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.


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