Hello I’m Kara and I’m an experienced social media marketing expert, enthusiast & ambassador from the UK. Spoken like a true addict.
By using this description, you would expect me to have over 1,000 followers without breaking a sweat, right? Practice what you preach and all that.
I’m here to explain why I don’t have that figure YET and why that shouldn’t matter. Yes I realise I must be the first ‘social media ninja’ to admit that!
More importantly, I’m here to tell you why it shouldn’t matter to you and your business if you don’t have that many followers YET either.
Ready for some home truths about social media marketing?
1. Don’t judge a book by its cover or a page by its likes
Unless you’re just visiting us for the weekend from some far off distant galaxy, there’s a strong chance you’re human. You (should) have a life outside of social media and that’s perfectly healthy. You pay taxes, you eat pizza and you probably have a job to go to or are looking for one. You can’t spend your life on Facebook even though it feels like the rest of the world is.
If you’re only a year or two into your business being online and on social media channels, it can easily feel like you’re missing the party. I too know that stabbing pain of guilt as you see similar companies to yourself with thousands of followers and likes. But like every duck-faced selfie or cheesy post you see on social media, not everything is at it seems.
You don’t know that business’ unique story. How long they’ve been around. How many people work there and what their skills are. What strategies they’re using. So why beat yourself up about something you don’t or couldn’t know about. Heck, the people behind those accounts might not even be there at all which leads me to my next point.
2. You’re human
I recently joined Instagram to promote my marketing services. I’ve only been in business since April 2016 and with over 14 million daily users in the UK, it’s the fastest growing network right now. It’s also a staple social media choice for many of my clients.
As great as I’ve found it though, the first thing that hit me about Instagram was the amount of automation used there. It’s rife!
This post by Hootsuite completely summed the problem up.
Random likes of my cat post from someone claiming to be an entrepreneur in deepest, darkest Peru with three posts on his page but over 20k followers.
An even more bizarre thumbs-up emoji and ‘this post rocks and makes me smile’ comment for a post that had a serious message but obviously contained a hashtag he tracked.
Some UK based social media agency that claims it’s one of the best around that follows your account one day and then mysteriously un-follows your account precisely 24 hours later.
You get the picture.
There are hundreds if not thousands of marketing robots and ways to buy followers out there. Some marketing automation is fine such as scheduling posts with Buffer or Hootsuite, or using Crowdfire to identify users that might like your social media accounts, but otherwise I recommend giving them a miss.
If you want real followers and meaningful engagements from people who are likely to need and want your stuff, stay authentic. Growing followers that have a genuine interest in what you have to say; that’s going to take time. It’s going to mean being human & reaching out as one too.
3. Followers don’t equal sales
Following on from my last point, I remember being asked recently by a local charity whether I could help them reach 5,000 followers by November (it was the 29th of September).
I asked the charity why they wanted 5,000 followers in particular. “To look popular,” they answered honestly.
First up, I totally get that.
Followers are important. You look worthy of following and must be important to have that many numbers against your account.
But what’s the point of having all of those followers just to look popular?
Surely having 5,000 followers that you’ve taken time to properly engage with would be way more useful to you. Quality over quantity and all that.
That’s precisely why I don’t have over 1,000 followers yet because I want my connections to mean something.
I want to follow accounts that interest me, entertain me or could help me in my job.
In return, I want followers to hit that follow button because they think ‘this girl knows her stuff and I like her advice or quirky humour’. They might not need my services but a colleague or friend might or they could in the future.
I’d much rather have 500 really useful followers that are likely to buy my products, like what I stand for and engage with my posts than 5,000 faceless accounts from anywhere and everywhere just to make up the numbers.
4. Social media moves fast
I’ve worked in marketing management for over thirteen years. I was sending press releases and hearing about the news every Friday in the ‘Barnsley Chronicle’ before the days of Twitter.
When social media became a marketing channel and hit the old marketing toolkit around ten years ago now, no one could have predicted how major an impact it would have on marketing, business, our lives and for many, their existence.
Because it moves at such pace, there are very few social media qualifications out there for people to become proficient social media marketers. People like me had to learn through trial and error what worked and what didn’t, using wider marketing principles, as well as keep up with trends. I learn through hands-on learning, regular online training and I hold one of the very newest industry-standard social media marketing qualifications around.
Building meaningful communities of fans takes time. It also takes skill in finding where your followers are and what they want in terms of content from you on each of your social media channels.
- Instagram followers might want inspirational quotes rather than pictures of last week’s cake sale.
- Facebook followers are more likely to want entertaining videos of your team being silly doing karaoke in the office on a Friday afternoon rather than that blog article. You could always use that on LinkedIn anyway.
- Your younger followers might actually have deserted Facebook altogether for SnapChat or Instagram.
You get my drift – times change, people change, social media changes.
Even someone like me has to run very fast every day to keep up with it all as well as do the day job. If you don’t have time to keep up with that, that’s where people like myself are crucial to your business success. Which leads to my final point…
5. When you feel like you’re sinking, grab a life jacket
It’s very easy to become overwhelmed by competitor’s accounts looking like they’re doing well. When you’ve finished serving customers, seeing clients or patients, writing twelve blogs in a day, it’s easy to leave the job of social media to ‘something you’ll do tonight when the kids have gone to bed’.
Social media marketing is nothing like personal social media. Social media marketing needs to have a plan, some realistics goals, some ideas of what to post and some time to create those posts and content.
It’s pretty easy to manage once you’re in the swing of it, with the right tools and a roadmap behind you but until then, it’s like trying to find where the eggs are in a supermarket you’ve never shopped in before, wearing six inch heels that you’ve worn all day.
If you don’t have those things in place yet, you really can’t beat yourself up for not having 1,000 followers yet. Until you have those things in place, things are going to move pretty slowly.
There are no shortcuts to effective social media marketing for business. Being a robot is easy. Being a sociable human being takes a lot more effort. If you need help, get help and if you want to do it by yourself, I can help you with that too.
What other snippets of advice would you give to a business that wants to increase its followers to over 1000 authentically? Comment and be sociable, won’t you?