When it comes to building an influential social media presence, everyone is in search of going viral.
But if you talk to the people best known for building massive social media followings online, success ends up being a whole lot more actionable than people realize. Content creators don’t always know what’s going to go viral and what’s not. However, they succeed because they are consistent, they pay attention to the data they accumulate over time, and they’re always looking for new ways to engage their target audience.
According to Jonathan Foley, founder of @Positivity and @Societyfeelings on Instagram, he has seen firsthand the impact of iterating his approach to the content he posts—and the results speak for themselves. Instagram page @Positivity has built a loyal audience of 130,000 followers and growing in just 30 days—and the page is averaging almost 1 million impressions per day. @Societyfeelings has a robust following of 8.6m as well.
I sat down with Foley to take a look at what he has done to attract such a large following, so quickly. And more importantly, what others can learn and apply to their own social media efforts.
If you’re looking to expand your own audience online, here are 3 strategies you can implement immediately:
1. Use modern day tactics to share your brand’s specific message.
@Positivity currently focuses its content around showcasing inspirational stories from all over the world that promote positive change. But as Foley went on to explain, just sharing positive messages on social media isn’t what makes a page successful overnight. Part of the challenge is sharing these stories in a way that resonate with today’s users.
For @Positivity, this means using image quotes, memes, and viral-worthy videos that are tagged with the company’s username. And while these might seem like small nuances, there is a reason why @Positivity is growing exponentially faster than other organizations who use social media.
“Part of the challenge content creators run into is they share content the way they want it to be presented, instead of thinking about how viral content today is presented. And if you look at the types of posts that go viral today, they all have a specific feel or approach. Part of our success has been emulating the tactics that are clearly resonating with people in 2018,” said Foley.
Brands tend to be unwilling to share messages in the form of memes or viral-looking videos because they find it “unprofessional.” But the truth is, there’s a reason why those posts perform so well—and it’s worth asking why.
2. Building a network of loyal followers takes consistency and hard work.
One thing @Positivity does to increase engagement is to make sure they are posting consistently. This is yet another “obvious” tactic, and yet so many people underestimate its power.
When building a strong presence on social media, followers want to consume new content on a daily (if not hourly) basis. For many content creators, this is a massive challenge. Creating something new, every single day, is no easy feat. And so what most people opt to do instead is to curate new content on a daily basis—which means being a repository for what has viral potential, opposed to constantly trying to create the next viral post from scratch.
In addition, and to push the growth of the @Positivity page, the brand also prioritizes working with influencers. By leveraging shoutouts and mentions from other influential accounts, and by continuing to ensure content is being posted every day, this is how @Positivity drives the majority of their traffic.
“We have been gaining around 5,000 to 10,000 new followers per day through influencer marketing,” said Foley. “In many cases, influencers are open to collaborating and trading mentions, because it’s mutually beneficial. You always want to be looking for ways to create partnerships with other pages—and explain that both parties will benefit.”
3. Give your followers something they can’t find anywhere else.
Building a fan base is one challenge. But building a fan base that comes back again and again is a completely different sort of challenge.
Foley shared that @Positivity does this by focusing on building an audience that is used to seeing the same type of content. “You want to get people in the habit of seeing the same genre of content. The more you can create the feeling that your page provides a very specific sort of emotion for a viewer, the more likely they will be to come back to check your most recent posts. Because you’ve already established that sort of relationship with them.”
He went on to explain that, while it’s important to always be looking for new ways to change up your content strategy, you shouldn’t start mixing in content types the audience isn’t used to seeing. For example, if you regularly post about fitness, then suddenly posting about tech won’t resonate well with audience members.
These strategies should encourage other companies to use social media as a powerful way to market their message.
All in all, the number one piece of advice Foley shared was to have a solid content strategy in place. This is what allows you to know whether or not you are headed in the right direction, and if your page is actually becoming a place people enjoy consuming content.
“You have to create enough content, on a regular enough basis, that you learn what’s working and what’s not,” said Foley. “Where most people go wrong is they post for a few days, or even a few weeks, and then give up. But that’s not enough time to know what’s working and what’s not. You have to be consistent over the long term, so that you can learn what has the potential of going viral in the short term.”