We Asked 30+ Marketing Experts: How Would You Grow Your Social Following From 0?

by Josh Barney

You’re all sick of hearing from me, right?

In this MAMMOTH article, I’ve reached out to 30+ marketing experts (from some of the world’s hottest digital brands) for their expert opinion.

The question was simple:

If your Brand’s social media profile(s) was reset to 0 today, what ONE TACTIC would contribute most to rebuilding an engaged audience? And why? 

This post is chock-a-block with takeaways, tactics and strategies that will increase your social media following.

If you’re new to social, have hit a plateau or just can’t figure out how to level-up your social media marketing game, strap yourself in for some super-valuable lessons.

This is what marketers at the top of their game would do if they were in your shoes.

Let’s go…


Kate Rooney, Marketing Director @ Design Pickle

If our social media profiles were to reset today, I would focus our efforts on peer-to-peer engagement to rebuild a strong brand community.

With all of the new algorithm changes, it’s easy for brands to disappear from feeds. Finding ways to engage with fans, connect with people in meaningful ways, and creating authentic content that people want to engage with and share would be top priority.

Social media is not about the product – it’s about the people. Kate Rooney, Design Pickle.Click To Tweet

Genuinely respond to every message or comment on Facebook, build a community within Facebook groups, find relevant conversations on Twitter to join in, ask thoughtful questions on Instagram stories — get to be known as the brand that actively communicates with followers, and you’ll turn those followers into real fans.

Follow DesignPickle on Twitter.

Larry Kim, CEO @ MobileMonkey

I would definitely use Messenger ads. It’s one of the most underutilized, yet best converting and engaging tactic I’ve been using.

Every time someone clicks on the “Send message” on your sponsored post, they send a message to your Facebook page inbox which allows you to send message them later on without paying for additional ads.

messenger ads

For best results, you can combine Facebook messenger ads with messenger chatbots that automatically respond to users who are clicking your ads. You can build chatbots within 5 minutes using messenger marketing platforms like MobileMonkey.

Follow Larry on Twitter

Magdalena Urbaniak, Marketing Consultant @ Brand24

What I’d do to reach and engage the audience again? I’d go to people, brands, and profiles that have a similar target audience and ask them to cooperate (influencer marketing).

I’d ask them kindly to share a word about my brand and maybe even give a link to our profiles. Obviously, I’d offer something in return. This will depend on the influencer’s needs, this might be money, reach, content, opportunities, etc.

Word of mouth is one of the strongest tactics to reach people, build interest and trust (and influencer marketing is a great way to achieve this). Brand24.Click To Tweet

Follow Brand24 on Twitter.

Alexandra Tachalova, Founder @ Digital Olympus

My tip will be specifically for Twitter since that’s where I know how to build an engaging community from a scratch.

I would start by joining some industry Twitter chats where you can get along with industry experts. Plus, always share the content of people who are familiar with your brand so you can ensure that those posts won’t be ignored.

Always spend an hour or so chatting with people on Twitter. Conversations are key. Alex Tachalova, Digital Olympus.Click To Tweet

Another easy way to grow your Twitter engagement and community is by sharing round-up posts and listicle posts that feature tools/experts. Both types of content work like a charm. The only rule is to create good-looking images that showcase all the experts that you’re tagging and listing in your tweet.

Follow Alexandra on Twitter.

Vlad Calus, Co-Founder @ Planable

I’d focus on building meaningful relationships from the day one.

Don't hurry into reaching a certain number of followers, or likes on social - they don't even matter. It's vanity. Vlad Claus, Planable.Click To Tweet

What will set your brand apart from many other is the opportunity to be likeable, memorable, and a friendly brand users have on their feed and associate good feelings with.

Follow Vlad on Twitter.

Lauren Teague, Strategist @ Convince & Convert 

Starting from 0, I would focus far more on the Mentions & Messages of any social network than the newsfeed, as these are where personal connections take hold.

convince and convert twitter

I’d start by following thought leaders, micro-influencers and hashtags around the topic or community I want to be part of. I’d spend the majority of my time commenting on and sharing other’s posts authentically (not in a boasting or “look at me” style).

When posting myself, I’d work towards a 60/40 split of curated content (shares or retweets) to my own thoughts and ideas.

Follow Lauren on Twitter.

Mat Wilson, CEO @ Einstein Marketer

I would focus purely on content marketing on ALL platforms.

Publishing high quality content that above all else QUALIFIES my audience. I would do this consistently over and over again. Replying to every comment and message I receive, good or bad.

Follow Mat on Twitter.

Andy Crestodina, CMO @ Orbit Media

I would use power trigrams as often as possible. These little three-word combinations have a huge impact on clicks, likes and shares.

Image Source

To grow my following, I need engagement. To get engagement, I need to trigger my audience with emotion or specific promises. These little three-word wonders do exactly that!

Follow Andy on Twitter.

Nico Prins, Founder @ Launch Space

I would focus on LinkedIn networking.

My first step would be to define my goal. For example, you might want to target SaaS blogs for guest posting. When you have set your goal you can then draw up a huge list of relevant SaaS sites.

That’s phase one. Then comes outreach.

You now need to define who you want to connect with. If your business goal is to write a lot of guest posts you might target writers and editors. It’s easy to find relevant people to connect with using LinkedIn search. You can leverage these new connections to achieve your marketing goals. You could apply this tactic to generate sales or any other B2B business goal.

Follow Nico on Twitter.

Alexander Porter, Head of Copy @ Search It Local

Contrary to popular belief, creating value-driven and customer-centric content is not the answer.

Content will certainly be a cornerstone of your efforts to rebuild branded social channels, but diving into content blindly is not the answer.

Starting at 0 is an ideal chance to survey the social landscape and drastically pivot. It is extremely challenging to move away from a long-standing brand voice and style. Which means approaching social media from a new angle after months or years of doing the same thing is close to impossible for most brands.

As such, with an Instagram account of exactly 0 followers, the one tactic that would contribute to rebuilding an engaged audience would be competitor analysis.

As Head of Copy for Search It Local I would stay at 0 followers for the short-term and track our competitors. Once I had established the type of content they were consistently producing, I would do the exact opposite.

The social media landscape is saturated to the point of invisibility. While starting at 0 is the definition of being invisible, it will allow us to make bold, unusual choices from the start. Alexander Porter, Search It Local. Click To Tweet

With a visual style and content strategy that is unique, THEN it is time to pair customer-focused value.

And that’s how I’d rebuild an engaged audience.

Follow Search It Local on Twitter.

Robert Katai, Content Marketing Manager @ Bannersnack

I would start by building a private group (Facebook groups, Insta DM, Linkedin group) based on every network and their user’s behaviour.

I believe that a brand should build their online presence starting from what it already has – customers, users, clients. Even if they are only 5-10-100-1000.

Give your customer, users and clients exclusive content based on their needs, make them connect with each other and behave like a bridge between them. Robert Katai, Bannersnack.Click To Tweet

Follow Robert on Twitter.

Hayley Sakae, Social Media and Events Coordinator @ AdRoll

A good foundation for gaining engagement and followers on social media is built on impactful content that resonates with users and facilitates conversation.

If AdRoll had to start from scratch completely, we would capitalize on user-generated content (UGC) specifically for Instagram. This would include sharing employee-owned posts of outings, office events and other happenings to both improve internal advocacy and promote our fun, unique culture.

adroll instagram

In addition to employee user generated posts, we would also create a social media campaign designed specifically for AdRoll customers in order to incentivize those e-commerce businesses to follow us, engage with us and ultimately advocate for us through word-of-mouth marketing.

Not only would UGC provide us with content to share, but we would also generate a loyal follower base full of both employee and customer advocates who are part of our built community.

Follow AdRoll on Twitter.

Jack Paxton, Co-Founder @ VYPER

In order to get followers you need to incentivise them with something. That could be good content, payment via ads or provide some other value in exchange for a follow or like.

One way to put incentivization and gamification on hyperdrive (to increase follower growth) is to use a giveaway or contest. Jack Paxton, VYPER.Click To Tweet

Make a prize that is of high value and unique in order to get participants to take all the actions you need for growth (follow, share, and engage with content). Not only will the prize motivate them to share but you can also introduce a referral loop. Reward points that increase participants chance of winning when they refer their friends, family and co-workers to the giveaway.

Follow Jack on Twitter.

Tonya Parker, Content Growth Manager @ Zest


Communicating with the Zest tribe has been the key to our growth and that’s how we would recover from a reset to zero by tagging Zest members who have contributed great content, asking users questions, sharing tribe feedback and keeping the spotlight on the community.

Follow Zest on Twitter.

Kas Szatylowicz, Social Media & Outreach Coordinator @ Nightwatch

Building an engaged audience is a marathon, not a sprint and the core of it should be, of course, providing maximum value.

If we were to start from 0, we would switch our focus from Facebook towards Twitter and create regular Twitter chats. Twitter remains the platform where doing business, promoting your brand and building an audience simply works. It’s a bit more “serious” than Instagram, and from a perspective of an SEO software tool, it is important to promote our brand in the environment where we can find SEO professionals, business owners and bloggers all at once.

Twitter chats can be a powerful way to build your brand, deliver value (by educating) and interact with your audience by answering their questions and being as helpful as you can possibly be. Kas Szatylowicz, Nightwatch. Click To Tweet

Follow Kas on Twitter.

Ameeq Asrar, Product Manager @ MailMunch

It always comes down to the perceived value that your content provides to the audience. And I believe this applies to all channels, because this comes down to the core of your message.

Your audience wants to stay in touch with you, but will only do so if you continue to provide them some kind of value.

Design your message in small, digestible chunks, and then put it onto a medium that is easy to consume. Videos continue to reign supreme, but really, your audience will view/read/listen to anything that they think provides value.

mailmunch social content

This value can come in any form: teach them something new, tell them an easy way to do something old, just make them laugh or elicit a happy or moving emotional response, or give them something free that they can take away and make productive use out of.

If you can do any of these things on a continual basis, you’ll keep your audience locked in.

Follow MailMunch on Twitter.

Aleh Barysevich, Founder @ SEO PowerSuite and Awario

If I were to rebuild an engaged audience from scratch, I would have relied more on social media listening from the very start.

Not only social media listening is a great way to grow your business in many aspects, it can definitely help you to be more focused with finding the right people to engage with in social media and serving them better.

To begin with, social media listening lets you see what users talk about in your niche, what their needs and pain points are, what makes them excited and happy. Moreover, you can instantly connect with the ones who are directly interested in your type of product or service and chances are they’ll instantly become your followers.

social listening

On top of that, social media listening lets you identify influencers and micro-influencers and engage with them and their content on a regular basis. As a result, they (and even their huge following) will see your posts more often: in my experience, Twitter tends to show you the posts of people with whom you talk more often.

Additionally, these influencers be more likely to build some partnerships with you (check your product, include it into their review posts, write a testimonial for you, etc.). Use a social media listening tool for this: Awario comes heavily recommended.

Follow Aleh on Twitter.

Bjion Henry, Co-Founder @ Heue Digital

To most business owners this will sounds ludicrous but tell your audience your trade secrets. By this I mean tell them all the nifty little tricks you use to deliver the service you plan to sell to them.

The reason this will sound ridiculous to most business owners is because it raises the obvious concern that potential customers then won’t need you. Truth is, they still will, and more than ever.

When you give away valuable advice, it positions you as the go-to, defacto knowledge-hub within their network for that specific service. Bjion Henry, Heue Digital.Click To Tweet

The second benefit is that when you give someone good advice or tips, it incentivises them to firstly keep following you, secondly to engage with you (like/comment), and thirdly to share it with someone else which spreads your brand reach.

This increased followship, engagement and shares tells social media algorithms you’re worthy of showing to even more accounts, and then the snowball effect begins.

Kitty James, Fotor

User-generated content.

UGC is more interesting, authentic, and always gets more likes and engagements on social media!

It also helps create connections between your brands and your audience. You can check GoPro’s Shoot for Awards campaign for a great example.

Follow Fotor on Twitter.

Ronald Dod, Co-founder and CMO @ Visiture

If Visiture had to start from scratch on social media, we would regrow our audience by creating engaging and high-quality content.

Consumers want to connect and get to know your brand without feeling like they are reading a sales pitch. Ronald Dod, Visiture.Click To Tweet

Build an authentic brand and your messaging will resonate with the audience and create a loyal following online.

Follow Visiture on Twitter.

Karolina Facchin, Executive Director @ Search Scientists

We’re actually going through the process of restarting and planning out our social media strategy right now.

In a field like ours, that might seem rather mundane to many people, we believe the key to building an engaged audience relies on staying topical. By relating pop culture and cultural references with what we do, we believe we can build a better, more engaged audience.

Follow Search Scientists on Twitter.

Enstine Muki, Founder @ EnstineMuki.com

Twitter is increasingly becoming my favourite social media platform.

If I’m given the chance to rebuild my profile from day one, I would focus more on engaging with other users who tweet related content. Rather than following and expecting a follow back, engagement (Replying to tweets, tweeting for others, liking and re-tweeting etc) is the key activity to stand out and attract attention.

enstine muki twitter

We’ve made the error of massively following and un-following, focusing on building a large number of random followers. Truth is, this is pure wastage.

Engaging more positions you as a real marketer to turn to when there is need.

Follow Enstine on Twitter.

Ryan Abrams, Director of Marketing @ InfiniGrow

Over the course of social media history, we have seen large shifts in the types of content shared by brands and the interaction preferences of our audiences.

We have firmly moved toward interactive content across the spectrum (B2B & B2C). If you were to reset my social media profiles to zero, I’d focus heavily on producing interactive content (mainly video, but also audio and images) that takes a conversational approach to audience interaction.

When done correctly, you’ll build both a strong brand and an engaged audience on social.

Follow Ryan on Twitter.

Nicholas Napier, SEO Specialist @ Now Media Group

No matter if you have 10,000 followers or zero, the skills that are effective remain the same. By sticking to the tried and true staples of engagement – things like posting a few times each week, mixing fun posts with business-oriented posts, and being a presence on social media that responds, you’ll build followers.

To narrow this down to one thing, I’d say this is the goal: Make your business seem human and personable. People don’t want to deal with a cold-hearted, beauracratic company.

When you post photos, engage, and god forbid, have a sense of humor and playfulness in your posts, you come across as human, and it makes your company seem so much more welcoming to potential customers. Nicholas Napier, Now Media Group. Click To Tweet

Milosz Krasinski, Growth & Strategy Consultant @ Milosz Krasinski

I would keep interviewing industry people.

In the interview my question would be to ask the expert “are there any other experts to follow in this fields? Usually the answer is yes. I would then include others in the overview with their twitter handles. People love to be mentioned by other experts so they would naturally start retweeting and tweeting the article.

Jordin Ruthstein, Lead Marketing Strategist @ Simple Machines Marketing


No matter how frequently you post, how many other accounts you follow or engage with, or what channels you use, if you aren't telling a compelling story you won't build an engaged authentic following. Jordin Ruthstein, Simple Machines Marketing.Click To Tweet

While it might be a tactic that takes time to build momentum, it’s a tactic that brings in engaged, like-minded followers.

This is relevant across social media channels; in feed posts, stories, and comments on other accounts; across marketing materials (not just for social media); and develops a strong, trustworthy brand.

While it might not be a traditional “tactic” in the sense of a content calendar or hashtag usage, it’s the most part of a successful social media campaign.

Follow Simple Machines Marketing on Twitter.

Matt Pyke, Founder & Managing Director @ Fly High Media

I would completely double down on LinkedIn. This is by far the best social platform for us to drive inbound leads and grow our brand.

However, when I say LinkedIn I mean doubling down on personal accounts. Selling through your personal profiles is a lot easier than a brand profile. Making personal connections and selling with a face rather than a logo is a lot easier.

The #1 strategy for my personal profile is creating PDF guides. They get great engagement/reach, and when posted consistently over time they help build a great presence. The best part is that they don’t normally take too long to create, you just need to make sure that you have some great information that is well researched and referenced.

Follow Matt on Twitter.

Robb Fahrion, Partner @ Flying V Group

The one tactic that would contribute most to rebuilding an engaged audience is the creation of content, content, and more content.

Content is the most significant driving force for all digital marketing efforts. Robb Fahrion, Flying V Group.Click To Tweet

It does not matter if you are posting on social media, running a Google Ads campaign, or trying to improve your site’s keyword rankings, it all begins and ends with substantial content.

Content is what allows you to take advantage of the benefits of social media. It is much easier to get a user to engage with your posts if you are providing them with valuable information that they can gain knowledge from instead of selling them your product or service.

By delivering incredible content that answers or solves customers’ pain points, you will be able to get the conversation started and are more likely to have followers engage in or share your content.

By creating meaningful and worthwhile content, there is the likelihood that the content will be shared by others as well, which is essential for expanding your reach and exposure online.

Providing your new audience with information that is very beneficial to them will build your following strongly and organically that will surely help rebuild an engaged audience as fast as possible!

Follow Robb on Twitter.

Ryan Jones, Digital Marketing Executive @ Imaginaire Digital

If our social media profiles were all set to 0 today, the number one tactic I would use to re-build an engaged and active audience is to be active myself.

And no, I don’t just mean posting regularly. I mean by commenting, liking, sharing and following other people.

Active profiles always attract active followers and a lot of brands forget about that these days. Ryan Jones, Imaginaire Digital.Click To Tweet

Follow Ryan on Twitter.

Moss Clement, Founder @ Moss Media

The one tactic I will use is to “analyse my marketing strategy and the competition.”

Why? It’s because building engagement on social media means identifying what people are saying about your brand and how they react to it.

Moreover, studying your social media marketing strategy will also assist you in identifying why you lost engagement in the first place. Thus, you need to know your target customers’ attitudes toward different marketing campaigns to figure out what interests them most and why they are not engaging with your brand anymore.

moss clement twitter

This step will enable you to execute a formidable plan of action that will increase engagement and bring positive results.

Nonetheless, you also need to analyse your competitors to pinpoint what they’re doing differently to boost engagement and replicate their strategy. It will help you to see their strength and weakness. Then leverage on their strength, fill in the loopholes or improve on their weakness. In this way, you will establish a plan and strategy that will take your social media marketing to the next height.

Follow Moss on Twitter.

Nathan Sharpe, Founder @ Biznas

To rebuild my social profiles I would foster engagement.

First I would engage with others who are talking about topics similar to what I talk about – comment on their posts, like, share etc. If they share their own blog content I’d comment on that too. And not always “great post” kind of comments, but something that actually sparks conversation. Asking questions and so on.

The more you engage with others, the more likely they are to follow/like your social profiles and be inclined to engage with the content you’re posting too.

In the end, engagement breeds growth if you make it easy for others to engage with you. Nathan Sharpe, Biznas.Click To Tweet

Follow Biznas on Twitter.

Mark Quadros, Content Marketer @ Dhe Real Mark

Assuming I still have content to re-purpose–and the goal is maximum ROI; Facebook groups.

First, I’d join groups relevant to my target market, then I’d analyze the “winning” posts (read: most trending, engaging) posts from each group and consolidate this data into one nice google spreadsheet.

Next, I would evaluate this data with my existing content and see which content fits in and then re purpose it to match winning articles. (I’ll also list of Facebook group rules i.e which days are promo days, etc)

Then, I would build a Facebook page and create free lead-magnet (think: free eBook, checklist, etc) to collect emails from each lead that lands on it. Finally, I’ll launch the content campaign using a tool like https://crowdfireapp.com and then scale content.

Follow Mark on Twitter.

Victor Miller, Business and Marketing Specialist @ Bizzmark

If you’re looking to rebuild an engaged audience from scratch, being active and consistent should be your primary tactic.

Make sure to create an effective posting schedule and stick to it. If you post regularly, you’ll eventually start reaching people and building an audience, but don’t forget to make your posts valuable and engaging as well, because the mere quantity isn’t enough.

best content strategy

Also, keep in mind that your social media activity doesn’t have to stay on your profile – engaging with others, especially relevant influencers, will help you get more exposure and attract followers.

So post, like and share away – be as active as possible and your numbers will inevitably grow.

Follow Victor on Twitter.

Sean Turner, Digital Marketer @ Custom Comet

For Twitter, I would purchase ads to promote a contest that targeted my demographic. Offering up a gift card to your store works well.

The ads would be targeted and require them to either re-tweet or answer a trivia question. This works by engaging new people and having them amplify your tweet to their followers (who will likely fall in that same demographic). The catch is to mention that these contests will be regular so they have incentive to follow you.

Follow Custom Comet on Twitter.

Maria Sereda, Brand & Community Manager @ Serpstat

I’d create a private community at Facebook for Digital Marketers where I’d share free educational and entertaining content with them:

I’d launch webinars, create polls to ask for their opinion on which speaker they want to hear, which topics to discuss; I’d also organize Q&A sessions with experts in the group. I’d encourage them to share their problems so that they could discuss them and get advice from the group members.

We’ve already tried it and it’s worked with our group Serpstat Insights at Facebook:)

Follow Maria on Twitter.

Salman Saleem, Digital Marketing Strategist @ Cloudways

I would follow this process:

1) Contribute to open source projects (on github)

2) Start producing content on Medium

3) Keep working hard on producing content on Medium and contribution on github

4) Very soon you will be observed on github and your contribution will be highlighted. People will start collaborating with you. Similarly on Medium, curators will select your articles and distribute it which will get you observed in the eyes of publishers. They would approach you to get the content published on their site.

5) Everyone would want to connect with you and your social media profile starts growing

6) You approach famous sites for contribution showing your past portfolio. Chances are high that you’ll get accepted and your profile will start rising again

7) You engage with influencers on Twitter for profile building

8) The rest is history

Follow Salman on Twitter.


And that’s your lot!

User Generated Content, Messenger, Twitter Chats, Peer-to-Peer Engagement, Facebook Groups…

…the ideas handed to you by these experts could be PRICELESS to your social media marketing campaigns.

BTW: I’ve learnt a ton and it was my idea to put it together!

I’d quickly like to thank all our experts for making this article so valuable for the Einstein Marketer audience. You guys are awesome!

If any of the answers resonated with you, follow that expert on Twitter to hear more awesome social media marketing tactics.

See you all soon.

Josh is the Founder of We Imagine Media, an award-winning content marketer, best selling author and creator of the www.joshbarney.blog. He creates and strategises content, sharing the most successful tactics with his lovely audience. He hates writing in the third person, follow him on the social links so he can get back to writing as himself.

3 Responses

  1. Hi Josh,
    These are incredible expert tips that one can apply today and start seeing positive results. I love Nathan’s hack as well. He said, “in the end, engagement breeds growth if you make it easy for others to engage with you.” He’s right about that because engagement is a way to encourage people and tell them you’re credible.
    I’m happy to be amongst the list of experts.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The 3 Pillars of Business

FREE 3-Part Video Training

You are agreeing to our Terms and Conditions