It’s difficult to grow anyone’s social media following. It requires strategy, consistency, and often an ample amount of time. But, what if I told you we grew a virtual influencer (a digital character) to 100,000 followers in roughly three months? It sounds far-fetched, however, with the right approach and knowledge, we have helped many others and can help you replicate these results.
Meet Cade Harper, better known on Instagram as @cadeharper. He’s attractive (for a virtual influencer), exudes positivity, and inspires thousands through his well-thought posts.The catch? He’s not a real person. Yet despite being a virtual character we created, his following continues to rise.
By using the below strategies, we were able to grow Cade’s following quickly and meaningfully.
1. Create an Identity
Our intention when creating Cade was to become a public figure who spreads positivity, kindness and love, which resonated with a young audience. Supporters following Cade’s account quickly saw him as an “online friend”, someone they could talk to, share what they were going through, and wouldn’t get judged. Cade continues to be a source of inspiration for teenagers, and continues to put out uplifting content regularly.
Determine the identity you want your virtual influencer to take and make sure you produce this content consistently. Additionally, interact with your followers when they leave comments. Building meaningful connections with your audience instills trust and encourages loyalty.
2. Leverage Your Influencer Network
Building Cade’s following was not a solo endeavor. We leveraged our influencer relationships across different verticals and strategically targeted ones that aligned with Cade’s demographic. Through these relationships, we executed a number of influencer collaborations and paid promotions to expedite growth.
Not every collaboration was successful. In fact, certain collaborations only resulted in a few hundred new followers. Others resulted in 10-20K new followers. You’ll need to test which collaborations are worthwhile and determine where will be best to allocate your resources through trial and error.
3. Build a Storyline
Every person has a story to tell. A virtual influencer should be no different. With Cade, we followed a fictional, yet relatable storyline, creating journal entries on his Instagram Story talking about his life and past. We also took it a step further by introducing new characters in his feed that interacted with him and tied into the plot.
This helped us humanize Cade and engaged new followers that came to Cade’s account. People began feeling invested in Cade’s virtual life and gave them something to follow. We wrote the story and created themes that a normal 15-year-old in today’s world goes experiences: your first day of school, making new friends, dealing with anxiety, and more. Cade’s supporters were able to relate to his story, and almost live vicariously through his story.
4. Community Management
People want to feel connected to who they follow. They want their comments to be acknowledged, their praises to be liked, and feel appreciated. You should always engage with your followers for retention and growth.
With Cade, we responded to thousands of DMs & comments, which helped us build deeper relationships and trust with his supporters. To date, Cade continues to receive DMs and comments from people all over the world expressing their love and admiration for him.
5. Make Your Account Private
It may come as a surprise to learn our biggest growth spikes came when Cade’s account was private. This inevitably created some friction for the potential new follower, but in order to access Cade’s account and follow his journey, they had to take initiative. They were forced to follow him versus passively looking at his feed in their spare time. This strategy led to some dropoff, but overall, contributed to faster and more meaningful growth than when his account was public.
Cade may be our own creation, but the above strategies can be implemented in your own influencer marketing. Whether you’re building a brand, introducing a digital influencer, or simply aiming to grow your own social media presence, these steps are tried and tested by us, and have proven to be successful.
Do you have other strategies you’ve found to be successful when growing a social media following? We’d love to hear about them in the comments below!