Gaining more followers for your brand
by Mohsin Sufi
Medieval churches used witch hunts and trials to gain more followers. During the 1600s, when the divide between the Catholics and Protestants was rife, many churches used witch hunting to boost their image; the more witches that were caught, tried and sentenced, the more popular the church would become. After all, witches were seen as doing the bidding for Satan and getting rid of them was a way of protecting the people from him.
What does this have to do with getting your brand a larger following? Quite a lot. If brands want to succeed in the marketplace, they’ve got to envision themselves as the protectors
of the community in their respected field, trying to outdo their competitors and condemning any message which doesn’t resonate with their own.
Gone are the days when a brand can rely on traditional marketing to promote itself. The rise of modern marketing tactics such as social media and influencer partnerships is changing the landscape that was once upon a time very simple. The problem with these new strategies is exactly that, that they’re still new and many brands are wary of them. Smaller companies that need brand marketing and PR seem not to be focusing enough on social media, which could be detrimental to their brand image.
Social media is a fantastic, and possibly the most crucial way to get your message out to the masses free of charge. Poundland’s recent social media Christmas campaign, ‘Elf on the Shelf’, is a notable example of brands going against the norm and in return gaining popularity. All it took was a few risqué poses of an elf posted on Twitter over the course of a couple of days for the brand to start trending and eventually have the whole country discussing it. The questions went from, “@Poundland did you guys get hacked?” to “this is incredibly grim, @Poundland, is your social campaign being run by an 11-year-old who's just found out about sex?”. Even though there was backlash, you must respect the fact that millions of people were talking and tweeting about the discount store, and due to the anticipation for more ‘incredibly grim’ posts, the brand gained thousands of new followers on its social media channels.
There’s often misinterpretation among start-ups and SMEs that without a large following, posts are usually pointless and go unseen. However, this is only down to the effort put in to gain more followers. You won’t gain 100s of followers a week by just sharing articles and retweeting relevant content, but you might gain an abundance of followers by hopping on to the back of relevant hashtags and by creating unique posts that are funny, thought provoking or risqué. Brands need to invest time and resources to explore strategies that might work more effectively than the marketing they’re currently doing.
Here are five social media golden rules to consider:
You should always post about something happening that day. If it’s #NationalDogDay, post a pic of your cute dog, if it’s #NationalPizzaDay, do a survey asking people what their favourite topping is.
What are your competitors posting?
It’s always a clever idea to have a cheeky peak at what competitors are posting. That’s not to say copy their content as uniqueness is a crucial factor in social media, but getting ideas for future posts and knowing how they’re approaching their target audience is always beneficial. Don’t feel like it’s odd, they do it too.
It’s helpful to use platforms such as Hootsuite which are good for scheduling posts in advance. Especially for days when you know you might not have time to upload a post.
Don’t write off the smaller social networks
Social media isn’t only Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. You’d be surprised at the difference in audience you’ll find on other platforms such as Periscope, Pinterest and Google +. Run BETA tests on everything (when relevant), you might be delighted by what you uncover.
Be sure to respond to people that reply to your posts, a retweet may not be enough. Plus, when other people see you’re replying, they’ll want to interact with you too. However, this isn’t only a reactive process. Look for posts that you can comment on and engage with. This will usually get retweeted which will give you additional exposure among their followers. The most retweeted post ever was a man that asked Wendy’s ‘Yo @Wendy’s how many retweets for a year of free chicken nuggets?” P.S. it was 18 million and he only got 3.6 million (FAIL!)
If we think of history, and of those who inspired and eventually shepherded many people, we often see that a great deal of struggle was involved. Whether this was Gandhi, who starved himself over the oppression of his people, or Jesus who bled and eventually died for his followers, we always see this common thread of struggle before prosperity. Businesses sometimes need to sacrifice in order to gain, and giving up a few moments to post some exciting content online could be what increases your brand’s visibility and makes people notice it. This shows that the brand has confidence in its beliefs and is focused on a long-term goal rather than short-term success. Channelling your inner witch will allow you to say what your competitors aren’t saying and will truly let your followers see the magic of your brand. Just don’t get caught by any medieval priests!