A Beginner's Guide to Online Influence
11 Sep

The Ultimate Guide to Building an Online Following: Part 3 – “Consistency With Divergency”

If you've followed the advice in Part 1 and Part 2 of our article series, you should now have a pretty solid online following. Well done you. Before you pat yourself on the back too heartily, you should be aware that you’ve now entered a whole new ball game. And you’re going to have to learn the new rules. Many online personalities report “hitting a wall” when they get a certain number of followers. That is to say - growth stagnates. This is no coincidence, most social media platforms make things difficult for successful personalities that don’t pay, but hope is not lost.

1) Connect with the Best. Stamped onto the milled edge of the British £2 coin, there’s a quote by Isaac Newton, ‘Standing on the shoulders of giants.’ Connecting with established influencers and thought-leaders allows you to do just that. But piggybacking on someone else’s success will require strategy. Carefully identify relevant candidates > Like and share their content > Engage with their posts > Ask and answer questions > Try to create a dialogue. These steps should eventually get you noticed while driving followers to your accounts. If you have something worth sharing, there’s a good chance they’ll share it. Twitter is one of several platforms that allows you to create ‘lists’ or ‘groups’, that exclusively show you the posts of list-members. Why not make lists of people you want to impress? Interact with them regularly, stalker-style, until you’re on their radar. If you’re posting great content, there’s a good chance you’ll get their interest.

2) Analyse your Competitors. While this is especially true for brands, the same techniques can be applied for other successful influencers in your sector. Of course, you don’t want to become a clone, but if it’s working for them, then you can probably learn something. What are they doing well? What are they doing poorly? How are they acting differently from you? Once you’ve worked out the answers to these questions, you can improve upon their behaviour. Also, don’t be afraid to directly target your competitors’ followers, it’s a premade community just waiting for you to steal.

3) Don’t Over-Promote. As we discussed in part 2, self-promotion is a turn-off. Whether you’re showing off your personality or hyping a new project, if you do it too much, people will tune-out. At this stage, if you’re an individual influencer you probably don’t need to be following the 70-20-10 rule too strictly, but keep in mind that too much of a good thing is a bad thing (unless that thing is cookies).

4) Consider Paid Advertising. As mentioned in the intro, social media platforms heavily favour paid advertisers. No one wants to give up their hard-earned cash, but if you want to make it big then you may have to speculate to accumulate. Facebook marketing allows users to start advertising with very low budgets while providing the tools to play around and optimise budget allocations. It allows highly targeted marketing campaigns with the ability to analyse in real-time. It may be ugly, but sometimes you have to pay-to-play. If you’re confident in your content, then put your money where your mouth is.

5) It’s All in the Timing. As well as using day-specific hashtags like #MondayMotivation #WednesdayWisdom and #ThrowBackThursday (#TBT), studies have shown that posts work better on different days of the week. Facebook shows higher engagement rates on Thursdays and Fridays as people tire of their working weeks and look to procrastinate. What’s more, analytics shows that posts have better success rates at different times of the day. Assuming your followers are in your time-zone, a manic 3 a.m. post probably won’t be seen. That is unless you’re president of the free world.

6) Don’t Get Stale. There’s a fine line to be made between consistency and divergency. On the one hand, if you’re doing something that works, stick with it. On the other hand, people get bored easily and fresh content/angles can be the factor that helps big influencers become giant influencers. It’s worth trying out, if you normally post text, change it up to polls, games, videos, and interviews.

7) Be Prepared for the Unexpected. 2018 has already seen some dramatic changes to the YouTube Partner Program. Changes that many smaller influencers are rightfully angry about. It would be disastrous if you lost your following due to an unforeseen change. This means it may be time to diversify your audience. While this could mean adding an additional platform to your collection, most of these changes will be unique to your niche. For example, gamers who made a living streaming a specific game often start playing back-up games too. Not only does this attract new audiences, but it ensures that if their game loses popularity, they can bring a good portion of their followers to their new content. Which is a lot easier than starting again. Tl;dr – don’t put all your eggs in one basket.

8) Incentivise Sharing. At this stage, you should have a big enough following that when you post content, people notice. The question then becomes how to make more people notice. Sometimes you need to get creative. By offering discounts, freebies, rewards and competitions to people who share your content, you not only reward loyalty but get free endorsements for the (potentially likeminded) communities of your followers.

9) Stay True to your Base. So, you’re starting to make it big. Good for you, hot-shot. That doesn’t mean you can start ignoring people. *Markiplier I miss you, can we be friends again?* Don’t neglect your base, remember why people liked you in the first place. Why not use some of your newly acquired internet-fame to help the people who helped you.

10) Don’t Sell Out. To be clear, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t monetise your content. You absolutely should be rewarded for your hard work. However, the wrong endorsement or too much advertising can be counter-productive. Don’t treat your followers like they’re idiots and promote products without mentioning that you’ve been paid to do so. Similarly, it’s best to only promote products that you genuinely like. If you fail to do so, you risk alienating followers. If you decide to use an agency or manager, be sure to choose a reputable one. Research any offers carefully. Find out who the most suitables agencies are for you. Oh, and if you’re looking to build a following in the games industry, you’re probably going to want to go with Adspree Media.

Bonus Tip: Don’t be afraid to post the occasional, self-promotional plug. @alexsinclair + Adspree Media

For parts 1 and 2 in the series, you can visit our blog, LinkedIn or Twitter accounts. Good luck and god speed!