Whether you've started a new social media account or you're just looking to grow your following, you may be asking the question "How can I gain followers?" No matter the platform, whether that be Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, or even LinkedIn, you may be faced with the challenge of gaining followers. So, let's talk about it.
Firstly, as an internet radio broadcaster, it's important to note the dual purpose of social media. Not only is social media an essential way for you to connect with listeners you already have, but it is also a vital tool for directing people to your station and creating new listeners. This is why utilizing social media is so important, because both purposes, connecting with and gaining listeners, are crucial to your station. So, if you don't have a social media following just yet or you're looking to grow your following, remember the dual purpose of your social media. And, don't be discouraged. Growing your following is challenging, but with some time, strategy, and consistency, you can create engaging accounts that will assist you with obtaining followers and even listeners.
Follow family, friends, and known listeners you already have.
Getting started can be challenging, so you've got to start somewhere and a great starting point is following family and friends, and if you have known listeners already, even better! You can follow them! This is a great base of followers to begin with since they'll likely follow you back, so don't underestimate the importance of following people you know. If you aren't sure who your listeners are, make sure that you promote your social media accounts on your station and let them know that you'll absolutely be following people back.
Word of mouth can be pretty powerful too. So, hopefully, from here, friends of family and friends of friends will follow you. Or, at the very least, you can follow them and hopefully they'll follow back. Don't hesitate to encourage friends, family, and any followers you have to share your posts and spread the word about your accounts and, of course, your station. Remember though, no one wants to be overwhelmed by promotion all of the time, so be mindful of how much encouraging you're doing and strike a balance between content and explicit promotion.
Utilize Facebook groups.
There are tons of Facebook groups. It's likely that you could find a group for nearly any subject. And, if not on Facebook, there's bound to be an online group somewhere around the subject you're looking for. So, utilize Facebook groups (or any online groups you can find) that are centered around your niche. You might already be in said groups or you can search for them, but regardless, you might be providing content on your social media as well as your station that interests them.
Again, it's important to note that you do not want to spam groups with promotion, but creating a post letting people in the group know about you, your social media, and station can be effective in growing your following and listenership.
Follow others in your niche.
Similarly to utilizing Facebook groups, you should generally utilize the online community in your niche. Search for and follow people in your niche, whether that may be businesses, influencers, or just people clearly within your community. To find people to follow, you can search keywords to find those who have created related posts and you can look through the followers of related businesses and influencers.
After following people, you may even want to reach out to them to spark conversation. You might want to explicitly let them know about your station from the beginning, or you may just want to engage with them and hope that they naturally explore on your account and find out about your station. If you follow and engage with others in your niche, it's likely that many of them will follow you back when finding out that you have similar interests.
When following others, be mindful of who you're following and if they're worth the follow. Don't follow illegitimate accounts that aren't relevant or active. Even if those accounts may follow you back, the higher follower count won't be worth the zero engagement you'll get from your followers.
Be active in your niche.
Aside from following folks in your niche, a great strategy is to be very active in your community, sharing knowledge, commentary, and so forth. This activity can transform you from a passionate person in your niche to the online expert. If you become an expert and people see you as such, followers will begin to find you instead of you finding them.
How can you do this? Ensure you are as knowledgeable as can be in your niche and always strive to continue learning. If you begin by following others in your niche, then you can start to build your credibility by sharing and commenting on others' posts and posts on your own profile. "Like," comment, and share posts. If people comment on your posts or mention you in their posts, be sure to not only reply, but engage. Don't just throw a "Thanks" or "like" someone's way if you can keep the conversation going in an interesting direction. It's all about interaction when it comes to building credibility, so be open to learning from others as well as sharing information and enjoy yourself! After all, this is something you're passionate about in some capacity.
Don't forget hashtags.
Hashtags are a tool that you can use in your posts (on platforms that especially value hashtags, ie. Twitter and Instagram) for discoverability, both in the present and in the future. For example, if you're posting about a specific genre of music or an artist, you might consider hashtagging the genre as well as the artist. You also might find it useful here to tag the artist in your post, especially if it is an artist that is especially active on the platform you're posting on. Regardless of whether you decide to tag the artist, hashtagging the artist makes your post discoverable to anyone that is searching that artist's hashtag.
In addition to hashtagging genres and artists, you might consider hashtagging any related keywords or other topics mentioned in your post. Note that you may want to search the hashtag before using it to see if it's widely used as well as used in the way you're using it. If not, the hashtag might not be worth including.
In some cases, you might want to hashtag something that is not currently widely used if you feel it might pick up steam eventually. For example, perhaps there is an artist or album on the rise that you'd like to hashtag. Or, you might have a segment that you'd like to hashtag in hopes that your followers will begin using it. In this case, the hashtag might not be very beneficial in the present, but in the future, that hashtag could become an extremely effective promotional tool.
It's important that you don't overdo it with hashtags though. Hashtags are a great addition to your posts to make them more discoverable, but too many can cloud or even ruin your post. There is no specific amount of hashtags that is the right amount, so use your best judgment. Just know, if your post is mostly hashtags or visually it looks like there are a lot, you might want to reconsider how many you're using. While hashtags can be very useful, too many can give the impression that the post is spam and can immensely decrease the value of your post.
Try out social media advertising.
Advertising can be intimidating, but it doesn't need to be as expensive or scary as it may sound. Advertising on Facebook, for example, can look like putting $1 per day behind a post promoting your station and social media. You can then run that ad for 7 days, 2 weeks, a month, or whatever length of time you would like. Or, you could put something like $20 behind a post for one week. The amount of money and the duration is totally up to you, so it doesn't need to be an expensive or long process. You can target folks within your niche and people with related interests, and you may just find that this is a helpful approach for you.
However, social media advertising shouldn't be your entire strategy because it doesn't always produce the most genuine results. Little bits of advertising every so often may be the best course of action when you have special content that you'd like more people to see or just to keep the ball rolling while you work on other aspects of your strategy.
Make your profile appealing.
Let's talk profile appearance. You've got to have a profile picture, cover photo, bio, and posts on your profile. Not only that, but they need to be appealing and intriguing images and text. For example, if your images are oddly cropped, pixelated, or your profile and cover photo don't make sense together, that is no good. Even if you have 0 followers, your profile needs to be populated and attractive before anyone is going to consider following you.
Also, don't underestimate the importance of proper spelling and grammar. You don't need to have 100% formal and correct spelling and grammar, in fact, utilizing more casual speech and slang is important for connecting on social media. However, if your posts or bio are filled with mistakes (and we're not talking about intentional mistakes), that's simply not appealing.
Another significant thing to note is that many people take into consideration follower counts when following people. If you follow thousands of people and almost no one follows you, that's a red flag. If you follow almost no one and hundreds to thousands of people follow you, that can also be a red flag. That's not to say that this is always applicable, but it's a great thing to keep in mind when growing your social media following. People want to know that others are following you and that you are willing to follow others because if this is the case, it just feels like a much more trustworthy follow.
Providing valuable content is arguably the most critical part of your growth strategy. You can hashtag, advertise, go on follow sprees, and be really active in your niche, but if you aren't offering value on you social media, your chances at long-term growth are essentially ruined. It's also worth noting that engagement varies across the different social media platforms. What's engaging on Facebook isn't necessarily engaging on Twitter, Instagram, or LinkedIn. What's appropriate in terms of the types of posts (ie. video, text, image) as well as the frequency of posts differs on each platform, so ensure you're studying that and adjusting your posts for each platform accordingly.
So what's valuable content that will be engaging? That varies based on your niche, personality, and so forth. In vague terms though, we're talking consistent commentary, videos, memes, jokes, stories, information, quotes, images, discussion and engagement with followers, and so on. Basically things that aren't strictly promotional and that are little bits of your personality.
Now, engaging content is inherently promotional, so we aren't throwing out the idea of promotion completely, but engaging content isn't "Tune into my station...", "Follow me @...", "Now playing...", "Share my post...", etc. Don't get me wrong, these kinds of promotional posts are important and should be in your messaging on your station, social media, and website, but these aren't necessarily engaging or valuable just on their own. Think of it this way, you can use this promotional messaging as part of your strategy because obviously you want to encourage folks to do certain things, but you've got to have the content to back it up. Otherwise, why should anyone follow you?
Finally, be consistent.
Even if you post valuable content, you have to be consistent. This means posting regularly on all or most social media platforms. Put simply, if you're just posting every once in awhile, you become a much less valuable follow for people.
With this said, note that you may find that your following and engagement is stronger on one platform and you can absolutely use this to your advantage and really lean into that platform specifically. But, it's essential that you don't neglect or nix your other accounts. You want to be as easily discoverable and accessible as possible, and some interested followers or listeners may only have accounts on one platform, making all platforms crucial to your growth strategy.
So, after all of this, what's next? Once you have some followers and you have engaging content and consistency down, you can then explore statistics and trends on your accounts. What posts have performed well and on what platform? What steps in growing your following have seemed to work well for you specifically? What posts and steps seem to work well for others, especially those in your niche? Researching and taking into account the trends and stats you have access to is an excellent way to improve your social media presence even further. But first, just get started with some of the steps above. Growing your following and improving your social media presence is a long process, so don't get too caught up on data and research in the beginning, just focus on getting started.
Above all else, when working on growing your following, remember that it is all about a balance between content and explicit promotion. Spamming folks with promotion is not attractive and will not grow your following in the long run. You may see some short-term results from aggressive promotion, but it simply won't translate to the kind of long-term growth most people are looking for. Too much promotion is not genuine and when it comes down to it, many people rely on this sense of genuine when clicking the follow button. So, provide some value on your social media, sprinkle in some promotion here and there, and play the long game.
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Article Image: geralt via Pixabay.