Creating a social media following requires work, attention, focus and consistency. It isn’t something that is going to happen overnight. Just like a real life friendship, it takes time to develop and grow. Social media is a two way channel – you need to connect and develop relationships with people online to grow and engaged following. Notice I used the word ‘engaged’ – there is one thing to have 100K followers but if no one engaged with your posts or clicks through to your website, blog or buys whatever it is you are selling then it is of no benefit to you (this is why you should definitely not buy followers on social media – it is not going to get you an ‘engaged’ following) or your business.

Now, I am not a guru on this but I have worked hard to create an engaged following for organisations I have worked for and also for my own business. I am not driven by follower numbers but in authentic connections, engagement on my posts and am focused on creating and providing value for my followers.

Here are some tips I have picked up along the way that work for me starting with your account set up:

1. Create a bio

Make sure you write your bio with your audience in mind – they want to know what you do and how you can serve/help them (if you try and talk to everyone, you’ll end up speaking to no one – be clear on who your audience / ideal client is). If you don’t have anything in your bio people don’t know what you are all about. When you connect with people or follow them, they will be interested to learn about you too (be honest, I know we all stalk other people’s accounts when the comment/like/share a post) and if you don’t have any info about you it is likely they won’t connect with you.

2. Put a photo of you as your profile pic

People want to see you! If you don’t have a pic of you on your profile it will be hard for people to connect with YOU – this is so important when it comes to branding yourself and your business. People don’t buy what you sell – they buy you – so make sure they can see you so they can CONNECT with you.

3. Utilise the #linkinbio on instagram

When you share something on Instagram – your links are not clickable in the description so you may have seen that people include #linkinbio or Link in Bio. You can put the URL in your bio to direct people to your blog, website or wherever it is that you want them to go when sharing your content.

4. Link to your social media accounts from your website / personal social media profiles

If you have a website – connect people to your social media accounts – if they come across your webpage or even across you via your personal social media profiles, make sure there is a way for them to connect with you on social media (connect everything together).

5. Be consistent in your sharing

Create a schedule (don't spam people) – the beauty of facebook is that you can schedule your posts in advance – you can’t do this on Instagram but you can save them as drafts so that you can post at a later time – this helps you to plan and makes it less time consuming – batching your posts is an awesome way to plan the week / month ahead. The key here is to be authentic, serve, add value and give an insight into your life so people connect with you. Don’t make all your posts a sales push – this will turn people off and decrease engagement. The book from Gary V ‘Jab Jab Jab, right hook’ is a great book on how to tell your story in a noisy, social world. The right hook is the next sale or campaign but the companies and individuals who are committed to ‘jabbing’ - patiently engaging with customers to build the relationships crucial to successful social media campaigns are the ones who land the punch that will take down their opponent or their customer’s resistance in one blow.

6. Go behind the scenes

Show people the real you – the behind the scenes – facebook live and Instagram stories are perfect for this! Lead with lifestyle and show people a peek into your life and your biz. People will connect with YOU if you do this. Show the good, the bad and the ugly – often feeds are full of perfect images that are not real – be real and be you.

7. Don’t be afraid to connect with people

Generally if people are on social media they are open to new connections so don’t be afraid to connect – what’s the worst that happens – someone doesn’t reply? Some of my closest friends are people I met online (and I am doing a lot of it now that we are in Brisbane – putting myself out there and making new friends at the age of 34 is definitely different to when I was in my late teens and early 20s – there are facebook groups for everything out there – I encourage you to find some groups that are aligned to you and meet some people). Get over your fear of reaching out to people – you never know where it could lead. If I hadn’t connected with my mentor in the business I am in, I wouldn’t be here writing this right now – we met in a facebook group and now not only is she my mentor but a best friend and I am so grateful that we connected.

8. Make real connections

If you like someone’s account – real out and tell them. If they inspire you – connect with them. Moving to Brisbane from Adelaide was made so much easier by the fact that I had a group of online connections here that I could organise to meet with and that is from being engaged in other online groups and have reached out to people. Years ago my friends thought this was strange (kind of like internet dating for friendships) but it is becoming way more mainstream to connect online and then meet up – you never know what may come from it – a beautiful friendship or biz collaboration – the opportunities are endless. Being authentic in connecting is the key here – don’t lead with promoting your biz opportunity (if you wouldn’t word vomit all over someone when you meet them don’t do it online) – many people in the network marketing space do this and it is just icky and turns me off right away. The focus is on serving and connecting – biz discussions can come later IF and only IF it is aligned for the person you have connected with.

9. Link to your website (if you have one)

Make it easy for people to connect with you and learn more about you. If you have a website or a blog – make it easy for people to find it and read more about you. If they genuinely connect with you they will want to know more.

10. Be yourself – don’t copy people

In the industry I am in (network marketing) it can be very easy when you are starting out to copy people because the business is duplicatable and you do a lot of things that those before you have done. However there is a way to do it that is authentic to you and shares your voice. Copy the idea or concept and put it in your own words, rather than copying word for word – people will see through it. Use your own words (write as if you were talking so your authentic voice comes across), take your own pictures (or if you use someone else's credit them and share where you got it from #createorcredit) and you will build a brand that is authentic to you and will attract the people that want to align with you.

When you are confident in being yourself and sharing from the heart, you will notice a shift in your engagement levels.

There you have it! My top tips to grow and authentic following and create authentic connections through social media. Take some or all of it and apply to your social media account.

Constantly tweak and create until you find what works best for you and your business and dedicate time to it – remember it is ‘social’ media so be social – connect with people and be consistent -  consistency is what drives followers and engagement.

Here’s to authentic (non salesy) connections and beautiful friendships!