Version 2 of this post is now live on the blog! It’s called “How I Got 35K Followers in the Last 4 Months” Also, I’ve been having enormous success with marketing myself on Snapchat lately. Check out my post called “Snapchat 101: How to Market Yourself & Your Brand” for advice.
*This post is written as a guide to how I obtained 10 Thousand Real Followers across the 5 major social media outlets in less than 7 months. I will spill all of my strategies that I’ve used for each social media: Pinterest, Google Plus, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. This article is intended to be a resource for other bloggers and businesses who are looking to quickly build their social media following and network among people within your target market.
By now, I think every blogger, business and service knows the importance of a strong social media presence. In today’s world, social media has emerged as arguably the most important way to build a positive reputation and interact with your audience. In turn, establishing a positive reputation will ultimately lead to more sales.
As I am writing this (Sept 2014), my blog just turned 1 years old. For the first 5 months after I launched my site, I was virtually absent on Social Media. I only posted things to my personal Facebook Page, which barely even got noticed. Additionally, during my first 5 months of blogging, I didn’t have a Facebook fan page, I didn’t know what Google Plus or Pinterest was, and my Twitter account had a measly 50 followers. The only social network that I used was Instagram, where I only had about 200 followers (just my immediate friends). I had no idea what I was doing.
Fast-forward 7 months time, and I just hit the 10K follower mark across the 5 major social media platforms. Each and every follower was obtained organically- meaning I haven’t spent a dollar to buy “fake followers.” In addition, I have a nice balance of followers across the 5 networks, as opposed to one being more popular than another.
By the numbers, my current follower count as of 9/20/2014 is:
1. Twitter– 3,039 followers
2. Instagram– 2,267 followers
3. Google Plus– 2,131 followers
4. Pinterest– 2,121 followers
5. Facebook– 514 followers
How did I go from ZERO to 10 Thousand in 7 months?
I have been using specific strategies for each social network, from which I learned by reading books (Check out Jab Jab Right Hook by Gary Vaynerchuk), surfing through blogs, and picking the brains of other travel bloggers.
I wrote this post for all bloggers, businesses, and others who wish to gain a strong following on social media. Specifically, this post is for those (travel) bloggers who are just getting started and who are overwhelmed by the complexity of social media. After reading my tactics presented in this article, I am confident that you will get a following of at least 10K real-life people in less than 7 months. These are my proven methods that actually work. Once you understand how to apply these strategies, it shouldn’t take you more than 1 hour of work per day to see your followers skyrocket.
*Please note that this is a very long blog post. If you only need assistance on a specific social network, then just skip down until you find it!*
I believe that Pinterest has the most potential to gain recognition and drive traffic to your blog/business. That’s why it is the first on this list. Today, Pinterest is currently my #2 traffic driver to my blog, behind organic Google searches. I cannot stress the importance of how much Pinterest can help grow your blog or business audience. If you’re not on it, then you should probably stop reading right now and open an account on Pinterest.com before you proceed.
Just lets these statistics do the talking…
Quick Stats (as of March 2014)
– launched in March 2010
– 70 million active users
– 80% women, 20% men
– Pinterest drives more revenue to ecommerce sites than any other social share
– in Jan 2014, Pinterest overtook Facebook in terms of revenue per visit
– Call to action pins increase engagement by 80%
– The average user has a household income of over $100,000
– The main demographic is between ages 25-35
– Users spend 4.5 more time on Pinterest than Linkedin
Boards– these are very similar to pin boards that you have on your wall, but each board has a specific topic. You can add photos that are relevant to each board, which you find anywhere online or elsewhere Pinterest. For example, you can have a board called “My favorite beaches,” where you pin photos of all your favorite beaches to that board.
Group Boards– these are boards that are open to the public, so anyone can pin their pictures to that board. There are group boards in just about every topic, and some are more popular than others.
Pin– you “pin” photos to your boards. A “pin” can be considered a photo that you put on your board (noun), or you can also use “pin” as a verb. So, the act of putting a pin on a board is called “pinning.” Sounds confusing, but it’s really easy once you get the hang of it.
Repin– when someone likes a pin they see, they can “repin” it to one of their boards
Like– just like any other “like” button, this just shows that you like the pin
Comment– self explanatory, just commenting and showing appreciation for other people’s pins.
1. Pin 1 photo per day to 10 different “group boards”
Posting photos to group boards in your niche is the most critical way to grow your following on Pinterest. That being said, you have to do some work and see out the best and most popular group boards, and request to be joined. Each board has different ways of joining, but the owner will usually write how to join under the description of the board.
Seek out 10 active boards (the more followers on the board is better) and post 1 photo a day on it. Try to mix up the photos that you pin on each board (i.e. don’t pin the exact same photo to each board). By doing this, your pictures will be exposed to all of the followers of each specific board. Don’t post more than 1 photo per day, because then many people will think you are spamming… And nobody likes spam.
I have a folder on my desktop labeled “Pinterest Photos,” with about 60-70 of my best travel photos that I will only post on Pinterest. Most of them are edited to bring out the colors and make them more appealing. Then, I’ll just pull images from there to post on each group board. I find this method to work the best!
MAKE SURE TO:
– add your URL in the “edit pin” section. This is very important, so people will be redirected to your blog when they click on the photo
– Use good photos. Always pin Vertical over horizontal, and use as many colors as you can. Also, putting big words on the photo draws people’s attention as well. I use Canva.com to make my photos. It’s free and extremely easy to use.
– Post at the right time. The most popular time to post on Pinterest is from 7-10PM EST, so try to aim around then.
2. Comment on 10 “popular” Pins per day
Go to the search bar at the top and type in one key word. If you have a travel blog, then type in words like “travel, trip, adventure, explore, wanderlust, world, nature, etc..” Then, all of the most popular pins of that hashtag will appear. Once you’ve selected 10 popular pins, then just repin, comment, and like them. If you comment on a photo with 1,500 repins, then your comment is bound to be seen by at least a few hundred people, directly sending them to your account. Make your comments witty and memorable!
3. Follow 50 new people per day in your target market
Pinterest doesn’t have a limit to how many people you can follow (at the moment). While this may change in the future, you should take advantage of it right now and follow 50 people per day in your target market! You can find people by looking at the followers of notable people in your market.
For example, I will find popular travel bloggers and search their followers, so I can discover more travelers and travel bloggers. Then I will follow 50 people, but I will make sure to only follow active users (i.e. I won’t follow people with 5 followers). You’ll be surprised by how many people will follow you back!
4. Create nice personal boards on your own page
Making your page look nice is very important. It can be the deciding factor if someone will follow you or not.
My biggest suggestion is having a nice profile photo, description, and making your boards memorable. Also, take some time pinning photos to your top boards, so it looks like they are active and draws people to follow them. On your Pinterest home page, the top row of 4 boards are the most seen (just like the first few searches on google), so make them the best! You really want to show off!
Take a look at my personal Pinterest page!
2. Google Plus
In my eyes, Google Plus is the second most untapped social media, and it has great potential to boost your traffic numbers. Given that this platform is run and managed by Google, it can be directly related to boosting your SEO traffic on Google. I have only been using it for about 4 months, and I have over 2.1K followers and over 1.6 MILLION views on my G+ profile… If I can do that in 4 short months, then you can too!
Before I begin with my strategies, make sure you’ve taken the time to complete your G+ profile by making it look neat and professional. Fill out all the “About Me” page, add nice photos, and especially talk about your blog or business. After all, who is going to follow you if your profile looks horrible?
Let’s look at the facts (as of June 2014)
– Launched in November 2011
– 2nd largest social networking site in the world, behind Facebook
– Has 350 million monthly active users
– Google Plus app is 4th most popular in the world
– 1.5 billion photos uploaded every week
– 600,000 people join everyday
– best display of photos for any social network
– The +1 button is clicked 5 billion times a day
Circles– Circles are a way that you organize your contacts. For example, I have circles for travelers, friends, family, and acquaintances. You can share different content with different circles.
Communities– these are groups, similar to Pinterest “group boards” or Facebook groups. They bring people together who share similar interests. You can easily join a group by clicking “join this group.”
Plus 1– a plus 1 (+1) is the exact same thing as a Facebook “like” or a twitter “favorite.”
Sharing– You can choose to share someone else’s post publicly or to a specific circle
Hangouts– these are a conference held in real-time. It’s like Skype, but up to 10 people can join in and the connection speed is notably better.
1. Post 1 image per day in 10-15 communities related to your niche
This is the best way to build your following and gain a positive reputation on Google Plus. G+ has an amazing platform for displaying photos- maybe the best out of all the social networks.
Become a member of as many Travel-related “communities” as you can. A communities is the same thing as a group board on Pinterest… Basically, it’s a public place where people can share pictures and interesting things they find online. Once you are a member of a board, then post 1 image per day to that community from your travels. Do this for 10-15 communities everyday. Try to change up the photos that you use for each board, so nobody will think you are spamming G+ with the same photo.
Doing this will grow your followers because people will find your awesome photos and follow you. Be careful about posting links to your blog, because some communities will think it is spam. Just do it sparingly. Also, don’t post more than 1 photo per day to any board because people will also think you are spamming.
Which images should you post?
I generally post all of my best travel photos, which I also pull from a folder on my desktop labeled “Google Plus Photos” that has about 40-5o images in it. In the caption section, I will usually write a simple sentence and include 3-5 hashtags.
For example: “A beautiful shot of Nyhavn Street in #Copenhagen #Denmark from last summer. #travel #europe”
Also, whenever I launch a new blog post, I design a call-to-action image on Canva. Once again, I highly recommend using this website because it’s free and easy to use!
2. Follow LOTS of random travelers, bloggers, & people in your niche to your circles
Google + is nice because it doesn’t show how many people you are following… It only displays the amount of followers you have. This is important, because you won’t lose credibility for following too many people (unlike Twitter).
Don’t go too crazy though, because then Google + will suspend your account or think you are spamming everyone. But I usually follow between 50-100 people per day by adding them to one of my circles. And many of these return the favor and follow me back!
*Note that “following” and “adding people to your circles” is the same thing.
How do you find which people to follow?
I look under the most popular travel posts which have the most +1’s (look under the “explore” tab on the home page and type in a keyword like “travel”). Then, I click on the top right arrow of the photo and click on “view photo activity” and I can see all the people who have commented and liked the photo. I then will add these people to my circles!
Once you’ve added people in your circles, then they can see everything you post on your profile! It’s a win-win if you ask me 😉
3. Post 1 image a day to your own account
This is where I get the most activity on my G+ account. I will post 1 image per day from my travels, with a link to one specific blog post. I usually get well over 100 +1’s and dozens of comments from random people. If your photo is really good with lots of activity, then G+ will promote it to a bigger audience!
For example, one of my travel pics of Thailand was popular, and it got promoted into the “travel” hashtag. When I woke up the next morning, this photo had over a THOUSAND +1’s, 200 comments and 30 shares. It also had a link to my blog on that post, so can you image how much traffic that one post gave me? Get creative, and you’ll see the results.
Lastly, make sure to upload PICTURES not just LINKS of your blog posts! These get more activity.
4. Use the “explore” tab to find and comment on 10 pics per day
The explore tab is key. You can find it on your home page on right side of the bar at the top. Click on it, and you can explore any hashtag on G+.
I always explore hashtags like “travel” “nature” “asia” “trip” etc, to see the most popular photos. After you seek out 10 popular photos (make sure they have at least 100 +1s), then simply write a comment on it. It can be cheesy like “I really love this photo, thanks for sharing!”
The point of doing this is because many eyes will see your comment, and a small fraction of them will click on your page. Once they click on your page, many times they will follow you! Try to make your comments interesting to draw people’s attention.
5. Use Proper Hashtags
You probably know this from other social media networks like Twitter, but hashtags are important and they do play a key role. I try to use 4-8 relevant hash tags for every photo I upload on G+. Like I mentioned before, sometimes G+ will recognize one of your popular photos and they will promote it. This has happened to me several times, where I’ve received thousands of likes and hundreds of comments on one photo! Make sure to use key hashtags that are related to your photo or blog post. Some hashtags that I frequently use are “travel” “asia” Europe” “nature” “blog” “wanderlust” “Thailand” for example.
Take a look at my Google Plus account!
I’m assuming that most of you reading this have an Instagram account, because of its rapid expansion over the last few years. In my opinion, the platform is better than Facebook because you can keep up with others without any advertisements and distractions. It’s only photos.
But have you used Instagram to your advantage?
If done correctly, Instagram is a great tool to raise awareness for your blog or company. Even though you won’t drive as much traffic from Instagram (because you can’t post any clickable URL links), it’s a nice place to network with other people in your industry.
I am going to skip the terminology, because it’s pretty simple. Just post photos, like photos, comment, and use hashtags.
Instagram by the numbers (as of July 2014)
– Launched October 2010
– 200 million monthly active users
– 70% of users login at least once per day
– Percentage year over growth for the Instagram App is 66%
– 60 million photos posted per day
– 1.3 BILLION likes per day (~9,000 likes per second)
– On average, you get 1 comment every 33 likes
1. Post 1 amazing photo every 24 hours
It’s very important to be active on Instagram, but not too active. Everyone hates people who spam with 10 photos in a row. I know I can’t stand people like that.
So, choose your best (most applicable) photo, and post ONE time every 24 hours. No more and no less than 24 hours. The timing is the most important part to this, because you want the maximum people to see your photo. Rule of thumb is that the most popular time to post on Instagram is between 3-8PM EST, but everyone’s audience is different. I recommend experimenting with a few times and seeing which gets the most activity.
Also, make sure to add 7-10 applicable hashtags. This will get your photo noticed by random people, who are likely to click the “follow” button on your page!
2. Search for others in your target market, and comment and “like” their photos
Just like I talked about in Pinterest and Google Plus, it’s critical that you seek out people in your niche and comment on their photos. Commenting is much more important that liking, because comments are seen by everyone and it’s more personal. It’s one of the best ways to reach out to random people in your niche, who otherwise wouldn’t have discovered you.
How do you find others?
Look under the explore tab and type in any relevant hashtags to get a live feed of posts under that tag. For example, I always look under “travel” or “trip, wanderlust, adventure, globe, etc…” Then, I will like and comment on as many photos as I can!
You can also seek people by looking at the followers/following of notable people in your industry (just like Pinterest).
*Beware that Instagram DOES have strict policies on following and commenting, and they will block your account if they are suspicious of you spamming people. I’m not exactly sure how the algorithm works, but experiment around and see what they will let you do. I usually get a message saying “Your account is frozen for 2 hours, blah blah blah.” Experiment around and see how much you can do before they temporarily block your account.
3. Go back and add hashtags at critical times
Instagram is the most important social network for using hashtags. More than Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Google Plus (by a long shot).
Because you are allowed to go back to all your old photos and comment with 10-20 MORE hashtags! There is no limit to hashtags! By doing this, your photo will jump back up to the top when people search under that hashtag name. This gives your photos a lot more recognition.
Look at this website to find which hashtags are most popular in your niche!
4. Find big accounts (over 10K followers) and ask them to repost your photos
I just started doing this, and it has worked incredibly well. Find popular Instagram accounts in your niche, and ask them to feature your photo with a link to your account in the description. I have been featured on some accounts with 25K followers, and I woke up one morning with 50 new followers. I can only imagine if National Geographic or the Travel Channel featured one of my pics… then I’d get thousands of new followers instantly.
Check out my Instagram account!
Any breaking news story is widespread within seconds, and any celebrity can spill their thoughts to millions of people with the click of a button. It’s quite fascinating if you ask me. Twitter is more powerful than any other social network when it comes to rapidly spreading information. And whether you are for it or against it, you must come to realize that the world is becoming more connected with every tweet.
If you’re not using twitter to network and market yourself and your business, then you are making a massive mistake.
Amazing Twitter facts (as of August 2014):
– 1 billion registered users
– 100 million daily active users
– Percentage of world leaders who have Twitter is 80%
– 68 million tweets per day
1. Tweet about 10 times per day (spread out in intervals)
Twitter moves at a rapid pace. The average lifespan of a single tweet is about ~15 minutes. So, you want to be as active as you can.
But, never tweet back to back because that pisses people off, and many people will unfollow you for spamming them. There are several free program that you can use to schedule your tweets like HootSuite and Future Tweets. I recommend tweeting every 2 hours if you can.
2. Get on Triberr
I just joined Triberr a month ago, and it has done wonders for me!
In a nutshell, Triberr will grow your blogs readership because you can connect with likeminded bloggers who support each other. Join a “tribe” in your niche, and every time you post an article to your blog, people in your tribe have the option to retweet your article to all of their followers.
So now, every time I post a new article, I have a reach of over 4 million followers (because now I am connected with all of my tribes followers). It’s sort of confusing at first to understand, but it’s easy to get the hang of, and you will definitely get more views.
My most recent article “50 Lessons I’ve Learned From 50 Countries” was retweeted out by over 40 people (all travel bloggers). That brought so many new visits to my blog! Also, you are allowed and encouraged to retweet other people’s posts, which make your tweets more diverse (so you aren’t only tweeting your articles).
So, not only are important people in your niche tweeting out your articles, but your own personal Twitter following will grow faster than ever!
Triberr is free, fun and effective- so get your ass on it!
3. Share 50% your own content, 50% others
I like to share about half my own content, and half others. I have found this ration to work the best for me. People appreciate when you share others work, and general current events in your industry. But of course, don’t hesitate to post your amazing work as well! Just make sure to keep this healthy ratio.
4. Tweet @ 30 new people per day and follow them
This is perhaps the most effective way to network in your niche. Search under related hashtags to find people, or find a notable person and look under his/her “followers.”
Once you find worthy people to network with, simply tweet a simple message @ them like:
“Hey @____, I love your blog and following your travels. Keep up the good work!”
“Hey @____, I was just in Bali and I used your amazing advice on your blog. Just want to say thanks :)”
“Hi @_____, just want to say that your work is incredible, and your advice has really helped me out. Thank you!”
“Hey @_______, you are such an inspiration to me and I appreciate all your work. Would you mind checking out my blog and offering any advice?”
…Something along those lines.. Just spark their interest, follow them, and they will most likely follow you back 😀
Side note: Don’t reach out to people who have (for example) 100,000 followers, and are only following 50 people back. Look for people who have a nice balance following-to-follower ratio!
5. Take advantage of Trending Hashtags
Look up trending hashtags and see what people are currently talking about! Then, figure out how to apply this to your blog/business/industry. Try to be as witty as possible, and that will attract people and direct them to your account.
For example, if the #worldcup hashtag is trending, then say “In honor of the #worldcup, in Brazil, check out my article all about tourism in #Brazil!” Just imagine how many eyes will cross that tweet, and hopefully a small fraction of them will follow you.
6. Unfollow people that don’t follow you back
There is an amazing free resource called Unfollow.ferrastudios.com, where you can find out who isn’t following you back and then instantly unfollow them! I like to do this every month or so to clean up my account.
7. Use 3 hashtags per tweet
As you already know, hashtags are a great way for your tweets to get noticed. Use appropriate ones, and you can market to a larger audience!
Take a look at my Twitter Account!
To be honest, Facebook marketing is my least skilled out of the 5 social media platforms, and that’s why it is last on this list. For some reason, I have a hard time getting likes on my page, and it’s quite frustrating. Maybe it’s because I started my fan page late in the game, or because Facebook’s algorithms seem to change on a daily basis.
As of lately, I have been getting more activity on my page, so I am slowly picking up steam. Hopefully it will continue to grow as time goes on.
If you want to see a much better guide to Facebook than this one, check out my friend Sabina’s Facebook Guide on her blog, Girl vs. Globe, where she talks in depth about the strategies that she used to get her first 1K followers!
In any regard, I will do my best to explain the strategies for how I use Facebook.
Fun Facebook facts! (as of June 2014)
– Established in 2004
– 1.28 billion monthly active users
– 4.5 billion likes per day (67% from 2 years ago)
– 800 million people login daily
– Most common age demographic is 25-34 years old
– Highest traffic occurs mid-week between 1-3PM
– Average time per visit is 20 minutes
– 1 in 5 page views on the internet are on Facebook (in USA)
1. Invite all your friends to like your page
This is the obvious starting point to get likes for your page. Invite every single person in your network. These are your personal friends and family members, who are likely more than happy to support your blog or business!
2. Upload 2-3 photos per day
At first, I only uploaded 1 photo per day. But I quickly found out that posting 2-3 per day is will increase your activity. This is because the people who are most active on your pics will see your stuff more often than others who are quiet. This is how the Facebook algorithm works these days, but you can use it to your advantage because your fans will be engaged more than ever with your content!
A few notes when posting photos:
– Always upload a photo (not just a link), and then manually add the link to your blog post or URL.. This is proven to have a much higher response rate
– Make nice photos using Canva!
– Post between 1-3PM for the local time (wherever most of your audience lives)
– After you post, click the “highlight” option and tag yourself in the photo!
3. Seek out big Facebook groups and ask them to post your articles
I just started doing this, and it’s proving to be a great tactic to boost your followers. Do your homework and find Facebook groups with large following (over 20K fans) and see if they will post your article, with a link to your blog!
4. Boost Posts that have lots of activity
Your posts that have the most comments and likes have the most potential to go viral in your network (and hopefully on the internet). So, any time you have a post that particularly does well, boost it! I usually only spend $5USD to post my post (you can spend a lot more if you have the budget), and it reaches an audience 10-20 times more than it already has reached. It’s a great way to spread your content.
5. Join Facebook Groups
Joining FB groups in your niche is a smart way to get exposure to your audience and target market. Engage with them, comment on the things they say, and just get your name recognized. You’ll begin to see more random people that are following your stuff!
In my case, I have joined groups like Awesome Bloggers, Travel Bloggers, We Travel We Blog and more. It has been a great resource for me! Not only am I connecting with likeminded people, but I can also post any questions that I have and I always get detailed responses from experienced people.
6. “Like” and comment other pages, and they will do the same!
Just like every other social media, engage with others in your niche and they will return the favor. This is the oldest trick in the books !
7. Add a Call for Action!
The call for action is very important. Simply ask people to “comment your thoughts” or “share this post with your friends.” The more activity (likes, comments and shares) that you get, means that your post will be seen by a larger audience. Smart tactics!
Check out my Facebook Page, and don’t be afraid to “like” it 😉
I know that social media can be very intimidating to handle, especially when there is constant changes to the competitive marketplace. I still get overwhelmed sometimes.
My biggest piece of advice is to attack these platforms one-by-one. Start by opening up a Pinterest, and spend time learning and building it for a week until you are comfortable with the process. Then, do the same for Google Plus or whatever social networks you need help with.
How much time will it take you to do all of this? To get 10K followers in 7 months?
For me, I have spent about 1-1.5 hours everyday to post and build all my social media accounts. Once again, try to start slow until you get the hang of it, and then you will be able to accomplish more with less time. Trust me, after just a few weeks, you’ll be able to accomplish twice as much in 1 hour than you could before.
Outsource your work!
Hire a personal assistant from the Philippines for as little as $3/hour. I have hired a few hard-working, honest and reliable Filipinos, who have worked on my social media accounts everyday. Good places to find people are on Odesk, Elance or take my friend Nate Ginsburg’s class called Outsourcing for Solopreneurs. Nate is an expert at hiring virtual assistants and his advice is the best on the web. If you type in the discount code “travel,” then you can buy the course for $20 (instead of $100)! I have taken this class and I can personally recommend his useful strategies and advice.
I am confident that each and every one of you can obtain 10K followers in less than 5 months, given that you already have my proven tactics. It took me 7 months because I was trying to figure out which methods worked and which didn’t. Now, you have the strategies at your fingertips so use them to your advantage!
What to do next?
And don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions!
Thanks for reading!