I want to start by changing your attitude regarding social media. Most people hate it and I get why. It can be a slow and painfully confusing conundrum getting your head around all the different platforms. But instead of getting frustrated, change your attitude and start to think positively about the potential that social media offers us.
In a just over a year, I managed to build over 1000 followers on my blogs Facebook, Twitter and Instagram account. A Love Her Wild Facebook group with over 3,000 members. And a combined social media following of over 9,000. Not groundbreaking numbers by any means, but powerful numbers all the same.
I’m not telling you this to show off, but to demonstrate the potential social media offers us. This following has allowed me to build a career as an adventurer. I get free gear, sponsored trips and can put out an ad asking for people to join me on an adventure and get an overwhelming response. And I’m only just starting out.
But the best thing is that all this was built from absolutely nothing. Just an idea and a few hours creating my own space on the interweb. Isn’t that incredible?!
Now I’m not claiming to be an expert. In fact far from it! I’ve still got loads to learn and there is plenty that I need to find time to implement. But I do know some things. I get asked time and again about my top social media tips so here they are. This is based on what has worked for me and I hope it helps!
How much have I spent?
Just a quick disclosure in case you are wondering….I’ve never spent a penny on social media.
I’ve never paid for followers (we need a serious talk about this in a second) and I’ve never paid for adverts. For now, money shouldn’t come into it.
What are the best social media platforms?
The 3 platforms I use for social media are; Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Of course, there are many more available but I feel like these 3 cover the exposure I need and I can manage them comfortably.
Facebook is my favourite as I find it so flexible and interactive. It’s great for sharing my blogs and videos and the Love Her Wild Facebook community is quite remarkable in its ability to bring people together.
Twitter has been invaluable when it has come to building relationships with peers (other adventurers and adventure brands) and is great for relevant discussions.
I was late to the game with Instagram and am still a bit unsure about it, although it is well loved and sponsors really like you to have an account. So I’m sticking with it.
A word about YouTube:
In my opinion, YouTube is a dying platform. Since Facebook has upped their game with video (and YouTube has reduced their advertising commisions) vloggers and video sharers are starting to move entirely to Facebook.
On Facebook, your video plays automatically meaning higher view rates and the engagement is considerably higher (another big advantage that it is so comfortable/east for people to share). YouTube still requires a click through which means you will get much fewer views. Plus you will get much fewer comments and likes on YouTube in relation to viewing rates.
The biggest advantage with YouTube is that you can search for relevant films but I think that Facebook will offer this feature soon too. This feature is most relevant to those who are doing ‘how-to’ type videos so if you fall into this category then you may still want a YouTube account.
A word about Pinterest:
I don’t use Pinterest yet, but I plan to. I’ve heard a lot of bloggers say that Pinterest is their highest driver of traffic so I feel like this is a really valuable platform worth getting my head around (although I’m aware it will take some time as you need to create ‘Pinterest style’ images for every one of your blogs).
I signed up for a software called Hootsuite that I have found really helpful. It basically allows you to manage all your platforms in one place, although the biggest help for me is being able to schedule posts. For example, if I want to run a competition, I’m going to want maybe 7 reminders on my social media over a strategic timeframe. With Hootsuite I can do this in one go so that I don’t need to keep thinking about when to post or trying to remember when my last post was.
Another big advantage is that it allows you to tap into scheduling posts during the most popular times.
Cheating: Follow/unfollow and paid followers
There are 2 ways you can ‘cheat’ at social media:
The follow/unfollow game
Here’s how it works. You follow a load of people then hope that some of them will follow you back. 1 or 2 days later you then unfollow them all and repeat the process. What this does is slowly creeps up your ‘followers’ while keeping your ‘following’ numbers fairly low.
This game is mostly played on Instagram. But also on Twitter. It doesn’t work so well on Facebook really.
This is the reason your ‘followers’ number sometimes goes up and down without explanation. People are playing the follow/unfollow game.
So I played the follow/unfollow game on Instagram for about a month and it drove me mad to be honest! It seemed like such a pointless and time wasting exercise and I didn’t find it that effective. 100%, your time is better spent working on content and learning effective ways to use social media properly to get ‘real’ followers.
Of course, there are apps that you can buy to do the unfollow/follow for you but this is in a whole different league of cheating, as is….
Paying for followers
Another way you can get followers easily is to pay for them. It’s quite simple…you head over to Fiverr pay $5 and you will get 1000 followers. Simples!
How to tell if someone is playing this game
It is SO easy to tell when people have played these games and here’s how….
I have about 1000 Instagram followers (at least 900 of them ‘genuine’, ie not while playing follow/unfollow) and each of my posts will get about 100 likes and a handful of comments. I know some accounts that have over 10k followers yet when they post they get the same amount of likes and engagement as I do.
Why? Because they are made up of fake accounts or people who are following you just to boost their own numbers. They aren’t REAL followers.
Here’s another sign that something is a bit fishy. Someone whose social media platforms are imbalanced. They have tens of thousands of followers on Insta or Twitter but not on Facebook. And/or they have all these followers and only a couple of hundred posts.
How did the numbers grow so fast? Iif it was from exposure, then really all their social media platforms should be equally popular. Facebook is the hardest platform to cheat on so is usually a good indication of how someone is succeeding. Not always the case, but mostly.
Or….you could just head over to a website like Social Blade and search someone you are suspicious of. They will show you the accounts statistics making it very easy to spot ‘cheaters’.
Why do you need ‘real’ followers anyway?
Firstly, brands and sponsors are getting savvy on these games and are also taking in to account your engagement levels, not just your following numbers. They are likely to use something like Social Blade to do a quick check that you aren’t using dodgy tactics.
Also, social media platforms are working on ways to block accounts that use fake followers which means you could damage all your hard work. I’ve heard of this happening 6 months after someone brought followers meaning they lost half a year’s worth of work because of one daft quick fix.
But here’s the biggest problem….
Ask yourself the question, why are you building a following? Maybe you have a product you’d like to sell (blogging also comes under this category if you want to use affiliate links or make a living from it) or maybe you want an audience to share your ideas, inspire or drive a change for good.
Whatever your reason, you are going to need real authentic follows. Individuals who know who you are and like what you do.
Trust me when I say it is better to have 20 true followers than 2000 fake ones. My Patreon scheme is a great example. I’ve built up Love Her Wild authentically on nothing more than hard work and good intentions. Yesterday I reached 22 Patreons – that’s 22 individuals who believe in what I do so much that they are willing to support me financially.
How many Patreons would I have got from 2000 fake followers who don’t know my name and have just robotically clicked ‘like’? Not a single one.
Authenticity is the highest value in social media. Not the number.
For more proof on this, check out the 1000 true fans theory.
#11 top social media tips
These top social media tips are my golden rules and what I keep in mind across all my platforms.
#1 Get it looking good from the start
From the day you open your social media account, get it looking as good as you can. Use Canva to create a nice cover photo. Pick a great profile picture. Make the most of the description and link spaces available.
Set your expectations and mark from the beginning which means making your posts a bit more profesional….no more blurry selfies.
#2 Have a clear message
Branding is SO important when you are starting out building…well, anything really! Be very clear about who you are and why you are unique from all the other people out there. You should be able to describe yourself and your blog/brand in one simple sentence.
You want this to come across clearly on your social media pages so if somebody comes across you, they know straight away what you are about.
Have you also read my blog: 11 smart things I did when growing my adventure brand?
#3 Get every single one of your family and friends to like your pages
Use your friends and families support to give you that initial boost on your social media pages. Share on your personal profiles asking friends and family to like your page. Do this more than once!
You could send an email out to everyone you know asking them to like your page. Or even better, ask them to share your page.
#4 Keep in mind that small numbers are a big deal
Social media is a slow game which is where people go wrong because they get frustrated. But here’s the thing, every single follower is to be celebrated. It is very rare for people to unfollow (unless you really mess things up) which means that most of those followers are for life.
If you have got 1 new follower today, you have taken a step in the right direction. I sometimes set myself challenges to try and grow 30 followers in a day!
#5 Aim for the 1000 mark
Your first goal on social media should be passing 1000. This puts you in a different league.
The closer you get to this number, the easier it becomes. The more followers you have, the more likes and comments you get which means the more people see you and the more new followers you get.
So basically, those first few hundreds are going to be the hardest
#6 Get over your embarrassment
Embarrassed to shamelessly ask your friends to like your page? Embarrassed to get involved in a Twitter conversation between peers in your industry that you really admire? Embarrassed to post on your social media page when you only have 64 followers?
Well, get over it! We’ve all got to start somewhere. Even the big players with millions of followers started with just 1.
The bolder and braver you are with your social media, the more likely you are to grow.
#7 Get followers to like your other platforms
Once you’ve got a chunky following (I’d say at least 500) it is worth asking people to like your other platforms. So once in a while on Facebook, ask people to follow you on Instagram. Or ask your Twitter followers to check out Facebook.
Include your Twitter and Instagram handle in your Facebook description as well.
#8 Offer something different on all your platforms
There is nothing worse than seeing an automated Instagram post on Twitter. It doesn’t work and it makes your social media platform look hollow and soulless which is a damaging thing.
Use different photos and videos on each platform (you don’t have to do this all the time, but most of the time). Offer something unique to each. My Instagram style of writing and what/how I share is very different to Facebook.
#9 Follow the best
Follow people that have lots of followers and spend time reading their feeds and noticing their engagement. They are the best people to learn from and you will pick up lots of invaluable tips.
It’s fine to copy when you see a good idea, but it’s always better to put your own spin on it if you can.
#10 Remember that not everyone will see your post
Only a percentage of your followers are going to see your post….the amount will depend on timing and engagement rates. This is why important things need to be said more than once!
#11 Always value your followers
This is so important. Spend time reading and replying to followers comments. They need to (rightfully) be valued. It can be difficult to reply to everyone if you get a lot of comments on one post. In this instance, comment on the first few and then ‘like’ the rest to show you have read them.
That’s a lot to take in
In part 2 of this social media blog series, I will be sharing my advice on the best timing for each platform as well as my ultimate top tips specifically for Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.