Marketing series: How to Grow Your Audience

I gained 1400 followers in eight months. And you can too.  Today, I’m explaining my process in the hope that it may help clarify the mysterious numbers game that is social media.  Social media is about being social. Not just delivering information. You want followers to interact not only with you, but the information you are providing.  Going into the development of my public profile, I had a few things in mind from my days in politics.

Name Recognition

I knew that I wouldn’t get a lot of followers until I had some sort of critical mass, if you will, of content. But, most of my activity was going to have to be geared towards interacting with other people rather than content creation.  At that time I posted one thing a day. Why? Content creation wasn’t my aim. Name recognition was. Let me explain.  

I focused on finding IG content creators that had content I liked and/or were in a community that I wanted to belong to.  I spent my time “introducing” myself by liking their content and by making comments. Both forms of engagement got my name exposed to the content creators, so that I could possibly build a relationship with that person.  Comments had the additional benefit of “name exposure” to other followers of those content creators. This means that those who were reading the comments of the posts would see my name and my comment on that post. Seeing my name was “name exposure.”  Science says that people need to see something a certain number of times before they remember it. So the more my name was seen, the more likely my name would be remembered. This is called name recognition.  

I don’t do a lot of follow-loops because I feel like that’s creating a bubble of sorts that easily collapsible.  What I mean by a bubble is the followers aren’t following you because of your content, but because of the follow-loop, so I feel like their interest in your content is delicate at best.  I talked more about this in another post. I prefer to have with they call “organic” followers and likes.

Moving Past Name Recognition to Gaining Followers

In establishing my presence so far, I would say that I’ve had three-ish phases.  

First, I established my  my “brand.” Not only the “look“ of my post, but also the message I wanted to promote. My “persona” is based on me, obviously, but it is focused on my passion for inclusivity and my passion for creativity.  I also wanted to encourage my fellow creatives.   

The second phase was building up content, reaching out to others, and sharing their posts in an effort to network.   During this phase I tried to post 4 to 6 times a day, including reposts of other people’s work so that I could be above the noise level. I talked more about this in another post.  

Now, I don’t create as often because I’m once again more focused on engaging in other people’s content and figuring out what I want to do next.  To figure out where I’m going, I need to assess where I am. So, I’m also looking at my followers to see which communities that I have done a good job in making in-roads.  I’m not sure what the next phase is going to be. I am also looking at my engagement numbers. I am looking at which posts have been doing well and hypothesizing possible reasons why.  Then I will decide what community I want to make friends with next. Once I do, I’ll start digging to see what hashtags that they use, what kind of content that they have, and who the people are are the major influencers in order to get a sense of the culture of that community to not only see if I could fit in, but of the kind of content that I already make what could I do to make it most appealing.  And most importantly, asking if tweaking my content will stay in line with my values and my authenticity.  

My general strategy

In general,  I made interacting (liking, commenting, following) my top priority.  In doing so, I was able to establish relationships with content creators. I also DMed people  telling them that I like their content or asking questions Making friends on social media is not much different than making friends in real life. You strike up a conversation. You complement their outfit or comment on a book they’re reading or the unique bag over their shoulder. . The same thing is true for social media when you interact with content.  

How to make friends with specific content creators

One way that you can gain a specific content creator’s  attention is by liking 10 to 15 of their posts. That way, when they look at their likes they see your name over and over and over again, they say hey this person is trying to make friends. If you’re trying to make friends with a specific group of people, you look up a hashtag they post to and start commenting and liking the people who post to that hashtag.This way, you increase your name  recognition within that group of people. Then you identify people whose content you really like and who have a lot of followers And go and introduce yourself by liking 10 to 15 of their posts.

You don’t need follow-loops

As you can see, it’s really not that difficult to gain organic followers and make friends on social media. It’s just a timely investment. 

Why get followers? Why make friends? Networking

So why would you want to make friends on social media? The answer is simple one of the important things about marketing is making friends. This is also called networking.

It’s not about using people. If you’re a nice person, you’re not gonna want to make friends just so that you can use them. The difference between using someone and having a relationship where both parties are gaining something that might have monetary value is a distinction that I want to talk about first.  Using people, implies that one person is getting more out of the social exchange or the work exchange then another person. However in collaboration both people get just as much out of the situation as the other person. Collaboration and cooperation, I feel, is vital to a creative community because we are better together  then just any then the sum of our parts.

So, there is a way to create relationships with others that is mutually beneficial for business purposes or creative projects or what kind ever kind of collaboration you’re thinking of.  One thing to keep in mind when your building relationships is to create a situation where people can openly communicate. This is vital to make sure that both parties are checking in with each other to make sure that everybody feels like they’re getting something out of the situation and also so that the relationship can continue to be strengthened for future endeavors.  So open communication is the foundation for networking in my opinion. It takes not only being honest with the other person but also honest with yourself. This kind of communication also takes courage because you might have to tell somebody else that you do not like something that’s going on and maybe you don’t want to hurt someone else’s feelings or maybe you don’t like to make other people mad or maybe it just feels rude.  The key though is to make sure that the relationship is maintained and nurtured through honest communication. This doesn’t mean that you have to be mean, but it does mean that you have to say something. If this kind of communication comes easily to you, then that’s great. For most people, I think that communication for the purpose of collaboration and cooperation does not come naturally because it goes against social norms of politeness or being nice or what have you.

TIP for Creating Collaborations

One of the ways to set up a collaborative relationship is just to be upfront about it and say hey I would like to collaborate with you let’s set up some ground rules. Or if that seems a little bit too contrived maybe just say hey let’s just make sure that we all are OK with what’s going on and let’s check in with each other on occasion. I can talk more about communication and another post if this is of interest to you.


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