The internet is full of social media strategies that are designed to help you increase your followers, boost your reach, and even reconnect with users off-platform. Like most of the internet, some of the advice is solid. Some of it is more than a little unreliable.
Unfortunately, you’ll find sketchy-as-a-dark-alley-after-2-AM level strategies everywhere, and it can be hard to know which are which. There are plenty of services that boast “real” followers available for purchase, for example, but these are always a disaster and hurt you more than they help you while also potentially violating platform terms of service.
It’s essential, however, that you’re only using white-hat strategies that have no actual backlash. Plenty of the not-so-great tactics can cause backlash from followers (who doesn’t love a good PR disaster, ammirite?) and potentially even get you suspended or banned from different platforms. That’s the last thing you want when you’re just trying to put your best foot forward.
In this post, we’re going to go over five white-hat social media marketing strategies that actually work to get you the results you want while still staying in the clear with social media platforms.
1. Boosting Posts with High Organic Engagement
Facebook has long had a “boost post” option that would allow brands to promote an existing post to new audiences. Businesses have historically used this to promote big announcements and high-value posts that they think their target audience would love.
This is an excellent strategy when you want to build brand awareness, reach new users, and get them engaging on your Page. It can earn you new followers, new shares, and clicks through to your site if you’re promoting a post that encourages users to visit a specific site page.
If you’re going to use this strategy, we strongly recommend opting for a specific approach: Promoting posts that are already high-engaging.
Look at your recent posts on your Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, you name it. Check out the analytics to see which posts are performing the best in terms of likes, clicks, comments, and shares. Comments and shares are particularly valuable in terms of indicating quality and relevance. These are the posts that you want to promote; you already know that existing members of your target audience like the content, so there’s no reason to think that new members won’t, too.
On Facebook and Instagram, promoting existing high performing posts also has a distinct advantage; it takes the existing social proof with them when it appears in users’ feeds. All of those organic likes and comments that you’ve already earned will show up to users seeing the content for the first time, which can make it easier to grab their attention. If you’ve got plenty of positive comments and engagement from your followers (existing followers are more likely to engage than cold audiences, after all), it can be the difference in getting new users to take note of your ad and its content.
2. Hosting Engagement-Focused Contests to Generate Leads
Social media contests present an extraordinary opportunity for businesses… but unfortunately, many brands fail to realize exactly how much they can take away from a contest, and their results may fall short because of it.
Did you know, for example, that you can use social media contests software to capture user lead information like their email address or phone number, which you wouldn’t be able to do without it?
You can also use social media contest software to collect not only lead information, but “contest submissions” including UGC images that you can then use on your own marketing channels.
In order to maximize the benefits of your contest, we recommend doing the following:
- Promoting it heavily in the week or so leading up to it, explaining what the contest will be. If you’re asking users to share pictures of “how do you style our scarves” or “snap a picture of your favorite flavor,” then this gives them time to do so.
- Set up a social media contest through software like ShortStack or Wishpond.
- Ask users to follow your Page (you can ask them to follow you on multiple social platforms, but we recommend limiting this to two to keep it simple), to share their email address on the form so that they can be notified of the winner, and UGC picture & caption.
- Run the contest long enough to make participation possible, but not so long that people think “I’ll do it tomorrow.”
- You can enable voting to get your participants to promote their own images (and thus your contest)
- Announce the winner!
Make sure that the prize is relevant to your target audience. Cash prizes (which appeal to everyone) often drive low-quality leads and neglect to result in a boost in brand awareness or lead generation.
3. Sending a Follow Up Message on Facebook Within 24 Hours
Your followers are likely increasingly messaging you through private direct messages across multiple platforms. Facebook currently has the strictest rules about businesses and Pages reaching out to customers first through Messenger. Specifically, those rules say that you can’t, and it’s actually not possible to do.
You need to wait for users to message you first. Once they do, though, you have a golden window of opportunity. If you send them a follow-up message within the 24-hour window following the message, you can get one more message in there.
If someone reaches out to ask a question about a product, you can shoot them a “We just wanted to check in– were you able to find what you need, and is there anything else we can do for you?” Customer service complaints can also receive a follow up message to confirm that the customer was happy.
Not only does this show that your team is dedicated to customer service, but it also opens the door for additional communication. Someone may ask another question about another product if prompted, for example, or give you feedback about your customer support policies. More conversation is typically going to be a good thing, so as long as you’re following Facebook’s policies, this is a great strategy to use.
4. Focusing On UGC Campaigns & Getting Permission to Share
User-generated content (UGC) is about as powerful as it gets when it comes to marketing materials. Images and reviews that are created by your customers and shared widely are incredibly beneficial to your business. It expands your business’s reach significantly to the individual’s follower-base, converting your customer into an enthusiastic salesperson. Since people are more receptive to purchasing after reading a rave review from a friend instead of a brand, this has massive selling potential.
Focusing on campaigns that encourage the creation and sharing of UGC, therefore, is an excellent call. We’ve already discussed one option for doing this above when talking about social media contests with a UGC-heavy focus. You can also, however, do the following to encourage UGC:
- Place a CTA in your bio on platforms like Twitter or Instagram that ask users to tag you and/or use a branded hashtag in any content they share. Be specific– “share your unboxing with #BoxedGoods” or “show us your favorite recipes with our pasta and tag us!” The more specific you are, the better.
- Have posts dedicated to UGC creation, asking users to share their favorite product. Even without a prize attached, you’d be surprised how often people will happily post UGC if they feel that there’s a chance to be featured on a brand’s channel.
- Share UGC frequently and enthusiastically. Get permission, and then share it on your Stories and in your feed, always tagging the original creator.
5. Tag Other Brands in Relevant Content
Right from the beginning, I’m going to stress that the key part of the phrase here is “relevant.” You can tag other brands and influencers in relevant content that they’re somehow directly tied to.
That being said, tagging other brands and influencers in your content can be an excellent strategy as long as you’re not spamming people. Partnering up with local or complementary businesses where you have an audience overlap can often benefit you both. You share some of their content and tag them, and hopefully they’ll be happy to reciprocate or at least engage back.
You can create your own content and tag brands, especially if you’re quoting them, mentioning their product or brand in some way, or featuring their product or service in a post. This includes partners, sponsored content, and more.
Reach out to some businesses who may be interested. You can do everything from set up a joint pop-up event to organizing a Facebook live to creating a shared Pinterest board together. There are plenty of opportunities to merge audiences so that everyone involved can benefit—including you!
Not-So-Great Strategies That Are Common But That Should Be Avoided
Now that we’ve taken a look at some of the best white hat social media marketing strategies you can use to grow your brand and drive reach, leads, and sales, we wanted to point out a few things you definitely, definitely do not want to do.
These are a few not-great strategies that are often presented as “standard” that you absolutely want to avoid:
- Using follow-for-follow-then-unfollow strategies. It’s common for new brands trying to grow fast to try to follow a lot of accounts to get their attention. People will follow you for a follow back. This doesn’t promote real organic growth, however, because these people might care more about you following them than them following you. And you definitely don’t want to use “follow/unfollow” software that then unfollows the users later. People notice, and it does go against terms of service. This isn’t how to get your brand noticed.
- Buying likes. Buying likes is a colossal waste of money. You’re buying likes from fake profiles that will never purchase from you and never engage with your content. This means that your engagement rate drops, which causes the different platform’s algorithms to think that your content just isn’t great or relevant, resulting in declined organic reach. And on top of that, the profiles have gotten pretty good at rooting out fake profiles, so you’ll probably lose the numbers eventually, too.
- Trying to “trick” the platforms. We probably see this mentioned most frequently with Facebook Ads, where advertisers will try to submit so many ads to “trick” Facebook into accepting one or two that they know at the very least is borderline in terms of guideline compliance. Don’t do this; follow Facebook’s policies, and if an ad is denied, see why so it can be fixed. You can appeal for legitimate issues, but try not to trick the system. It typically won’t work in your favor.
Unfortunately, as long as there’s an opportunity to benefit in some way (especially financial), there will always be people trying to cheat the system. Sometimes businesses are well aware of what they’re doing, and sometimes they’re not (and may even be trusting an unreliable “growth hacking guru”). Stick to white-hat social media marketing strategies to get the results you want the right way, keeping yourself in the positive both with your new followers and the platforms themselves.
What do you think? Have you used any of these strategies before, positive or negative? What has worked best for you? Share your thoughts and questions in the comments below!