Sometimes it doesn’t seem fair, does it? Some people make building an audience seem so simple, while for some of us, it’s a daily battle to add a few followers. It seems like those people that build up the big networks have some kind of magic. That everything they touch is automatically interesting to people.
Of course, that isn’t true. It’s just that some people naturally understand what social media is about, while those of us who struggle to build an audience struggle in that regard. We need it to be spelt out for us.
Well, fortunately, we can do that now. We know enough about how social media works that we can now discuss what you need to do to quickly and effectively grow your audience.
Make it as easy as possible
In the book Nudge, Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein discuss how much difference a tiny change on can make. They talk about opting in or opting out of organ donation. When people have to opt-in, that means they actively have to tick a box to donate their organs in case they die. When they opt out, then they actively have to choose not to donate. It really is just a little box that they have to tick, nothing more.
But the difference between the two systems is utterly astounding. In Germany, where people have to opt into donating their organs, only 12% of people are registered as donors. In Austria, which is an opt-out country, a whopping 99% had decided to donate their organs.
Why is this relevant for social media? Because it shows that small little changes can make it hugely easier for people to follow you on social media. Give them big buttons that are easy to click. Always make it possible to share your articles, wherever in the stories, they are (you can do that by using inline sharing buttons). Tiny little changes like this can make a massive difference to how many people will follow your content and share it.
And the great thing is, that it’s only a one-time change that will have repercussions for months afterwards.
Don’t do the same thing everybody else is doing
Everybody is sharing stories. Everybody is sharing pictures. Everybody is sharing videos. And therefore, nobody really cares that much about that kind of stuff. You need to be different from the people around you in order to be heard over the cacophony that is the internet.
For that reason, try something different. Like, give anybody that is your follower a chance to participate in sweepstakes.
Even better, don’t just run one sweepstake, but keep running them. Even if you do it only bimonthly, for example, the followers that might have just started following you for the prize, will continue to follow you as they’ll have more opportunities to win the same prize. In that way, you won’t have the regular situation where they follow you, wait for the even to happen and then desert you like rats from a sinking ship.
Remember, it’s social media
It’s not, ‘look how many interesting stories I’ve written’ media. It’s not, ‘Please stroke my ego, I’m fragile’ media and it’s not, ‘hey buy my stuff, I’m special’ media. It’s social media. That means that most people are on there not just for the stories and the cat videos, but also to connect with other people and show off who they are and what they’re doing (in fact, that’s a big reason people share stories – to bask in reflective glory and show their personality).
So make sure you take advantage of that. Engage with people that engage with you. Ask questions. Create a bit of a community. If you can do that, then not only will your audience engage more with what you’re doing, they will also start to engage with each other. And when that happens, they’ll come back again and again.
Engage with people with big audiences
If you can, always look to talk to people who themselves have a large number of followers. These influencers, as they’re known in the jargon, can make a huge difference to your network as a shout out from them can get you hundreds, even thousands, of new followers in one go.
The best way to get them to mention you is to give them the occasional shout and plug on your site. Then, if they aren’t so big that they think they deserve that kind of adoration (And that does happen) they’ll most likely follow the norm of reciprocity and return the favor.
Note that you’re far less likely to find people who have a massive ego and feel they’re entitled to getting a huge amount of attention among the micro influencers. These are people who have large followership, but no so large that they could be called celebrities.
Because of that, they can often be far more welcoming and engaging with what you’ve got to do.
If you engage with a big fish, interview them
If you do start building a good relationship with somebody who has a large followership, then a good strategy is to interview them for your site or social media. There are several advantages to this. One of them is that an interview with somebody big in the industry will excite your own followers. A second one is that if they like the interview, then they might well share it with their own followers.
Both these things can get you more followers and create more interest for you – now or down the line.
Of course, this will only work if your interview is actually of high quality. So make sure that you actually write something outstanding. Don’t be afraid to get second opinions in order to make it better. Get editors involved. Don’t know any? I’ve found the people over at Supreme Dissertations or Hot Essay Service to be quite good in a pinch.
Remember, it’s not the number of followers that really matters
A lot of people get way too distracted by the number of followers they have. The thing is, that isn’t really what you should be interested in. Instead, you want followers that are engaged and often interact with your social media and your brand. A dozen of these people is more useful than thousands of people that watch you silently from the sideline.
In fact, those thousands that follow you but don’t interact with you can be disadvantageous. Why? Because many social media platforms decide how many people they will show your content to based upon how many people initially engage with what you’re putting up. Therefore, if you have lots of people who don’t give a damn, the number of people that actually get to see what you’re creating is going to be far fewer than they could otherwise be.
So don’t allow yourself to get distracted by a number. Instead, work on building an actual audience that is interested and engaged. In the long run that will be far more useful.