This post is a sequel to “How I Got 10K Followers in <7 Months” – which is the most popular article I’ve ever written on The Hungry Partier (21K+ views).
If you haven’t read that post yet, then I suggest reading it before startingthis one, because it is the nuts and bolts for using specific tactics each SM account. If you don’t read it before attacking this one, then that’s like watching Spider Man 2 before Spider Man 1. Uncool.
Since I wrote that post last November, my social media reach has been growing exponentially. Just a few weeks ago, I was named the 30th Most Influential Travel Blogger on social media by Rise.Global. The criteria was based off influencing people on the 5 major social media platforms via followers, likes, comments and shares.
I wrote the first version of this post to share my knowledge with other travel bloggers, businesses, and anyone else who wants to rapidly build their following on social media. At the time, I was still a newbie at social media, hustling for hours everyday and doing all that I felt was necessary.
However, since then, I have learned from my mistakes and the process has become much smoother. Without realizing it, social media has become my full-time job. I now consider myself an expert at manipulating each network and using it to its full potential. And in this post, I am going to share with you some of the most important things I’ve picked up since hitting the 10K followers mark.
Here were my social media numbers when I wrote my first social media post on November 21, 2014:
And here are my current numbers now, as of March 28, 2015:
I also want to stress that I still haven’t paid for a single follower, and I don’t use any black hat tactics. Every follower that I have obtained is a REAL person with a real beating heart. If you are only interested in skyrocketing you numbers (and you don’t care about engagement), then I suggest that you stop reading this right now and just pay a few hundred bucks to get thousands of fake robot followers on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. And good luck with that.
Also, there is a reason why my twitter Twitter and Instagram took off faster than the others, and I will explain in detail later in this post.
Kindly note that the overall strategies for building each social network that I taught you in version 1 are almost exactly the same, so I won’t waste my time repeating them in this article. Instead, I will give a fresh review of how to use each social network to its full potential, share with you what I think is working, and explain how I see the platform evolving in the future. After that, I will share my 3 biggest pieces of advice that I have picked up from working full-time on social media.
Another thing that I’d like to share is that I haven’t spent any more time to build my accounts. This gets MUCH easier with time, as you’ll become smarter and you’ll learn which tactics work best. And my engagement levels have gone above and beyond what they were a few months ago as well.
Lastly, I’d like to bring to your attention the other blog posts that I’ve written social media over the last few months. They are called:
– What’s the Real ROI of Social Media for Bloggers?
– How to Make a Post go Viral
– 7 Twitter Tips from a Guy who has 500K+ Followers
Alright, so here is round two of my advice for “How I Got 35K Followers in the Last 4 Months.”
Disclaimer: Please keep in mind that everything you read is from my own personal experiences. Kindly take my advice for what it’s worth. There are many variables that go into promoting yourself on social media (i.e. different niches, men vs. women, website functionality, photo quality, frequency of posting, etc), so the overall success for someone will likely be different than for someone else.
1. Google plus is dead
Long story short, stop using Google Plus. My traffic from Google Plus has been steadily declining month after month, and now it has just become a waste of my time.
Why has it crashed? I don’t really know to be honest with you. But I’m thinking that whatever the reason is, Google doesn’t want to admit their failure, so they just keep it hanging around for as long as they can.
However, this wasn’t really the case when I wrote version 1 of this article. At that time, Google plus was actually doing okay. I was getting several hundred hits a month from posting photos and links to my blog. Also, when people would find one of my posts from a Google search, my Google Plus photo of my face would show up next to my article. Well, they took that away.
And when I used to write guests post for companies, I was able to get credibility under the “contributor for” section (which helped with SEO and Domain Authority), but that’s no longer the case.
Nowadays, when I look at my latest monthly statistics, I only got a measly 26 referrals from Google Plus. Compare that with 4,170 monthly referrals from Pinterest or 2,237 from Facebook or 2,151 from Twitter, and it puts the measly power of Google Plus into perspective. The only good thing that came from Google Plus is “Google Hangouts,” which is a better alternative to Skype.
So if I were you, I would just completely give up on Google Plus as a means for building traffic to your site, which is actually a relief because it’s one less thing to think about 🙂
2. Pinterest is still #1 for traffic
Pinterest is still the best social network for bringing new faces to your site.
My Pinterest engagement levels have been steadily increasing month after month. Last month, I got 4,170 referrals from Pinterest alone, compared to 3,653 the month before, and 2,893 the month before that. Pinterest remains the best for bringing new people to my site, by continuing to post unique photos across several group boards per day in my niche (check version 1 for more explanation).
Remember, Pinterest is best used only for referrals via photos that you post on group boards. Your followers aren’t as important, so don’t get caught up with the numbers. Just keep focusing on getting access to popular group boards (with several thousands followers), and posting high quality photos on those boards daily with a LINK to your desired blog post.
For a more detailed explanation of how to get access to group boards and more, please see version 1.
3. Instagram is KING for building a reputation
Instagram is the best social network for connecting with people and building a positive reputation with your readers.
Instagram is without question the social network that I’ve had the MOST success with so far. On my last 10 Instagram photos, I got an average of 454 likes and 33 comments. This is nearly double the engagement than I got just 3 months ago, and it’s far superior to any other social network that I use.
But with Instagram, please understand that you won’t get any direct website traffic (because there are no clickable hyperlinks allowed in your posts). But that’s OKAY! It will all come around in the end. I get daily emails from people who first discovered me on Instagram, who then checked out my blog later on their own time.
Instagram is all about building credibility, and interacting with your followers via comments. It’s about building a solid reputation. It’s about getting people excited to see each of your photos.
In addition, Instagram is the network in which I think you can have the biggest influence on your readers. It also grows the fastest. It seems like once you hit certain thresholds of followers (5K and 10K), then more and more random people will start finding you. Maybe it’s because your account will get promoted, or because your photos will show up under the “recommended people to follow,” but trust me that more random people will start to find you!
Bottom line: Spend most of your time building Instagram, because I think it has the most potential for the future.
4. Facebook is slowly on the decline
This is not just my opinion, but it seems to be the general consensus for all bloggers/businesses… Facebook is tumbling downhill.
Facebook is the most volatile and unpredictable social media out there, as their regulations and algorithms change almost daily. Yes, it’s very annoying, but it’s also understandable when you have a website that is THIS powerful. 1 out of every 4 webpages on the internet is on Facebook.
And let me be the first to admit that I still struggle with Facebook. I am no expert. My likers count just reached 2,000, which is much less than many other bloggers in my niche.
But there is no doubt that the organic reach of Facebook posts have been decreasing day by day. Now, Facebook is making you pay money to “boost posts,” which means that they will show up on more news feeds that you specifically target. Basically, the more money you pay, the more news feeds that your post will be shown on. If you don’t pay, then your posts will be hidden… Which leads me to this conclusion: Even as my FB followers are increasing, my posts visibility is decreasing. Facebook is the ONLY social network that is like this.
That being said, Facebook is far from dead. I still continue to post 2-3 daily photos from my travels, and my engagement levels are doing alright. I have given in and now I pay to boost certain posts, and it’s been working.
But when you decide to boost a post, be smart about it. I usually will throw $5 at posts that are already doing well organically and that have a link to my blog in them. This way, I can maximize traffic juice to my blog.
Also, some of my most viewed posts on Facebook are simply links that I share from other reputable news sources (Huff post, CNN) and other big travel blogs. Give it a try and see what works best for you.
I am anxiously waiting to see what surprises that Facebook will throw in the mix in the near future.
5. Twitter is too automated, but still effective
Twitter, in my eyes, is slowly turning into a marketing scheme. I just hit 22K followers, and my engagement levels aren’t much different than they were at 10K. Ok, well maybe they are going up a little bit; I got 2,151 referrals this month compared to 1,751 last month, but it’s hard to judge when I am only getting a few likes/comments/retweets per tweet. It’s nothing consistent.
The most frustrating part about Twitter is that each Tweet lasts only an average of ~15 minutes before it goes too far down in the stream of Tweets. That’s ridiculous when I compare that to my Facebook posts which last days, or my Pinterest posts which can stay active for months!
Also, I am sick and tired of getting automated tweets from people. So many times after I follow someone, I get a tweet back @me like “Hi There! Want to plan the best trip abroad? Check out my new travel app called ____” Blah. Blah. Blah.
I feel like I am dealing with more robots than people on Twitter. And I will admit that I am a bit guilty of this as well. I have an automated plugin that tweets out one of my blog posts every day, and every time someone follows me, I send them a direct message saying thank you.
I know that many of you will disagree with me on Twitter (and that’s ok). But I am just not seeing the return on investment that I imagined.
Next, I will share with you my 3 biggest SM tips for moving forward:
1. Reply to EVERY comment.
This is the #1 most important piece of advice that I will give you. This is also what I spend 75% of my time with social media nowadays. Reply to every comment, no matter where it comes from!
It doesn’t matter whether the comment is on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, blog posts or emails. You should actively be engaging with your audience and answer their questions and comments. And when you’re responding to them, it’s important to just be yourself; act like you would if you were sitting face to face with them. Remember that people follow you for who you are, so don’t change that.
Why? Because this is how you build strong relationship and connect with people. This is what keeps people coming back for more, and what makes them tell their friends about your blog. I recommend to ask questions in your posts and encourage people to respond. You could even give away a small prize like a postcard or something (which I did and it worked really well).
Just a few weeks ago in Goa, India, one of my IG followers commented on my photo saying that she was also in Goa and wanted to meet me. I responded and we decided to hang out and party together with her friends. And then when I was just in Mumbai, one of my Instagram followers also wanted to show me around her city, so we hung out and it was great! It’s such a great feeling- that people are starting to find me instead of me finding them.
Here are photos with my new friends from Instagram:
And this only happened because I replied to their comments.
2. Post often and consistently
This is perhaps the biggest tip to boost your engagement levels across all networks.
I used to post only 1 photos/ tweet per day. I would post them at random times, whenever I was online or when I felt like sharing something.
But then when I started scheduling all of my posts, I realized that MANY more people saw my posts. My engagement levels (likes + comments + shares) skyrocketed.
Be consistent when you post. Check your Google Analytics to find out where the majority of your target audience is coming from and post in the morning and evening in their time zone. In my case, most of my audience are Americans, so I post everything according to Eastern Time Zone.
Also, post more often then you think, and do it in intervals. I used to think that I was being “annoying” and that people would be sick of hearing from me. Well, I’m sure that was likely the case for a very tiny portion of my followers, but those people could just stop following me and then who cares after that.
But the number of followers that you will GAIN are much higher than the amount you will LOSE when you post frequently. Trust me.
How often should you post?
Here is my posting schedule for each network. This is what I’ve found to work best for me and my engagement. Feel free to copy it or find out what works best for you on your own:
Facebook: 3 photos everyday. 9AM, 3PM, 10PM EST. (Facebook is the easiest to schedule your posts on, just set the time and date. And you can do as many as you want)
Instagram: 2 photos everyday, always 12 hours apart. I try to aim for 7AM and 7PM EST.
Twitter: I tweet about 5-7 times a day, spread out every 2 hours. Some of them are automated from my old blog posts, some come from Triberr, and most come from my fingertips.
Pinterest: Post 1 unique photo to 10 group boards per day (with a link to my blog). That is 10 photos in total. All photos are posted from 6-9PM EST.
3. Hire a VA to do all the busy work
Social media is a lot of work. If you want to build your numbers at a fast rate, then it’s impossible to do everything all by yourself. The work never ends.
So I recommend you to hire a VA (virtual assistant) to split the job with you!
I have been working with the same Filipino guy for 15 months, and we have a very good relationship. In fact, I just visited him in Manila a few weeks ago and he took me out to party!
But before you hire someone, make sure you:
– Check that they are fluent in English
– Find out their background
– See examples of their previous work
– Check if they have good feedback and read what others are saying about them
– Give them some “test work” and see how efficient they are
– Write them DETAILED notes about exactly what you want them to do for you. Have them follow step by step.
– Don’t pay them more than $3 per hour (there are thousands who will work for cheaper)
If you can do all of things things that I mentioned in this article, then I can promise you that your followers will grow at a MUCH faster rate and you’ll be on your way to success.
If you don’t have the energy to do all of these things, or you need some more assistance, then I now offer private social media consulting at very affordable rates. Contact me if interested.
And don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any more questions! I am always happy to help you out 🙂
Good luck and please comment below!