How to gain followers and increase engagement on social media

Nearly 70 percent of adults in the U.S. are on social media. While checking in on others is fun and valuable, building your own brand can be helpful to individuals or businesses.

Below are 10 tips for gaining followers and increasing engagement:

1. Understand your audience: You will never reach — or appeal to — everyone. Don’t waste time trying. Focus on the group or groups that would be most interested in what you are offering (be that personally or professionally) and strengthen that following, rather than worrying solely about the ‘followers’ number ticking upward. Ten local, ‘real’ people (and, in turn, their connections) are far more valuable to your personal brand or business than 1,000 bots from Nigeria.

2. Use multiple platforms — and vary the content: A quick-hit news item (ex: we’ll be opening late today due to weather) works better on Twitter and Facebook than it does on Instagram, but a sale — and accompanying photos — are better suited for Instagram. As an individual, Instagram can be a great place to show others what you’ve done, but Facebook is a platform ripe for asking for — and getting — recommendations on what to do.

3. Aggregate and be consistent: This includes following those with similar interests and approaches (and hopefully they will follow back). Authenticity is part of consistency. If your positions or views change, that is fine, but don’t base your opinions on societal trends.

4. Respond, but don’t attack: Interactivity is key to engagement. We all want to be heard, and clients or connections are no different. People aren’t always going to agree with you, and that’s OK, but don’t attack those who have a differing viewpoint — and please don’t ever (ever) say ‘well s/he started it.’ The internet should not be a preschool playground. Be sure to activate the ‘follow’ button on your Facebook account. This will allow people to follow you, but you will not need to accept them as ‘friends’ (friends typically have access to more of your profile).

5. Post regularly, but not constantly: Most studies agree that once per day is optimal, with a maximum of two posts per day. I personally believe posting four to five times is not ‘too much,’ just don’t vomit your content. Space out what you share throughout the day. Numerous tools (including Social Flow) allow you to schedule posts.

6. Provide original content, but share interesting, relevant information from reliable sources: No one needs a second job and keeping up with social media is work. Creating unique content is important, but so is offering interesting, helpful topics. This could be as simple as a photo (one you share or one you take) or a meme.

7. Short works best: The average adult attention span is eight seconds. Eight. Make your point, and be clear, but don’t share a plethora of additional details that don’t add value (entertainment, information or otherwise) and move the story forward.

8. Visuals are key (and use video):

  • According to GlobalWebIndex’s 56 percent of internet users watch videos on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat or Instagram each month.
  • 81 percent of 55 to 64-year-olds are watching videos online each month.
    One in three social video viewers watch videos made by brands every month.
  • According to Wishpond, photo posts get 120 percent more engagement than the average post, and photo albums receive 180 percent more engagement.

9. Think ahead: How will this not only affect me today, but in 5, 10, even 15 years. It’s natural to feel angry (or elated) and want to blast those feelings to anyone who is (or could be) listening. Know, though, nothing ever truly disappears, even if you take it down. Before you post a scathing story about a run-in you had or a ‘cute today, embarrassing tomorrow’ photo of your child, consider how what your sharing may affect you — and anyone mentioned or shown — in the future.

10. Create a Google profile (simple instructions here): Google is the No. 1 search engine. As a result, when people Google your name, you or your business will be a top hit if you create a Google profile (complete with gmail). It’s free, and takes fewer than five minutes. Be sure to list whatever public social channels you have on your profile — with hyperlinks.

 

Stop apologizing!

stopapologizingMonday, Jackson Murphy was bowing down to Amy Schumer after tweeting a sexist joke her way.

Then we had the apology of sorts from Cheryl Boone Isaacs — president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Isaacs spoke about being “heartbroken and frustrated” that the Oscar nods failed to recognize people of color.

Zac Efron also made a noteworthy apology this week, saying he was sorry after receiving backlash for a tweet that essentially put his appreciation for Martin Luther King, Jr. and Efron’s 10 million Instagram followers in the same sentence. Continue reading

How I earned $250-plus in two hours

bag

This Marc Jacobs bag was originally $900. Is selling for $69 — more than 80 percent off retail.

I’m officially a Posher (not to be confused with “Posh,” as in “Spice” or “posh” the adjective).

I’m talking Poshmark, an online consignment boutique where you can unload all your unwanted clothing and accessories — and pick up some new goodies to freshen your closet — in minutes. I’m completely addicted, cleaning out my closet — and my sister’s — and earning some legitimate cash along the way.

10 reasons you should try Poshmark:

  • The return on your investment is simple. I’ve spent about two hours (probably fewer than that) over the last two weeks “poshing” my goodies — and my sister’s — and I’ve already made more than $250. It’s not easy to find a (legal) part time job where you’ll make that hourly rate.
  • Continue reading

ARA: The bride ‘fired’ me as a bridesmaid right before the ‘I dos’

A reader asks:

bridesmaidA friend from high school who I have known for 20 years asked me to be in her wedding. At the time, I was undergoing cancer treatments, but absolutely agreed to be part of the wedding, and bride was very accommodating with meetings and venue visits (doing non-chemo weeks so I would feel good).

I went to bridal expos with bride to help her find vendors, etc. all while in treatment.

The wedding party started out with three bridesmaids and MOH (her sister). One bridesmaid backed out in March. Not sure what the reasoning was, but we still made it work. Continue reading

ARA: How do I best handle a second wedding?

A reader asks (via Facebook):

In 2010 my parents graciously hosted a beautiful wedding for me at what was then Dale Miller (now Taste) for about 250 family members and friends. Unfortunately, I was marrying an awful human being who was very verbally, emotionally and physically abusive. He ended up choking me on our wedding night so hard that his hands were bruised into my neck. I left that night. Continue reading

ARA: Looking for a place to get ready before my wedding

A reader asks (via Facebook):

I’m getting married near Albany, NY (the reception will be in Altamont and the ceremony location is still to-be-determined) and need somewhere to get ready before the wedding. A hotel suite would be ideal, but I’m open to other suggestions (bed & breakfast, inn, etc). It needs to be big enough for about 8 people to get hair & makeup done and get dressed, as well as relax and hang out before heading to the ceremony. Around the Albany, Guilderland, Latham, or Troy area would be preferable. Since the photographer will be there taking “getting ready pictures”, I’m looking for something that will photograph nicely (not too dark so preferably with windows and natural light, and not have out-dated/tacky decor).

 

ARA: Is it OK to compliment a member of the opposite sex?

A reader asks (via Facebook):

checking outIs it OK to compliment a member of the opposite sex with totally non romantic intention on their dress or a personal feature? Talking bank teller, flight attendant, and similar. What do women in particular feel comfortable with from someone they don’t know? Nice sweater? You have a great smile? Your eyes are a beautiful color? and similar.

Not sure where the limits are, knowing that they have clearly changed, even for coworkers, and there is no way to communicate that the compliment is being given purely to be nice.

Dog left in car writes letter to public on behalf of owner

dog in a carYou hear stories all the time of people breaking through car windows to free a dog left in the car while the pet owner shops or dines.

This morning, I was at the Wal-Mart in Glenmont and saw this sign posted on the window of a running car. The dog — a large, black and white mixed breed — was inside barking. In theory, his “call” was less about overheating and more about being bored and uncomfortable sitting (he was seatbelted in, it seemed) in the back of a small car.

While I realize leaving your dog in the car is not ideal, if you are going to do it (and sometimes you have no choice) this seems like the best approach. Not everyone agrees. The sign has sparked a bit of a debate on Facebook.