Want Tens of Thousands of Followers on Social Media? The Key Words are 'Acquisition Campaign'
Many people often ask what’s the secret to amassing followers on social media platforms. If you have business or start-up, it is highly advisable to have on least one social media page, whether that be Facebook, Linkedin, Instagram, Snapchat or some cult alternative like the advertising-free Ello. Why wouldn’t you? They provide you with an opportunity to put your business’s face and brand, as well as your originally produced content, in front of an audience of potentially tens of millions. You might have to pay to get the most out of these platforms, but you can do so much with Facebook, Instagram and Linkedin for free.
When you have picked the platform that is right for you, your next step is securing followers. For a business page,usually the more followers the better, which brings us to that question; how do I grow my follower list?
Well, as you can probably guess, it isn’t easy. I have seen businesses throw their hearts and souls into social media, investing considerable resources into high-quality content, including slickly produced promotional videos, freely streamable webinars, e-book manuals downloadable at a reduced price, and all with limited results; the content wasn’t downloaded, clicked, streamed, watched or interacted with, and it didn’t generate fresh, new followers for the business.
I have seen it happen before, and it can happen again; Why? Well, the title of this blog should really have given the game away. Content is king, that is true. If a page produces top-quality content, it will eventually secure followers. But while content is king, strategy is queen. Yes, that is the mistake new businesses make. They jump headlong into content-creation. They have a new business, and they proceed to set up a new social media page, be it Facebook, Linkedin or otherwise. Then they pour all their time and effort into content-creation - think the TV-style promotional video with animation, overlays, and slick musical accompaniment - and if they don’t have the in-house skills to create it themselves, they pay top-dollar for other people to create it. What they are missing is strategy. We can get very technical, and say what they need is an acquisition campaign, and preferably one that employs cutting-edge digital marketing strategies, but there is no need to complicate things too much for now.
If you have a social media page, and you want followers, you need a strategy of how to get those followers. Before explaining precisely what that strategy is, and why it is useful for securing followers, I am going to throw you a word, a very important word form the digital marketing lexicon; ‘lead’! What is a ‘lead’? In digital marketing speak, a lead is someone who has just become aware that your business exists, and the kind of problems you product or service solves. A cold lead is someone who is aware of your product or service, and may be interested in learning more; a lead is not someone who has just made a purchase, and a lead is not your best customer, who buys your premium services and tells everybody how wonderful you are; a lead occupies a much earlier stage in the customer journey. For more on the customer journey, and the early, ‘awareness’ stage in particular, see my blog on the Customer Journey.
Now that we have cleared up what a lead is, let’s get back to growing your follower list on your new social media page. If you have just set up your social media business page, followers are leads; cold prospects; people out there in the digital ether who know nothing about you, and may know nothing about the service and product you provide. The concept 'followers' is of course broader than leads, and can of course include connections that have no need for your product or service, but, if you are setting up a business page, most of your followers will be, in some sense, 'leads'. Your mission therefore, if you chose to accept it, it to let them know you exist, make them aware of the kind of problems your product or service solves, and to pique their interest; fan the flames of their tentative curiosity.
Your mission, in digital marketing terms, is to generate cold leads, and for that you need an acquisition campaign. An acquisition campaign sounds like a big complicated process, but it is more straightforward then you might imagine. Be strategic, and plan your campaign. Don’t just jump straight into the breach, and create high-quality content that will not resonate with your target audience, and is not the kind of content that works in acquisition campaigns.
Don’t do that! Instead, plan, be strategic and think before you act. Chose content suitable for the kind of campaign your are running; an acquisition campaign. Some content is very effective at building cold leads (‘followers’ in the social media context). Other types of content is, in contrast, far more effective at turning cold leads into paying customers. Of course, it is hard to be overly specific about what type of content will work. It depends on the type of business you have, and it depends on a variety of other circumstances. Like with any good marketing practice, you have to place yourself in the shoes of the person you are trying to appeal to; in this context, a person casually browsing a social media site; what kind of content will pique interest and ultimately compel that user to click the magic FOLLOW button.
Here is a list of the types of content that are generally very effective at generating cold leads or followers.
Blog posts, particular educational ones, with easy to follow and useful information, are very effective for generating leads: examples include ‘How the Make the Most Beautiful Victoria Sponge in Six Easy Steps’; ‘How to Edit your Video on YouTube; ‘Ten Tips on How to Get your Website Ranked on Google’. Blog posts of this kind - that provide instant value to the visitor, are short and to the point - are very effective at generating leads.
Educational content is good, but entertaining, frivolous content can be just as effective. People browse social medial channels like Instagram and Facebook for soothing pleasure and escapism; so spoof videos, caricatured public figures, cartoons with an interesting message, are typically very effective and should, depending on on the business’s target audience, generate leads. Ditto for inspirational content; beautiful photos overlayed with inspiring quotes, positive causes, celebrity or influencer endorsements, starting a charitable fundraiser (or proactively affiliating with one) are other good ways to generate leads.
Of course, these are just ideas. You have to built and create content that suits the service and product you provide, and the kind of audience you want to appeal to. However, the following principles are gold, and they work for every business and every acquisition campaign.
One: With acquisition campaigns, short is good. Create content that affords visitors instant gratification. The short blog with easy, digestible tips on how to do something; the photo overlayed with an inspirational quote; the infographic with interesting, useful facts. Two: Your audience is interested in the product or service you provide, not the company itself: Don’t do a ten minute video telling the world about your company, why you started it and what your wonderful vision for the future is. Be honest; who will be interested in this? Answer; yourself. Give your audience something useful, something educational, something inspirational or something entertaining. Three: A good rule for content creation; ensure the content is in some way related to your product or service and the solutions you provide. If you are professional sous chef, then a blog post about how to make the perfect Victoria sponge makes perfect sense. If a visitor reads your blog about Victoria sponge, tries it and loves the recipe, chances are he or she will be happy to follow your professional chef social media page. However, if you are a freelance graphic designer, and you write a blog post about the best way to make a Margarita cocktail, you could stump your audience; this content is not directly related to the problems you solve and the solutions you provide.
Four: Stick to what I like to call you 'professional persona'. Your professional persona is what you do, what service your business provides; it is what you want other people to pay you to do. It is the persona you have when you are providing that service to your clients; Remain within this persona when you are creating your content. Your content is what your business does, it is what you excel at, and it is what you want people to pay you to do. If you are a professional chef (to return to one of our examples) and you want to grow your follower base, then create recipe blogs, photos of food overlayed with mouth-watering quotes, infographics displaying quirky nutritional facts about your latest recipes, or video highlights of you cooking a great meal. Think of your content as a way of providing your product or service, and your solutions, in a different way, and you can’t go wrong; the followers will come, I guarantee.