Building a massive social media audience is hard work.
In today’s day and age, one of the most valuable things a brand, business, or industry professional could have is an audience on the Internet. But attracting a loyal following is easier said than done. In most cases, brands opt to allocate massive amounts of money toward digital advertising and marketing initiatives—and truthfully, very few brands end up achieving the goal of reaching people in the right way. They either try to chase too many different audiences at once (leaving people confused as to why they should follow the brand at all), or they sacrifice what makes content relatable in order to mention the brand and draw attention to a new product or sale.
Oddly enough, it tends to be the independent digital marketers who end up successfully building audiences online—because they are more willing to take risks, and don’t have the luxury of a massive advertising budget. Instead, they have to figure out what resonates organically.
According to , CEO of WULF Marketing and founder of three very popular pages on Instagram, , and , there are a few things marketers can do to rapidly grow a social following. His results speak for themselves: in 20 days, he grew @Deep to over 500,000 followers in 20 days. And in 30 days, his page @Positivity grew to over 130,000 followers, averaging 1 million impressions per day. That sort of growth is difficult to replicate, Foley shared a few key takeaways for marketers looking to make a big impact.
If you look at Foley’s Instagram page, @Deep, the content shared is hyper specific. It’s all centered around quick, “deep” takeaways or life lessons—which immediately forces a user to decide whether they would enjoy seeing this type of content more often.
“One of the keys to building a social following is really being clear about why someone should follow you,” he said. “The more a user can immediately understand what sort of content you’re planning to publish on a daily basis, the easier it will be for them to decide whether they will follow you or not.”
He went on to explain that where most brands go wrong is they don’t make it very clear to a user why they should follow the page. Either there are too many different content types, or the content itself lacks clarity around its core audience.
If content is too vague, then the “to follow or not to follow” decision becomes harder. And on social media, people want to make decisions that are easy—not difficult.
If you look at any successful content creator, they are actively creating or sharing content on a daily basis.
Today’s YouTubers and Instagrammers have raised the bar for what it means to be an influencer. Which means, if you’re a brand or an aspiring thought leader, you need to acknowledge that you are competing with these daily content creators.
“Most people don’t understand how important it is to constantly be creating or sharing new content,” said Foley. “You can’t expect to grow if you’re only posting once a week—which is the habit people end up falling into. When you’re looking to build an audience, expect that it’ll take time. And then, once you get good at understand what kinds of content resonate with lots of people, then you’ll be able to build pages faster and faster.”
He went on to share that while he has been able to grow pages fairly quickly, it has taken him a long time to learn the art of social media.
“You don’t just create an Instagram page and then immediately have hundreds of thousands of followers,” Foley said. “Social media marketing is a skill, and it takes time to learn how to do it well.”
One of the things Foley does on a regular basis is audit his content, and look for posts that outperformed the rest.
“Data can really help you understand what’s working and what isn’t,” he said. “When you see a post get a lot of comments, you should question why. If a post gets more views or more likes than the rest, you should pay attention to that—and adjust your strategy accordingly.”
This is a big mistake people make, and Foley shared that a lot of social media marketers struggle to pivot from their original strategy.
“You never know what’s going to go viral, or spark a huge conversation on your page,” he said. “So, when you’re lucky and you see that happen, you should try to recreate that experience over and over again.”
The best way to do this, he said, is to always be paying attention to the types of content that appear in the trending sections. Look for patterns or styles, and then try to create that same kind of content yourself.
“The real key to great social media marketing is trial and error,” he said. “The more you create, the more you’ll learn what works and what doesn’t.”