Growing Followers

In our third piece on social media, Lisa Bullen explains follower growth tactics on Instagram, tips for choosing and using hashtags and what to do with social media influencers…

Growing Followers
Photo: Getty Images

Your Instagram and Facebook “follower” total is often perceived as the holy grail. “Likes” come a close second. These are often described as “vanity metrics”, as “engagement” is actually the most important metric.

Ask yourself, do your posts get interaction and a response? Do people ask for more information about them? If so, great! If not then try asking questions and inviting comment.

Followers that engage with you are valuable. They are more likely to visit your website, buy from you and share your content. These followers may also become repeat visitors to your actual business.

Having said that, having a decent follower count does help in other ways. It means your posts are viewed by more people, with increased engagement opportunities. This sends a signal to a social media platform’s algorithm to “serve” content to more people. A high follower count adds credibility to your brand and provides access to certain features, eg. the prized ‘swipe up’ feature which allows you to add links to Instagram stories that viewers access by swiping up on the screen.

So how do I grow my followers?
There are two ways to grow your follower count. You can pay by running adverts on Facebook or Instagram or you can grow it organically, which does take time. Here are my tips:

• Optimise your Instagram account. Take a fresh look at your bio – is your username reflective of what you do? @campsite123 isn’t going to be as clear as @TruroCampsite. Ensure that your social media handles (user names) are as similar as possible

• Consistently post on social media and create a monthly content calendar (get in touch and I will send you mine if you need inspiration!)

• Don’t post infrequently if you’re trying to build a following. People scroll through 300 feet of Instagram/Facebook posts each day so you need to stand out. Look at your metrics and see when your audience is online, and post when they’re most likely to be there

• Test different types of post and see what works best for you. When you know which types generate good results, you can do more of them. Campfires always generate a lot of engagement on one of my client’s Instagram account. Failing that, dogs are always very popular if your venue is dog friendly

• Use a scheduler, this way you have planned and on-brand content available, plus it saves a lot of time. Use an external one such as Later or Planoly, or schedule within Facebook’s Business Suite

• Develop useful collaborations on both a local (eg. your local tourist office) and national level (eg. VisitBritain) and support their own social media efforts too

• Showcase your Instagram everywhere and make sure your social media buttons are on your website and that they work

• Communicate with your followers via questions and invite them to comment below

• Resist being salesy. 80 per cent of your posts should be informative/funny or relevant. That leaves 20 per cent of your posts eligible for sales messaging. People switch off fast when they are frequently sold to. Build and develop your “know, like, trust” factors with your audience.

Hashtag strategy
As part of growing your followers organically, it is important to create a hashtag strategy. Choose hashtags to describe a post’s content eg. #belltent, hashtags to describe the industry eg. #UKHospitality, and thirdly hashtags for the community you are aiming at eg. #glamping.

Use a mixture of different “sized” hashtags ranging from 500,000 to 10,000. By this I mean, key your chosen word into the search bar, click Tag and view suggestions from the dropdown. These rank by the number of times they have been used. Avoid using hashtags with large numbers next to them eg. #escape, as your post will get lost its popularity. Ensure that you use hashtags that people in your target audience are likely to check. If there’s a relevant connection then users are likely to follow your account.

It’s a matter of preference if you position your hashtags at the very bottom of the post or add them in as a first comment. Try to avoid putting many hashtags within the caption as it looks spammy and annoys people.

Social media influencers
A social media influencer is a user on social media who has established credibility in a specific industry, has access to a large audience and can persuade others by virtue of their authenticity and reach.

Building relations with relevant social media influencers can be beneficial for your business but choose them carefully. If you enter into a paid arrangement then ensure it’s all written down to avoid any later misunderstandings.

Consider contacting other brands or companies that the influencer has worked with to assess the value they gave and get first hand feedback. Don’t be afraid to say no to influencers who may contact you and want to collaborate, and if it’s too good to be true then it probably is!

 


About the Author
Lisa Bullen runs Social Media Sussex, a social media consultancy providing social media training and advice for the leisure industry.

Lisa’s online social media course for campsites/glampsites has featured on Cool Camping and Host Unusual. She is also co-founder of award-winning The Secret Campsite in East Sussex. Contact Lisa at lisa@socialmediasussex.com or visit her website www.socialmediasussex.com

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