How to Build a Social Media Following: A Step-by-Step Guide

Whether you love social media or you despise it, there’s no ignoring the fact that having a strong social media presence is important for modern brands.

Social media is a great place to engage with your target audience, build a loyal following, increase your brand visibility, and promote new products or services. However, building a solid group of engaged followers takes some work. Keep reading to learn how entrepreneurs can make the most out of social media!

Step 1: Define Your Target Audience

There’s more to social media than just posting for the sake of posting. A well-designed social media strategy starts with defining your ideal audience. This article from Hubspot provides an excellent, step-by-step guide for pinpointing your “people” online.

Once you know who you’re talking to, you can craft your message accordingly. Do some research into what your target audience likes, what they resonate with, and what type of content they will engage with before you start posting. FYI – this might take some trial and error! 

Step 2: Choose the Right Platforms

With so many social media platforms available, it can be overwhelming to try to decide where to start! This is another area you’ll want to research in order to determine the best social media platform(s) for your business. 

As you are researching your target audience, their likes, and their dislikes, look into what social media app they are most likely to engage on too. Knowing what apps they frequent will help you choose the right one for your business. This article breaks it down even further for you!

If you are a B2B organization, you’ll want to target decision-makers in your industry. Chances are that these people are on LinkedIn more than they are on Facebook.

On the flip side, if your target audience is teenagers between the ages of 12 and 17, Facebook probably isn’t going to be your most successful platform. Instead, take a look at TikTok or SnapChat.

Step 3: Optimize Your Social Media Accounts

Once you’ve narrowed down the spots you need to be active, optimize each profile. Set up a clear and professional profile picture, write an engaging bio that explains who you are and what you do, and include all relevant links, such as your website or booking schedule.

Step 4: Develop a Consistent Posting Schedule

Like all content marketing, consistency is key when it comes to social media marketing. Posting on a schedule will help to keep your content relevant and consistently showing up in your followers’ feeds.

To minimize the need to constantly be creative, batch your content creation. Set aside a few hours a month to create content that can be scheduled through software such as Agorapulse or Meta’s Business Suite. This ensures that your platforms will continue to be updated with new content, even if your personal or professional schedule fills up.

Step 5: Create High-Quality Content

When it comes to content creation, the worst thing you can do is to create content for the sake of creating content. Only post content that provides value (education, entertainment, etc.) to your audience!

When working with my clients, I always help them group content into a few different categories, also known as “content buckets.” 

The nine main content buckets I use are: 

  • Promotional (asking people to take the next step in buying your product or service)
  • Educational (providing a resource such as a tip, article, or video related to your expertise)
  • Branding (talk about your “why” – your mission, values, or purpose of existing)
  • Behind-the-Scenes (bringing people behind the curtain of your business)
  • Company Culture (showing what it’s like to work at your company)
  • Success Stories (sharing testimonials and case studies from happy customers/clients)
  • Engagement (inviting people to engage with your content with a simple question, poll, or contest)
  • Inspirational (giving encouragement or motivation through a quote or story)
  • Humorous (sharing your sense of humor)

Not only will this ensure that everyone is getting something from your content, but it can also give you inspiration when you aren’t sure what to create. 

From there, create and schedule your content! I recommend creating one week to one month at a time, so you can stay ahead yet flexible. Here’s a guide for batching your content. 

Step 6: Don’t Forget to Engage with Your Audience

Now that you’ve done all of this work figuring out how to promote your business on social media for free, keep your newfound followers around by engaging with them. 

If they comment on your posts, be sure to respond. If they send you DMs or messages, always take a few minutes out of your day to respond. Consumers become more loyal to brands that they feel a connection with, and part of building that connection is actively engaging with them.

Final Tips for Social Media Success

Building up your brand on social media doesn’t happen overnight. Some people bank on getting a big “viral hit,” but even virality doesn’t guarantee success. You need to be consistent and post quality over quantity. If you build it…they will come! 

More followers does not always equate to more sales. Again, it’s about QUALITY over QUANTITY. I would rather see a brand with 500 followers that regularly engage and buy from that business than a brand with tens of thousands of followers but very few generated sales.

Also, keep in mind that many brands find that one platform tends to outshine the rest, over time. In my case, I’m active on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter/X – but LinkedIn is by far my most successful platform. I get more engagement, views, and new clients from LinkedIn than the rest of my platforms combined. 

Above all, have fun with your social media! We’re lucky to have so many ways to promote our businesses for free. Take advantage of it! If you need some ideas of what to post or are looking for tools to create eye-catching content, be sure to check out my Resources page for a list of my favorite tools and downloads.