4 Experts Share Tips for Growing Your Social Media Following

This post is an excerpt from our Digital Marketing Conference in Los Angeles. The conference was a rich environment for digital marketers to openly discuss tactics for building a better online presence and tracking results. All of the content from the Digital Marketing Conference is available as Digital Marketing Videos

Here are some key takeaways from the Growing Your Social Following panel:

  • Focus on providing relevant content
  • The number of social media followers and likes an account has is becoming less prevalent; instead audiences are focusing on finding valuable and relevant content. Create content with the goal of engaging and building a relationship with your followers.
  • Determine what your audience likes
  • Social media can be a great tool for determining what content your audience likes. Once you’ve found what content your audience most engages with then you can start to create content tailored to your audience preferences.
  • Don’t release content just for the sake of releasing content
  • Have a strategy in place before you start to distribute content on social. Create each social media post with a specific goal in mind so you avoid creating irrelevant content.

What is important now in social media? What is working in social and what isn't? Should the end game be growing followers and likes, or is there something more?

Try to build a relationship by providing relevant content that is going to meaningful. –Cynthia Rojas

Social is still alive and well, but it has changed. While it used to be really important to have a certain number of likes and followers, it's less about that now and more about creating really great content. Ultimately, the goal is to build a relationship with your customer, your client, your followers, your users. I see a lot of brands that try to shout out their own message and talk about themselves, but really try to listen to their followers and try to build a relationship by providing relevant content that is going to meaningful. –Cynthia Rojas, Hype Digital Marketing

Social following is now what we refer to as a vanity metric. –Nick Mazzucco

Specifically, in entertainment, we tell stories about other stories. Social following is now what we refer to as a vanity metric so we don't really try to build a social following, we just really have to mine and figure out where these stories are and where we can seek them out to build that connection with an audience. –Nick Mazzucco, Ignition Creative

The thing that I am most excited about right now is influencer marketing and brand ambassadorship. There is so much potential there. I do think that followers and likes still matter and you should be trying to get those counts up because it’s a key part of “social proof” and so if you want to keep people engaging with your brand, you need to keep those numbers high. –Kristi Kellogg, Bruce Clay, Inc.

What is an example of using social media to market projects?

We were fortunate to work on a major superhero show in the past year for Netflix where we had to figure out why people would go from Season 1 to Season 2 and what was it that they really liked about the show? We found out that they really responded to the more realistic and grittier aspects of the show as well as the idea that the main character was a conflicted Catholic. It became this test of when does right become wrong? We used that to develop our narrative base throughout the entire campaign. We listened on social to develop that better narrative marketing by using tools such as Netbase. –Nick Mazzucco, Ignition Creative

What are some tools that you can use to grow your social following and encourage social media engagement?

Some specific tools for Twitter are Tweepi and ManageFlitter. Both of those tools do the same types of things including letting you see who is following you, sort your followers by influence, sort by industry, track the followers of followers, do competitive analysis, and more. On Instagram, I am loving a tool called Instagress. There is another called IconoSquare as well, but it's a bit pricier. These tools let you look at who is following you, how they are following you, and more. –Kristi Kellogg, Bruce Clay, Inc.

One of the tools that we use a lot is BuzzSumo. It's great for a number of things but we love using it to see what content topics are rising to the top in your particular category and so if you are trying to build a content strategy then it is a great place to go. I also love using it to build influencer marketing strategies by putting in what category I need to build a list around and it will put together a list of the top influencers in that category with trends, conversations, and more. It’s also available for download in an Excel format. –Cynthia Rojas, Hype Digital Marketing

What is something that you should not do on social?

You need to be more stringent when you use automated social media tools. –Kristi Kellogg

You have to test everything, right? Constantly. So, one of the things that Instagress does is it lets you take your profile and write whatever kind of comment that you want and then target people or hashtags or locations. You can turn it on to be automatic. In my case, I did this with my personal Instagram and I was too lenient with the hashtags. I wanted to interact with too many and people put hashtags on things that I would never have normally liked or interacted with. It was a disaster. So you need to be more stringent when you use automated social media tools. –Kristi Kellogg, Bruce Clay, Inc.

I think the times that it has gone wrong for us as a company, regardless of the client, are the times where we do not clearly map out a brand strategy before we are doing the content push and it becomes pushing out content just for the sake of content. We have found that the most successful campaigns are really deconstructed content-wise and more organic. You don't want it to look like an ad. We want photos that look like they are taken in real time. –Cynthia Rojas, Hype Digital Marketing

How do you plan your social? How do you schedule?

There is a tool called CoSchedule that’s a plugin for Wordpress and allows you to post to everything (except Instagram) right there in Wordpress. With CoSchedule you can see your content really nicely on a calendar, so I like that a lot. As far as how far in advance, we like to plan out posts on a spreadsheet for our clients and then we schedule them for the month. –Kristi Kellogg, Bruce Clay, Inc.

We start as a brainstorm and then our social media managers and community managers use the spreadsheet to mark out the calendar on what they are going to do. Then we come back in and start analyzing the data after the fact. Based on our analysis, we make changes. –Nick Mazzucco, Ignition Creative