give you an example. I currently manage a Facebook page that has tens of thousands of likes. Yet the engagement numbers (likes/shares/comments) on the page’s posts have remained relatively the same as when the page was first created.

Why? Because most of the page likes are in fact “paid likes” (when a user likes your page a certain time after viewing or clicking on your ad, that’s counted as a paid like). Many of the likers simply liked the page to show their support, yet unfollowed immediately afterwards. It’s disheartening to see the amount of engagement on posts compared to the high number of page likes.

However, when I consider the engagement numbers in comparison to the organic reach of each post, the numbers aren’t bad at all—in fact, they’re good. So you shouldn’t aim to simply increase your following, but increase the number of engaged followers. It’s often said that a small, interactive community is much better than thousands and thousands of superficial likes/followers… and that’s very true.

Here are some tips on growing an engaged audience on the various social media platforms, as well general advice on building your following. (With rumors of Google+ being done away with, I haven’t included that social network below.)

Facebook

  • Facebook ads can come in handy, but it’s best to boost/promote individual posts that are performing well (receiving great engagement). That way, you’ll know that anyone who likes your page after seeing that post is interested in your actual content, and more likely to keep following your page for similar updates.
  • When applicable, tag other pages in your posts, as that gets them to check out your page; also, users who browse through the other page’s wall will come across your page’s post. Additionally, directly share relevant and well-performing content from pages that are similar to yours.
  • It is very important, especially on FB, that you concentrate on the quality of posts rather than the quantity. If you do have a lot of great content, space out your posts throughout the day, to decrease the likelihood of someone unliking or unfollowing your page.

Twitter

  • Hashtags and mentions (@) are really important when tweeting. These ensure that your tweets get as much exposure as possible in the never-ending stream of tweets.
  • Retweeting and favoriting the tweets of others, as well as regularly adding users to Twitter lists, helps to increase your following.
  • Search for trending topics and hashtags, and join in on the conversation. Reply and engage with popular tweets in your niche. Providing interesting/insightful information will compel tweeters to follow you.

LinkedIn

  • Post professional and valuable content regularly to become an authority on LinkedIn. Create a long-form post under your personal profile and share it to your company page.
  • Join Groups, reply to questions, and engage with Influencers.
  • Add you LinkedIn URLs in your business cards and email signatures.

Pinterest

  • Images are everything here, so ensure that no matter what you pin, the graphic is of high quality.
  • Sign up for Promoted Pins.
  • Focus on having fewer boards with many interesting pictures, and use the best cover photo possible for each board.
  • On Pinterest, it’s a little harder to connect with people, so when appropriate, follow other boards/users, comment on their photos, and “heart” images.
  • Relevant keywords, board names, and hashtags are essential for search, so spend time on these.

General tips to apply on all platforms

  1. Usually the number and profiles of your followers vary across the different platforms. Some of your audience on Twitter may not know that you keep an active Facebook page, so once in a while, cross-promote your pages/profiles.
  2. Posting regular and consistent content is crucial to keeping a dedicated/loyal following.
  3. Tailor your content to specific platforms; consider that Pinterest is a picture-based site, Twitter posts are limited in length, LinkedIn is a more “formal” social site, and that Facebook particularly favors native videos and link posts.
  4. Do not link accounts so that what you share on one site will be shared on the other—that just looks lazy and often these automatic posts aren’t customized to suit the specific platform.
  5. Engagement is always key to a large and interactive following. Be very human (and fast) with your social media replies; sign off with your name and be professional at all times.
  6. Be active on and stick to a few social networks rather than too many. Concentrate on building your following on 2–5 networks (max).
  7. Build relationships with influencers, other pages, and affiliates in your industry. Promote their accounts (occasionally), tag them and reshare their content.
  8. Put social follow buttons/widgets in visible places on your site, blog posts, email marketing messages, and anywhere else that your users visit often. You have to market you social platforms!
  9. Make you posts engaging on an emotional, insightful, or humorous level. This type of content usually performs the best.
  10. Have the same (or very similar) social media usernames across all platforms, so that people can find you. The names should match your business name or be as close as possible to it. Similarly, include the same “about info”/bio on each profile.

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