16 ways to increase your social media audience

By Sarah Joel, Head of Social

The internet is littered with sites promising hundreds of social media followers at the click of a button.

While these can certainly give you an impressive follower count (at a cost), they won’t deliver the right kind of followers.

For true social media success, you need to connect with your company’s target audience. These are the users who will give you the engagement that boosts your traffic and your brand.

Of course, the number one tip to increase your social followers is simply to create great content. Original, well-researched and entertaining content speaks for itself, and will naturally deliver new followers through shares and engagement.

But in today’s hyper-competitive environment, even excellent content can still use a boost to get the ball rolling.

Other common tactics, such as targeted advertising and partnering with influencers, can deliver great results. However, these are usually beyond the time and budget of smaller businesses.

Here, we bring you quick and easy tips that anyone can use straight away. Whether you’re on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest, these ideas will help you gain the kinds of followers that offer real benefits to your business.

4 ways to increase your Facebook followers

The key to getting more Facebook followers is to try to expand your reach: the more people who see your posts, the higher the chance of some of them clicking that precious “Follow” button. Working with our client, BabyCentre UK, we’ve found that the following four tactics are great for expanding our reach and gaining new followers:

  • Timing: Simply put: try to post your content when the highest percentage of your followers are online. According to a recent study, content generally performs best when posted between 1pm and 3pm. But what if you’re a page dedicated to new parents or night workers, who tend to operate on a different schedule? Facebook Audience Insights shows you exactly when your followers are most often online. By posting at these times, you’ll get the best possible engagement.
  • Frequency: You might think that posting more often will mean more engagement, and therefore more followers. However, Facebook’s algorithms are wary of showing people too many posts from one page in a day, so spamming your users may actually result in poor reach overall. Repeated experiments have shown that posting less often can actually result in a much wider reach. This also removes the risk of “Facebook fatigue”; by ensuring that you don’t bombard your users, your content will remain fresh and relevant, increasing follower loyalty and retention. Each industry has its own maximum tolerance for posts, so try experimenting by posting more often one week, and less often the next, to see what the magic number is for your business.
  • Sharing: When you have great content, it’s tempting to only post your own assets on social media (or those of carefully selected partners). But sharing posts from other pages can be a no-effort way to gain more reach and followers yourself. Look for memes in your sector that are gaining plenty of comments, and give them a share. No video budget? No problem! Sharing others’ videos will enable you to take advantage of Facebook’s video-friendly algorithm, and increase your reach. And if users see that you’re often sharing interesting content from a wide variety of sites, they’ll follow you as a quality content curator. Be wary of sharing posts from your competitors, though! Try to find content from news outlets, entertainment sites, lifestyle pages, or other businesses that aren’t direct competitors in your sector.
  • Ask questions: If you can encourage your current followers to comment, their friends and family are likely to see your post, too, and you may well net some new followers that way. Asking questions in your post – or better yet, creating a simple visual that asks a question – is a classic way to boost this type of engagement. One particularly popular version of this is to ask your followers to respond with a gif – and you may even get some chuckles along the way!

4 ways to increase your Twitter followers

On Twitter, the name of the game is “engagement”. It’s not enough to be a simple content publisher and sharer; you really need to interact with both your current audience and your potential audience.

  • #hashtags: Everyone knows that hashtags are the lifeblood of Twitter, and choosing the right ones can really boost your follower count. Be sure to check trending hashtags frequently, and jump on anything that’s relevant to your sector. Also check which hashtags your immediate competitors use for inspiration. Tools such as Hashtagify can also be handy for finding popular hashtags related to your industry, though only limited functionality is available for free. Be wary of overdoing the hashtags though. Using too many can be offputting, and has been shown to reduce engagement. About one or two is usually a good amount, but do try your own experiments to see what works best for your particular audience.
  • Engagement: On Twitter, it really pays to be generous with your likes and retweets. In particular, look for major influencers in your industry, or accounts that aren’t direct competitors, but have overlapping interests with your sector. When you like or retweet their content, not only might they give you a follow back, but you’re also increasing your general reach among their followers. This can often lead to a swift increase in your own follower count – and all without having to create a single piece of content! Be authentic in your likes and retweets; don’t just go for the biggest accounts, but share content that has true relevance for your users.
  • Twitter events: Twitter releases an annual events calendar, packed with cultural and sporting events, from the Brit Awards and the FA Cup, to Earth Day and even “National Whine Day”! This gives you a perfect heads-up to create or tweak content specifically for these days, so you don’t fail to capitalise on those trending moments.
  • Make it visual: While platforms like Instagram and Pinterest are purely image-focused, many businesses are still sticking mainly to text on Twitter: a fatal mistake. Numerous studies have indicated that Tweets which contain images get more likes, retweets and click-throughs, expanding both your reach and your ROI. Also try experimenting with GIFs and video to really grab your audience’s attention, and encourage the engagement that will expand your reach and gain you new followers.

4 ways to increase your Instagram followers

Instagram is a platform where followers often like to feel appreciated and acknowledged. Like Twitter, it’s all about engagement; a “publish and wait” approach is unlikely to cut it. It’s worth investing some time in curating your list of followed pages, as well as your followers.

  • User-generated content: Reposting content from other users has several benefits: it helps your users to feel appreciated; it fills your feed with great content at no cost to you; and it can bring you to the attention of influencers, who may give you a follow in return, and subsequently return the favour by sharing your posts, thus dramatically increasing your reach. So don’t be afraid to follow influencers and other important pages in your sector, and get reposting!
  • Hashtags: Advice on hashtags for Instagram is similar to the advice given above for Twitter, but one important difference: the ideal number of hashtags. Research suggests that, while engagement drops with too many hashtags on Twitter, there’s no real maximum limit on Instagram. So feel free to add as many relevant hashtags as you can think of on each post. However, it’s always wise to try experimenting with different numbers of hashtags, to see what works best for your particular audience.
  • Instagram Stories: Launched in 2016, Instagram Stories allows you to post photos and videos that disappear after 24 hours. Many businesses have shied away from this feature, preferring to focus on evergreen content. However, Stories – especially when combined with judicial use of hashtags – can be a great way to get new eyes on your content. And, working with our client BabyCentre UK, we have found that creating daily Instagram stories can increase referrals by up to 176%!
  • Encourage engagement: Great content will get good engagement no matter what, but there are ways to prompt users into giving you the comments and mentions that will expand your reach. Try creating text-based images that ask your followers a question, or encourage them to tag their friends and family. Don’t be afraid to get personal; Instagram is all about connecting on a real, emotional level.

4 ways to increase your Pinterest followers

On Pinterest, content is king. To make the most of this platform, you need to really understand your target audience, and what they’re looking for specifically on this platform.

  • Understand your audience: This platform is quite different from many others. A much higher percentage of users are female, and lifestyle content tends to perform particularly well. However, Pinterest’s recent drive to market themselves more towards men is having an impact; according to the platform itself, about half of all new sign-ups are men, with male fashion and motoring being particularly popular topics for this sector. If you’re not familiar with the platform, it’s worth spending some time looking at competitors and others in your industry to get a sense of what kind of content really resonates with your target audience. And, of course, experiment by trying different types of content yourself.
  • Share and share alike: Pinning content from other users is one of the most effective ways to get noticed, especially when you’re just starting out. Look for pages with high follower counts that aren’t competitors, yet share content that’s relevant to your target audience, and share their best-performing content. Not only will this help you build a feed that’s packed with great content, but it also encourages others to share your content, opening you up to a much wider audience.
  • Keywords vs hashtags: In 2017, Pinterest officially announced that hashtags are now supported on the platform. However, keywords remain the backbone of Pinterest searching. When writing a description for your pin, be sure to use the words and phrases that a user would use when searching for your pin, to help them find you. By writing reasonably long an+C25d detailed descriptions, you can include more valuable keywords, and increase the chance of your content being found in search. And when you find a particularly popular and relevant keyword, try creating a board specifically for that keyword. Of course, it doesn’t hurt to add a few hashtags too, for that extra bit of a boost. This also helps for futureproofing; with time, it’s likely that Pinterest searches will develop the same focus on hashtags as seen on other platforms.
  • Cross-promotion: While Pinterest can help with brand exposure and traffic on its own, combining this platform with your other social networks can really make the most of it. In particular, sharing Pinterest boards on Facebook is a great way to reach a much wider audience and increase engagement for your brand. But be wary of posting exactly the same content across all your social platforms. Keeping some content exclusive to each platform gives users an incentive to follow all your social media channels, as each will deliver something unique.

Each social platform has its own conventions and expectations. However, many of the tactics listed above work well across all social networks. For example, although capitalising on major world events is primarily a Twitter tactic, it works brilliantly on Facebook and Instagram, too. At the end of the day, there’s no substitute for experimenting with different tactics, to see exactly what works for your individual audience. But the tips above are a great place to start!

Sarah is Head of Social at Thrive. She has years of award-winning experience creating B2B and consumer content for clients across print, digital and social.

Here at Thrive, we work with brands, partner agencies, governments and charities who want to transform lives and societies for good.

Download our free white paper on the link below to learn how femtech and other digital platforms can overcome barriers to health access for women:

Let's talk and change
the world's health together!

This is just a snapshot of what we do.

If you need help transforming your health content, let's talk.

Get in touch

Latest insights

Puzzle pieces connecting together

5 of the most impactful health campaigns Read more

Read more
Colourful feather quill

The evolution of period product advertising Read more

Read more
Colors going in circle

How to collaborate successfully with medical reviewers in your content project Read more

Read more