Yesterday I got a call from a potential client, and from the moment they get on the phone you can feel his panic! The first thing that I hear is "We need 50,000 followers", I paused for a moment and then replied, "why?" The response I got was all too common, "My biggest competitor has 45,000 and I want to beat them". I can't tell you how many times I've heard this, from small businesses to brands with millions of fan/followers. I guess it really reins true that most of us are so focused on our competitors that we don't think realistically!
It's really interesting that we're usually more concerned with what our competition is doing on social, versus worrying about what we're doing on social. I found this to be comical, personally. I knew that the only way this client would gain 50,000 followers would be to follow three tactics to help grow their social presence.
1. Social Advertising - The fast & most convenient way to drive a following would be to advertise. For a goal of 50,000 I would suggest a budget of $25,000 or more. Then I would hypertarget the ad campaign to only run to the pages & followers of my competitor. Typically with the first 10% of the budget, you can see how the results are going, and I always suggest making tweaks to the campaign. Changing out the message is vital to a successful social advertising campaign, and also refining the targets to include new audiences that you can leverage!
2. Post Daily, Tag Folks, and Follow 100 people per day - This model is the most effective for a long-term strategy, and will truly pay dividends... But it takes time! Most clients don't want to hear that it takes time but this is the only strategy to gaining the goal of 50,000 followers without having to spend a dollar in social advertising. I would recommend to most folks reading this blog, that this strategy is the most authentic and delivers a long-term reach that will pay off for generations. The key to posting daily, tagging folks that influence you, and following 100 new people daily, is that it takes time and effort. Clients always want results overnight but I always say that there is more value to slow growth than epic fast growth!
3. Get Lucky - There are many examples of users posting something to a celebrity, media, TV anchors and then it goes viral due to a stroke of luck. This is something that I'm advising all the brands that I work with to do, and I always say that we're only one tweet away from going viral. To be honest this is the hardest strategy of the three because it has a huge upside, but the probability that it will happen is kind of like the lottery. You're more likely to get struck by lightning than to get lucky with a retweet from Taylor Swift (one of my heros). But I always say that it doesn't hurt to try!
Personally I believe in all three strategies for brands and businesses, it just depends on your time frame, goals, and budget to determine your outcome. I've built up my following to over 37,000 followers using a blend of all three, and I'm still waiting to get lucky and go viral. Until then, I will spend a little ($3-5 per day) to focus on social ads, and I'm posting every day and tagging all the folks I can in my tweets. I've been managing social networks since 2009, and nothing happens overnight but with a strategy and commitment you too can have a following that you're proud to call your own. Good luck and remember that all great things take time.