“I want a million followers” is not a social media strategy.

Posted on May 24th 2012

“I want a million followers” is not a social media strategy.

Often the first result that people want from their social media strategy is a mass of followers. Let’s be realistic here – it often takes time to see large levels of growth, and careful planning and development of a social strategy needs to take place before it will happen.

One important thing to mention here is that any social media strategy needs to be developed with full consideration of your business, organisation or mission aims. Without this planning you are simply wasting your time.

Once you – or your consultant – have spent the time building your strategy, and you’re still seeing a slower level of growth than you’d like, there are various ways you can help accelerate your number of followers.

Innovate and be creative
Remember to be creative about how you use social media, and be sure to use it as an opportunity to extend your brand’s personality and message. Spend some time understanding what your competitors are doing, and identify how you can be better and quicker that them. For instance, you may want to explore giveaways, or rewards to those that engage with you on social media – this is generally a fairly good way to build a loyal and engaged following. Perhaps you could host a live Q&A session for your followers to discuss some of the issues affecting your area of focus, or maybe develop associations and partnerships with other prominent players in your space.

Listen and respond
Aside from just listening to conversations and reacting to those discussing your brand or project, explore how social media could assist you in your product development process and offer your followers a chance to be part of defining some part of what you do by crowd-sourcing their input. This was a successful strategy used by Kodak recently as they developed a closer relationship with customers by appealing for, and integrating, suggestions for future product modification.

Still need more followers?
There are a myriad products and platforms out there that will enable you to simply buy followers (just search ‘how do I get 10,000 followers’ in your search bar and see just some of them), but you need to be serious about the quality of followers you are building this way. Having 100 advocates who are regularly discussing you is going to do a lot more for your brand awareness, volume and reach than 1,000 who have no idea who you are or what you do. Another route to generating a community of suitable followers is to take advantage of Twitter’s Promoted Account advertising. Still in beta testing and available to just a select few, this is a way of gaining followers based on pre-determined criteria such as geographic region or keyword relevance. The pay-per-engagement model means that you only spend money as you get results.

A key thing I always advocate is that it’s better to focus on community-building, rather than metric building. If you are using social media as a tool to stimulate discussion, interact and offer valuable content deemed to have high authority in your subject, you will see a healthy level of growth of followers that will be an asset to your community.

Need help building a social media strategy and growing followers? Get in touch.


James Aldous

James Aldous

Communications and Social Media Professional. Runner-up in PRWeek's 'Most Entrepreneurial In-House PR Team'.
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Comments

Adriaan Bloem
Posted on May 24th 2012 at 10:29PM

I wanted to "like" this for the title alone.

However -- it's easy as an outside consultant to say this. The reality is that if you're the employee responsible for social media, your boss will want something to show for the investment in you and your team. The number of followers/fans may be a cop-out to present as a KPI, and even worse a pursuit, but you'll still need a measure of success, so can you blame someone for emphasizing the simple number that shows progress?

If you're going to say this -- and it's a point I completely agree with -- offer alternatives. How do I convince the marketing director this is a useful strategy? i'd emphasize the aims, and putting metrics against those; instead of blowing hot air with a 23% increase in followers. And yes, building a solid community rather than inflating the numbers is more of a steady, but lasting approach, and will have more impact. But you'll need more to show for it than just "this is better", especially if it means that initially, it may look far from spectacular in a graph.