Slow and Steady: Why It Takes Time to Build a Social Media Following

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When you’re launching your business’s social media accounts, it’s natural to want to grow immediately and get a big following right away. Social media allows you instant access to eyes on your content and products. That type of attention is valuable, yet hard to grow quickly.

Think of social media as building a relationship with your clients and followers. Like any relationship, it takes time to build trust and a rapport with social media users. While there are things you can do to boost organic follower growth, it can take months (or longer) of consistent activity to build up a solid, steady, engaged audience on your social channels.

Related article: How to Choose the Right Social Media Platforms for Your Business

How long does building a social media following take?

Short answer: It depends on the effort and resources you put in.

For example, NichePursuits reported that they were able to go from 0 to over 10,000 likes on Facebook in just over two weeks. However, they also spent almost $1,000 on a “like campaign” which put their page directly in the news feeds of users, giving them increased visibility to a wider audience of potential customers.

A few factors that can impact your growth rate:

    • Strategy: How often are you posting? Who is the audience you’re trying to target? These questions may seem obvious, but having specific answers to them puts you in the right direction to start building a following.
    • Budget: It is entirely possible to build your social media following for no cost; it’s just going to take longer. Ad campaigns like the one NichePursuits did can help boost your visibility to people outside your circle if you’re willing and able to pay for it..
    • Engagement: Social media is about starting a conversation. Engage with your audience by asking them questions and talking to them in your comments and DMs. If people see you have a consistent flow of interactions, they’ll be more likely to follow you and join the conversation.
    • Consistency: Followers like to know how often they can expect content from you. Having a steady flow of content means you’re appearing in feeds more often and makes it more likely your followers will engage. If you only post once in a while or when you feel there’s something important to say, your followers may not remember what your page is.

Your following will grow faster as you accumulate more followers and they share your content.

According to Statista, Instagram accounts with less than 1,000 followers grow about 9.4% over a six-month period on average, while accounts with 10,000 to 1 million followers grow at a rate of 16%.

Can’t I just buy followers?

Sure, if you’re only concerned about the number of followers you have. Buying followers doesn’t mean you have any sort of relationship with them and is meaningless if those followers aren’t engaging with you or supporting your business.

Any bought followers are either bots or inactive accounts. They won’t interact with your posts and will dilute the accuracy of your engagement analytics. Instagram’s algorithm prioritizes accounts with more engagement over accounts with more followers, so the follower count doesn’t matter in the long term.

If you buy followers, you could also lose your account. This practice is against Twitter’s policy, which could lead to the platform banning or suspending your account. Overall, it’s better to have 1,000 followers who are interacting with your content than 100,000 who do not.

Tips for growing your account organically

Wondering how to build a social media following from scratch? Want to boost your social media presence without the use of paid campaigns? Start with these tried-and-true tips.

Complete your profiles

When writing your social media page, don’t just paste links to your main site. Put some personality into it! Your page will not only be easier to search for, it also makes it original and more memorable to your audience. Customers aren’t just interested in a business’ services nowadays; they are also interested in the brand itself. Let the voice of your brand (and the employees behind it) shine through your written and visual assets.

As time goes on, be sure to update your profiles — for example, if your hours, location, logo, or any general information changes. Potential and existing customers are more likely to follow and engage with your page if they see that everything is up-to-date.

Connect with other industry leaders

You can start a dialogue and build relationships by sharing and posting about other industry leaders’ content. This can bridge your audiences as well as start beneficial connections for your business.

When looking for industry leaders to connect with and share content from, consider brands and accounts whose social media pages and published articles inspire you. Follow those accounts, read through their content, and share what resonates with you; it’s likely to resonate with your audience and others in your field as well. In addition, be sure to contribute to the conversation by adding your insights.

Use hashtags

If you have an Instagram or Twitter account, you’ve seen hashtags before — but what exactly do they do? A hashtag is a keyword or phrase, preceded by the “#” symbol, that helps categorize posts around a given topic. Hashtags make it easier for your posts to be searchable by those who are interested in your given topic, thereby helping you reach a larger audience to hold a broad conversation.

The number of hashtags you should use will vary by platform. For example, Twitter recommends using no more than two hashtags per post as best practice, while LinkedIn encourages users to cap their hashtags to a maximum of three. However, Instagram allows users to post up to 30 hashtags per main feed post and 10 hashtags per story.

Share unique content

Not everything on your page needs to be directly related in your business. See a funny meme? Retweet it! Have a video that always makes you laugh? Share it! Posting different types of content makes you more relatable by highlighting your personal voice. You can also use this lighter content as a way to get to know your audience. Encourage them to discuss their weekend plans, share their favorite videos, or vote in Instagram polls (“your favorite chain pizza” is a hotly-debated conversation amongst the LMP team and our followers).

Create a content calendar

While social media can be a lot of fun, it’s also hard work. You not only need to come up with new and engaging content, but you also need to publish it on a regular schedule. One way to help manage this task is building a content calendar, which allows you to keep your ideas and deadlines in check. You can also pair your content calendar with any number of social media management tools, which allow you to schedule your posts in advance.

Note that while your content calendar can help you guide and plan your “evergreen” social media campaigns, you’ll also want to leave room for flexibility. Keep an eye out for “trending” topics and, if relevant, contribute to that conversation in a meaningful way.

Analyze your data

Once you’ve spent some time nurturing your social media presence, you’ll want to review your results to see what is working well and what you can improve upon in the future. The three main categories to analyze reach, engagement, and conversion. Reach refers to how many people are seeing your posts, while engagement refers to how people are interacting with them. Conversion measures how often your social media posts are translating into audience action, such as newsletter sign-ups or purchases.

Keep in mind that social media data analysis isn’t a one-time thing. It’s best to regularly analyze the data you’re collecting and make adjustments as needed. This will ensure that you’re not only getting your content in front of as many users as possible, but that those users are interested and engaged with your brand in a meaningful way.

Building a social media following from scratch can be a challenging experience, but with patience and consistent content, it’s worth it in the long run.

Related article: 9 Expert Tips for Driving Instagram Engagement

Did you know your social media strategy and overall content marketing strategy can (and should!) work in tandem? Check out our blog on how these two areas of marketing overlap and how you can make them work together to promote your brand.

Danielle Fallon also contributed to this article.

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