The Ultimate Guide to Building an Online Following: Part 2 – “Expansion and Analysis”
Congratulations, you’ve made it to part-two of our three-part series on how to become an influencer. Have as many cookies as you’d like. While parts 1 and 2 will be helpful for anyone, Part 2 is aimed at those who’ve started to amass a following already. If that’s you, it may be time to take another look at your behaviour. A popular quote, often misattributed to Einstein, defines insanity as ‘doing the same thing every day and expecting different results’. Even though Einstein might not have said it, it doesn’t take a genius to realise that it’s great advice. So listen up…
1) Maximise the Routes to You. We realise this sounds like something out of cheesy, self-help book. But fear not, this advice is straight forward and grounded. If you want people to find your accounts, you need to provide them with as many avenues as possible. As well as just engaging with people on social media, promote links to your accounts wherever and whenever you can. Whether that’s adding linked-icons on your website; including ‘signature-links’ in your emails; writing guest-blogs with links to your accounts; or even adding your account names to offline materials like business cards and letter-heads. You never know where your next top-follower will come from.
2) Play with Yourself. We won’t even go into what this advice sounds like. We mean that you should toy with your profiles until you find the best results. Whether that’s mixing-up your images or changing-up your bio. It could well be that your tagline doesn’t express your USP as well as you think it does. Sometimes a tiny tweak can have profound effects.
3) Update your Plan. If you’ve been following our advice, by this stage you should be a lot more knowledgeable than you were when you made your social media plan. That means it’s time to reassess and re-plan. Are your goals the same as they were? Are you getting as many followers as you had hoped? Are your platforms taking you where you want to go? If not, why not? Now is your chance to work out what is and isn’t working. Adapt and update your plan to ensure your upward trajectory continues.
4) Know your Audience. Having a vague idea of the sorts of followers you wanted was okay when you were starting out. But after you’ve been around for a while, you’re going to have to get more in-depth. Build ‘persona-profiles’ by analysing the traits of your target audience. Start by looking at the broad demographics you wish to target; there may be more than one. Identify the needs and interests of these groups. Then, develop behaviour-based profiles to acquire these followers. This may all seem a little cold and calculated, but it’s for good reason that political campaigns are piling millions into compiling voter-profiles. We live in an age of exponential data-growth, and if you want to flourish, you’re probably going to have to start taking advantage of that. For more information on building ‘persona-profiles’, read this.
5) Understand your Algorithms. Facebook, like most multi-media platforms, prioritises images over text, videos over images, and live-streaming over everything else. At the time of writing, including images can increase your engagement by 39% on Facebook, 98% on LinkedIn, and 200% on Twitter. The thought of live-streaming might send shivers down some people’s spines, but the ability to connect in real-time has a considerably increased engagement rate, studies show that people spend 3x longer watching live videos than pre-recordings. Take advantage of this emerging trend and speak directly to your followers! But algorithms go beyond content-type, listen to this podcast by Buffer to discover more.
6) Tool-Up. Social media management tools are an essential arrow in the quiver of a successful influencer, from simple, free-to-use tools like Twitonomy, to advanced tools like Sprout Social, Hootsuite, and more. The software might look daunting at first, but most are surprisingly user-friendly. Without paid-advertising, most platforms will only provide you with limited analytics. To truly track campaigns, followers, efficacies, and inefficacies, you need more information. Any tool worth it’s merit will provide you with a wealth of useful information to help you optimise your growth.
7) Don’t be a Content-Snob. This isn’t to say you shouldn’t be posting anything other than top-quality content, you should. But ensure that you’re not only promoting your own content. It’s a real turn-off for followers. Imagine going on a date and your companion only ever spoke about their own achievements – the principle is the same. Many businesses follow the 70-20-10 rule. This rule states that 70% of your posts should be aimed at adding value to your brand, 20% should be sharing other people’s content, and only 10% should be sharing your own content and promoting your business. That’s only one-in-ten posts. And who says modesty is dead?
8) Vampiric Content. In a similar vein, when you do create your content, why not be a little sneaky? Say you’re planning to create a piece of content about indie-gaming. Why not modify your premise to “The Top 10 Indie Gamers” and include links to their accounts. Once it’s posted, tag them in it or write to them, people love to self-promote and you’ve given them an excellent way to do that. Once they share your content, you’ve been given a free introduction to their community. On a similar note, if we were to write an article about building an online following, we might include links to popular, well-read (and may I say excellent) sites like Business Insider ; all in the hopes that they’d share our content across their well-read social media platforms. Theoretically speaking, of course.
9) The Power of an Image. A picture paints a thousand words. The right meme paints a million. Stock images have become the laughing stock of many a subreddit. If you’re using them non-ironically, then you may not be promoting the edgy persona that you think you are. Studies have shown that the most well-received images are often ones that give a behind-the-scenes look. By posting this sort of imagery, you not only offer followers something unique, but you humanize your brand. Other types of successful images include photos of customers/partners, photos of events, photo-quotes, and infographics.
10) Optimize yourself. We’re back to sounding like we’re in a self-help book here, but this piece of advice is vital. You want your accounts and content to show up when people use search engines, this means stealing the tricks of SEO (search-engine-optimisation). While the practices are very similar, SMO (social media optimization) is now its own industry. We highly recommend putting the time into understanding SMO. From hashtags to bios, from post-length to keywords. SEO/SMO will show you that the language you intuitively use to express your content, may not align with the way people search for it. Most of the tools we mentioned earlier will offer you SMM options to ensure your content is hitting the mark.