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Did you know that a third of all the time spent on the internet is spent consuming social media

Your business needs to be active on social media because that’s where your customers are focusing their attention.

The larger your social media audience is, the more potential customers you can reach. With exposure to engaging content and other marketing efforts, your social media followers could become your customers

Read on to learn how to organically grow your social media following with these methods:

  • Working with other brands
  • Growth hacking
  • Getting your followers to do the work for you
  • Connecting in real life
  • Working with influencers
  • Using hashtags
  • Cross-promoting your social channels
  • Developing a timely posting schedule

Organic vs. Paid Social Media

To most people, the term “organic” means food that is raised or grown without chemical or pesticides. To marketers, however, organic means something completely different.

What Is Organic Social Media?

Organic means free in the world of social media marketing. By “free,” we mean social media marketing efforts that don’t involve spending money on advertisements. Organic social media marketing leverage strategies like using hashtags or working with influencers to promote a brand. 

But just because organic engagement is not something you have to pay for to take advantage of, you’ll still be “paying” for it in terms of time. Specifically, your time or the time of a social media professional that you hire to do it on your behalf. 

Using organic growth strategies is the most effective and affordable way to gain followers on social media who will be interested in your products and services.

What Is Paid Social Media?

Paid social media means paying for advertising campaigns on social networks to achieve marketing goals like gaining followers or increasing post reach. Unlike organic social media, which requires an investment of time, paid social media requires investments of time and money.

Social media advertising can be an effective way to grow your online audience if you know what you’re doing and if you have a large enough budget to see a return on your investment. If you’re bootstrapping your business, you may not want to spend precious resources on advertising.

How to Organically Grow Your Social Media Following: 15 Strategies

Here are several tried and true strategies for mastering how to grow your social media following organically,

1. Customize Your Profile on Each Platform 

Make no mistake—potential customers and clients are looking you up on Facebook or LinkedIn. They may go elsewhere if these social sites lack information, current activity, or a clear sense of your business. 

All your social media sites need a customized and consistent business profile to promote your brand.

Update your social platforms by using the same profile picture (such as your business logo) on each one, and fill out the “About Me” section with your mission statement, a brief description, and contact information. 

2. Partner With Other Businesses to Reach New Followers

Collaborate with another complementary business on a social media campaign. Create posts together and share them during the campaign period.

Both businesses need to tag each other in these posts for this partnership to succeed. This helps each business reach new, related audiences. Ideally, the business you collaborate with has an audience similar to yours.

3. Follow Your Competitors’ Followers to Grow Your Audience

Want to learn how to grow your social media following organically? Following your competitors’ followers is one of the best tricks in the growth hacking playbook. This method works best on Instagram and Twitter. 

Here’s how to do it effectively:

1. Identify your competitors. 

2. Go to their Instagram or Twitter accounts.

3. Click Followers to see a list of their followers. 

4. Follow the accounts that look like real people (a photo of a person rather than a logo or default image is a dead giveaway!).

These people will be notified that they have a new follower. They may be intrigued to check out your profile and follow it because your profile shows that your business is similar to something they’re already interested in.

You’re the social media manager for a new fast-food franchise concept. Although you should certainly focus on competitors that represent many different business sizes, you might start your competitor research with one of the top players in the space — McDonald’s:

4. Interact With Your Audience 

One of the benefits of social media is that consumers can now interact with brands rather than simply being given the message, as with traditional marketing (TV or magazine ads, for example). 

So be sure to take advantage of this and engage your audience quickly, thoughtfully, and honestly.

And don’t limit yourself to one social network; communicate with your audience through various channels. Host a live forum with Google+ Hangouts. Reply to comments on social media sites. 

Tweet a company photo for Throwback Thursday. Thank blog commenters for their suggestions. Ask your fans and followers what they want, need, or prefer.

5. Reach New People by Asking Followers to Tag Their Friends

Encourage your followers to tag their friends in your post comments. Your followers are friends with people who share their interests. Therefore, your followers’ friends will be more likely than completely random people to be interested in following your brand.

Offering an incentive is a good way to encourage your followers to engage their friends in your social media posts. For example, host a giveaway, create a contest, or offer a coupon code to people who tag friends in your posts.

6. Encourage Customers to Follow You Offline

One of the best tricks for organically growing your social media following is thinking about getting offline customers to engage with your business online. Encourage people to follow your brand on social media when interacting with your business in real life.

If you have a brick-and-mortar business, put signs up around your store to tell customers about your social media presence. 

If you have a direct-to-consumer business, include cards in each shipment that tell customers to follow you on social media. You can even include a call to action to encourage customers to share a picture of their purchase on social media, tag your company, and use your hashtag.

7. Work With Influencers to Grow Your Audience

Influencers have large social media followers and are often happy to tell their followers about brands in exchange for free products. So how can you collaborate with influencers? 

Identify influencers who may be interested in your products. Reach out and ask if they’d like to work with you. Explain what you’d offer them in return for promotion. 

See how many new followers you get after your influencer collaboration to determine whether or not you should work with that influencer again.

8. Use Relevant Hashtags to Expand Your Reach

Hashtags help you grow your audience by linking your posts to trending topics. Most social media networks highlight trending hashtags and let you see other posts that use those hashtags. So, when you use a trending hashtag, people who are not yet your followers but are interested in the trending topic you are posting about will discover your posts.

A 2017 experiment by Agorapulse found that Instagram posts that used hashtags had 70% more likes and 392% more comments than posts that didn’t use hashtags.

Stay true to your brand when using hashtags. For example, don’t post about something that’s trending if you wouldn’t normally talk about that topic.

9. Cross-Promote Your Social Channels to Gain Followers

Someone who follows you on Instagram may not know you’re also active on Facebook. So let followers know about your other social media channels. 

Share information about your other social media accounts in the “About” section of your Facebook page, Twitter, and Instagram bio.

Include calls to action in posts to ask followers to connect with you on other platforms.

10. Develop a Timely and Consistent Posting Schedule

A social media following is crucial to running a successful business because it exposes more people to your products and services. However, growing an online audience doesn’t have to be expensive. You can use many tactics to boost your audience without spending money on advertising or fake followers. 

Consistency has a cumulative effect on social engagement, so you’ll want to post at least once daily throughout the workweek. As viewer numbers increase, you can adjust frequency based on analytics. And don’t just post sales-oriented content—share customer testimonials, and photos of the people in your company, answer common customer questions, post funny photos or inspiring quotes, and re-post content from others in your industry.

11. Expand Your Sphere With Google Plus and LinkedIn Groups

Join existing groups in your industry to be a part of the conversations people are already having. Ask and answer group questions. Can’t find a relevant group to join? Start your own, then post the link on your other social networking sites. Become the go-to resource for people looking for information in your industry.

12. Create Tips and Lists with Foursquare

Foursquare is all about community and helpful information. Create lists that readers can use to find favorite eateries, real estate agents, organic markets, or anything you think might be helpful. Build authority by posting tips on your business location and contributing to conversations on other business sites.

As you can see, building a strong, thriving social presence isn’t that hard once you know what to do. Most of these techniques don’t take long to implement, and you can start reaping the rewards almost immediately!

13. Invest in Facebook Ads

The number of Americans who say Facebook is their number one purchase influencer has almost doubled since 2011, going from 24% to 47%. But now that Facebook has changed its algorithm, the best way to reach your audience (i.e., actually be seen on their news feed) is through ads and boosted posts (another type of advertising).

Facebook ads get your business seen by an audience as large as a TV advertising audience, allowing you to target who sees them precisely; they are quite easy to implement and are very affordable—the minimum daily spend is just $1.

14. Give Something Away 

In his book Youtility: Why Smart Marketing Is About Help Not Hype, Jay Baer explains the benefits of giving away informative, educational material with no strings attached. 

Creating no-pressure touch points gets your name in front of prospects, and when they need your product or service, they’ll already be familiar with your brand.

Create inspiring blog posts about key people in your industry or geographic region. It only takes a few minutes to craft an IFTTT recipe that gets information from potential customers they can use today. 

Generate some feel-good moments by posting a funny or otherwise engaging YouTube video. Create an entertaining or informative infographic about your business or industry.

15. Keep Optimizing and Analyzing 

Don’t build a website and then forget all about it. Take advantage of the analytics provided by your social media platforms to identify traffic patterns, key entry points, most popular posts, and keywords. 

With this information, you can post at different times, on different days, or with different content. Pay attention to which posts inspire the most engagement to refine your posting schedule and duplicate that formula.

You’ll also want to optimize your social media by ensuring that specific keywords are included. Most people use keyword-based queries when looking for a service or product, so increase your chances of being found by using the same words and phrases that your target demographic is using to find you. 

Building a strong, thriving social presence isn’t hard once you know what to do. Most of these techniques don’t take long to implement, and you can start reaping the rewards almost immediately!

  • Minal Agarwal

    Minal is the Director of Brand Marketing at Bluehost. With over 15 years of business experience in the technology industry, she strives to create solutions and content that fulfill a customer's needs. She is a dog mom and a stickler for calendaring.

    Masters in Marketing Management
    Previous Experience
    Strategic Partnerships, Customer Success, Events and Community
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