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Gain Long-Term Social Followers With These 5 Tips Having an engaged audience online can help your bottom line, but you have to be careful.

By Zach Cutler Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Social media is a great way to build a following, gain exposure and turn visitors into fans.

Here are five surefire methods to build and engage with a loyal following over social media to increase company awareness and drive an audience:

1. Develop a consistent posting strategy. Consistent posting is key to build up a social following and keep audience members engaged. If a Facebook, Twitter or even a LinkedIn account goes too long without updates, the target audience will forget about the company.

Social media company Beevolve studied 36 million Twitter users and 28 billion tweets, discovering tweeting more often is highly correlated with an increased number of followers.

Related: 4 Tips for Getting More Company Mentions on Social Media

However, flooding a user's feed is probably the easiest way to get unfollowed. Keeping to a consistent schedule will help develop an engaged audience, without overwhelming followers with information overload.

2. Tailor your content to the platform. The term "social media" is a wide umbrella under which many different platforms fall. Developing only one social strategy doesn't make sense, since each of the major players in the social-media game have different sets of best practices.

Facebook and Pinterest are more visual mediums, LinkedIn favors more long-form and professional content, and Twitter is an instantaneous outlet.

Socialbakers found posts with images or videos on Facebook receive 93 to 96 percent greater engagement than text posts alone.

Tailor the message to the medium, so the audience can truly engage with updates.

3. Engage in one-on-one conversations. It's important to engage with an audience, especially if they've reached out to the company on social media. If someone messages the organization on social channels, a responsive brand will reply and deepen the relationship. Social media can be a great place to deal with customer concerns in a timely manner and troubleshoot problems to show how openly the company deals with issues.

Related: Don't Make These Social-Media Blunders That Businesses Keep Repeating

In fact, a study by Lithium found 72 percent of users expect brands to respond to messages within an hour on Twitter. Engaging in conversation can build a loyal following and connect organizations directly to clients, consumers and customers.

4. Avoid activity bursts by using a scheduling tool. The best way to build a consistent posting strategy is to avoid dumping out social-media updates in huge bursts.

In the 2011 research paper Fragile Online Relationship, Korean researchers looked at the unfollow patterns of 1.2 million Korean-speaking Twitter users over the course of 51 days. They identified a few prominent similarities for users who were unfollowed, one of which was leaving too many updates in a short period of time.

A string of tweets might be fine when live tweeting Scandal, but it's not so attractive when a company is promoting products or services. The easiest way to avoid burst updates is to use a scheduling tool to dole out social-media posts in advance, so social channels are consistently updated on a set schedule.

5. Give away special offers or promotions. According to a 2013 Nielsen survey conducted for Twitter,52 percent of users follow brands to be notified of special offers and promotions, 38 percent follow to take part in competitions, and 33 percent follow for access to freebies.

Use this knowledge to the organization's advantage by leveraging contests, freebies and promotions to engage the audience, convert passive followers into active brand ambassadors, and build a larger following. Nothing builds instant goodwill quite as effectively as freebies, so use these giveaways wisely to engender positive associations with the company brand.

Building a dedicated and engaged following on social media won't happen in a snap, but using these five tips can make it easier to turn followers into long-term fans of the brand.

Related: You Win When Using Giveaways to Grow Your Social Audience

Zach Cutler

Founder & CEO, Cutler PR

Zach Cutler is an entrepreneur and founder and CEO of Cutler PR, a tech PR agency in New York and Tel Aviv. An avid tech enthusiast and angel investor, Cutler specializes in crafting social and traditional PR campaigns to help tech startups thrive.

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