How To Build a Social Media Following Starting From Nothing

How To Build a Social Media Following Starting From Nothing

social media

How do you build a following on social media when you are just getting started or haven’t gained much traction?

Everybody has to start from somewhere and it can seem unrealistic in the beginning that you’ll ever grow a large following online for your business. I used to feel the same way until I saw it happen multiple times and realized there actually is a process that works, if followed diligently.

Don’t worry, there’s no sales pitch coming, just pure content. I get so many people asking me each week what to do when starting from ground zero and this article is for them.

Each of the steps laid out here are ‘big picture’ and will require some additional research in some cases, depending on how knowledgeable you are on the subject. I’ll do my best to include expanded resources to help you learn more wherever possible.

Welcome To Ground Zero

You have little to no followers. You might be a new business or a well-established business that’s delayed entry into the social world. You’re likely overwhelmed with pretty much everything including concerns that you’ll never catch up to your competition. After all, they already have 20,000 followers!

I’ll let you in on a little secret…it doesn’t actually matter. Your target market is starved for the best information on the subject you’re already a master in. If you focus on delivering quality and doing things right the first time, you’ll be on the right track.

Step 1: Establish & Polish All Social Media Profiles

Make no mistake, this step is number one and must be done right before moving on. Many failed social media campaigns were failures because people weren’t taking them seriously due poor presentation and branding.

Register & Claim Your Social Media Username

Register and claim your business username on each of the major social networks including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest and any other network you plan to be on.

Claim Your Custom URL

Each social network gives you the ability to claim a custom URL (i.e. You want to do this as soon as possible to avoid losing it to someone else.

Have Professional Design

Create professionally designed graphics for cover and profile photos that are cohesive across each social network as well as your website.

Write Compelling Copy For Profile Bios

Write compelling copy for your social media profile pages and bios so that your target market immediately know they’re in the right place once they find you.

Recommended Resources:

Step 2: Make Sure You Pass “The Google Test”

First impressions are everything. Whether you’re selling a product or a service, potential prospects will Google you during their due diligence process. You’ll quickly find out why step one is so important when you type your name into Google.


Search your name in Google right now and I guarantee your social networking profiles will dominate the top spots. As you can see in the screenshot above, the top 2 results for my name are my LinkedIn profile and my Twitter profile.

Step 3: Setup Your Email List & Create an Incentive

Social media marketers that truly know what they’re doing will tell you that email marketing is the essential element that ties everything together. The communication you have with your fans and followers will always be controlled by the social networks they exist on. An email list is something you own that gives you a direct line to your most engaged prospects.

Setup an email list with a solution like Aweber or Constant Contact, put an opt-in form on your site and attach a very compelling incentive. That incentive needs to be bigger and better than ever these days since everyone and their dog is giving out free reports and eBooks. Check out the link below for some great ideas on how to lure email subscribers.

Recommended Resource: 9 Irresistible Incentives That Will Grow Your Email List

Step 4: Create a Call To Action

There should always be a clear instruction to visitors on where and what they should do next. Whether it’s a video, blog post or a specific page on your website, make sure it’s obvious what action should be taken next.

For example, telling viewers to go to a link and download an incentive (i.e. training video, eBook, etc.) would be a common call to action for videos.

Step 5: Create a Content Calendar

To jumpstart your content marketing machine, start creating a list of topics that will wrap your audience in everything that is your world. Think about the macro topics (i.e. LinkedIn marketing) and then break them down into micro topics (i.e. creating a great LinkedIn profile headline, using LinkedIn groups, etc.).

You’ll want to familiarize yourself with the process of creating a content calendar as a method to keep your content well organized, thematic and effective.

Recommended Resource: How To Build a Content Calendar + Free Template

Step 6: Build a Content Foundation

What happens if someone arrives to your website and reads your first ever blog post? They leave.

Establish your content foundation by creating at least 5-10 posts before you start aggressively promoting your blog. This allows new visitors to keep browsing your site as opposed to bouncing immediately after checking out an article.

Step 7: Optimize Your Blog For Opt-Ins

So you’ve got your email list setup and your fancy incentive to woo subscribers, now what? You’ll want to spend some time to make sure you’ve done all you can to optimize your site for maximum conversions.

Did you know that those annoying popups can actually increase your email subscribers by over 500% when done right? How do your opt in forms look on mobile devices? These are only a couple of the questions you need to ask yourself to ensure your seizing all opportunities for conversions.

Recommended Resource: 11 Ways To Get More Email Subscribers & Increase Conversions

Step 8: Guest Blog & Interview Experts

Research and find a few of the most respected and credible blogs that feature content your target market is interested in and approach them about becoming a guest contributor.

Interviewing well-known experts is also a great way to leverage the knowledge of thought leaders and build interest with nobody that has heard of you yet. Those experts will want to share the page on your website that features their interview when it goes live, giving you free, targeted traffic.

Step 9: Invest In Advertising

Consider using paid platforms on social media like Facebook ads to establish an initial following quickly with a highly targeted audience. Rather than paying to get more “likes” to your Facebook page, I suggest promoting pages that are successful at driving email opt-ins to maximize ROI.

PRO TIP: Use Facebook Graph Search to find pages that are liked by your target market. This will help you when targeting your ads based on interests, especially if you already have an idea of a couple pages your audience might like.

For example, search: Pages liked by people who like PAGE NAME


To see more tricks like this, check out 6 Facebook Graph Search Tricks No One Talks About.

Step 10: Promotion

It’s not enough to post content online and hope it will take off, you need to promote it to give it a real shot at success. This is a topic so large that it needs its own blog post (or University-level course, for that matter) so I’ve provided a few killer links with lists of ideas for promoting your content.

Remember To Be Consistent

I like to mention this at the end of my articles to reinforce the importance of being consistent with social media and content marketing. In my experience, it’s the most important factor for success online, especially with content specifically. That’s why we put it as number 1 in our ten commandments of social media marketing.

You’ll gain more credibility, readers and sales when your target audience gets used to relying on you more information in your niche. Nobody remembers the author of a random blog post they read a year ago, no matter how good it was, but everybody remembers the people who run the websites and organizations they regularly depend on.

There’s a reason why you recognize names like Mari Smith, Mike Stelzner (Social Media Examiner), Jay Baer and others…it’s because they are consistent with their efforts, messaging and quality. Do the same and you will be greatly rewarded!


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