How to Get Anyone to Follow You on Social Media

I just finished watching a series of videos that Gary Vaynerchuk uploaded to Snapchat, answering questions about how to build a following on social media.

He was talking about Snapchat specifically, the hottest and fastest-growing new social media network slash platform slash app.

Use every other channel to get people to follow you on Snapchat — email, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, he said.

“Anything you have to push” people to follow you, he continued.

“Add it to your email signature,” he added.

Actually, it’s not that simple

Gary knows his stuff, and there’s a reason why he’s dominating the social media game. However, Gary will be the first to tell you that he spent years on social media before he became Gary Vee, the social media superstar with hundreds of thousands of followers.

He built his presence, not by asking, but by giving. (Just Google Wine Library TV to see what I mean.)

However, if you’re not a social media superstar like most of us, then you can’t just ask people to follow you on Snapchat or any other social media channel. In other words, unless you’re a recognized and established brand like Gary Vee, asking for the follow doesn’t work in 2016.

It doesn’t work because everyone is already following way too many people, businesses or organizations; unless you’re bringing something special or different with added value to the table — What’s in it for me, the consumer?  — we as social media users aren’t hungry for more content and more of anything else on social media, on our phones and computers, in our email inboxes, and so on and so forth.

Interesting, original and added value content was the name of the game for newspapers, radio, TV, magazines and the early days of the Internet. Social media is no different.

So, how do get people to follow you on social media?

You give them what’s called a value proposition — a promise of value that is acknowledged and delivered — using content.

However, it’s important to understand that whatever value you’re promising is not content about your product or service. The value you’re promising should either help and/or enhance your followers’ lives outside of your product and/or service, and outside of the traditional business-consumer relationship.

We now live in the experience economy, so focus your content on helping or enhancing people’s experiences as they pertain to what your product or service represents.

That’s what we call added value.

The best way to determine the added value that you can promise and deliver is to:

  1. Accept the fact that your product or service is just a means to the customer’s end, and then
  2. Go all in on creating content that focuses on the end, rather than the means (your product or service)

Once you’ve figured out the end, and once you’ve determined the kind of content that you can create to emphasize that end, you can then develop a 1–2 sentence value proposition that will incentivize people to follow your social media channels. For example:

Connect with me on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to learn more about creating content that will help you grow a relevant social media following.

(And/or read this post about why your content sucks, and what you can do about it.)

We now live in the experience economy.

Different content for different channels

Notice how I didn’t include a link to my Instagram account in my example of a value proposition above?

That’s because I don’t use my Instagram account to post content about creating content and growing a relevant social media following. In other words, I don’t take one piece of content and share it across every possible social media channel.

Instead, I understand and respect the fact that people use different channels for different reasons. Which means you should probably think about creating different content — or at least different ways of presenting it — for different social media channels.

Figure out why people who are relevant to your business or organization use the various social media channels that you use — if you don’t know, ask them — and then create content that surrounds those reasons and use-cases. Finally, determine a value proposition that matches the content you’re going to push out on each channel, which also means different value propositions for different channels.

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Not so easy, eh?

Yeah, getting relevant people to follow you on social media isn’t going to be easy, nor is it going to happen within a few weeks or months. Unfortunately or fortunately — depending on how you look at it — there aren’t really any hacks, secrets or shortcuts when it comes to this sort of thing.

Interesting, original and added value content was the name of the game for newspapers, radio, TV, magazines and the early days of the Internet. Social media is no different.

Lucky for you, I have two lessons completely dedicated to helping you build a relevant following on social media in my online course, The Business of Social.

But I’m not here to sell you my online course; I’m here to help you. That’s why, when you use the coupon code SMJSMFOLLOWING, you’ll get 100% off The MasterCourse version of The Business of Social. (If you’re not good at math like me, that means it’s free.)

Now, #TCMTH and go build yourself a social media following :)

Josh Hoffman (better known as Social Media Josh) is an international social media consultant, instructor and speaker, as well as the creator of The Social Media Freelancer (a digital hub exclusively for current and aspiring social media managers, consultants and strategists who want to build or boost their freelance business).

He also created #TCMTH (take control + make things happen), a movement designed to inspire, motivate and drive people to take more control of their personal and professional life, and make things happen. Join the movement at :)

For content about social media, marketing, personal branding, freelancing, entrepreneurship and other random thoughts, connect with Josh on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.