How to become a social media star

Faking it has never been so easy.

Published Date
30 - May - 2014
| Last Updated
02 - Jun - 2014
How to become a social media star

Break-up diva Taylor Swift has over 52 million Twitter followers – a world record – with pop icon (for lack of a better word) Justin Bieber coming in at No.2 with just over 51 million Twitter followers. But guess what? Most of these followers don’t even exist. According to Fake Follower Check, Taylor has nearly 53 per cent fake or inactive followers reducing her total to just over 21 million, and Justin Bieber leads the way with 58 per cent fake or inactive followers bringing him down to nearly 18 million actual followers. Shame!

Most high profile personalities, from Modi to Shakira, have been found faking their way into social stardom. Whether it’s by buying Facebook likes and shares or Twitter followers, many celebrities have been accused of cheating their way to the top of the ranks. However, such hefty purchases aren’t for everyone. Though whatever may be your reason, business or pleasure, it’s always handy to have a few thousand people take notice when you make a post. So read on to discover the simple steps you can take to “fake” your way to social media stardom without having to spend a single buck.

Profile makeover

So you’ve set up your social media account – Twitter, Facebook, Quora, whatever – but how do you gain those followers? Well, it all begins with your profile. People rarely follow faceless entities online without a very good reason so craft a profile that not only gives you an online identity but also strategically attracts followers. SEO techniques can help you here and you don’t have to be an expert. All you have to do is use words that are critical to people discovering your existence. Different social media platforms have different parameters to fill out for your profile – from elegantly succinct Twitter with its 160 characters to Facebook’s encyclopedic lists of preferences and likes. In all cases, the basic bio is your main concern.

Whether you just want to sell your personal brand or push your business, having a brief, witty and easy-to-read bio that relates to your interests will grab people’s attention. Decide your online personality and express it in short brief sentences that use simple one-word descriptors like “Journalist” or “Programmer”. This can do wonders in making you more discoverable.

On Quora, be sure to boost your ‘Recognized Topic Biographies’ as they add more authority to your profile. Also, add to your academic and non-academic fields and encourage people you know (in real life even) to endorse them.

There’s a great search tool for Twitter called Followerwonk many users employ to exclusively search bios in detail. And with even Google scanning through these profiles with emphasis on hashtags, feel free to add hashtags to your profile bio, where appropriate. Of course, it also helps to be funny but that’s not a deal breaker.

Don’t forget the power of a good profile picture in attracting followers. People like to know who they’re following even if they don’t recognize them. A clean and decent image is your best bet. If you want to keep your face private, then opt for iconic images like logos or symbols that best represent you.

Go get your followers

Once you’ve done all this, you’ll probably wonder when you’ll attract your first follower. Well, you don’t have to wait for them to come to you. You can go to them. Start advertising yourself on other social media platforms immediately. Invite the old crowd to the new platform and encourage them to follow you. Sending out polite, well worded email to family and friends can even get you some pity followers. A good start.

The next step is to subliminally influence unsuspecting strangers. Start by including your new social media tag in everything, from email to business cards. Let your social media location find its way unobtrusively onto the internet in comment streams on blogs and YouTube. Make it your own personal sign off. Not only does this technique work in a subtle way (saving you from looking pushy), but it can also lead to surprising followers down the road since the internet never really erases anything. Even lame YouTube comments. Be sure to mention your social media credentials on your LinkedIn or Glassdoor profile as well. It never hurts to have a CEO among your followers.

You can also start creating a few attractive images that carry a funny quote along with your social media watermark using freely available templates. Upload them on image-sharing websites like Imgur or Instagram for further exposure.

The Bait and Switch

You can begin your journey to stardom by following a few key people who are very active online – usually not mainstream celebrities but social media “influencers” – and easily discoverable through Google searches. Look for people who are even vaguely related to your interests and have a large number of followers. So if you’re interested in movies, avoid following politicians (unless it’s Arnold Schwarzenegger). This way you’ll have greater access to people who’re more likely to find you relevant and worth following back. Of course, they’re just as likely to unfollow you later, but it gives you enough time to be visible to their followers. Followerwonk is again useful here.

As a rule of thumb, if someone follows you, follow them right back. Even on forums such as Quora, this reciprocity is a necessary courtesy otherwise you risk being unfollowed. If you want to improve your Edgerank or Klout scores as a part of your social media dominance, then tweaking your “followers to following” ratio is also important. Be careful of how quickly you unfollow users who follow you. Platforms like Twitter have systems to detect this kind of behaviour, and you risk being barred from the service. Take at least five days before unfollowing someone.

Another important aspect of Twitter is its 2,000 followers limit. You can only follow up to 2,000 people (unlimited unfollow someone first. A delicate choice, so try to first pick people who’re less likely to realise you’ve unfollowed them (read: family and friends).

Social scavenging

Another helpful trick to find more followers is by scavenging the list of members who already follow you. Keep an eye out for people who are more into retweeting on Twitter, UpVoting answers on Quora or distributing likes on Facebook. Such people are more likely to follow someone if they’re followed first. Shoot off a complimentary message and follow them and if they think you’re sufficiently impressive, they’ll follow you back.

Also be on the lookout for “whales” i.e. people who follow thousands of accounts. These are a goldmine if you want to get an instant follow back. Quora is one website where these whales can be found with ease. Don’t follow them. Instead follow the accounts that follow these whales back. Here’s an account as an example: Martin Stojcevski.

As we speak, this particular profile is following 46,684 members. Yes, it’s probably a bot. But here’s something strange – such a ridiculous profile has 2,077 people following it. These are the people you must target. Follow them and you’re assured a follow-back, then simply unfollow! Mean, but effective.

You’ll be sure to experience a sudden surge in your Quora followership overnight. This nifty trick will make your profile look impressive to everyone as you go about the business of answering questions on Quora. And if you’re serious about participating on the forum, you can only expect the numbers to rise if your answers are intelligent or thought-provoking enough.

Also make it a habit to like, share, upvote, comment and retweet other people’s interesting content. Do this mainly with content shared by a mainstream celebrity and you may just be able to weasel your way into their stream and improve your visibility without much effort. It’s also recommended that you compliment, respond or positively comment on stuff shared by journalists and public relations people – they’re more than happy to follow you and rarely have the time to unfollow you later.

Hashtag hopping

This is one of the easiest tricks in the game. Make hashtags a part of your online vocabulary and understand how to best discover and use them. The #discover option and the “Who To Follow” suggestions on Twitter are a great barometer of what people are interested in on any platform. Learn to embed trending hashtags nonchalantly into the flow of your content. Mention topics and hashtags in your status messages, tweets and even the questions you choose to answer on Quora. Of course, you shouldn’t add hashtags to your Quora until others are doing it first. You’d just look weird otherwise.

Freely use hashtags to chime in about ongoing events that are being discussed online. For example, if there’s an IPL cricket match you’ll find #IPL or some variation of it being floated around on the site. Join in the discussion and mention about such big events on your content feed. This will ensure that your name pops up on a highly viewed search list increasing your likelihood of being discovered. You’re free to pick and choose your event. The closer it is to your tastes and profile, the more likely you are to gain new followers. The same trend applies to Quora votes, where your UpVotes across a number of questions highlight you to other viewers.

Catch a celeb

An easy way to boost your follower numbers is by engaging a bonafide celebrity in a public interaction. Whether they retweet your post or respond to your comment, any form of interaction gives you centre-stage exposure and instantly adds credibility to your brand. Start using the @message option to send compliments or support to celebrities and even risk asking them for a retweet of your messages. A little bit of gentle stalking doesn’t hurt, so don’t be afraid to send them a message up to twice a week. It’s also highly advisable to find indie scale celebrities on Facebook and send them a friend request. You’ll be surprised how often they say yes – just be sure to like their work beforehand.

Content and timing

Content is king, so start sharing links to blogs, lists, news, events and anything of relevance. It’s important to avoid spammy content and focus on legitimate sources to retain your credibility and followers. When in doubt, just follow these two simple rules – don’t share things that wastes people’s time and share things that make your followers’ lives better. Also, don’t be afraid to express your opinions so your followers know there’s human being behind that beautiful profile pic and not some bot.

Research has found that images and videos are more likely to attract attention and gain followers. Viral videos will also do wonders for your likability online, so be on a lookout for those. Breaking news stories are another great way to make yourself relevant.

On more interactive platforms like Facebook or Quora, limit posts to twice or thrice a day so people don’t think of you as a spammer. Occasionally, get in the habit of posting proactive messages such as opinion seeking questions, go through the responses and like or reply to them to keep your engagement going with people who don’t follow you. And finally, don’t mess up the timing! Knowing when to share is half the battle won. The best times to share updates, tweets or answers is when people are free to read them, so focus on the time just before work hours, during breaks and after work for maximum exposure. Maintaining this sort of schedule can be easier if you use a social media manager like Hootsuite, which can help you schedule your day’s tweets in advance. Keep track of what your followers are finding interesting by observing the retweets, likes and upvotes. You can reshare the popular content again weeks or months later to impress your new followers.

Reign with honour

The long-term key to success in the social media sphere is the same as it is in real life – politeness and engagement. Best of luck on your conquests and be sure to follow Digit everywhere!