There’s a reason everyone’s face is glued to their phones half the time: we are a world obsessed with our social media. The possibility of a new friend or follower request, a message, someone’s new video or an update is enough to cause most people to check their phone multiple times during a conversation with another human being who is standing right in front of them.
Whether or not you do this yourself, the truth cannot be denied that people are addicted to social media. Everyone. Your friends, your neighbors, our parents, celebrities, our President.
This addiction has obviously caused hundreds of changes in hundreds of industries over the last ten years. It’s opened new doors for marketing, and has totally elevated the way brands are marketed. If you haven’t already thought about how social media can benefit your business, you should.
You may be thinking to yourself, but I just have a landscaping company. I’m not Keanu. No one cares what’s going on with me.
Not true. Even the most mundane industries can have extremely engaging social media. Neenah is a paper company with 23,000 Twitter followers. Yes, I said “paper company”. Neenah has an exceptionally high re-tweet to original tweet ratio, and they tend to post images of the beautiful work that their clients use their paper products for. H&R Block also has a strong social media presence, as well as General Electric. Staples? Check. Liberty Mutual? Check. Pepto Bismol? Check.
They all have thousands of followers, even though they aren’t in the most thrilling of industries. But they have all figured out a way to make their social media presence blossom online, and you can, too.
Followers Are Crucial for Brand Awareness and SEO
Nowadays, it’s very common for SEO and social media marketing to be thrown under the same umbrella. Business owners see them going hand-in-hand, and it’s no wonder why. SEO and social media are two avenues that can work beautifully together to help each other get viewers’ attention—and those viewers boost website traffic through engaging content.
It wasn’t always this way, but with the mighty rise of social media power, Google’s algorithms have adjusted themselves to factor in social media signals in search engine rankings.
This is a good thing.
The more followers you/your company gets, the more people there are who will likely share what you’re posting. More shares mean better SEO and more eyes on your branding and message. Having a lot of followers also tells the world that your site and content is popular, trustworthy, and interesting.
It’s important to understand that posting alone won’t increase your ranking and online presence. You have to have good, “contagious” content, and here’s why:
If you know anything about SEO, you’ll know the term “link building”. If you don’t, then just know that link building is basically how to tell if other websites deem your content worthy. If it’s good, lots of other sites will link to your site in order to share your content. Social sharing is the new link building. When someone likes a post, they share it. This can mean that great post you wrote will be spread all over Facebook, Twitter, and more. Posts that are shared a bunch of times will have higher visibility in search engines than little dud posts. The more a post is shared, the more visibility you get. Voilà! Link building!
This is why it’s critical to post only the most compelling, interesting, and engaging content on your Facebook and Twitter. What’s going to grab peoples’ interest and make them want to share what you’re saying?
Be sure to use keywords in your posts, but don’t over-do it. Be relatable. Be interesting. Be helpful.
While it’s been proven that Facebook doesn’t help very much with SEO, it does greatly help a company’s branding when done right. Check out businesses like Oreo, Burt’s Bees, Nature Valley, and TOMS. Not only do these pages show off careful and specific branding; they also engage with their followers and are constantly updated.
Picture Google as a wise, trusted, but exhausted father figure. He knows a lot, and everyone comes to him for advice, but because so much is going on around him, it’s getting very hard for him to know what’s going on in the media these days and to give everyone the answers they want. He was once on top of everything, but there’s so much being poured into him these days that the information can quickly get overwhelming.
Now picture Twitter as his energetic, in-the-know teenager. He knows exactly what’s trending, when things are going on, and who’s who in every field. It makes total sense for Papa Google to need to watch Kid Twitter to collect new info and keep his ear to the ground about new content.
Basically, this is actually what happens. With the help of Twitter, Google is able to find your search inquiries much faster. How? Google looks for “hot content” such as how many re-tweets, how many users re-tweeted the content, and the window of time when the content was shared to index the data. This content indexation is very important for SEO because the quicker your content is indexed, the quicker you’ll get organic traffic to your website.
Lots of Twitter followers are great for companies because there’s lots of interaction on Twitter, and you can target bigwigs in your industry to tweet to. With luck, you’ll get a response from them, and that will get attention for you as well.
How do I Get More Followers?
First things first: avoid the strong temptation to purchase followers. The “followers” you’re buying are fake accounts with no human users.
Social media pages with high-quality (i.e., REAL) followers rank better in Google. Search engines can tell when followers are fake, because there’s little to no interaction between you and them. This is why it’s never a good idea to buy fake follower accounts. (Facebook will even penalize you for it, by the way.)
There’s no magic switch to suddenly gain 1000 followers. It does take some time, but there are good practices which work that will prove to help you gain followers.
Make sure you have a Facebook Business Page, and not your regular personal page—and ensure that you have the “On for Everyone” option enabled. When you’re ready to invite people, be sure that your page looks attractive and full, and corresponds with your branding.
Your page should inform people of what they can expect from it if they follow you. For instance, as soon as they click on the page, they should be able to get a good idea of what the page will provide for them—whether it’s special deals, a contest, funny videos, or up-to-date news on your company.
There is a “Build Audience” button for Facebook pages which allows you to invite friends and share the page. Take advantage of these options!
It’s also good to comment on other Facebook pages. Lots of times, the page you comment on will follow your page back.
Make sure to promote your Facebook page on your Twitter, other social media profiles, website, and in real life. You built it—now people just need to know about it.
The more Twitter followers you have, the more you’ll get. It’s a cycle. Here are a few good ways to gain followers.
It may sound simple, but make sure you have an attention-grabbing, memorable avatar. Don’t have a blank one!
Follow, follow, follow other Twitter users. Unless you’re famous, most Twitter accounts are not going to just come to you. You need to go to them first. Try to look for users who are relevant to your company, or who could benefit from your company. Interact with them, but not so much that they get annoyed with you.
Live-tweet during events that everyone is watching, such as games, fights, Oscars, and political debates. This will help give you exposure when a topic is trending.
Like Facebook, promote your Twitter profile on other social media profiles, on your website, and in real life.
Above all, tweet relevant, engaging, good content for your followers. This is the most sharable content that people will want to spread.
How to Keep Followers Once You Have Them
Don’t let them even think about unfollowing you!
How do you achieve this? By posting amazing content, of course. Find your voice and stick with it—whether it’s sharing information, quotes, or other random facts; posting your opinions; posting anecdotes; being funny and relatable; posing questions to your followers, or doing self-promotion. (Be careful about doing too much of that last one, though.)
Interaction with your followers is key. Ask them things. Get their opinion on your new service or product. Run a contest. Have them post photos of the work you’ve done for them or the item you supplied them with. Others will notice the social media relationship you have with your followers and will want in, too.
Find a good balance between posting too much and posting too little. Don’t bombard people with tweets and updates, but do post often enough that you have a presence. Stay active, but don’t be a burden.
Ask yourself, “Is my content sharable?” Is it helpful, informative, interesting, funny, or cute enough that others will want to show it off?
Research has shown that followers respond more to “happy” updates as opposed to complaints or negative posts/tweets. So don’t let your social media presence wear a permanent sad face.
One thing’s for sure: people LOVE special offers and promotions. Facebook is particularly good for these, and these posts get lots of shares. And if you’re handy with Photoshop, it’s a good idea to make a giveaway banner instead of just a regular-looking Facebook post.
Ask your followers questions! Get a Facebook conversation going. Respond to their comments, and “like” what they say.
Avoid long-winded posts. Unlike Twitter, Facebook allows you to post as many words as you want. Word of advice: keep your posts short, sweet, and to the point. Otherwise you risk people clicking away in a few seconds.
Companies who tweet more have the most followers. Tweets equal activity, experience, and longevity. However, be careful not to over-tweet. Post frequently as part of a consistent, sturdy strategy, and know when NOT to tweet.
Attract Twitter followers by being on top of trending topics. Use hashtags. Reach out to trendsetters or big names in your industry. Follow lots of other Twitter users and tweet to them. Interaction on Twitter is critical. Care about your followers, and always be yourself.
Twitter is also great for giveaways. These tweets get shared like crazy, so if you can afford to do them, go for it.
So, you can definitely see the benefit of utilizing social media to further your company’s online presence. Don’t look at it as work—look at it as a fun way to shape your brand and find new customers.
A version of this article was published as Why Social Media Followers Matter by Heather Honeycutt on March 24th, 2016.