Building a social media following is like trying to be the most popular kid in school only about 1000 times harder. Oftentimes it seems you need to crack some kind of highly selective popularity secret code in order to successfully connect with your target audience.
Thankfully however, the majority of your followers have finished high school and since your followers might not necessarily be the ever-exclusive prom queen or school quarterback, being the “coolest” brand on the market is not necessarily the only way to your followers’ hearts.

 In fact, a study on the psychology of sharing actually reveals a few different types of followers. Each of these types are attracted to your content, your social media posts, and your overall brand persona for a variety of reasons which differ from one another.
In order to engage your followers, you first have to establish which follower type you’re targeting, how they interact on social media, and most importantly – what you can offer them.

Type #1 – Career-Minded followers

If you belong to any career-centric Linkedin group, you’ve probably noticed the few dominant players who are constantly posting articles, asking questions, and creating conversations around their industry. Their motivation, of course, is no secret
They have realized that today, there is little separation between our personal and professional selves. As a result, they have mastered which content to share, which questions to ask, and which platforms to use in order to maximize their professional image. These individuals shape and develop their online persona in order to be seen as thought leaders and experts in their fields.
Of course, such followers primarily use Linkedin, along with occasional Facebook appearances.

How to Engage Career-Minded followers

  1. If you are looking to engage these users, you should probably be either a B2B service, or experts within their industry.
  2. In addition, you should also produce relevant content filled with clear-cut, useful advice and industry insights.
  3. Make sure you are well-represented on LinkedIn, and your content is thorough and has achieved legitimacy in order to attract these followers.

Do It Like:

Hubspot, for example have succeeded in captivating the career-minded social media user. The company provides B2B website software and analytics for inbound marketing professionals, and they also are the go-to source of information for much of the inbound and digital marketing profession.

Type #2 – Trendy followers

Trendy followers are young, popular, and creative. These individuals are always on top of the latest and greatest fads and will therefore, only engage with you if you provide them with the “cool” factor. Like trying to get in with the prom queen and football captain, trendy followers are difficult to capture, but doing so yields highly significant results since they are regarded as influencers among their peers.

How to Engage Trendy followers

  1. Because these followers are extremely active on a variety of social media sites, you should prepare a campaign to target any outlet relevant to your brand – from Facebook and Twitter, to Pinterest, and Snapchat.
  2. In addition, the information on the sites should be short, and to the point while also being highly informative.
  3. Remember to this generation, design is right up there with content in terms of importance. Therefore, using high resolution photos and sleek designs are a must to capture their attention.
  4. You should also highly consider incorporating videos as 50% of millennials attain a large portion of their information from video-sharing sites.
  5. Lastly, make sure your content speaks to them – do not expect to go viral with trendy followers if you are selling used furniture. Instead, make sure it’s a product or service that fits the millennial lifestyle (whether it solves a problem or simply is new and different).

Do It Like:

Apple’s products and marketing strategy have quite literally defined this generation as is proven by their millions of Facebook followers. The brand knows how to use visuals and interesting content to create hype, gain a following, and solidify customer relationships.

Type #3 – Sociable Followers

73% of people share online in order to connect to people with similar interests. These followers use social media exactly as it was intended for – to connect socially with others. As a result, these individuals will only engage in content that they feel is worth discussing with their friends and acquaintances as well as mediums which allow them to do so. These mediums generally include Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

How to Engage Sociable Followers

  1. The content they crave is a springboard for discussions with others, so in order to engage them, make it informative, interesting, and to the point.
  2. Additionally, since these individuals are actively seeking discussion points, adding humor or a bit of controversy doesn’t hurt. But most of all, just make sure it’s relevant.
  3. Whether it helps them learn to cook on a budget, teaches them to write a resume, or simply gives them entertainment for their off hours, ensuring  your social media insights fit their talking points will keep these individuals wanting more.

Do It Like:

Buzzfeed’s to-the-point posts include interesting news stories, quizzes, videos, humor, and even bits of nostalgia that create discussion points for users.

Type #4 – Attention Seekers

Love them or hate them – we all know someone who fits the description of an online attention-seeker. 57% of millennials claim their peers use social media as a means to get attention and seek validation from others. You’ve seen them on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Snapchat – and they always seem to have something to post – whether it’s pictures, articles, or status changes.
Attention seekers are all about themselves, and shaping their online personas to achieve the most ‘likes’.

How to Engage Attention Seekers

  1. Since these individuals live for ‘likes’, in order to engage them, you need to give them content or interactions which command attention
  2. Contests, photo/video campaigns, and anything using controversy or shock value are all great ways to attract an attention seeker.

Do It Like:

Coca Cola’s #shareacoke Campaign allowed users to customize their own personalized coke bottles and take a picture of it on social media sites under the hashtag #shareacoke. Since its launch, about 125,000 people posted their own pictures under the hashtag.

Type #5 – Choosy Followers

These individuals are the exact opposite of attention seekers. They use social media to interact with people they already have relationships with and could care less about impressing them through such channels.
If they choose to follow a brand it’s because they personally connect to the products, their messaging, or content. Choosy individuals rarely follow because they seek out exclusively top-notch information that could either help them personally or their friends and colleagues.

How to Engage Choosy Followers

  1. If you are targeting these individuals, try providing thoroughly researched, actionable content.
  2. The content should include numbers and statistics to back up claims without being too heavy. Additionally, the title should be exactly to-the-point, showing precisely what the reader is meant to get out of your content.
  3. While visual tools such as infographics, high resolution images, and well-designed layouts can help you appear trustworthy, you will also need to go beyond all of that by backing everything up with substantial facts.

Wrap Up

Though we all know gaining a following on social media can be hard, it is by no means impossible. By classifying and segmenting your potential followers, you can adjust your strategy as needed to make yourself approachable, while also giving the right type of content to engage your users.
In order to step up your social media game, you should also consider using on-site social media so you can keep your social and business endeavors on one site and easily track all communications surrounding your brand.