In case you are wondering the source/background of my knowledge: I used to be a digital marketing trainer and consultant; and trained quite a number of big companies staff.
Social media growth strategy is measured by two main metrics: 1. Number of relevant followers (quantity) and 2. Engagement level (quality)
Digital marketing is measured by just one metric: ROI. Return on money, time, energy and other resources invested. So you won't care much about quantity or even engagement level. You care only about cost of conversion to a particular sales transaction.
So let's start with Social media growth.
Constantly put at the back of your mind that it is quantity and quality game.
1. Pick a viral theme. Care more about appealing at the subconscious level first before the logic part. Just the same way restuarants use color red a lot because it is a stimulating color that raises your heart rate and amplifies your hunger. So even if your company or person is a very boring one either by industry nature or personal nature, you have to spice it up if you don't want to get stuck at below 100 followers. And better if you can theme your brand in a viral way. In a way people will engage with (share, like, follow, comment etc.) without even thinking about it.
2. Be very active. Except you are already a celebrity, people won't follow you if you don't engage in any interesting conversations or even trigger those conversations. Luckily, there are many tools that can help you be active without being active. Help you schedule posts, follow people who meet some set criteria and generate interesting conversations. Personally, I use three paid tools and a couple of free tools. The paid tools I use are Buffer, FollowLiker and Upflow.
3. Pick a niche. Be known for something. Have a defined community. @Omojuwa: Political issues. @jag_bros: Controversies. The quickest way to get frustrated on social media sites is to try to be known for everything. Spreading yourself too thin, either as a company or individual. The same way KFC picked the chicken niche and Dominos picked the Pizza niche, just pick what most resonates with your brand and where you can be a thought-leader or conversation starter with original contents.
4. If you are a one man team, then focus on one social media platform. Do you try to connect to Omojuwa on Facebook? Or Bobrisky on Twitter? Be present on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram but have your core strategy focused on one. Then use automated tools to reshare those contents (as appropraitely) on others. For my personal brand I use LinkedIn.
5. Follow other people. And a lot in the beginning. At least till you are popular enough to organically pull followers. On Twitter, if you don't have an egg profile image and have some activity, for every 1000 people you follow about 300 will follow you back. On Medium, the ratio is quite lower. I don't know for Instagram. But it applies in every social media site except the ones you friend people (Facebook, LinkedIn etc) where the ratio is 1 to 1 but can be annoying when you friend the wrong person.
6. Be very creative. Avoid being a me-too person or company. Use creative contents. Things that make you stand out as original and valuable. A community leader.
Finally, why? Why would you want to put in that much effort to grow your social media presence?
The answer is that when you have the quantity and quality right, doors open for you and/or your company. You get a lot of things for free: from people sharing your adverts for free to people paying you attention because they see the numbers you pull. And as a data person, my God, you'll never not test an idea because you don't have the numbers. I easily create surveys and get participants. I easily do sentiment analysis with a diverse pool of crowd. I easily validate an idea from real people. And when I run paid adverts, for $10 I get more total exposure than someone else with much fewer clout spending even double of what I spent.
What is my own social media growth strategy?
I have three different social media account groups. I have my own personal social media accounts (@olafusimichael) that I strategically use to position myself as an industry expert in data analysis field. I have my company (@urbizedge) that I use in conjunction with paid digital marketing campaigns to keep a steady stream of prospects into our sales pipeline. And I have a generic social media account (@nigeriadaiily) that I grew purely to have access to lots of Nigerians and to test my ideas, business or personal.
Now on to Digital Marketing
This is purely for business. If you've done an MBA or an advanced marketing class, you'll know about the 4 P's or marketing. Product, Price, Place and Promotion. Well, digital marketing is a subset of Promotion. It is purely promotion using digital technology. In the Promotional Mix it used to be like a seasoning to flavour your advertising, PR, sales promotion, direct marketing and personal selling. Well, now, it is standalone as digital technologies have evolved and require a more structured approach.
It is very broad and the technology stack covers social media, intelligent electronic billboards that has analytics, virtual reality, augmented reality, mixed reality, interactive adverts and everything powered directly by computer codes.
In Nigeria, the most common ones we use are online adverts. Google Adwords, Facebook advert campaigns, Instagram adverts, Twitter Campaigns, Admob and online banner ads.
And when you have a social media team in your company whose goals are to support sales, improve customer experience and grow customer lifetime value then you are already doing digital marketing even if you don't do any paid adverts online. The very salaries of those guys+girls have to be charged to your marketing dept. And there must be an ROI. Some justification for the cost of keeping the team.
So you can never say you are doing digital marketing if there is no attached ROI goal. If you are not selling any product or services.
Personally, I use digital marketing for my business. Automated inbound sales generation. I have Google Adsense, SEO, SEM and a few bots working 24/7 for me. My human sales team just follow up on the pulled-in prospects.