It was whilst I was immersed in the jovial banter and ambient lighting that conversation steered towards the finer points of social media and it here that the challenged was laid; to increase my social media followers by 1,000 within four weeks.
Intrigued and curious to see whether I could, or how I could master this challenge, I flippantly — and with much bravado — declared, “1,000? Is that’s all?” before scratching my head and starting the process of connecting the links necessary to formulate a strategy.
All I knew at the time was that the challenge was set, there were clear and measurable goals, and that all the tools I needed were already on my plate so it was without much ado, I set forth to achieve the complete the challenge of increasing my followers by 1,000 within four weeks.
The scope of this experiment was so wide that I needed to define some parameters for my modus operandi. They are as follows:
- In true spreading-the-love-fashion, this challenge was conducted over four key projects:
- Stories of Our Journeys: Inspiring stories of adversity over hardship.
- WordCast: The blogging ecosystem that bloggers can immerse themselves into.
- Verona: Audio-soundscapes created upon the ideas of freshness and ambience upon a framework of electro pop
- Kym Huynh: My personal blog.
- The experiment ran for approximately five weeks.
- The experiment covered the use of Facebook and Twitter only.
- The use of ethical/white-hat strategies were the only methods permitted.
- No public lashings or public humiliation would result from not achieving the goal of 1,000 followers.
The statistics for the 1,000 followers challenge are as below:
Experiment start: Wednesday, 9 March 2011
|Stories of Our Journeys||36 fans||47 followers|
|WordCast||131 fans||588 followers|
|Verona||224 fans||1,843 followers|
|Personal Accounts||102 fans||11,425 followers|
|Totals||493 fans||13,903 followers|
Experiment end: Wednesday, 13 April 2011
|Stories of Our Journeys||37 fans||69 followers|
|WordCast||141 fans||746 followers|
|Verona||883 fans||1,865 followers|
|Personal Accounts||106 fans||11,496 followers|
|Totals||1,167 fans||14,176 followers|
|Stories of Our Journeys||37 fans||69 followers||+23|
|WordCast||141 fans||746 followers||+168|
|Verona||883 fans||1,865 followers||+681|
|Personal Accounts||106 fans||11,496 followers||+75|
|Totals||1,167 fans||14,176 followers||+947|
So how did I do this?
Step 1: Take snapshot stats of the experiment start. Each week I take statistics of my bodyweight with my trainer and each week, I marvel at the small changes (two-parts elated at the progress and 10-parts impatient with how long it takes).
Turns out, these small increments add up significantly over time such that when one looks at the starting statistic and the ending statistic, the overall change is significant; as attested by my friends who now believe I look like a panda and preferred me when I looked bulimic.
I now no longer question the value in tracking everything. Start tracking those statistics today.
Step 2: Revamp Twitter and Facebook accounts. I’m embarrassed to admit that my Facebook and Twitter accounts were a little worse for wear and were in desperate need of some tender-loving-care for I had neglected to integrate them into my projects.
“No more!” I declared as I started my exercise of revamping said social media accounts.
Out with the old biographies, in with the new, update to the avatars and backgrounds resulted in a much more taken-care-of look and from my understanding, provided more confidence to people that my accounts were actually not created for spam!
Step 3: Create incentives for people to like or follow the project. Rumour has it that people are more willing to “like” or “follow” you if they are given a beneficial reason for doing so.
On this understanding, I created free downloadable digital goods (such as ebook chapters and mp3 songs). The greatest thing of all? Gathering digital goods to offer for free was a relatively quick and painless task.
If you have a blog, gather some of your best articles into an ebook and offer it for free. If you are a musician, offer one of your songs for free.
Step 4: Integrate the incentives for people to “like” into Facebook. Integrating digital downloads as a thank-you for people who “like” your Facebook page is a simple task.
A quick google will reveal countless methods on how to reveal download links after a person “likes” a page. Throw up a nice graphic and you’re all set.
For WordPress users, the WP4FB theme makes the process seamless and comes highly recommended (I’m a fan of products that just work and I use this for my Facebook pages.)
Step 5: Publicize the heck out of the incentives. Have you got friends in high places? Poke them for a little Twitter or Facebook love.
Sarah from Hidden Documentary recently made a bid entitled “Send Hidden Documentary to Africa to Blog for Women’s Health” and created a large Facebook event for all her friends. She then proceeded to invite all her friends to the event and pushed for “likes” on her Facebook page. Over the weekend, Sarah’s “likes” jumped significantly. The lesson here? Friends like to help friends.
Don’t forget to feature the Facebook “like” and Twitter “follow” buttons in key areas of each project site. Whether it be on the sidebar to blog posts, ensure that the buttons appear on highly visible areas so that your visitors are aware that you want them to “like” and “follow” them.
Step 7: Offer alternative reasons for people to “like” or “follow” you. Gone are the days of using your Twitter account to publicise your latest blog posts.
Also gone are the days of sending out short messages out into the universe hoping to get any sort of reaction.
People and organizations are quickly realizing the importance of consciously sharing messages that align with your strategy; have a reason for every tweet or update you send.
Similarly, the content that you send out on Facebook and Twitter should be a different offering to that of your site or blog. From behind-the-scenes looks to “random” musings, Twitter and Facebook are invaluable tools in showing personality, humanizing your organization or company, and letting the people behind your project shine.
Give people reasons to “like” and “follow” you and you should see a higher retention for people in staying with you, your product or your company.
Step 8: “Follow” individuals interested in your niche. Twitter has a handy tool to search for people tweeting about specific topics.
Following people interested in your topic area is a great way to expose yourself to people who otherwise may not have heard of your project.
The benefits are two-fold: (1) These people will more likely be interested in what you write about; and (2) Your followers are people who you want to be marketing towards.
Step 9: Revise and tweak. As with all strategies, you will need to revise and tweak as you continue.
The basic rule of thumb? Improve on what works, reduce and eliminate what doesn’t. Simple!
Step 10: Take snapshot stats of the experiment end. This is, admittedly, my favourite part. Take in the final stats, compare, and bask in your utter brilliance before passing out from exhaustion.
What are the reasons for the increases?
Natural growth. All projects are currently active in varying degrees and the growth of each project was positively related to how active the project was.
Incentive strategies. The projects that offered the most incentives (such as Verona where we offered free downloads of our songs) gained the most increases.
Quick responses to current trends. Does the name Rebecca Black and her catchy song “Friday” ring a bell (it sure does for me; many times!)? Verona leveraged off the growing popularity of Rebecca Black by creating videos centered around her, and linking back to Verona which emphasized our free offerings.
Promoting Twitter and Facebook accounts on the associated project. See above as to why this is important.
Offering personable content on the Twitter and Facebook accounts. Retention rates improved when we offered alternative personality-centric content on the Facebook and Twitter accounts.
What would I do differently?
More emphasis on the Twitter and Facebook account designs. I would hire to designer to throw something incredible together, but this may just be the perfectionist in me talking.
Better incentives for people to join. WordCast provided a free chapter from an ebook, but I discovered that the free offering only appealed to a small niche.
Verona on the other hand provided an incentive that appealed to a broader market. The lesson here is to ensure that there is broad appeal of your free offering and a “demand” for it.
Integration of incentives across all accounts. The biggest increases in Facebook “likes” came from projects that offered incentives (Verona and WordCast). Experience suggests that a greater increase in “likes” would have occurred if the incentives strategy was implemented across all accounts.
How can you replicate this on your own?
All the above steps are easily replicable. When you begin, ensure you implement the following to maximize your effects:
Give people a reason to like or follow. Have a compelling offer or an incentive such as a free song download or a free ebook chapter.
Impressions are everything. You have less than 15 seconds to convince a potential visitor to “like” or “follow” you. Remove all perceivable risks (spam, default account etc.) by ensuring your profile fields are filled in, copy checked and revised, and graphics tight.
Track statistics. Text documents, Word documents, Excel databases — all are equally as good. I use Evernote to remember everything and highly recommend it. The fact that it syncs across all your computers, smart phone devices and desktops? Brilliance at the click of a button.
Integrate the accounts into your project. Let your visitors know that you want them to “like” and “follow” you. The ease at which you can implement social media buttons and graphics into your website are so simple, there is no reason why this shouldn’t be done.
Follow the sort of people who you want to follow you. These people will be the ones who interact with you and your product. Cherish them. Nurture them and love them.
I wish you all the best of luck and am interested to see what results you get. If you also have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comments. I look forward to hearing from you.