February 6, 2019

#BOSSCHICA: How to Grow a Social Media Audience in 2019

Hi cuties! In a recent Q + A Tuesday series a ton of you expressed interest in this topic and so I thought I'd create a post that you can all reference back to + share it as you'd like! For the purpose of this post, we'll be focusing largely on Instagram since it's the platform that currently dominates the landscape. 

Now I want to preface that these are the things that have worked for me, and does not necessarily mean I have it all figured out. It's 2019 - growing an audience online is not easy, especially since whatever seems to work one week goes out the window the next. Thank you, Instagram algorithm...But without further a due, here are some tips to build an engaged audience in 2019.


Giveaways
Starting right off the bat with this one since I know it's a bit of a taboo topic. Listen, I'll be the first one to admit, I grew my audience largely based on giveaways. I don't believe there's anything wrong with them as long as they're the right giveaway for you. How can you tell?

Well for one, always ask who will be joining this giveaway and make sure the accounts participating - no more than 15  -are accounts that align with your niche and you feel comfortable associating yourself with! If you're a mommy blogger, there's no use in participating in a travel giveaway because majority of the followers you'll gain will only stick around if you post travel content. It's simple - if you join a giveaway with accounts like yours, that means their followers will likely be interested in the content you share, right? I like to think of giveaways as an opportunity to gain exposure among an audience that likes similar accounts to mine, making it likely that they'll also enjoy my content. There is always drop-off, or loss of followers, after a giveaway - it's natural. But think about it this way - if those people that are not interested had stayed, they likely wouldn't engage with your content anyway. And what good are "ghost followers"? 

The last bit on giveaways is to stay away from those large "international giveaways" that cost an arm and a leg. I did one last year that gave me a healthy boost, but most followers are either inactive (because they only created the account to join giveaways) or from LATAM. And if you're building a business in the US, it's not the best use of your dollars. As a general rule of thumb, I don't spend more than $50 on a giveaway. 

Engagement 
This is a tip my good friend @thatgemruby shared with me last year, and it has changed the game for me! That is to engage 1 to 2 hours a day. Yes, you read that correctly. Like, comment and save! I typically wake up two hours early every day and dedicate that time to engaging. The concept behind why this works is that the more you give, the more you get - both from users and Instagram. And the more engagement your posts receive, the more new users will see it on hashtags and/or the explore page, putting you in front of potential new followers. I know there are engagement pods (groups of people who agree to essentially trade engagement via Telegram or Instagram DMs) and automated services that engage for you, but nothing works better than doing this yourself.

I generally engage with new accounts via the Explore page and other content creators' comment sections, my followers, specific hashtags, content creators similar to me and so on. I keep my 'Saved' posts pretty tidy so I have a starting point every morning. See below for example:

Features
A tip I feel not a lot of people talk about are features - as in getting featured (and tagged) by a larger account in your niche. There are tons of accounts that solely repost content - some larger than others. In the fashion community, some include @ootdmagazine and @americanstyle, for example. Now, I understand some of these accounts are tagged by thousands of users a day - but it's worth the shot to tag them! Use up those 20 tags allowed by IG, because you just never know. I know for a fact some of these accounts charge for a feature, but I can't speak to the return of investment here as I haven't tried this method myself. Also, always tag the brands you are using! It's not only a great way for your audience to know what you're showcasing in the post, but a good opportunity to get reposted by them. 

Another effective way to grow your audience is through media features. Say that Refinery29 does a roundup of 'The Best Fashion Bloggers to Follow Right Now' and they include you - that is millions of users that could find your page for absolutely free. If you're wondering where is a good place to connect with potential editors - sign up to HARO and ProfNet Queries, where you can serve as sources for any relevant articles media might be writing. Most if not all editors have social media channels - get on their radar!

Content 
Now this is the last section, but in my opinion the most important. Content is what people come to you for and why they stay once they've joined your tribe. It's your first handshake with the world. Invest in your content and make sure it is a reflection of yourself! So many times I hear content creators say things like "I want my content to be like such and such's" but they're already taken. Finding your voice and aesthetic can be challenging - I'll be the first one to admit it. I spent so many years mimicking those whom I admired, and in the long run it only hurt my growth. Last year was a monumental year for me because I finally started to create content that was true to me - and it resonated with people. It's completely ok to find inspiration in others, heck I do this myself all the time. But you won't build anything of your own by copying someone else's style. After all, "you can't influence the world by being just like it." 

Lastly, listen to what your audience wants from you and deliver. It's ok to try new verticals - but don't stop doing what people came to you in the first place! Slow and steady growth is better than quick fixes that won't amount to your business goals in the long-run. Put in the work and the never forget why you started.

Hope this helps someone out there!

xo,
Chels

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