9 experts reveal their top social media growth hacks

Once primarily used by early-stage startups, growth hacking is more than a Silicon Valley buzzword. The term refers to a set of tactics and strategies aimed at achieving massive growth on a slim budget — fast. A growth hacking mindset can be used not only to grow your business’ revenue or attract users to your app, it can also help you rapidly grow your audience on social media networks.

Of course, follower counts alone don’t tell the whole story — if they did, we could all just buy followers and call it a day. So we set out to find the very best, tried and true social media growth hacks for building an engaged audience relevant to your business and eager to hear what you have to say.

We turned to 9 people who would know better than anyone. These experienced marketers, writers, thought leaders, and social media pros have seen more than a few social media trends come and go. We asked them one key question:

What’s the number one social media growth hack you’ve used to help grow your (or a client’s) following online?”

Here’s what they had to say:

Neal Schaffer

“Social media represents the convergence of communication and information, so you have to have something to talk about in order to generate any growth. One of the easiest — and still most beneficial content marketing tactics — is in the form of a lead magnet, specifically a resourceful ebook or webinar. These lead magnets themselves obviously help you grow your list and engage with your community, but they also give you something to talk about repeatedly in social media to help convert your social media fans into customers by working them through your funnel where you can contact them through your list at a later date.

The trick is that both the ebook and/or webinar have to be truly unique, resourceful, and be aligned with your lead generation strategy from a content marketing perspective. In such a way, don’t think of social media as a single growth hack — as social media replaces nothing yet complements everything — but as one more piece of the puzzle which helps to amplify and accelerate your efforts. If you don’t get enough downloads or signups, complementing your organic social campaign with a paid social campaign — or even utilizing influencers as part of your ebook and/or webinar — will get you there faster!”

Donna Moritz, Socially Sorted

“Without a doubt, the No. 1 social media growth hack for growing my business and those of clients has been optimized, shareable visual content — whether it’s images, infographics, or social video. The key is not only creating visuals that are professional, eye-catching, and engaging, but to optimize them for the platform you’re focusing on. This has included:

  1. Engaging header images on blog posts that share well to Pinterest
  2. Helpful, engaging infographics on blog posts (not just data made pretty, but helpful, actionable information)
  3. Thought-provoking, helpful social video with engaging calls to action
  4. Social media visuals (from Instagram Stories to Twitter images) that stand out but also encourage users to engage or take action

With all of these visual types — even fun visuals like GIFs — there’s one thing in common. We always tailor the visuals for the platform we’re posting on. Not every type of visual suits every platform, so you should always think first about what type of content works on that particular social platform and optimize your visuals for size, medium, and content.

And when it comes to the content itself, you can’t go wrong with answering the questions and solving the problems of your customers — with the added help of visual content to convey your message.”

Shane Barker

“Numerous brands are using social media platforms to engage their audiences and shape their opinions about their brands. With several brands competing for the same audience, it may seem difficult to register your brand in their minds.

If you’re looking for a social media strategy that can promise immense growth, I strongly recommend you use influencer marketing.

As an influencer consultant, I have helped top celebrities maintain a positive image and grow their followings. And I have also worked with big names such as fitness model Sandra Prikker, NFL player Adrian Ross, and fitness influencer Zoe Rodriguez.

Many brands are collaborating with key social influencers to gain access to their large audiences who trust them. If you want to grow your social following, you should also consider finding relevant influencers in your niche and reaching out to them for effective collaborations. With meaningful influencer collaborations, you can boost your brand’s exposure, build trust in your brand, grow your following, and also drive greater sales.

If you have any difficulty in running successful social influencer campaigns for your brand, you can always hire me for my consulting services.”

Marji Sherman, Sherman Social

“No matter how many tools are created for growth hacking, I have always found being authentic and engaged with your audience as the most effective method to build a large community. Just like when you build strong relationships in your lives, the more time and effort you put into it, the better outcome you will have.

Seek out opportunities to engage new consumers, rather than waiting for new consumers to come to you. This can be anything from regularly participating in Twitter chats or other third-party conversations, as well as publishing more content around third-party content. Ask consumers questions, too, and make sure to acknowledge each of the (appropriate) answers. As tedious as this sounds, this is the foundation strong, large social media communities are built on. Believe me, the time will be worth it.”

Lilach Bullock

“Every business or social account is different and requires a different strategy. However, one of the most important lessons you can learn about social media marketing, in my opinion, — and this is something that is relevant to anyone who wants to grow their social media presence — is the importance of your social media analytics. Your analytics will tell you exactly what works and what doesn’t for that account specifically so you can optimise your presence as you go along. For example, you’ll get to understand at what times you should post your updates for maximum impact, what kinds of posts get the most engagement, what calls to action drive the most clicks and traffic, and so much more. Check your analytics religiously and apply that knowledge to your strategy — it can make a huge difference to your success!”

Sunny Lenarduzzi

“The number one social media growth hack I’ve used to help my clients grow their following online is all about data! I’m a firm believer in not reinventing the wheel. Let’s be honest, creating content can hurt your brain sometimes, and it’s not easy to consistently think of brand new content topics. So, how I’ve grown my channels to hundreds of thousands of subscribers and helped my clients to the same is by paying attention to trends and search volume.

Creating content on topics that are being highly searched or trending within your industry or space is guaranteed to pull in a qualified and engaged audience. And to add fuel to that fire, whenever I post a new video on my YouTube channel, I then distribute that content via mini video clips on my other social channels so I stay consistent everywhere without having to create brand new content for each distribution channel. It’s a simple way to create content that you know has a built-in audience and leverage that content to stay active on all of your social platforms.”

Lee Odden, CEO, TopRank Marketing

“While many marketers are chasing shiny social objects to grow their following online, there are many lessons to be learned from more traditional formats. Take the TV for example. As brands embrace publishing and media, the value of episodic content has become a powerful way to attract, engage and inspire customers. Consumer expectations have evolved and it’s no longer enough for brands to simply provide useful information with the hope of making a sale.

The lines between entertainment and infotainment have blurred and producing content that is connected through a common narrative at a regular cadence creates one of the most powerful differentiators for customer attention: anticipation.

When episodic content is created and optimized for discovery, consumption, and interaction on the social platforms where customers spend their time, it becomes even more powerful for developing an engaged audience. When brands provide content on the topics and in the formats that customers care about, word spreads and communities evolve. While most attempts by marketers to connect with customers occur through ad campaigns and disconnected social or content marketing, there’s a real opportunity for brands to create momentum around subscribed audiences through webisodes, podcasts, brand vlogging, and other forms of episodic content.”

Mack Collier

“It’s easy to grow your following online, simply follow people and you’ll get reciprocal follows back. The problem is most of those followers aren’t really interested in interacting or connecting with you, which is where the real value is.

One way I’ve discovered to quickly gain like-minded followers (who are more likely to engage with you and build relationships) is to live-tweet conferences and events. Creating content DURING the events you attend not only helps you connect with people in your industry on social media, but can even help you connect with people DURING the event. If you’re really on the ball, it’s possible to live-tweet or live-blog events and also share pictures as well. I like to attend keynotes and take pictures of the speaker then use an app like Adobe Spark to add a quote from the speaker on their image. These shares tend to do a great job of driving engagement and getting more followers.”

Dan Knowlton, KPS Digital Marketing

“Growing an engaged audience who are genuinely interested in the content you share takes consistent hard work using a variety of tactics. There is no one silver bullet. However, if I had to pinpoint one thing to focus on, it would be your content. To create great content, you need to think like a creator, not a business. Learn how to make business videos people will watch in this article I wrote on our blog.”

The Bottom Line

As Dan Knowlton put it, there is no one silver bullet. And what works for one business may not work for yours. Spend time defining your goals for social media and identifying the audience you want to reach. Focus on attracting the right followers and engaging them with quality content that adds value to their lives and ultimately encourages them to take action — whether that’s signing up for your service or buying your product.

When in doubt, remember that high-quality content is key. Focus on quality and adding value for your audience, and experiment with these expert-recommended growth hacks to discover what works for you.

Our own top social media growth hack? Video content is one of the best ways to engage your social media audience. Biteable lets you create high-quality video content in minutes, and it’s free! Give it a try here!