Perhaps you are struggling with social media. You've been trying your best, but you just can't seem to gain followers or grow engagement. You've posted multiple times a day, participated in groups, bought followers, and more; but in the long run you haven't seen the results you've wanted.
Trust me, I get it.
Social media is tough.
Gaining an authentic, high-quality following from scratch takes tremendous effort and tremendous time. It's easy to want to give up when you don't see immediate growth. However, understanding a few simple, key points can expedite the process leaving you with an engaged and growing following in no time at all.
DON'T TRY TO CHEAT THE SYSTEM
If you want to run an account to the ground, buying followers and likes are the best way to do it. Why? Because fake followers won't engage with you and fake likes look fake (especially in the Instagram world). This makes your fellow social media marketers despise you and companies not want to work with you. This also means that there isn't actually anyone real that can buy your products, visit your website, or believe in your brand.
Isn't that the purpose of being a content creator in the first place? To build a brand?
Therefore, unless you plan on buying fake followers and engagement for an eternity with no return... you aren't doing yourself any favors.
THE NUMBER ONE THING YOU SHOULD KNOW
I'm guessing you've heard the word "algorithm" more times then you can count. This is that "magical" formula that decides which accounts grow and which accounts don't. However, like most of us, you don't fully understand what that means.
Let me simplify it for you.
All social media platforms want one thing: to keep people on their platform as long as possible. Everything about the algorithm is built around that one principle.
Why? Because the longer people are on their platform, the more money they make and the more relevant they become.
For example, do you remember the old Myspace from the early 2000's? They disappeared because more people spent time on Facebook than they did on Myspace. This has forced the Myspace of today into being music platform, not a social media platform like it was 15 years ago.
The equation is simple:
- More Time on Platform = More Money = Staying in Business
Therefore, the next time you post, ask yourself: Will this help them accomplish that goal?
If people are viewing your post on average longer than your competitors posts, commenting, and liking the platform will show your post to more people. More people means more followers and more engagement. Those first few hours are crucial for this.
Now let's flip your role. As a user (versus a content creator) they want to put the BEST content in front of you. That's why the algorithm exists in the first place. If you consider that concept in every post you make, you will find success.
Just remember that unless you go viral there are no shortcuts. Instead, success consists of quality content and proper social media etiquette sustained over a period of time.
Below I've compiled a list of suggestions that will help you satisfy that principle. From words you should avoid to best posting practices, these tips will help your account grow in no time at all.
THE PRINCIPLES OF SUCCESSFUL SOCIAL MEDIA
Have a Target Audience
Having a "target" audience means having a niche and being able to satisfy that niche.
For example, on most accounts my "niche" is the outdoors. For some it's fashion, beauty, or being a mom. Even "lifestyle" can be a niche if it's done properly. Having a single niche helps your audience know what to expect from you while providing you a base for what to provide for them. You need to know what content to provide - and this helps identify that.
For example, if somebody is following you for beauty tips they probably won't appreciate seeing gaming posts thrown in. The gaming posts won't perform well and you'll stop getting engagement, ganging followers, and lose any authority you might have had.
Having a category of people that are interested in what you are selling is the first key to finding success online.
Post High Quality, Engaging Content
Make sure your content is attractive. You want people to stare at it. The longer they stare at it, the better you look in the eyes of whichever social media platform you are on. Don't just post for the sake of posting.
Let's get really real for a moment. Half naked women do well on social media. Trust me, from a lady angler standpoint, I will ALWAYS get "out-done" by a woman in a bikini.
Why? Because of basic biology. The majority of men stare at women. It doesn't matter to Instagram or Facebook what's causing that attention, they simple care that it's keeping people there for longer (and will probably lead to them coming back). The algorithm recognizes this and boosts their post to more people.
However, if undressing isn't your forte (like it isn't for me) there are many other ways you can improve the quality of your posts and the time spent on them. A few pieces of advice:
- First, always ask yourself if the photo you are posting is something YOU would want to look at and/or read about.
- Make sure there is a subject (of some sorts). An empty space (no matter how it is portrayed) is never going to draw much interest.
- Avoid grainy, dark, or washed out photos.
- Avoid posts that people can't relate to.
- Try to post something unique. Decide if it will stand out in a sea of posts. People scroll fast... will they stop and look at it? Do they have a reason to comment?
- Use a high quality camera or touch up photos as necessary.
- Add lengthy and engaging captions. When users stop to read a caption, they are spending time on that post.
- Ask a question.
- Post something "edgy" or slightly controversial to stir up emotion and make people want to comment.
ALWAYS RESPOND TO COMMENTS
Comments are incredibly important. It's a sign that people are truly interested in your content. It's important for your reputation, for the algorithm, and to help identify what your followers want. However, to keep receiving high quality comments (remember bots can comment too but they are generally vague) you need to respond to comments with lengthy and specific sentences. This holds true on ALL platforms.
ENGAGE WITH OTHERS
It's also important to be the one to do the engaging. Engage with accounts that don't already follow you. Leave quality comments. Reach out and create social media friends. That's how accounts start growing.
You can read more about my Instagram strategy regarding this right here.
You need to provide content. However, don’t publish daily at the expense of content quality. It's more important to post very high quality material a couple times a week than it is to post semi-quality content daily. If you are really short on content - it's OK to find a balance of the two. Just don't make a habit of compromising quality for quantity if you want to grow your numbers. Social media platforms share what they think people want to see with more people.
Here is also why this matters:
There is evidence of social media accounts having "authority". These are top content producers, that can generate a significant amount of engagement and perform exceptionally well time and time again. These accounts have their content shown to more people then others. However, to get to this point, you need consistently good content that keeps performing well. By posting "so-so" content for the sake of simply posting
I've personally noticed that Facebook is a bit more forgiving on photo quality than Instagram. Twitter is the most forgiving of all three. By most "forgiving", I simply mean that photos will perform well despite their quality.
Quality Over Quantity for Followers
You want followers who engage. That means they are interested in your niche and your brand. It's better to have 1,000 followers/likes/etc... with 200 that are engaged in your content then 20,000 followers/likes/etc... with 300 that are engaged.
The amount of followers doesn't matter as much as the reach and engagement do. Reach and engagement convert.
Avoid Cross Promoting
Native content is the best content. Don't post from Facebook to Twitter, or from Instagram to Facebook, or from YouTube to Twitter...or any combination thereof. Instead, post original content directly to each platform. Don't use a scheduler. Time spent on the platform is rewarded.
Be Careful of Links
Remember how the number one principle is to make sure that people stay on your post and on the platform for as long as possible? Providing links to sites outside of the platform doesn't achieve that. For every 1 post you link elsewhere, try to post at least 10 native ones. Then that one link will have a lot better "follow through" (aka the platform will show it to more people).
Be Careful of the Words You Choose
Be careful to not use words to direct people off the platform. These are called "trigger words". Sure, you need to recommend your product or site every now and then; however, doing it consistently drives your engagement and reach down. It's best to use these words sparingly. Most of these words are promotional words. Either pay to use them or endure the consequences. I usually go back to the 10 to 1 rule - where I avoid these words every 10 times to the 1.
Try to avoid using excess of the following:
- Avoid adding other social media platforms to your posts (for example, don't use the word YouTube when you are on Facebook).
Any words that push people off the site, or beg for promotion, are "trigger" words that can limit your reach.
Watch Engagement Rates
If you are submitting high quality content, yet start noticing your reach and engagement going down, you are likely doing one or more of the above things. Take a minute to check your captions, how often you are linking, the quality of your photos, and the time spent on the platform. Monitoring these components can go a long ways in keeping your reach and engagement at it's highest.
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