We’ve all seen pages on Facebook with thousands…even millions of followers. We’ve seen the same with Twitter and other social networks. It may seem a little overwhelming if you’re starting with a small following and it may feel like you’re just not going to get anywhere if you don’t have a huge following.

But the truth is, a targeted following is always your best bet. While you should always work toward growing your following, you can still get results from your well-cultivated following. So keeping pushing forward. It’s worth it.

To get you started, here are some tips for growing your following:

Invite Your Website Visitors

When someone visits your website, one of your main goals (if it’s not for them to buy a product) should be to get them on your email mailing list. That way, you can contact them directly over and over again through your list. But another thing you want new visitors and even regular visitors to do is follow you on social media. Having multiple avenues to communicate with your audience is a good thing and allows you to stay in the mind of your prospects.

Include buttons on your site that allow your visitors to follow you directly on your main social media networks. While, it may be tempting to offer up a ton of options and include buttons for every social network you’ve joined, do consider these pitfalls:

– By including too many choices, you decrease your chances of getting your visitor to do anything. The old saying that “the confused mind always says no,” is absolutely true.

– Add to that, when you include buttons for networks you’re not that active on, you don’t provide a very good experience for your following.

Instead, keep it focused and limit your follow buttons to the networks where you participate readily. In addition, include invitations to follow you on social media in your blog posts and other content. Don’t just rely on buttons in the side bar…ask them to follow you directly.

Invite Your Mailing List

Sending your mailing list to follow you in social media gives you yet another way to communicate with your audience. Include follow buttons at the end of your emails, but also mention some of your interesting posts inside the emails you send. For example, if you posted a video you know they will want to see, send them to Facebook to view it. Or if you’re online and are available to chat, start a Hangout on Google.

Just one tip…make sure the updates you share are public. While it might make sense to make them private, so people have to follow you to see them, it can be frustrating for your subscribers. After all, your subscribers have ALREADY told you that they’re interested in your stuff and have ALREADY given you their email address. Don’t make them jump through hoops to see your additional content.

Make Friends in Your Niche

One of the easiest ways to grow your social networking and online following is by making friends with others in your niche. That effect is even more dramatic when you make connections with influential people in your niche. Always spend time on developing meaningful relationship with likeminded people because it has a lot of benefits:

– You can share one another’s content
– You can share ideas and give each other advice
– You can cross-promote products

And we’re talking about meaningful relationships here. Not just simply following someone on Twitter and hoping they’ll notice your @ replies. You need to connect them directly, meet them in person or offer to help them in some way. Real relationships don’t develop through liking someone’s Facebook status, so do the work necessary to grow your network of friends.

Get Involved an Interact

Even though liking someone’s video on Facebook isn’t going to make you best friends, interacting regularly with people can help you get noticed. Provide useful commentary on content that is complementary to your niche, get involved and be visible. If people can use you, they are more likely to follow you.

Of course, balance this with the important of keeping your schedule and avoiding distraction. Always be very purposeful about your participation and you will reap the benefits.

Remember, Growing a Following Goes Both Ways

Remember, that growing a following through SM goes the other way too. Get people to share your content on social media, so you can drive that traffic back to you. Getting that traffic back from social media helps you grow your list and sell your products.

Always make it easy for people to share your content. Include sharing buttons on your blog posts, free report download pages and just about anywhere you publish content. The easier it is for people to spread the word, the more likely they are to do it.

More Advice Coming in the Next Couple of Posts

Obviously, the most important key to gaining and retaining your following is to be interesting and useful. These are huge topics that deserve some discussion of their own. So we’ll be talking about just that in the next couple of posts. Next up, we’ll examine how to be interesting by understanding your target market and really getting a grasp of who you’re talking to. Then we’ll talk about being useful and providing something unique that others in your niche don’t. When you master that, it’s much easier to grow and nurture your following.