I recently came across this question on Merchant Circle Answers. A lot of business owners have similar feelings, so I wanted to share my answer.
In my experience contests are the fastest way to add fans. I recently wrapped up a contest for a skin care client of mine (stop by and ‘Like’ their page – http://www.facebook.com/SellaNaturalSkinCare). The contest ran for 12 weeks on both Facebook and Twitter. They started with 280 fans and ended the contest at over 2,500. The key to adding fans is promoting the contest outside of your existing network. Most companies running contests on Facebook announce it on their Facebook Page and maybe send out an email blast. For a successful contest allocate some budget for Facebook ads. Facebook has a great ad platform that allows you to be very targeted when setting up your campaign. You can target your ads by demographics and interests. I also like to target ads towards people who like competitors pages. It is also important to select a prize that people want. For the Sella campaign we were giving away an iPad and weekly prizes of their products.
In addition to contests take advantage of one of Facebook’s more recent upgrades that allows you to interact on Facebook as your Page. Instead of sending out mass friend requests, start commenting on other Pages. Be careful not to just post a link back to your page and ask for them to like you. Instead add value to the conversation. It won’t take long for them to notice you and want to investigate who you are.
The best way to add followers on Twitter is to follow people who fit the profile of your ideal customer. Instead of looking on Twitter to find followers use a tool like Twellow. Twellow is a Twitter directory that lets you search Twitter accounts by keyword and location. If your business services a specific geographic territory, use the Twellowhood tab on Twellow to search all of the Twitter accounts in and around those towns.
Every once in a while you will need to purge your Twitter accounts of the people you are following, but who are not following you back. I like to use Tweeter Karma for this task. Sign in with your twitter account and then sort by “Only Following.” Go through the list and start clicking unfollow.
Adding subscribers to your blog takes time. One of the best ways to add subscribers is to make sure you commit to a posting schedule. Posting erratically will confuse your subscribers and cause them to unsubscribe. Choose a realistic posting schedule from the start and stick with it. You can always increase posting frequency later on.
Another great way to add subscribers is by guest blogging. I recommend making a list of all of the top blogs in your industry. You should already be reading these blogs for inspiration and industry news, now it is time to take it to the next level. Look for contact information for the blog admin and send them an email offering to guest blog. Provide them with links to some of your content. Guest blogging will expose your content to a whole new audience. If they like your content there is a good chance that they will check out your blog.
Growing your online following takes time. There are no short cuts. Make the commitment to building your following and start seeing the benefits.
Have some follower building tips of your own. Share them with us by posting a comment below.