I may not have thousands of followers on any of my social media sites (500+ on Pinterest is winning to me), but I see people and brands do things every day to get followers and clicks. Some things are clever and most of them are just annoying and make them look bad or desperate. Don’t be that person. If people that are not considered influencers can see through you then so can the influencers, organizations, and public figures you are trying to reach. Here are some tips to get it together and get that organic following that you want (one that actually engages with your social media accounts).
Please use hashtags properly
I cannot stress enough how important it is to properly use hashtags on social media. If your aim is to get the attention of people in your target demographic for a business, sell a product, or to gain organic followers, you need to use hashtags to get their attention (on certain platforms, particularly Instagram and Twitter). That being said, don’t go out and hashtag anything that enters your mind. If you’re selling cheese, don’t hashtag race cars or Louis Vuitton unless it has something to do with your ad or event. This will make you look strange on Instagram because people following those topics will get sent every post with that hashtag.
Let’s say you are a coupon blogger and you are looking to grow your following of savings savvy moms and people looking to save money. You make a post sharing some cool things you bought at Nordstrom Rack on clearance. You spent $150 though you did save about $30 bucks off of the regular price of items in your “haul.” You usually don’t spend that much but it was too hard to resist those after Christmas sales. You hashtag a $30 designer journal as #dollartreedeals (because that hashtag is hot right now), tag Nordstrom Rack, and about 30 other irrelevant stores. Your phone keeps going off with notifications and you don’t know what the fuss is about. You check your phone and find about 20 comments asking what Dollar Tree you got the planner at and what state you live in. People want to know where you got the planner. Turns out that fans of Dollar Tree and bargain shopper stores you tagged are thinking you bought the planner at one of the discount stores you tagged to get attention. Well, now you have it, but you look like an idiot explaining that nothing in your haul came from any of the cheap stores you mentioned. Weeks later people still ask without reading the comments. Stop with the irrelevant tags.
The best way to find relevant tags is to brainstorm or use a search tool. I consulted on a book project with a client. The book has been published and is available on Amazon.com and now he is doing marketing and promotion for it. There is a whole welcoming community on Instagram called the Bookstagram community. When I started hashtagging his book, I used the title of course, some basic ideas like #memoir and #inspirational that will send the tag to lists and people looking for those things. I also used location hashtags so locals will see it and hashtags for the Instagram book community (#bookstagram and #bookssavelives). I got a lot more likes with relevant hashtags. It would be useless to hashtag it #childrensbooks or #drseuss. Keep your tags relevant.
Make relevant comments
So you’ve been working your strategy to network with people in your field or industry or to get the attention of people in your demographic. You’re on your Gary Vaynerchuk $1.80 strategy grind and you have commented on 20 posts on Instagram and it’s not even 8 am yet. You’re crushing it! Or are you just looking like a spambot? How can you tell?
Whenever you leave a comment, say something real or don’t waste your words. I’m a writer so I have a thing for words. Don’t be boring and comment, “nice content” or “Love the content. Keep it up.” How much more like a bot could you sound? I hate seeing those comments because if they are humans, they put no thought into getting the attention of the person they are speaking to. If they are bots then they’re bots, nothing you can really do. No one is going to follow you for saying, “nice content.” What’s nice about my content? If you were to say something more personal like, “I have been following you for months now and your dog is so cute. My son wants a dog and we watch your videos all of the time.” That might get you a follow back from the account you want to follow you. If not a follow back then it might even get you a like.
If you are commenting on the fly to get some exposure, don’t just say “nice content.” Think of something short, but something that makes you sound human. Comment on the caption or save the post for later so you can go back and comment something good when you get the chance. You’ll stand out among the bots.
Give credit where credit is due
I see this all the time as well and it is annoying. It can also get you into some trouble with copyrights and plagiarism If you see a picture and you want to repost it, do you just repost without tags or crediting where you got it. It is always a good idea to ask first if you can share it. That’s not always possible, but a general rule is that if there is a screen name or signature, credit the source. Don’t let 20 people ask you where your photo was taken or tell you that you have a great eye for photography before you explain that it is not your work. Would you want your work going out all over the internet with people thinking someone else did it? I wouldn’t.
One poster got busted for this recently on a popular platform when she posted a photo and mislabeled it. People realized it was not her work when she was corrected repeatedly about the subject which she knew nothing about. She revealed that the photo was not hers and the followers realized that none of her posts were her work. I was a bit surprised and thought that she would do a better job at getting attention if she posted her own stuff or at least credited the original artist or photographer.
Always tag photos or link back to the original if you can. With stock photos that are public domain, it is not necessary, however, if I have the artist’s information, then it only takes a second to tag them even if they are giving it away in creative commons.
Don’t use clickbait titles
Stop with the clickbait titles. It gets tired after a while and if you use things that are too much like everyone else's clickbait then your content will get buried under all of the titles that sound just like it. The absolute worst culprit is the “13 reasons why…” title. Seriously? If your article is not “13 reasons why Ross Butler is a hottie” or anything else directly related to the Netflix show or the book then do not use it. As/Is a beauty division of Buzzfeed used it last week on a Facebook post and I didn’t even get through the article because I just kept thinking how lazy it was for the social media manager to allow that title. Once the show returns, everything from articles about tires to articles about foot cream will be using it. It's a poor attempt to show up higher in search engines.
Brainstorm your titles or use a title generator to help you come up with a good catchy title. If people click on a title and your post is not about that subject or they feel led on, then they are less likely to read anything else you post. Keep it relevant.
Don’t follow to unfollow
The follow to unfollow game is old and childish. Follow to unfollow is when people go on Twitter or Instagram and follow a ton of accounts then unfollow in a few days. They will find an account and follow a lot of people from that account’s followers. If you don’t follow them back (or sometimes even if you do) they will unfollow you in a few days. Your followers go up and then drop every once in a while because of these mass follow accounts. Signing up for accounts that promise to find you new followers can cause this because the accounts are bots that will follow and unfollow tons of other accounts for you. Sometimes people follow accounts that they see in the comment section and unfollow them within a week so they have more followers than people they follow. Unless you are Beyonce then that ratio-- of followers to people you follow-- is not important. No one looks at that.
Ask the right way
Ask the right way if you want something. Direct message, email, or use Facebook Messenger. Don’t comment in blog posts and link back to your page without permission. Don’t ask for something in the comments and expect for someone with a busy page to see it. If they have 200 comments they might not see you asking them to shout you out or to check out your page. If you email or DM and you craft your question or your request in a proper way they might actually answer you and they may even give you the answer you want. Study the letter Jon M. Chu wrote to Coldplay to get them to let him use the song “Yellow” in the hit movie“Crazy Rich Asians.” You can’t get much more perfect than that.
If you want to be promoted by the brand or page you follow, ask them. They may craft an ad for you to run on their page or they may just shout you out. They may ask you to pay for an endorsement or they may just shout you out. If you are going to ask, ask nicely and professionally.
Do not treat Facebook like LinkedIn or Twitter
The way you conduct yourself on social media is important to the way people see you. Social media, for the most part, is one long highlight reel with the bad parts edited out. With the exception of maybe a handful of people I follow, everyone does it. The difference is how people act on different platforms.
Here is the way I see it: Facebook is your friend group, they know how you really are so you can let loose a bit. Twitter and Instagram are all of the people you want to think that you are cool. LinkedIn is the boss you want to impress or the hiring manager or the colleague group. This is where you want to impress you mentors or potential employers. Do not use LinkedIn the same way you use Facebook. I have watched people self-destruct on LinkedIn and I’m still relatively new to the site. I watched a woman rant about how much she hates her job. News flash: Your job is listed in your profile. What’s to stop someone from emailing your ranting posts to your boss posts? Oops! I watched a group of guys go on a racist tirade on a news post. Once again, their jobs were posted in their profiles (which means it shows on each post under their names). Don’t do it people. Anyone that wants to hire you could look for you on LinkedIn. Does your profile look like something you would want a potential employer to see or is it full of complaints or worse?
Keep it professional and showcase your talents. Share posts from colleagues and people whom you admire. Sharing other people’s posts may help get them seen and they might return the favor. Hitting on people in the DM’s is a don’t as well. It’s not a dating site. Treat others professionally and they will do the same.
There are so many other things I could list here, but that’s for another post, maybe. Social media is a great asset if you know how to use it properly. Don’t get too caught up in the likes and follows and nurture the audience that you do have. Create valuable content and have fun.