Many people want to share messages with the masses to gain exposure for their brand, product or service on social media. But, with over 60 billion messages shared each day on mobile platforms alone, most content gets lost in the noise. For the last 10 years I’ve worked on improving online strategies for people like Taylor Swift, Rihanna and Disney. I’ve learned how to optimize analytics, data and paid media to help companies achieve massive growth.
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When I set out to gain my own One Million Followers, I was aware that the people I work with had the advantage of fame and influence. But, I wanted to see if I could use what I’d learned to build an audience for someone unknown — someone building a following from scratch. That way I could gain validation and credibility for anyone that wanted to achieve their dreams. So, in June of 2017 I put into practice all my tools and by July of 2017 I had a million Facebook followers
The experience changed my life and now hopefully it can impact yours. If, as an unknown digital strategist, I can create this type of social following so can you. By applying the social strategies below you can build a huge following with high levels of engagement. For the purposes of this article, I’ll focus on strategies for Facebook, but many of the tactics can be applied to the other social channels as well.
1. Hypothesize and test.
Aim to create shareable content with your audience. Do research about what gets people to share and come up with a hypothesis about the type of content to create. Identify a format or theme that will engage your audience around a specific message. Then create a low-cost proof and test it.
When I built my following, I used a lot of picture quotes. They are fast and easy to create and are highly shareable. However, if you have the means to create short videos, between 30 seconds and four minutes, they usually perform the best.
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2. Learn from your tests and pivot when necessary.
My ability to learn from the tests I conducted was essential in reaching a million followers. Take the time to understand why certain content works and why other content doesn’t. Be very specific with your tests — I tested thousands of variations of content and segmented out as the variables to truly learn what was optimizing performance. I also didn’t waste time; as soon as I saw that something wasn’t getting the engagement I desired I pivoted. For example, I posted viral videos of dogs and kittens performing cute and funny actions as well as prank videos. Although they all performed really well, I decided to pivot because they didn’t align with my brand’s theme of thought leadership.
Analyze the results from your tests and allow them to drive both your short and long-term content strategy. Test until you find a format or theme that truly works.
3. Find a hooking headline.
Imagine walking by a newsstand in the supermarket. What is it that makes you stop and stare at an article in a magazine? Usually it’s a headline that communicates the story’s hook-point in a succinct and exciting way. It’s a short sentence or phrase that stands out, grabs attention and leaves your audience wanting more. A good headline helps communicate what makes your brand, message or content different and valuable to your customers.
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When creating the headline be specific and find relevancy to your audience’s lives. Linking content to celebrities or current events is a great way to grab people’s attention.
4. Target the right audience.
You can have great content, but without reaching the right audience you won’t develop a following or find the people who will champion your message for you. As Nike’s CEO Mark Parker explains, “It’s our obsession with serving the consumer that sharpens our focus and drives our growth.”
One of the benefits of using the Facebook ad platform is the level of niche targeting it provides to find your ideal consumer. When creating ads, segment out your targeting by: gender, age, location, interests, lifestyle (married, single, occupation, yearly income and products or brands they like) and target some of your competitors’ fans.
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5. Invest the time and money necessary to reach your goals.
Reaching a million followers has gotten me opportunities to speak at conferences, but getting to a million isn’t necessary for everyone. Gaining a following requires an investment of time and money. Where you put your energy depends on how quickly you want to grow.
To determine how much you need to invest, analyze the benefits you want to receive from building a large following — the return on investment (ROI). Imagine your end goal and work backward. Sometimes the ROI isn’t a dollar amount — instead, it’s more validation or credibility that gets you into a meeting with a casting director, modeling agency a music producer or an investor. Ask yourself how many followers you truly need and invest what’s necessary to reach those goals.
We live in a digital world and social following numbers matter. Hope to see your content on Facebook soon.