If you’re setting up or running a business, social media is one of the best promotional platforms.

In the internet age self promotion has never been so easy. Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram are all invaluable tools for the modern marketer – but if you’re trying to grow a business you already know that…

I’ve been to quite a few networking and marketing events recently and I have heard the same thing quite a few times: How do you get more followers on [insert platform here]?

Undoubtedly, having a presence and a following is important. You will want people to see and engage with your posts and spread the word as much as possible.

But is the actual amount of followers on social media important, from a business/marketing point of view?

Numbers vs Engagement

I’ve been doing a few SEO (search engine optimisation) based exercises recently and have seen what a few of the different social networks are capable of.

From what I’ve seen, numbers are important, absolutely. You don’t want to be in a Linkedin group with no-one in it or tweeting when you have no followers.

But what is really important is the quality of your numbers. It’s no good having 1000 followers for your local business when half of them live overseas. Or you have 1000 followers for your financial services account but most of them are other financial services companies.

The key to increasing engagement and awareness of your brand is finding the influencers in your industry.

For example, I started to set up a food business last year (I abandoned it for several reasons which I won’t go into yet) and the first thing I did was try and target local bloggers who were established in my niche. It worked, I only posted a few times but I got some good followers and shares quickly.

If you’re setting up a business in marketing then you’ll need to find followers on social media who already have lots of followers and give them something to engage with.

Don’t Put All Your Eggs In One Basket

Not all social networks are created equally.  And in fact, in my personal experience, some of the ones I thought would be best have not worked as well as I would have hoped.

Eggs that have all been put in one basket, which may not be a good idea – pic: MakingMilly

The trick? Work many channels.

A friend of mine who has successfully set up a street food business channeled all of his energy into promoting on Instagram. The reason being the food was very photogenic and he was trying to capitalise on the ‘foodstagram/food porn’ trend and get people to engage that way.

To a degree it worked, he got lots of followers, lots of likes, lots of comments.

But actual customers? Not so many. Well, not via Instagram anyway.

Every channel has its pros and cons.

  • Instagram: Visual engagement means brand awareness can be pushed easily. However, you can only provide one web link on the site and paid targeted marketing is of questionable success for small business.
  • Facebook: Can organically grow quite a big network if you engage with the right people. Ad campaigns are quite affordable and post engagement is good. You will need to work on content rather than advertising your product or event as people can be very jaded with Facebook promotions.
  • Google: Search engines are the best way to grow your business but it can be tricky doing this organically. Pay per click is good but can be very expensive.
  • Twitter: Building followers can be as easy as following the right person and chatting to them. Post engagement is hit and miss with many people liking or retweeting but not actually reading it themselves.
  • Pinterest: Apparently one of the fastest growing social networking tools, has the added benefit of the visual appeal of Instagram but posts last a lot longer. Affordable ad campaigns. Creating an engaging post can be time consuming.
  • Reddit: A surprise contender for me. If you are providing interesting content then engagement is very good. Completely free too.
  • Tumblr: I have been using Tumblr to host various posts from my various magazine sites. Engagement so far is low but to be fair I haven’t given it much attention…
  • YouTube: I haven’t used YouTube yet but if you can provide information via YouTube it can unquestionably be an asset. You will need to provide well made and interesting content.
  • SnapChat: With a massive following among younger users, SnapChat might be one of the most important modern social medium. Read this article for more info.

How To Encourage Engagement

Adverts are everywhere now, including on all the social networks. People can see an advert a mile off, including marketing based posts.

The old adage of 7 seconds to make a good first impression is definitely shorter now. As you scroll through your Twitter or Facebook feed you know in an instant whether or not you’re interested.

Getting followers to engage on social media means:

  • Eye catching or intriguing imagery. We are at core visual beasts, this is the first thing we will notice.
  • Short, sharp and simple headlines. AKA clickbait. It’s popular because it works.
  • Interesting and engaging content. You might be passionate about your new range of tea towels made from silk, how can you convey this passion in an interesting way?

Another important factor is to post regularly and to share other third party information on a subject. This way people see you as a source of information rather than someone trying to get their money.

Paid Campaigns Or Organic Results?

But what if your product doesn’t lend itself to content style posts and you just want to get your product known?

#DriedFish #BestDryFish #FoodPorn #InstaFish @3dman_EU

Think about it. If you’re looking for somewhere to eat you might look up a post ‘the best street food in Brixton, London’ (where I live). If you’re looking for accounting software you might want to search for ‘the most user friendly accounting software for small business’.

Content is always relavent. Having content on your site in the form of a blog or a good solid ABOUT page is one of the most important SEO tools and an invaluable asset for organic search results.

Paid advertising campaigns can be an essential and effective part of your promotional strategy, but keeping people engaged means you need to give them something to engage with.

Pay for advertising when you have enough information to provide and when you are sure people will be interested not just in your product or service, but in you.

Having followers on social media should be an aid, not a goal for your marketing strategy.

So… Numbers Then?

The bottom line? Social network numbers are important, but only if they’re the right kind of people. Don’t worry about getting to 1000  subscribers or followers on social media, focus on getting the right kind of subscribers or followers.

You can get on with the more important stuff like running a business.

Looking for a great content writer to drive engagement with your product? Get in touch to see what I can do for you…


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