As much as I can relate, I have to say that I don't have any miraculous solutions. There are tons of resources online for growing your fan base - you can buy fans and followers on virtually any platform (which is useless, so please don't do this!), or you can play the Twitter game of following back every bot that follows you (also useless, though at least you're not paying for it), or you can become a LinkedIn spammer (which is useless and also hella annoying).
- Curate your pages. For the more visual platforms like Instagram and Pinterest, identify an overall "brand" for your account: consider the color palette, fonts, and overall image subjects that fit with your image, and stick with those. Don't be afraid to remove images that don't fit your brand, either - hindsight is 20/20, and I guarantee that your old posts have fallen off people's radar. (You're not a jerk celebrity on Twitter, trying to delete evidence of racist rants and drunken selfies; no one cares if you erase an old sales promotion or a blurry image from a party.)
- Create a posting schedule. Aim for a frequency that keeps you visible, but isn't annoying. And, above all, share a mix of interesting content, some that's created by you and some that came from others.
- Be authentic. If you want to appeal to like-minded customers, and especially if your ideal customer is much like yourself, then definitely represent yourself in a genuine and sincere way in your social media presence!
- Engage with your audience. This is one of the most commonly overlooked parts of a business' social media presence, which is why we made it a cornerstone of our social media management services at Firebrand Messaging. I don't know if the problem is that businesses get overwhelmed with all the other tasks of their operations, or if the person responsible for social media is just logging out of the business accounts and forgetting to interact. Regardless, taking time to respond to messages and comments, thank your audience for their participation on your accounts, and support others in their posts is so important for building a loyal following.
- Let people know where else they can find you. By cross-promoting your various social media accounts, and sharing unique content on each account, you'll strengthen your presence across the web, and stick in people's minds. Always a good thing, right?
Once you've done these things, I encourage you to let it go. Focus on the quality of your content and your interaction, and don't obsess over numbers too much. The fact is, you may never know why you aren't getting as many followers as the next guy or gal, or why a particular person unfollowed you. (One of my favorite games when I notice someone dropping off my personal Instagram: "How'd I Piss Someone Off This Time?" Apparently, I'm good at scaring people off with scandalous shots of craft beers or artistic tattoo portraits. Hate on, haters!)
Building a following that actually cares about your business, service or product, even when it takes way longer than attracting people through tricks or bribes, is so worthwhile. I promise it's worth the wait.