How to Build a Social Media Following (It’s Not What You Think)
Conventional wisdom says the more social media followers you have, the more successful your business will be.
Indeed, having a large social media following will lead to these four pillars of growth:
- more web traffic
- increased trust and credibility
- the opportunity to build more relationships, which ultimately leads to…
- more sales
But HOW do you do it?
It’s a question I get asked every single week, without fail.
First things first: whether it’s LinkedIn or Facebook, you won’t get a large following and tangible business results through your company page.
If you don’t already have a large social media following, you’re relying on someone to organically find your business page, and then click “Like” or “Follow”. And THEN, you are at the mercy of the algorithm to send your updates to your audience.
If you are just starting out, or haven’t invested the time to grow your company’s social channels over the last several years, you have a problem.
Without an ad budget, growing your following on your business pages will be a slow and gruelling process.
If you want real results in a reasonable amount of time, you have two options:
- Spend a small fortune every month on paid ads, OR…
- Change tack and focus on the platforms and profiles you can control.
You can’t control whether someone comes to one of your pages and clicks “Like” or “Follow,” but here’s what you can control…
You can use platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn and, to some degree, Twitter, to build a large following by growing your personal network and cultivating real relationships.
In this article, I show use Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter to build your personal network and cultivate real relationships.
No longer will you be shackled by social media algorithms, hoping they do you a favor by dropping your content into your followers’ newsfeeds.
Instead, you will be in full control of the connections you make, the relationships you build and the meaningful business opportunities you create.
Personal Channels Beat Business Pages for Growing a Social Media Following
While the Internet has taken business to another level, it has also eroded trust in companies.
To be successful on social media today, you have to quickly establish trust with your audience.
And that doesn’t come from a big business page with a cool logo.
Remember: people do business with people, NOT logos!
Learn more about that in my article “Why Your Social Media Strategy Needs a Face.”
The fastest route to success is to connect with your followers using your personal LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter profiles.
Growing your LinkedIn network
LinkedIn is a powerful social channel you NEED to build a presence on, particularly if you are B2B (business to business) company.
What can it do for you?
For starters, how does directly reaching out to and building relationships with your dream clients sound?
When LinkedIn is done right, you can use it to:
- generate leads
- connect and engage with your customers and ideal prospects
- demonstrate your expertise
- nurture trust and build strong relationships with your prospects
- move conversations offline, where you convert prospects into clients
It really is THAT powerful.
Best of all, you are in COMPLETE control of the outcomes.
Unlike Facebook, LinkedIn was designed to be a networking platform for professionals and businesspeople. Because of this, its personal profile has always been the most effective tool to find and connect with prospects and customers.
But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t also have a company page. People expect it, and it increases your credibility and gives people another way to find you.
Next, I’ll show you my personal LinkedIn profile and Facebook profile, as well as strategies you can use to build your own networks.
Personal LinkedIn profiles
It might sound like an oxymoron, but it is through your personal profile that you build a powerful professional network.
Your LinkedIn personal profile allows you to:
- find, connect and build relationships with your customers
- find, connect and build relationship with your leads and prospects
- build a social media following dedicated to business in general.
But before you reach out to anyone, you need to ensure your LinkedIn profile is complete and professional and speaks to your ideal clients.
Once you’re confident your profile is ready you can start searching for your ideal customers and reach out to them with personalized connection request messages. Again, you can only do this with a personal profile.
When you successfully connect with your prospective customers, you’ll be in prime position to build rapport with them. To ensure success, use a proven process such as my proprietary LINK Method. Ultimately, you’ll move the conversation with your prospects offline, where you can convert them into customers.
LinkedIn caps your connections at 30,000. But there is no limit on the number of people who can follow you.
Note: On LinkedIn (unlike on Facebook), your connections are also counted as followers.
By the way, please feel free to follow me on LinkedIn where I consistently share educational content on digital marketing, lead generation, and social selling.
Facebook personal profile
The biggest advantages of a Facebook personal profile are it gives you more control over building your following than a business page. It does this in two ways:
- you can grow the number of people you are connected to with your personal profile unlike with your business page
- Facebook is more likely to show posts to your followers when you publish from your personal profile than from your business page.
Here is my Facebook personal profile:
It currently has almost 9,000 followers plus over 4,200 friends. Your Facebook friends are not counted as followers.
While you may be inclined to friend everyone possible if you use Facebook for business, you are limited to 5,000 Facebook friends.
Thankfully, there is no limit on the number of followers you can have. This means that anyone who wants to get your public updates can follow you, and anything you publish publicly will show up in their newsfeeds. They just need to click the Follow button beside Message.
This provides you with a fantastic opportunity to build important connections.
The key to this strategy is to build relationships and become Facebook friends with:
- influencers or well-known individuals within your industry
- those from other industries who serve similar to yours target markets.
You may even wish to become friends with some of your biggest fans (brand evangelists) within your community.
As you begin to build authority and engage with those individuals, more will start to follow your personal profile to stay current on your updates and learn more about you.
When possible, encourage your followers to select the See First option, which greatly increases the chance of your followers seeing your updates.
Depending on how much you use Facebook for personal use, you can also put your friends into custom lists, separating personal friends from business friends. You can then share posts with people in specific lists only, giving you greater control over who you target and with what message, as well as a handy divide between your personal and professional life.
It’s tough building a following with business/company pages
Given the poor reach and low engagement of business/company pages, I can’t recommend strongly enough that you put the majority of your efforts into your personal pages.
Having said that, you still need regularly-updated business pages.
Think of them like your shop window. People look through the window to see what you’re offering, but the real relationships, and sales, don’t start until they walk through the doors (your personal page) and start talking to you.
Here is my LinkedIn company page for Top Dog Social Media.
And here’s a table showing the engagement of my recent posts from this page.
See how low it is? Once again, it’s because people connect with people, not logos!
Facebook has changed which means you must change too
There was a time when Facebook business pages were a great way for businesses to connect and engage with their communities.
But the loss of trust in businesses combined with information overload and Facebook’s desire to make money have made them much, much less effective.
The thing is, people are often not in a business mindset when on Facebook, which means Facebook is less likely to show your business page posts in people’s newsfeeds.
This being said, people still expect you to have one. It also makes your brand more searchable in the search engines. And, of course, it is essential for running Facebook ads.
Top Dog Social Media Facebook business page
I started my Facebook Top Dog Social Media page in 2011, and currently have over 11,000 followers. This page has a similar number of followers to my personal profile (friends + followers).
What is most notable is the low post reach and engagement, as demonstrated by the image below showing my most recent posts:
It was not always this low. There was a time when thousands of people saw each post and hundreds of people engaged with them.
This is no longer the case unless I am paying for Facebook ads. And simply promoting my business page doesn’t align with my KPIs. Honestly, this page is not my priority, and it receives very few resources.
Melonie Dodaro Facebook business page
Just as my Top Dog Social Media business page, I created my Melonie Dodaro business page in 2011. Since then, it sat neglected until just over a year ago.
When I run Facebook ads, I use this page instead of my Top Dog Social Media page, reinforcing the value of a human face over a company logo.
And while this page has only just over nine thousand followers, you can see it has significantly more reach than my Top Dog Social Media page has.
In fact, when I publish posts on the business page with my name and face, thousands of people still see them and dozens engage with them.
If I could go back in time, I would skip creating a company page for Top Dog Social Media. Instead, I would only create a business page bearing my name, not my company name.
Grow your Twitter followers
Twitter has evolved since it first started. And while it is not the newest and shiniest platform out there, it can still be a great place to find, follow and have conversations with community, prospects and customers.
When you set up your account, make your Twitter handle your name, and use a profile photo of your face, NOT your business logo or name.
For example, even though I use my Twitter profile mainly for business, my profile is my name as is my handle: @MelonieDodaro. Note that the profile features my personal image.
The most effective strategy to build your Twitter following is to engage with the people you want to connect with. Like, retweet and reply as appropriate to their tweets so they start recognizing your name and face. Follow them, and many will follow you back.
To make your Twitter activities more efficient, create lists of the following groups of people:
- those on whose radars you want to get on
- influencers and experts
- great content sources
- brand evangelists
- others who commonly retweet or interact with you.
This makes it easy for you to see their latest tweets you can engage with.
Generally, I tweet a mix of curated content from sources I trust and tips from my articles. The short, helpful and actionable tips I share generally get the most impressions and the best engagement.
One drawback to keep in mind about Twitter: many companies leave the management of their Twitter accounts to social media managers.
That’s fine if those are the people you wish to connect with.
However, if your targets are high-level decision makers then research their profiles and make sure it’s really them writing their own tweets before you invest time and effort in building a relationship.
Consistently nurture relationships to build a social media following
While this might seem time-consuming, consistently investing in the personal approach and building relationships is the fastest path to a large, high-quality following on your social channels.
Don’t be everywhere. Simply choose the channels best suited for your business. Focus your attention where it is easiest for you to reach the people you want to reach. For me, that has always been LinkedIn. For others, it might be Facebook or Twitter.
And remember, there is no such thing as one-size-fits-all approach in business and relationship building,
What works best for me might not work for you. Always test different content and strategies until you find the best fit for you and your business.
If you found this helpful, check out my book LinkedIn Unlocked. Inside, you’ll learn a proven lead generation system to attract new clients using LinkedIn. You can pick up a copy here.
But if you’re in a hurry and want to accelerate your growth, take a look at LinkedIn Domination. This is my foolproof done-for-you system that will generate a recurring stream of sales, qualified leads and new customers for you month after month after month. All you have to do is follow the process I build specifically for you. It’s that simple. Book a call to learn more here.