Social media was once just something fun to engage with. But now (and for some time), social media is a branding and marketing tactic that every business should be using. You may think that in order to manage your social media successfully, you need to hire a millennial influencer with over 10,000 followers. But the truth is, anyone can be a social media content creator with a solid following.

You just have to go about it the right way.

Doing so entails really investing in your social strategy, including having a social media calendar and guidelines for your team, or social point person, to follow. In this blog post, I’ll list some tips growing your social media following the au natural way. Here’s to becoming your own social media influencer!

1. Establish Your Brand and Aesthetic

Your company branding is one of the first things you establish when you start your business. With that said, your social media accounts should reflect that branding. You want to keep everything cohesive so that your brand is easily identifiable among your audience. This means making sure your posts center on a specific niche or industry as well. You want to create a platform that is reliable for tips and input within a specific area, as people interested in that area will learn to rely on you.

Make sure you include your company logo as your profile page image and use your branding colors to highlight your profiles where it makes sense. It also doesn’t hurt to have your company mission statement somewhere where your followers can easily read it.

2. Designate Content for Each Channel

Each social media channel has its own kind of messaging. Twitter is great for sharing real-time content quickly and getting news updates. But you wouldn’t necessarily share everything you’re tweeting on LinkedIn. Here’s a good rule of thumb to follow when deciding what to publish on which channels:

  • Twitter: Blog content, guest-contributed articles, industry news, stats, and updates, product and software launches, guides, company outings, and culture events.
  • Facebook: You can definitely share your blog content, guides, and special promos here, but people-focused content tends to do the best. Use Facebook to showcase your team and company culture, including special events and get-togethers.
  • LinkedIn: Given that this is a professional social media platform, stick to industry-related content here. You can get creative with infographics and images, but you’ll want to mostly share educational content, job postings, product promos, guides, and gated content.
  • Instagram: This platform is all about the visual. Post your most creative content here, and photos from around the office and your team members. Try getting creative by putting together images for your written content so you can share it on Instagram in a way that makes sense for the platform.

3. Follow the Right Accounts

It’s important to follow the right accounts so that the content in your feeds is the most applicable. If you’re in the marketing industry, focus on following other marketing-focused accounts, online marketing publications, marketing software solutions, and marketing-related hashtags.

When you follow an account, there’s a chance they’ll follow you back, which can increase engagement among your posts. If you’re focusing on following accounts that are in your industry, a follow-back could eventually lead to resharing your content. This means there’s a chance for your content to reach a wider audience of interested folks.

4. Unfollow Where Needed

Just as following the right accounts is essential, so is unfollowing accounts that don’t make sense for you to be following. A simple rule of thumb is to make sure that the number of accounts you’re following is fewer than how many are following you. This helps spread your credibility a bit and shows people that you aren’t just following whoever and whatever.

When you implement a follow strategy, you should also check to see who is following you back. Go ahead and unfollow accounts that don’t give you a follow-back to help clean up your following list.

5. Create and Share Content

Having a content creation plan and a content marketing strategy adds the necessary fuel to your social media strategy. You need a bank of available, valuable, and educational content to easily share with your followers. This, too, helps establish your credibility, but it also maintains your status as a reliable resource for your audience.

Once you have enough content created, you can plan your social media strategy by using social publishing tools and a social media calendar. This will save you a ton of time in the long run, and ensure you’re getting the most out of the content you’re creating by distributing it effectively.

6. Reshare Valuable Content

Don’t be a selfish social media sharer by only sharing your content. If you haven’t already, start subscribing to industry publications so you can get valuable content sent straight to your inbox. If something really resonates with you or your audience will find it valuable, then share it out on your social channels.

When doing this, it’s important to tag the publication source and the author of the content. This will ping them and let them know that they have an advocate out there that enjoys what they’re putting out. It could also lead to reciprocated advocacy, which can get your brand out there to more people.

7. Use Platform Features

Each social media platform comes with additional features that you should be taking advantage of. What’s great about these features is that they allow you to share content in a new and different way. This keeps your audience engaged and gives you more chances to interact with them. Here are some features each platform offers that you should be using:

Twitter Polls

Twitter polls are a great way to do a bit of market research and get a read on your audience by asking them specific questions. It’s best to keep it simple but try incorporating polls into your Twitter strategy once a month or so.

Instagram Stories Features

Instagram Stories has a lot of features that are fun and easy to use. You can pull tons of different gifs to add some fun flair to your posts, utilize hashtags, which will make your stories show up in the feeds of those that follow those hashtags, and you can poll your followers, similarly to Twitter. That’s just the tip of the iceberg, too. Instagram does a great job of making it easy to interact more with the people you’re socially connected with.

Facebook Ads

Most social platforms have the option to advertise, but Facebook ads are pretty superior. You can create campaigns that are laser-focused on your ideal customer, based on region, company size, industry, etc. You can access a lot of filter options that ensure you’re advertising to the audiences of your choice.

LinkedIn Pulse

Linkedin offers a way to publish your content right on their platform. By utilizing LinkedIn Pulse, you’ll be able to take advantage of LinkedIn’s algorithm so that your articles are dropped into the feeds of those more likely to engage with it or find it useful. I suggest republishing any company blog content on LinkedIn Pulse, as it helps build your LinkedIn profile and can lead to more connections over time.

8. Hashtag Wisely

Hashtags are only effective on social media when you’re using the right ones. Make sure that the words you’re hashtagging make sense for your audience to be searching. For example, if you’re sharing a piece of content on social media tips (meta?), then hashtags that make sense are #SocialMedia or #SocialMediaTips. Hashtags that don’t make as much sense are #Content or #Media, etc. A tip is to go on Twitter and search hashtags to see how popular they are.

When you use the right hashtags, you make your content easily searchable on a platform bombarded with other content. This increases the chance that a more targeted audience sees it and gives you a follow.

9. Interact

Make sure that while you’re posting to social media, you’re also taking time to interact with people. Engage with other peoples’ content and respond to people who are tweeting at you, commenting on your posts, resharing your content and DM’ing you. Facilitating a correspondence will increase favorability with people, so much so that they will be more inclined to follow you and become a part of your network.

Use these nine tips to lay the groundwork for growing your social media following organically. Stick with it and maintain consistency. Over time, you’ll see your social accounts grow, and your thought leadership expands.