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How on earth do they do it? How do your favorite brands, bloggers, and personalities get more followers that seem to be raging, shout-it-from-the-rooftops fans?
It feels like social media followers just flock to these people, naturally, with no effort from them whatsoever. And all the while, you’re here, working your backside off, just to pick up a follow or a like or a mention from someone.
It’s frustrating, isn’t it?
But today, that frustration is going to melt away. You’re about to learn how to get more followers on your social networks in a very scientific way. And you’re going to unlock those “industry secrets” that are going to skyrocket you to more people, better conversions, and better customer experiences.
Here we go…
Research from Chartbeat shows 3 p.m. to 1 a.m. is the optimal time to share on social media, with social traffic being at its highest in the late afternoon:
While there is still mileage in posting through the morning (more on that next), schedule the updates you want to convert most with, like blog posts, in this time window.
It’s a generality to say that posting in the afternoon is the best way to grow your audience. But there are better times to post on social media than others.
To find out when your own audience is active on social networks, grab this Google Analytics custom report we custom-built for you with love from CoSchedule. :)
It’ll tell you when your current audience is clicking through to read your content. That will help you understand what your most popular social networks are so you can use your time more effectively. You’ll be able to share your content even smarter.
So let’s use your own data to strategically choose the best times to share. First, choose the blog you’d like to apply the report to:
That report doesn’t look like much at first, but right off the bat you’ll see which networks are your most popular ones:
When you click through to see the data for each network, you’ll see the best days to post on that network. Take it one step further and click through on those days, you’ll see the best times to post on that network, too.
That Google Analytics custom report will work with your own data that comes directly from your audience. Use it to schedule your social messages at the best times to increase your traffic and opportunity to get more re-shares that could help you get more followers.
The folks over at Beevolve recently posed the question: If you tweet more, will you get more followers?
And, well, the short answer is yes:
The more you share, the more followers you will get. But as the boffins over at Buffer noted, this could be for a few reasons:
But while it’s not clear whether this is correlation or causation, it doesn’t really matter. Tweeting more will increase the amount of followers you have in one way or another.
Just be sure you’re not only updating about yourself…
In the world of social media, you’re unknowingly categorized into two separate camps:
The updates of a meformer are inward looking and have more of the feel of a broadcast:
While an informer shares outward-looking, valuable information—a little like this:
Now there is nothing wrong with being a meformer. It’s fine to do that for your friends and family on your personal accounts, like the other 80% of meformers out there.
However, if you do want to get more followers, Rutgers university found that informers have 2x more followers because their updates and content are of value to the reader.
Think of it a little in the terms of blogging. You wouldn’t write a post where you only say, I or me all the way through it. And you’re probably not going to tell them about your cousin’s latest drunken mishap either.
So focus on curating valuable, outward-facing social messages with a personal touch.
Being quintessentially British, this is a bitter pill for me to swallow. But, the data doesn’t lie. Dan Zarrella’s research found that the more negative remarks you make, the fewer followers you’ll get:
Get the followers and shares your content deserves by sharing positive social messages.
According to Lithium, 52% of people who Tweet your brand expect you to respond within one hour (even if you’re a solo blogger, you’re a brand). And, if that’s a complaint, it jumps right up to 72%.
If you don’t respond, they’re likely to punish you by either negative word-of-mouth, unfollowing, or other means. While if you do respond in a timely manner:
That means not only is responding quickly good for your business now, it’s good for lead generation and the future of getting more followers.
While it might not be fitting for your business to share your Man Crush Monday (David Beckham, always), it turns out there is actually an optimal day for everything on social media:
Pinterest research found that different days of the week had different connotations for people. For example, starting the week off on a positive high with fitness and ending with chilled food and crafts.
Your feed might not fit all of these categories. But, there are specifics like quotes or humor you can use no matter your industry:
You want power users to interact with your content. I know every time Jeff Goins likes or comments me on Facebook, I do a little fan-boy giggle.
But the truth, as confirmed by Mention, is that 91% of the people who talk about your brand will have less than 500 followers:
You’ve just seen that responding to the people who mention you can have a big impact on your business and conversion success. So, no matter who gets in touch with you, be sure to acknowledge them.
Research from Canva and BuzzSumo found that large Twitter summary cards create 3x more interactions than any other form of card:
While you may not be able to use these for every update because it’s code that has to be embedded into your page, it’s beneficial for:
Where you can display them in a larger, more informative manner, like this one:
To get this card, simply head to this developer page and copy this code:
Head over to your post in WordPress, hit the Text tab, and paste it in at the bottom of your post:
Then edit the sections inside the quotation marks. So, for this post, the code would look like:
<meta name=”twitter:card” content=”summary_large_image”>
<meta name=”twitter:site” content=”@CoSchedule”>
<meta name=”twitter:creator” content=”@j4meswrites”>
<meta name=”twitter:title” content=”Boost Your Followers Using Science”>
<meta name=”twitter:description” content=”Want a scientific way to boost the amount of Social Media followers you have? Look no further…”>
<meta name=”twitter:image” content=”http://coschedule.com/image-for-this-post-example-only”>
Reaching more people will inevitably help you get more followers.
The decline in Facebook organic page reach has thrown a big wrench in the engine for social marketers. But, there are still some real glimmers of hope out there.
That same research from Canva and BuzzSumo also found that adding images to your Facebook updates will give you 2.3x more engagement.
Be sure to do this by uploading the image on its own, too. That way, it goes into your Facebook post through the add photo’s function as opposed to being pulled from the code on your post:
While photo posts are great for engagement, Facebook is slowly taking away the ability to reach more followers. In fact, it now has the lowest organic reach of any type of update, with video getting more than double that reach.
You don’t have to be the one who created that video content, either. You just need to upload it.
Facebook might have been the start, but you can now experiment with video on tons of networks: Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Google+ (well, YouTube) all have ways to use video to reach your audience.
In a study of over 4,000,000 tweets, Stone Temple Consulting found that tweets with images had more than double the retweets and almost double the likes of those that didn’t contain images:
More retweets equals more exposure. More exposure means more engaged followers. That’s a win/win right there.
A big part of getting more followers is keeping the ones you’ve already got; but if you’re guilty of bulk posting (I am), that could be problematic.
Research from KAIST university in South Korea found that a big factor for people unfollowing is leaving too many posts at any one time:
The survey participants unfollowed those who left many tweets within a short time, created tweets about uninteresting topics, or tweeted about the mundane details of their lives.
So, take advantage of social scheduling tools like CoSchedule to space out your (exciting) posts across days, weeks, or even months instead of posting multiples at once.
A survey from Nielsen noted that…
…which is a lot of your follower base. In fact, more than half of them are primed and ready to buy from or engage with you. So take advantage and let them spread the word for you at the same time.
Create a competition or offer that involves retweets and shares, and you’ve got a campaign that will draw attention.
There’s no way around it. The more shares, mentions, likes, and retweets your social campaign gets, the more followers you’re going to pick up along the way.
But, what most social campaigns miss out on is emotion. And by doing that, you miss out on a huge opportunity to get more followers.
The big-wigs at Harvard studied marketing campaigns and the emotions that make them go viral. The results? Each campaign evoked at least one of these five:
You’ll normally find you can combine two or three of these into any social media message. At the least, your headlines or content should create interest.
If you want to see almost all of these encompassed in one sentence, look at this excellent piece of copy from Slavery Footprint:
I recently researched what makes the most shareable images on social media, and there was some fascinating research in there. One of the standouts was this:
Researchers at Georgia Tech studied over 1,000,000 images on Pinterest and discovered that using red, pink and purple in your graphics got you the most shares and interactions. Because, well, they’re deep visceral colours that create emotions like sexual arousal and failure in people.
Try incorporating these colors into your next social media image by making them the focal point of your text, or the main image. The results could shock you.
KissMetrics ran an interesting study about how to steal your competitor’s followers. One of the most interesting aspects of that study—that you can use right now—is approaching their neglected fans.
By running a competitor’s Facebook page through FanPage Karma, you can see an analysis of Facebook trends, habits, and posting schedules. But, more importantly, you can see how that competitor interacts with their audience. And, you’ll see that a lot of pages neglect their fans:
And you’ll find that most of these pages are in the 60%+ for neglecting their fans’ comments. So, you can swoop in by:
Then you can usher them back to your page without having to be all comment-link-spammy about it.
Most people like authority, it’s just built into them. And, that’s been proven time and time again throughout history. But now it’s also come to the realm of social media.
Dan Zarrella found that people who identify themselves as an authority have many more followers than people who don’t.
So, don’t be humble in your profile. Identify yourself as who you are in the best possible light, just like you would on your resume.
Knowing what you know now about meformers and informers, which of these sounds more appealing?
The second one, of course. Because while the other is nice and accessible, the latter lets you make an instant decision on whether someone is worth following.
OKCupid discovered that what you write about yourself on their dating site is less than 10% of what someone thinks about you. The other 90% is your profile pictures.
And, that’s not just a stat that applies to dating sites either. It works for social media too.
As Rand Fishkin found, having a brightly colored background on your profile picture can make a big impact on the amount of followers you will get. Buffer’s extensive research into the psychology of profile pictures also validates that, too.
But you might be thinking, “I can’t have a profile picture like that; I’m a business”. For you, a simple logo picture will still be effective.
And you can get creative with it, too, like KLM have done here:
As much as you might think hashtags are a little silly, especially when you see them for toothpaste or toilet paper, they’re actually an incredible marketing tool. And, they can help you get more followers much more effectively.
Hashtags are not only a big part of how we use social media; they’ve even started to become part of how you speak. Or, at least those up-to-date on popular lingo.
More importantly, as Linchpin SEO shows, using hashtags can help you get 2x more engagement among other benefits:
And, if you want to take a leaf from Marsha Collier’s book, you can join in the conversation other people are having on your hashtag, like she does with the hashtag #custserv.
Tuesday Customer Service Chat 9pET
— Marsha Collier (@MarshaCollier) February 1, 2016
Post Planner picked up on a piece of information from Business Insider and Facebook that could seriously help you boost the amount of people you can reach there.
Apparently, when you use the word, congratulations, more people pick up on your post. But this also appears to have carried on over to other milestones, too, such as:
And it doesn’t appear to just be speculation, either.
When I posted a recent update about visiting Machu Picchu, a milestone event in my life, the engagement I got was huge:
That is much more engagement than my standard post at 12 to 20 likes a time. Some of these likes and comments came from people I hadn’t interacted with in years on Facebook, too.
Other travelers, I was with reported getting 200 to 300 more interactions than normal on their Machu Picchu posts also. Post Planner also saw similar results from landmark posts when they looked at the most viral posts from Facebook’s top 50 brands, too.
What you write on social media matters. So does how you write on social media.
It’s common to see social media copywriting faux pas. Brands, in particular, have a tendency to write sales-driven posts that simply aren’t engaging.
So, what’s a marketer to do?
Get good at writing exceptional post copy. Spend time crafting your posts. Don’t just slap the first thing you think of on your social channels and call it a day. Here are a few pointers:
Here’s a great example of this last point from Gary Vaynerchuk:
This post does two things well:
The social sharing stats are proof this resonated with his audience too.
It’s easy to forget that social media is about being, well, social.
That seems weird when you say it out loud. If social media is about connecting with others, then why do so many brands seem so self-absorbed?
The answer is because they often place sales first and conversation second. What they fail to realize, however, is they have that equation backwards.
The solution here is simple: talk to people. Respond to all your Facebook comments. Tweet a shout-out to someone you think is crushing it out there. Whatever you do, don’t just talk about yourself. This gets back to being an informer instead of a me-former.
Everyone wants an enormous tribe of loyal social media followers. However, you have to give a little too here. Follow other accounts in your industry and people who follow your brand. This accomplishes two things:
The more accounts you’re following, the more opportunity you have to make connections with others. Stay within reason and follow accounts you genuinely find interesting, and you’ll attract more and similar followers.
This simply means incorporating graphics that can easily be shared socially on their own. For example, consider adding infographics or quote graphics that add context to your blog post, but can also tell a complete story on their own.
This is a tactic we use at CoSchedule all the time. It’s a great way to get more mileage from your efforts, and also provides you with the kind of easily shareable content that can attract more followers.
This should be a no-brainer. However, posting consistently is often tough for overworked content marketers and social media managers. Using a tool (such as CoSchedule or others) can help you maintain a consistent posting schedule across all your social channels. This is essential for engaging, retaining, and growing an audience.
However, that’s not all it means to be consistent.
It’s also important that your messaging remain consistent across networks too. If you’re building a cross-channel campaign, it’s also important to ensure all messages on all networks support the same overarching campaign theme. If you say one thing on Facebook, you don’t want to say something contradictory on Twitter (for example).
Once again, we’ll let Gary Vaynerchuk demonstrate this point:
It’s frustrating to read a great article, only to find there are no convenient social media buttons to share it with your followers.
Including social sharing buttons in optimal locations on your pages makes it easier for readers to share your content. That, in turn, increases your ability to reach more people and grow your following.
Paid promotion works well on social media when done correctly. In fact, Twitter even provides guidelines on how to build campaigns specifically to gain followers.
Click-to-tweet plugins add attractive tweet boxes into blog posts for easy sharing. If you’ve been following our blog for a while, you’ve probably seen these in each post we publish (including this one). Here’s an example of what they look like:
Including click-to-tweet buttons makes it easy for readers to share your posts effortlessly. Here are two WordPress plugin options to consider:
Both of these plugins are easy to use and can help attract Twitter followers (provided your posts are worth sharing).
You’re probably sending plenty of emails to folks in your industry. Why not give them an easy way to find your company on social media? Drop some links to your brand’s social profiles in your email signature for a quick win.
If you use Outlook, it’s even possible to add actual social media icons to your signature.
Okay, you’ve been hit with a lot of data there. But all of it is easy to do and super valuable to help you get more followers on any social media channel.
It doesn’t matter if you’re starting from scratch, or trying to increase your six-figure audience base, all of this data when applied will help you:
Now, the only question that remains is, which one are you going to start with to get more followers?
Let me know in the comments!
This post was originally published on Feb. 8, 2016 and was written by James Johnson. It was updated with new information by Nathan Ellering on Nov. 14, 2016.
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