Social media isn’t just about the popularity contest, however the truth is the more followers you have the further your content will travel. Annmarie Hanlon, Senior Lecturer in Digital Marketing, explains the different ways to gain those all-important followers.
We’re all keen to gain more followers on Twitter, more likes on Facebook and more connections on LinkedIn because it’s a status symbol, a badge that shows your success ratings.
But is it worth it?
Using Twitter as a case study, as this is the area where most followers are visible, there are four main ways to gain more followers on your social media accounts.
- Buying (fake) followers on Twitter
- Twitter advertising
- Following others
- Writing great content
Buying followers on Twitter
The fastest, cheapest way to get more followers on Twitter is to buy them.
Seriously, buy them. I was asked many times about all these accounts that offered 5,000 followers for $100. I had no idea how they worked, and people kept asking me how it worked. As I didn’t know anyone else that had tried this (or who would admit to it), I decided to spend $100 as an experiment to see what happened.
To preserve the authenticity of my main @AnnmarieHanlon Twitter account, I set up a new Twitter account. I went ahead and paid $100 to get more followers. When I started the new account, I had two followers, so the extra 5,000 would make an impact.
While I was sleeping that night, my new Twitter account went into overdrive. The next morning, I looked at my account and could not believe what I saw. 7,002 followers! Surely this was amazing and the way to gain more followers and look really impressive?
There is a downside and that is the followers are not real people. Look at the images below – all the same name, different numbers at the end.
None of these accounts have tweeted, none of these accounts have any followers, none of these accounts have profile images, none of these accounts have a header image and none of these accounts have a biography. The only thing they are doing is following a few people. In the past, Twitter spotted accounts like this – we call them fake accounts – and removed those where there was no activity. So, following a few people equals activity and, as a result, Twitter does not yet class these accounts as fakes.
So, there I was with 7,000 new followers. What next? All the followers were meaningless. They have no connection with me or my interests or my work. But the account looks good. That is, until someone clicks the ‘followers’ button on my Twitter account to check out my followers and see lots of people that have a basic profile.
The next day 2,000 of those new followers disappeared.
Three days later a further 2,500 disappeared as Twitter advised me ‘they had seen some unusual activity on my account’. Basically Twitter went in and started deleting some of the fake accounts.
After a month, the new account had only 95 new followers. So I started with two (I lost these with all the unusual activity on the account) and gained 95 in a month and a cost of just over $1 per new follower. Eventually, I deleted the account. It had probably be flagged as a possible spam account and had no intrinsic value.
Twitter has recognised that many people want to gain more followers and offers ad campaigns based on this.
It has a dedicated ‘followers campaign’ which it recommends for those with fewer than 1,000 followers.
One critical difference between this method and the fake followers is that you choose the audience profile. You need to say which type of followers you’d like. So, as an example, if you were the National Stone Centre @natstonecentre (a heritage site located in the heart of the Derbyshire Dales) you might want to target people in the UK with an interest in national parks and geology. This means that your Twitter adverts are only shown to people who have claimed these interests in their bio or in their tweets. This ensures the adverts are targeting to the most relevant audiences – who are also real people.
And what’s the cost? Interestingly, whenever I have launched Twitter campaigns for clients, the cost always seems to be about the same, $1 a follower.
If you identify your main interests, you’ll see other people on Twitter share these interests. Follow them, read their content (maybe not every tweet) and share where it’s relevant. People often follow back. This starts to build an overall profile and is a great way to start.
Write great content
The final way to get more followers is simply to create great content. Good content is read, shared and shared again.
This is the most successful way to gain new followers which are real people, relevant audiences and enable you to start a more meaningful conversation.
Content takes many different shapes and forms. Words, images, moving pictures and video. Consider what best applies to your situation, plan some great content and share more than once.