Many business owners are using multiple social media platforms daily, including Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest, Foursquare, Google Plus and a gaggle others. But to gain maximum impact from those social media efforts, it’s important to build your following online, and that doesn’t happen by itself. It takes time and effort.

Here are 10 tips on how to grow your social media following:

Social Media1. Create compelling and useful content. This is probably the single most important thing you can do to generate more followers. Offer helpful tips, information and insights. Blog and post articles on other sites as often as you can, and be sure to include an invitation to follow you on social media.

2. Test and learn. “The best way to find out what works is to test the market with multiple messages and see which ones work best,” says Jenny Q. Tra, a social media expert and CEO of the social networking site Sqeeqee.com. For example, try a “dark post” on Facebook. This lets you publish ads that don’t appear in your newsfeed. This way, you can test different ads without wearing out your fan base. You can also create a “lookalike audience” to test your ads.

3. Engage with others. It’s vital to engage with the people who post on your social media pages. When somebody comments or posts something, acknowledge them and comment back, or send a quick thank you. Others will be more inclined to follow you if they see you are listening and responding to what your followers are saying.

4. Offer something for free. One thing that’s true in both the online and offline worlds is that people like getting something for free. In the digital realm, that’s often an eBook, special report, discount code or perhaps a free trial of some kind. People who come for the freebie may stay around as regular followers.

5. Answer questions. Many businesses have found that creating a Q&A section on their social media pages is a great way to attract visitors and keep them around as regular followers. You can create the questions and answers yourself, or invite followers to ask their own questions, and contribute to answers as well.

6. Publicize your social presence. Include social media icons and links in as many places as possible. This includes your email signature, website and videos, as well as your business card, letterhead, print ads and marketing materials of all kinds.

7. Hashtags help. Using hash tags (#LikeThis) is an effective way to amplify your voice in social media and gain additional followers. They are most ubiquitous on Twitter, but you can also use hashtags for content you post on Facebook, Google Plus and other places. But pick them carefully, and don’t go overboard.

8. Try a paid approach. It’s never a good idea to simply buy followers, even though there are services that will do that for you. But promoting your personal brand or business through sponsored posts can be a great way to give a quick boost to your tally of followers. You can open a paid account and set a budget for what you want to spend of as little as a few dollars a day. On Twitter, for example, you can promote your account to show up in more places to increase the likelihood that people will follow you.

9. Engage with influencers. Be strategic about who you follow. Identify the top influences in your industry or area of specialization and follow or connect with them. When someone with a large following comments on or tweets about one of your posts, it can give your own account a nice boost.

10. Press some flesh. Finally, remember that building a following isn’t just about being online. Network in the offline world as well. Get in front of your audience, customer base or prospects by attending events and asking them to check you out in social media.

 

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