If you’d told me at the beginning that I’d reach 10,000 social media followers by the end of my first year, I’d have told you it was impossible.
And yet, I would have been proven wrong. Early on, my following grew at such a snail’s pace that I couldn’t believe anyone other than my Mum and a few close friends would like my Facebook page. But with time and effort, I managed to grow my following into something substantial.
I spent most of the past year concentrating on 5 major social media platforms – Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, and Bloglovin’. My favourites by far have been Instagram and Pinterest, but I’ve also seen some great results from Facebook and Bloglovin’.
Twitter, on the other hand, is my mortal enemy. I have never understood it and I still dislike it, even after using it for a year. While I haven’t seen good results from it, some bloggers swear by Twitter. I think it all just depends on which platforms you enjoy using.
So how did I go about using these platforms to grow my following? I’m about to let you in on my secrets to getting 10,000 social media followers in my first year of travel blogging!
If there’s one thing I’ve learnt over the past year, it’s that social media accounts grow faster when you spend more time on them. For example, I’ve made it known that I totally love Instagram. I spend around 20-30 minutes per day on the app, and I currently have 4500+ followers.
As a contrast, I spend less than 5 minutes a day on Twitter and I have barely over 1000 followers.
The platforms you are most active on will grow more than the ones you shun, though one thing to keep in mind is that different social media platforms have varying growth rates. My Facebook following has grown much slower than Instagram, even though I’m spending a similar amount of time on it.
There’s no point spending an hour on social media and then not interacting with anyone on it. By which I mean, don’t post a photo to Facebook and then just hope that people are going to somehow magically find your page and like the photo. You have to make people aware that you’re around.
The best way to do this is interact with people. Find your favourite blogger and comment on one of their posts. Mention other people in your own posts. All these little interactions will build up to make your presence known to others.
As Amy of Two Drifters mentions in her post on Instagram growth strategies, engagement is the single most beneficial thing you can do to grow your Instagram.
Never underestimate the power of a valuable comment, which means more than leaving ‘nice pic!’ on someone’s Instagram photo. By showing interest in someone’s post and giving some decent advice, that person, plus any other people looking at the post, will be intrigued by you and want to know more. Hello, new followers!
There are always rules about how often you should be posting on your blog, and what the best amount of posts is for so-and-so social media network. Well, I’m here to tell you that all those numbers are bullshit, all you should be doing is posting consistently.
Consistent posts are about creating an expectation for your followers. Can they count on you to provide something new for them every afternoon, every few days, or every week? However often you choose to post, make sure you stick to that schedule.
I’ve fallen into a routine of posting on my blog 1-2 times a week, Instagram and Facebook 1-2 times a day, Twitter 2-3 times a day (it automatically updates with archive posts, new posts, and Instagram photos), and I pin around 2-6 things on Pinterest a day (including a mix of my original content and other people’s pins).
Have some variety
There are way too many bloggers and companies that share only their own posts on Facebook and Twitter. From the perspective of a follower, this can be kind of boring. We want to be entertained, dammit!
So share posts from other bloggers. Share photos. Share infographics, interesting articles, or news stories. Share your opinion, or your views on a particular issue. Just don’t share the same old thing every day, because you won’t keep anyone’s attention for long.
top Quality posts
I’ve gone to a crapload of effort to always be improving the quality of my photos, my writing, and my storytelling, especially over the past few months. I think these improvements have been a major factor in growing my following.
Alongside quality content comes sharing. With better photos, you’re more likely to get them re-grammed on a popular Instagram account. With better writing, you’re more likely to get your post shared on someone else’s Facebook page. With better feature images, you’re more likely to have them shared on Pinterest.
People love finding the best of the best, so make sure every one of your posts, on both social media and your blog, is something you’re proud of.
I can’t emphasize enough how important quality is. Without quality, you have nothing.
This is a tactic used by many bloggers to grow their following initially, and it seems to be kept a massive secret in the blogging world.
I have used follow/unfollow on both Bloglovin’ and Instagram. I started by finding a few popular bloggers that I thought were somewhat similar to me, then went through their most recent followers and selected about 50 per day. The next day, I went through and followed another 50, then unfollowed the 50 from the day before.
This might seem like ‘cheating’, but you’re not paying for followers here – all you’re really doing is making people aware that your blog exists by giving them a notification. If they like the look of your blog, then they’ll often follow you back.
I’ve had a few people in the comments speak out against follow/unfollow, so let me clarify. This tactic is not great for building a long-term following as it doesn’t encourage engagement, so it’s best to only use it to gain social proof when you’re starting out. Once you get to 1000 followers on any platform, it will be easier to get new followers without using follow/unfollow.
One of the best ways I’ve found to gain exposure on both Facebook and Pinterest is to join groups.
On Pinterest, I joined a few group boards (which can be defined by the grey people icon in the top right corner) where I can pin some of my own photos and content, therefore gaining exposure to people who follow the board and not just my account. The boards I’ve had the most luck with are Amazing Travel Spots and Travel.
This isn’t such an important point for growing a following, but it does help in keeping me productive. In total, I probably spend around 12 hours per week on social media, but I think that number would be higher if I didn’t schedule some of my posts.
Every Monday, I spend my morning finding and scheduling content for Facebook, and choosing and editing all my Instagram photos for the week. I also have an IFTTT account set up to automatically post my Instagram photos to Pinterest and Twitter.
By spending a few hours once a week on scheduling, I’ve freed up more time on every other day of the week for tasks like writing blog posts and working on my Etsy shop.
Remember, getting 10,000 social media followers didn’t happen for me overnight. This took an entire year of spending around 5-10 hours per week on social media, so don’t be disheartened if you have a week or a month where not much seems to happen. If you keep at it, and keep improving, you’ll eventually see results.
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