Why a goal of “growing followers” won’t get you anywhere (but these 3 things WILL)

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Here’s how to define your audience and set your specific, realistic goals

Ask a brand or creator what they aim to achieve on social media and I can guarantee over 80% of the answers will be more or less, the same: To grow brand awareness (i.e. engagement) and to increase the follower count. 

The huge mistake with this? To say you want to ‘grow your followers’ or ‘increase your engagement’ is as useless as eating a burger with no meat or filling in between the buns. While on a surface level it’s OK to strive for those goals, it’s not targeted or specific because it’s a point-blank given. 

Of course you want your numbers to rise and of course you want to become more recognisable as your journey continues. Anyone who’s on social media in a business capacity will want no different.

The solution to the mistake? Digging deeper into the core of your business by positioning yourself as the receiver of the content — or the customer/client of the product or service. Question why your business is worthy of being followed (your Unique Selling Point), who the person who engages with your media is (your target demographic and audience personas) and what is required from your business specifically in order to attract them (the work you will do in order to, for example, increase the following number). 

Below, I have detailed 3 key factors every brand or creator  — irrespective of niche, industry or size — should consider way before the upload or post button is clicked.

1. Figure out what your magic is

In other words, create a Unique Selling Point (USP) that trumps others in your niche and differentiates you from the competition. Why are you unique compared to your competitors and what makes you stand out specifically among the crowd? This is a hard question to answer for even the more established businesses as we’re all in an increasingly competitive market. Take your time and do your research into others who are on the same wavelength as or talking to the same market as you. Perhaps your offer is better quality, maybe your customer service is unparalleled. You could have a better editing style, or your content might provide answers and insight that others simply do not give.

It’s important to note that your USP doesn’t need to be huge and a WOW factor. It simply needs to be something which separates you from others. For example, there were a gazillion social media and influencer marketing ‘experts’ on Instagram before I created my account to share my advice. But my USP trumps 90 percent of others because it’s hard to argue against 10 years worth of inside-industry experience. 

2. Define your audience niche before you plan on scaling up

If there’s one snippet of information that should be etched into your creative and business savvy minds by the end of this article, it’s this: If you sell to everyone, you end up selling to no one.

A common misconception people make is assuming that if their product or service can appeal to 500,000 mass people instead of 50,000 targeted people they will likely grow quicker in a shorter span of time. This is incredibly far from the truth. Think about it: As a consumer yourself, are you likely to click onto the advertisement that tickles your specific interests, or an advertisement about a very wide and broad topic? The chances of 50,000 targeted potential consumers buying a product surpasses 100,000 ‘maybe, by chance’ potential consumers. This is especially true for social media today, where we are constantly bombarded with information and content saturation. It doesn’t take a huge amount of effort to scroll right past something we care little about.

To beat this issue, work out exactly who your target audience is and create an audience persona. Make a profile depicting the type of person who will follow you or buy your product/service. What do they do? Which other accounts do they follow? What are their hobbies? How much disposable income do they have? What brands do they love? What about the brands they hate? The more you understand this ‘persona’ you’ve created, i.e. your customer/follower, the easier it will be to create content that speaks to them. I ask my e-book readers to answer at least 30 questions I have set them, and then recommend even more. Know your audience better than they know themselves.

Is it likely you’ll have more than one ‘type’ of person or persona following you? As you grow, the answer is a big fat yes. But you’re better off starting by nailing one group of people and then slowly branching out. This is also why I’ve developed the Power Topic Map (PTM) in my e-book which is now used by thousands of brands and influencers — it’s essentially a tool which will allow you to attract your main niche while also drawing attraction to what I call your ‘sub niches’. 

3. Ensure all your content is created with that magic and niche in mind

Now that you’ve worked out the magic of your business — that is your USP — and exactly who your content is for, it’s time to combine both of the answers and ensure they’re reflected in the content you share.

Every piece of media you upload needs to showcase a glimpse of your USP and be geared towards the audience you’ve niched into. This is, ultimately, what will encourage others to engage with your content, share your content to their own audience and follow you.

And just like that, by implementing these three factors into your targets and thinking process, you will achieve that overall goal of growing!

Unsah Malik is the writer of the bestselling eBook ‘Slashed It’: The Ultimate Social Media & Influencer Marketing Guide, the founder of The Modern Go Getter (launching soon!) and purveyor of great social media advice on all her social platforms @unsahmalik