7 Ways to Up Your Social Media Game

Get one step closer to Insta-famous.

As many of us spend our days tirelessly scrolling through our phones and perfecting our feeds, there’s one question we all want answered: how can we increase our social media following and boost engagement? Kelly Ann Collins, one of the first people to blog about personal life, has it figured out. With over 11k followers on Instagram and 55k on Twitter, she founded Vult Lab, a consultancy business that works with start-ups, corporations, influencers and nonprofits on social media and communication strategies (she’s worked on Starbucks, Adobe and Disney campaigns, to name a few). Last year, she also co-founded Kittr, a cutting-edge tool that helps companies manage their social media calendars, learn about their audiences and discover optimal posting times. Besides all that, she currently runs workshops for female founders and entrepreneurs through Collins & Company, a division of Vult Lab.

We sat down will Kelly to soak up her knowledge on expanding reach and building a community on social media—whether you’re looking for more likes, retweets or comments.

Brand yourself

You want people to understand who you are and know where to find more information when they reach your profile. Don’t assume that everyone recognizes you already—there are billions of people on social media. In your bio, include what you do, plus an interesting fact or something fun. Link to your work or other social media accounts. By using Linktree, you can include more than just one link on Instagram.

Find and appeal to a target audience

Think about who you’re trying to get to follow you. Then, do research and find out what they like, what they’re reading, etc. If you sell coffee, browse #coffee on Instagram and Twitter to see what people who like it love to like and share. You can also plug #coffee into Hashtagify to find top influencers and explore lists of other topics they might like. Then, select a theme for your account (examples: coffee and donuts or coffee and co-working) and use relevant hashtags to help your ideal followers find you. If you run a mentorship program for women, you may want to post inspirational quotes and information that will inspire and educate your followers. Keep your content and images consistent with your brand.

Post shareable content

The idea is not to just get them to like your post, but to also get them to repost it. Choose content that the people you’re trying to reach connect with and are going to want to share. Examples are quotes, stats or something trending. You don’t want to post about yourself too much. I use the 20/80 rule—for every promotional post about you or your company, share four engaging posts of either a cool graphic, an interesting article or simply something that your audience wants to read.

Work in hashtags

If you’re looking for popular hashtags to bring people to your page, RiteTag will give you suggestions based on an image you want to post. On Twitter, only use a couple and work them into the caption or put them at the end. You want to keep your posts clean instead of cramming 10 hashtags in a single tweet, which can look spammy. On Instagram, you can have up to 30 hashtags per post and putting them in the first comment looks better than in the caption. Get as focused as you can with them. If you post a red car, #red won’t help you find your target—you’re better off using #redcorvette.

Be active

Post at least once or twice a day. There are ways to find out when your audience is online and the peak times to post. Usually, it’s about 11am to 1pm, when people are just getting ready to go to lunch. Check your analytics dashboards. If you have a personal account on Instagram, you won't be able to see your stats so consider changing to a business account—it’s free and includes audience demographics and analytics. To be consistent, you can also use a scheduling app like Buffer, which allows you to plan your posts and helps you find relevant articles from all over the internet on topics you want to share.

Engage with your followers

Content is only half the battle. You want to comment, retweet and like. Keep a list of the target influencers and thought leaders you want to reach and make sure to share their posts. You can find them in the top posts area on Twitter or Instagram (or by using Hashtagify). That’s going to bring attention to you and give your followers different perspectives in your feed. When you comment on your own posts or on another account, try having what I call an “engagement loop,” where you keep the conversation going and ask a question to get someone to respond. The more communication you have, the more reach you’re going to get.

Note: The goal, whether your audience is big or small, is to have an active community of engaged followers. Having 100 active followers sharing your content and engaging with you is more valuable than one million followers that neither share nor respond.

Keep an eye on analytics

Watch the numbers because maybe your graphics are great, but you’re not seeing any growth or engagement. It could mean you’re not posting what’s interesting to your followers. If you’ve built an audience that loves sports products but you’re trying to sell food now, you need to tweak your audience and target the right followers. Keep your current followers engaged with content that involves both sports and food. As your food audience expands (and it makes sense for you as a brand), you can pull back on the sports-inspired food posts little by little without losing engagement. Ad campaigns directed at your new target audience can also help when making a big content switch.

Image courtesy of Ivanka Trump
Illustration by Jonny Ruzzo.