In this day and age, if you don’t maintain a personable, authoritative social media presence for your business… well, it’s like you don’t have a business at all. Even if you own a traditional brick and mortar store and have established yourself within your community, growing an active social media audience can help you spread brand awareness thus tapping into an otherwise completely untapped market.
The thing is, growing a social media audience is difficult enough, and it doesn’t end there. If you truly want your brand to succeed, you need an active social media following. Which situation would you rather have?
- A following of 100,000 Instagram followers with roughly a 1% active engagement
- A following of 10,000 Instagram followers with 5–10% active engagement?
Full disclosure: I had to use a calculator for this, but the logic stands regardless. It’s much more valuable to have a smaller amount of engaged followers than it is to have a large number of inactive followers. But how exactly do you grow an active following? How do you get your audience to engage with all of the content you work so hard to produce?
Look no further, here are five ways you can increase your audience engagement for your social media presence.
What NOT To Do
Before we get into the steps you should take to grow your engagement, let’s first go over what you shouldn’t be doing.
I’m sure you’ve heard of the follow-for-follow strategy before. Basically, it entails following a bunch of people with the hopes that they’ll follow you back, feeling the need to recriprocate. In general, you can expect about 20–40% of the people you follow to follow you back. So, say you follow 500 people; about 100 people will follow you back.
Not the best look for a profile, in my opinion. This is why I generally recommend my clients not to apply this strategy.
However, there are a few cases in which utilizing this strategy can provide an initial boost to your number of followers. If you are starting a brand new social media account, you can use follow-for-follow strategically to earn you your first 100 followers. Although, you should not just willy nilly follow a bunch of random people and cross your fingers. Instead, do the following:
- Go to a profile in your niche with under 500 followers
- Go to their most popular post within the past few days
- Follow 50–100 of the people who liked that post (use other posts if necessary)
- Do this to multiple accounts of similar size until you reach 100 followers
- After roughly a week after obtaining 100 followers, unfollow the accounts that don’t follow you back
Do NOT unfollow people who have followed you back. The whole point of social media is to connect and engage with others. Don’t unfollow people just to improve your follow/following ratio.
If using Instagram, it’s also important to make sure you have at least 9–12 posts already on your grid prior to following people. Think about it, would you follow someone who has barely any posts on their account?
After reaching 100 followers, it’s time to abandon the follow-for-follow strategy. Using this strategy for too long will risk your account’s engagement, which is exactly what you’re trying to improve. When using this strategy, people follow back to be kind, not because they want to see your content. Over time, this will lead to a measurable decrease in engagement.
Now, let’s talk about what you should be doing to improve the quality of your social accounts.
The Dollar Eighty Strategy
This strategy was explained in depth in a few of my earlier blog posts, so be sure to check them out! Let’s go through a brief rundown of how this method works.
Coined by VaynerMedia Founder and motivational speaker Gary Vaynerchuck, the Dollar Eighty Strategy involves the following:
- Pick 9 hashtags from within your niche. Make sure they’re relevant and active.
- Each day, comment your insightful thoughts on 10 posts for each hashtag. Don’t post meaningless, shallow comments like “great post!”
- Repeat each day
You can modify this strategy as needed, engaging with more or less depending on how much time you want to spend doing this. In general, the more posts you engage with, the better the results.
There’s a Google Chrome extension that can make this much easier. Aptly named, the Dollar Eighty plugin lets you choose your hashtags, and the most recent/popular posts will show up all on the same screen. Feel free to check it out, as it makes this process go much smoother.
Why does this strategy work?
Unlike the follow-for-follow method, with Dollar Eighty you’re engaging directly with your target audience and similar creators. People you engage with using this strategy typically follow you because they’re interested in your content, your perspective, or your personality. They usually aren’t following you just to recriprocate.
This is also a good way to establish connections within your niche and as you know, finding paying customers/clients are all about the networking. For example, since I started my new Instagram account I’ve made several connections using Dollar Eighty and communicating via DMs and video calls. A couple of these connections of mine referred me and my services to a few connections of their own. Those people then came to me asking for my services, and it worked out great. Word of mouth is hands down the most powerful marketing strategy. People will much more readily trust their friends than they would some type of advertisement, no matter how persuasive it is.
When a User Engages with You, Return the Favor
Another good practice to implement if you’re trying to improve your engagement is to always reciprocate when a user engages with you. One way this is accomplished is when somebody new follows you, send them a DM thanking them.
You can make this easier by setting up keyboard shortcuts on your iOS device (I’m sure Android has this function as well, but I’m a die-hard iPhone fanboy soooooo I wouldn’t know). You could set up shortcuts so that when you type a short abbreviation, a longer phrase will follow. For example, you can set up using the phrase “TY” to trigger the phrase “Thank you for following!” It doesn’t sound like much, but it could make things go a lot smoother if you’re DMing several people daily.
You’ll also want to reply to all comments and DMs. Unless you have so many comments that you couldn’t possibly reply to all of them, you should be replying to each one you get on any of your posts. And let’s be honest, if you had that much engagement that you can’t reply to everything, you probably wouldn’t be reading this article. You should also reciprocate by commenting on some of that user’s posts as well, and maybe send them a DM to get a conversation going.
Replying to people’s Instagram Stories is another way to build meaningful connections. If you see something interesting, be sure to let them know by replying to their Story!
Use Call to Actions
Another way to boost your account’s engagement is by using Call to Actions. CTAs are bits of copy that encourages the viewer to take a single, specific action. They are typically placed at the end of sales copy or social media captions, and can include requests such as “Comment below if….” or “Double tap if….” You could also include bits of these phrases within the hook of your content.
Let’s examine the different types of CTAs on social media, specifically Instagram.
Likes are the least valuable as far as the algorithm is concerned, but provides social proof for others to take your posts more seriously. A post with 100,000 Likes would probably look more legitimate than one with 100 likes, but of course Likes aren’t everything.
Posts aiming for likes should be eye catching and relatable. Some examples of Like-worthy content could be beautiful photos, memes, or agreeable image Tweets. Good examples of CTAs aiming for getting more Likes could be “Like if you agree,” or “Double tap if you support us.”
Comments are usually the second least valuable for the algorithm, but helps boost your reach indirectly and helps you form new connections with your audience. Social platforms like Instagram’s primary goal is to keep its users on the platform for as long as possible. When someone comments on your post, they’re spending more time engaging with your piece of content and so Instagram will reward you by boosting that particular post’s reach.
As with Likes, Comments come as a result of a solid CTA asking a specific question. Here’s an example:
In a recent Instagram post caption of mine containing a list of my favorite tools to help manage social media, I asked “Did I miss anything? What are YOUR favorite social media management tools? Let me know in the comments!” This post received many more Comments than usual.
Posts asking for Comments should also be thought provoking, controversial, or emotional. Also as previously stated, be sure to reply to every Comment you receive to strengthen the relationship you have with your audience.
In the eyes of the algorithm, Shares are the second most important metric in determining the reach of your post. On top of increasing your reach organically, Shares tell the algorithm that the post is great, so it boosts its reach even further.
When aiming for Shares, you want to create a post worth sharing. Take a second to think about the sorts of posts you’d share. My bet is they’re probably posts like memes, quotes, or commentary on trending, relatable topics. Unless you’re an omega popular influencer (and even then), don’t expect many users to share photos of yourself. People are also unlikely to share content that pertains only to a very specific niche.
Your CTA for Share-oriented posts should of course tell the viewer to share this post with others, but you also must give them a reason to do so. For example, on a quote post your CTA could be something like “share to someone who needs to hear this.” For a meme post, you could say “tag someone who always ______.” Always aim for funny or relatable content when requesting Shares. Make sense?
The algorithm loves Saves… like really loves them. If you can get a lot of people to save your posts, you can expect a nice boost in your reach. The sort of posts that are most likely to be shared are valuable, actionable information that your audience can implement quickly. This type of information is considered “quick wins.”
Quick wins contain information that can be put into action immediately and has a significant positive effect on some area your viewer is trying to improve. Here are some examples of my own:
- Social Media Tools list
- Less-Known Instagram “Hacks”
- List of Digital Marketing Tips
Lists like these do great when it comes to Saves. If using Instagram, your CTA can be included directly in your image and could include requests like “Save for Later,” or even just including the Save icon in your post.
Giveaways can be a great way to find highly targeted followers that are more readily convertible to customers or clients. This is because the only people that are likely to engage with giveaways are users who are highly interested in what you’re selling. In many cases these followers would actually purchase your offer if they feel a necessity to do so. This is why it’s important to feature only the types of products/services you’d sell regularly in your giveaways.
Like in the image above, you should include following you as a requirement for entering the giveaway. You can also choose to require other forms of engagement such as Likes or Comments in order to enter your giveaway.
The best part about giveaways like these is you can do them as often as you want (or as much as you are willing to spend). Just be sure not to run back-to-back giveaways too close to each other, because that’d feel a bit too “spammy.”
After your giveaway is over and you’ve obtained several new followers, be sure to continue refining your offers and run promotions, sales, etc. This has the chance to remind your followers of the giveaway and may trigger their interest.
- Post only what your audience wants to see. This can be determined by using polls and other interactive stickers on your Stories, analyzing the engagement you receive on your posts, or even just by asking for feedback via DM. Remember you are posting for your audience, not for yourself!
- Use your Stories to promote your latest post. I do this all the time, and it works great! Think of ways to creatively block out the important parts of your posts, leaving only enough to intrigue your audience enough to click. Be sure to include a reason why they should click as well, besides just the headline.
As you can see, the success of your social media accounts is less about the amount of followers you have, and more so about the quality of the followers you do have. There’s a saying amongst the marketing/social media community that all you need to be successful with your business is 1000 “true fans.” This is the portion of your audience who will support you whenever possible. They’ll be the first to like, comment, or share on your posts; the first to buy your new product; the first to recommend you to others, etc.
Think of your followers as acquaintance or prospects, and your engaged followers as your friends, or your fans. To earn more fans, it’s important to practice the types of routines mentioned in this article, while avoiding “get followers quick” strategies that build up your number of followers, but do nothing for the actual quality of your account.
As a business owner or freelancer, you’ve already got plenty of responsibilities to consider on a daily basis. Don’t let the challenges of managing your own social media keep you from reaching your full potential. Don’t waste another second worrying about marketing your business or brand to bring in more customers.
At HarkSocial, we’ll take care of all of these pain points. From social media management to digital marketing, HarkSocial’s got you covered. If you’d like to get in touch to learn more about our services and to book your free consultation call, I’d absolutely love to hear from you.
Be sure to check back frequently as there are frequent updates and tons of information to help you increase your brand’s reach with social media.
Until next time!