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

building a social media following | hand holding phone with twitter app

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.

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 in the news feeds of users, giving them the visibility to have others like the page.

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 more than 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, for a price.
  • Engagement – Social media is about being social. 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, 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. In life if you have a lot of money you can buy friends. But that doesn’t mean you have any sort of relationship with them. The number of followers you have means nothing, if they’re not engaging with you or supporting your business.

The accounts you buy are either bots or inactive accounts. They won’t interact with your posts and will dilutes the accuracy of your engagement analytics.  Instagram’s algorithm displays accounts with more engagement over accounts with more followers, so the number doesn’t really matter.

You could also lose your account. Buying followers is against Twitter and Instagram’s policy, which could subject them to banning or suspending your account, leaving you with no business at all.

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

  • 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 be easier to search for and makes it original. As time goes on be sure to update your profiles, if your hours, location, logo or any general information changes.
  • Connect with other industry leaders. You can start a dialogue and making relationships by sharing and posting about other industry leader’s content. This can bridge your two audiences as well as start beneficial connections for your business.
  • Use hashtags. Hashtags make it easier for your posts to be searchable and therefore exposes you to an audience having a larger conversation.
  • 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 memorable to your followers.

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

Need a hand with social media? Check out our social media management packages or contact us to learn more about how Lightning Media Partners can help you organically grow your followers and engagement.

10 Best Practices for Instagram Marketing

best practices for instagram | instagram analytics screen

Instagram has come a long way from mirror selfies and #tbt photos since its inception in 2010. 

With over 1 billion users on the platform each month and 500 million using Instagram’s story features every day, marketing on Instagram is a powerful and cost-effective way to build your business’ presence online. 

New features on Instagram has given businesses the chance to spread their services with shoppable posts, IGTV for long-form content, and Instagram Stories features including polls and Q&As to engage with followers. These creative innovations allow your business to virtually touch every corner of the internet and have an effective engagement with your audience. 

Below, we explain 10 of the best practices for Instagram and how you can leverage them to market your business.

1. Share high-quality, engaging photos and videos

While this may seem obvious, Instagram is first and foremost a media sharing app. Therefore, photos and videos will always be at the forefront of your business’ handle. High quality images and interesting, thought-provoking captions will keep your followers coming back to your page and drive new leads to your services. 

You don’t need to be a professional photographer to have engaging photos. By catering to your audience through interesting photos that provide the tone you want your brand to portray, you’ll ultimately attract your desired audience and keep them coming back to your page.

2. Keep up with trends and updates 

Instagram is continuously providing new updates, trends, and features to assist users in engaging with their audience. Pay attention to these updates and try not to fall behind on trends as they could be a game changer for your business. Additionally, be aware of any policy changes that could impact the way you create content or communicate with your audience.

3. Know your audience

Users value authenticity in a brand and what it can provide to their lives. Quite simply, the more you cater to your audience, the more quality leads are generated to your content. Knowing your audience comes from engaging and creating a connection with your followers. This can be done through asking questions in the Instagram Stories feature and being active in the comments section of your posts. 

4. Implement user-generated content

Posting user-generated content is one of the best ways to engage with your audience and grow your brand’s authority. Featuring users’ content of your service or product shows your followers you’re paying attention to them and to the recognition they’re giving your business. Simply ask your followers to tag you in a post of them utilizing your business’ service then share with your audience for a fun way to get your followers involved in your branding. 

5. Host contests and giveaways

Contests and giveaways are another great way to engage with your audience. When you host them and have your followers “tag a friend in the comments,” more leads are generated to your business by piquing interest from potential newcomers visiting your page. Contests and giveaways are fairly easy to implement and can spark great interest, especially when you’re launching a new product or service. 

6. Optimize your posting times

Instagram’s algorithm seems to be constantly changing, incentivizing you to practice quality over quantity. Posting consistently during optimal times, when most users are online, will give your content a better chance of being seen by followers. Finding the most effective times your posts reach your audience will also require some experimentation. Try varying the amount of times you post in a day to see what works best for your business.  

7. Use hashtags

Hashtags cause posts to circulate widely through either individuals following certain hashtags or by clicking on them in one post that leads to another. The best way to utilize hashtags is for them to be relevant to your audience and non-overbearing in quantity. Using hashtags that speak directly to your desired audience could also cause your page to land in the “Explore” tab of Instagram where users can find new content. 

8. Make data-driven decisions

The best way to improve your presence on Instagram is by looking at your posts and stories to see how you can create a greater user experience. As you build up data points through analyzing the qualities of your successful vs. unsuccessful posts, you’ll be able to make changes in future posts to boost engagement. 

9. Maintain your brand voice

With today’s audience valuing businesses with a message or mission, it’s important for your brand’s voice to be maintained throughout your social media posts. The best way to maintain this voice is through a branding guide. Creating guidelines for your marketing team when writing captions or creating content brings consistency to your business’ social media platforms, websites, and ads. 

10. Include a call to action (CTA) in your posts

Providing a CTA in most of your Instagram posts is not only a fun way to interact with your audience, it also provides you with more content ideas and gives your audience a chance to voice their preferences in these content ideas. Having your audience tag a friend that reminds them of your post or asking your followers what they want to see more of on your page generates thoughtful responses for you to create content that drives more users to your page. 

A little overwhelmed with these best practices for Instagram? Lightning Media Partners has social media marketing packages especially tailored for your business’ needs with unique content, high quality graphics, and much more. Contact us for additional information and inquiries!

How to Choose the Right Social Media Platforms for Your Business

laptop with social media icons

Social media marketing is one of the most popular and effective forms of marketing today. Most consumers tend to hang out online and even do their research on brands by browsing their social media accounts. 

As a business, establishing a social media presence is crucial to attracting and retaining customers. However, you’ll want to ensure you’re investing in the right channels.

Below, we explore some of today’s most popular social media platforms and some key facts than can help you determine which ones are best for your brand.

Instagram

Instagram is a hotspot for young consumers, with its biggest demographic group being males between 18 to 24 years old. Additionally, 75% of all users are aged between 18 and 24.

Businesses of all sorts are leveraging Instagram for marketing purposes, but the platform is best suited for trendy, urban brands like fashion companies or tech business. To engage your audience, you’ll want to post creative photos and short videos, and try to maintain a theme. Stick to a specific color scheme, build your brand’s voice, and interact with other users on a regular basis. 

Also, be sure to keep up with trends and best engagement practices, from IGTV to Instagram stories. Get creative and remain active!

Facebook

Most Americans use Facebook, the demographics being

  • 51% of those ages 13 to 17
  • 81% of those ages 18 to 29
  • 78% of those ages 30 to 49
  • 65% of those ages 50 to 64
  • 41% of those ages 65 and older

The sweet spot for age of users is between 25 and 34. If your target consumers fall into this range, you’ll want to prioritize Facebook above all else. Share regular updates, statuses, photos of products, behind-the-scenes shots, event info and more. Also, remember these points: videos earn the highest rate of engagement, as well as posts published on Thursday and Friday.

Unlike on Snapchat, even if your target audience doesn’t use Facebook, you’ll still want to at least exist on the platform. At a minimum, you should create a page with important information (e.g. business address and contact info) to establish your presence and credibility.

Twitter

Hootsuite reported that 22% of adults and 44% of 18- to 24-year-olds use Twitter. The median age of US users, however, is 40.

Twitter is a great way to spread brand awareness, especially since tweets can be retweeted, thus shared with larger audiences. It’s also the perfect platform for business owners and those in the media/arts, like writers and PR reps, to connect with others in the industry. Use Twitter to network and share your thoughts or links to articles/websites/etc.

LinkedIn

Majority of LinkedIn users are between ages 25 and 34, and exist across various industries. The platform helps professionals connect with other professionals. However, while it’s more of an online resume for workers, it can also be used as a marketing tactic for businesses.

Every business should have a LinkedIn account to establish their credibility and digital presence. You can also use LinkedIn to share business updates, event information/coverage, job openings and more.

Pinterest

According to Hootsuite, Pinterest reaches 83% of women aged 25 to 54. However, more than half of this exposure is from Google image search. If you’re using Pinterest for your business, you’ll be able to reach both users and non-users. 

Pinterest is also unique because it’s less a social site and more of a self-discovery platform. When users log into their profiles, they’re not looking to interact with others; instead, they’re looking for information, inspiration and products. However, most companies overlook the channel and its potential.

Any company can benefit from having a Pinterest account, as the platform offers various types of content in the form of “pins.” These pins can range from photos of outfits to quotes from articles, linking to external sources. For instance, if you own a PR agency and run a blog on your site, you can link to certain posts in your pins; or, if you’re a clothing boutique, you can share photos of your hottest items with links to your shop.

Snapchat

At the end of 2018, Snapchat had approximately 186 million daily active users. The number dropped slightly from the beginning of 2018 and previous years. 

According to the Pew Research Center, the most active Snapchat users are between the ages of 18 and 24. While this platform isn’t as commonly used for marketing as others (like Instagram and Facebook), If your audience mostly consists of millennials or Gen Z, you might consider using Snapchat to engage them even further.

You can create unique behind-the-scenes videos, share photos of your products and link to relevant articles your customers would appreciate. However, keep in mind: Snapchat typically performs better for well-known, large businesses.

YouTube

According to Oberlo, YouTube is the second most popular social media platform. In fact, 79% of Internet users have an account on the website/application.

YouTube is a great place to share video content with consumers. And since video is becoming a more popular and engaging form of content, businesses of all sorts can find success on the platform. Write articles for your company blog? Translate it into a short informative video. Run a local bakery? Record a how-to baking video while plugging your favorite treats. The options are endless!

TikTok

This up-and-coming social media platform isn’t on many businesses’ radars yet, but experts predict it’s the “next big thing” in social media. This platform allows users to share short, music-focused video clips (9 to 15 seconds long), and the community values authentic, creative content over highly polished, professional-looking videos.

Business News Daily reports that more than 40% of the app’s 500 million monthly users are between the ages of 10 and 19, so if your brand is marketing to pre-teens and teenagers, TikTok is the place to be. At present, businesses have four primary options for using TikTok: in-feed native content, brand takeovers, hashtag challenges, and branded lenses.

Like any new social media platform, it may be best to wait and see what bigger brands are doing on TikTok before diving in and potentially harming your brand image. 

Which social media platforms are right for your brand?

Social media is a great way to connect with and engage consumers, but many business owners fail to invest in these platforms due to time restraint. Since you’re likely swamped with other business development tasks, it might make more sense to outsource your social media marketing efforts to experts. 

Check out our social media management packages or contact us to learn more about how Lightning Media Partners can help you.

8 Expert Tips for Driving Instagram Engagement

Social media marketing is a top marketing tactic today, with many businesses utilizing their social accounts to engage consumers on a more personal level. 

One of the most popular platforms businesses use is Instagram. At the end of 2017, Instagram put the number of business profiles on its platform at 25 million, and that number has surely skyrocketed since then.

Instagram has many features you can implement, from Stories to live-streamed IGTV videos, to help you connect with prospective clients and customers. We took to — you guessed it, social media! — and asked our followers to share their No. 1 tip for engaging with your audience on Instagram. 

Try these eight suggestions from experts to help improve your Instagram engagement.

1. Vertical images

“Lately, I have been posting as many vertical images as possible. To take full advantage of Instagram’s layout, vertical images take up the most real estate. This way, the entire image/post is taking up most of the viewer’s phone; and as a result, they will be more engaged.” — Andrew Forino, Architectural Photographer

2. Personalized comments/conversations

“Use [your] name when talk[ing] to them! It shows you did research and it personalizes your convo.” — Lundyn Majstorovic, owner of Sea Turtle Social

3. Emotional posts

“Evoke an emotion. Not every post needs to be about your product or service.” — Maxwell Bachemeier, Business Analyst

4. Responding to customer comments

“The best communication tip is that business should directly get involved in the comment section with customers. This way, the customer knows that their opinions matter and are acknowledged by the business.” — Syed Irfan Ajmal, MD and founder of SIA Enterprises

5. Frequent, consistent posting

“Trying to consistently post every day is another way to keep your followers up-to-date and engaged. I find that if I don’t post for a while, I get less likes.” — Forino

6. Sparking discussions

“Engagement is a two-way street. It isn’t about talking at people; it is about a discussion and recognizing where there is potential for a mutually beneficial relationship. You can’t expect consumers to engage with your art or your product if you aren’t providing them with something of value.” — Mark Macaluso, poet and musician

7. Curated, relevant hashtags

“Hashtags are another super important thing when trying to get new engagement and followers. But something I read up on is that the hashtags should be relevant to the post itself. If they aren’t, then the hashtag is ultimately pointless.” — Forino

8. A distinct voice

“It’s equal parts value-giving and engaging, and doing it all with your own distinct voice.” — Rehnuma Choudhury, The Conscious Copywriter

Interested in improving your Instagram engagement, but don’t know where to start? Contact us or check out our social media marketing packages.

How We Approach Our Social Media Marketing Strategy

Whether you own a local shop or nation-wide company, having a social media marketing strategy is critical for running a successful business today. 

With nearly 3 billion people around the world using social media, companies are building their brands through the various platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc. With the rise in social media usage, business leaders often hire in-house or third-party experts to manage their accounts and build their brands. 

At Lightning Media Partners, we create a personalized social media marketing strategy for each client that helps them increase their brand visibility and build relationships with their customers. Here’s how we approach social media content marketing for ourselves and our clients.

1. Creating unique content

Every brand deserves to have their unique voice shine on social media. Our team works closely with you to produce excellent, visually appealing content that attracts the right followers to your social media pages. We conduct extensive research to determine which demographics, content types, and hashtags are best for spreading your message. Then, we create original graphic, text, and video content in your brand aesthetic to help you stand out.

2. Fostering human connections

Now more than ever, people are craving interpersonal connection and are putting themselves out there on social media platforms. People want to share their honest opinions. Social media facilitates better connections between brand and consumer by creating communities with other like-minded people. That’s why we strive for a more holistic and human approach when cultivating social media content. We help brands build strong relationships with their audiences by creating content that resonates with them on a personal level. 

3. Sparking engaging conversations

Initiating thought-provoking and meaningful conversations creates loyal audiences on social media. People want to know that there are humans behind a brand’s social media account, so initiating two-way conversations is critical for thriving on social media. We don’t just create and schedule content; we dedicate time to comment responses, direct messages, and proactive engagement on followers’ posts.

4. Producing natural growth

Some brands attempt to cut corners by paying for fake followers to boost their numbers. You may be able to purchase thousands of followers for a small amount of money, but you can’t buy brand loyalty. That’s why organic growth through well-researched, targeted hashtags and continual audience engagement is the cornerstone of our social media marketing strategy. Our top priority is creating transparency between brands and their customers, and being honest about follower counts is a good starting point.

Need help managing your social media accounts? Consider one of our social media marketing packages. We’ll help you discover and create social media content that will best engage your target audience, and start building real, authentic connections that will spark growth for your business. Get in touch with us to discuss your needs.