We’ve talked before about red flags when your social media following is growing too quickly, but you should always see a little steady growth happening month to month.
That said, theory and practice rarely align perfectly. As your following grows, it’s also inevitably evolving. Which means you will have times when what has worked for you may stop working, and your growth can stagnate.
This can be distressing because it happens seemingly without cause. But it’s nothing to worry about too much—you have a lot of power to turn it around. All it means is that you’ve maxed out your growth for doing what you’re already doing, and it’s time for a look under the hood.
So let’s go to the stagnating account, and let’s look at a few core questions you can use for a DIY content audit.
Your “Top Posts” section is a great place to start. Review your engagement stats: shares, likes and comments. Look for patterns: What are your followers responding to best? It might be a topic, a hashtag, a post format (such as a personal share, question or inspirational quote), or even a time of day.
Whatever it is, keep it up and try to post more content like this.
What isn’t working?
Next, look at the content that is not performing well—the posts with little to no engagement. Can you see any common trends among them? How are they different from your most successful posts?
You can stop wasting your time with this type of content. Let’s clear out room in your social media efforts for new efforts.
Assessing what is and is not working for you is a great start. But a stagnation problem indicates that, by and large, what has worked for you in the past isn’t working anymore.
So this is where it starts to get interesting and fun! It’s time to try some totally new things—we’re going to throw a big fistful of pasta at the wall and see what sticks.
Ways to shake it up include:
Social media can feel like a bottomless pit because, well, you can always post more, but when you’re trying to break free from stagnation, it can help get you over the hump. If you’re tight on time, try experimenting with a scheduling tool like Buffer, Hootsuite or Recurpost.
This can be harder than posting more because there is no workaround—you have to log directly into your account each time. But likes, shares and comments can go a long way to bolster your following. There is great power in relationship.
Join a community
Depending what network you’re on, online communities can take many different forms, but the idea is the same: Find a new group focused in an area you’re passionate about (and is relevant to your target readers), and have some fun! Focus on being helpful and contributing in a meaningful way (not promoting yourself).
Try new hashtags
There’s a hundred different hashtags for just about anything these days. Explore a few new ones in your niche and try them out in your posts. Even better, refer back to tip #2: Don’t forget to engage with others using the hashtag in addition to using it in your own posts.
Study what others are doing
Whose social media presence do you admire? Who is experiencing success with the audience you want to reach? Pick out a few and make a study of them. What are they doing differently from you? Use as inspiration to find additional ways to adapt and grow.
Grow Your Social Media Following with Intention
I want to leave you with an important reminder: The quality of your following is more important than its size. So when you hit a slow growth period, it’s okay. If you have changed something about your brand or messaging, this may also indicate a temporary shift in your audience as it realigns to match.
These are all things to focus on over growth—never stress over follower growth for its own sake, it won’t help you where it counts. As always, focus on relationships with your followers first, and build everything else from there.
By day, E. J. Wenstrom is a digital strategy pro with over 10 years at communications firms. By early-early morning, she’s an award-winning sci-fi and fantasy author of the Chronicles of the Third Realm War novels, starting with Mud. She believes in complicated characters, terrifying monsters, and purple hair dye.