How to Master Social Media: Seven Tips to Attract More Followers

As the most followed CFA holder on LinkedIn, Eric Sim, CFA, has expertly leveraged social media to connect with other professionals, build your personal brand and advance your career. In the How to Master Social Media series, adapted from his recent book Small actions: lead your career to great successSim shares some critical lessons on how to make social media work for you.

In 2020, I made two of LinkedIn’s lists for its content creators: China Spotlight and Singapore Top Voices. It was an honor that my work on LinkedIn had been recognized for driving thoughtful and professional conversations.

I am sometimes asked to reveal my secrets on how I grew my LinkedIn following, which is now over two million. My first tip is that the quality of your followers is more important than the quantity. And the quality of your content is the foundation for building your follower base.

But while you focus on producing quality content, there are other things you can do to help you get more followers on LinkedIn. Here are my seven tips.

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1. Comment on other people’s posts

When I find an interesting LinkedIn post, I try to leave an insightful comment, which often prompts the author to engage with me. With engagement you get more visibility. If your comments add value to readers, they will follow you. Commenting only takes a few minutes, so it’s an efficient way to add value to readers.

2. Reveal the failure

Most social media posts only show the positive side of life, but we all know that life has its ups and downs. When you post something that exposes your weaknesses, you make it easier for people to identify with you and share their own failures. You help take the pressure off people to be perfect all the time. Revealing faults makes the stories you tell on LinkedIn more interesting (remember, when there’s no conflict, there’s no story) and makes you more likable. This phenomenon is known as the Prafall effect. It was discovered in 1966 by social psychologist Elliot Aronson, who showed that highly competent people are perceived as more likable when they make a normal mistake.

3. Be attentive

To attract followers on LinkedIn, you need to come up with interesting and fresh ideas on a regular basis. Some people ask me how I develop such a wide range of topics to write about and still stay within the overall theme of career and life skills. The answer: I observe my surroundings and the people I meet. When I find a potential topic for a LinkedIn article, I immediately jot it down on my phone.

Ideas for my articles often come from people in everyday life, including my tailor in Hong Kong, a tour guide in London, and gardeners tending to the lotus plants at Gardens by the Bay in Singapore. Sometimes I just go out into my garden and learn from nature.

By interacting with people and your environment, you can learn lessons from them and translate those lessons into engaging content that adds value to your followers.

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4. Speak at Events

I am invited to speak at events almost every month. On the final slide of my presentations, I share my social media usernames in case attendees want to follow me. I also post a summary of my speech on LinkedIn. I usually
I see an increase in my follower count after every talk.

If you don’t already have the opportunity to present at events, try organizing speaking sessions at your university or workplace to share your hobbies, specialist skills or topics of interest.

5. SEO your LinkedIn profile

Before every speaking event, the organizers usually ask me for my bio to post on their website and I make sure to include my LinkedIn URL in the bio. Over the years, my LinkedIn profile page has been linked like this to the websites of many organizations, including top universities, whose sites tend to have high domain authority. The search engine algorithms find that all these links point to my LinkedIn, and this helps with the search engine optimization (SEO) of my profile, so that it appears higher on the results page when people search for my name

Bonus Tip: If you are a holder, always add your CFA designation to your name in your bio or whenever you are mentioned online. Try Googling “Eric Sim”. You may or may not find me, but if you google “Eric Sim, CFA” you will see at least three pages of search results about me. That’s the power of “CFA” as an identifier for SEO.

6. Offline network

It’s a good idea to network to add value beyond just posting content. This will keep your followers happy and help you attract new ones. For example, I host online and offline networking events for some of my followers who regularly engage with my posts. I’m curious to know who they are and why they enjoy my content. Shakiru, a crude oil trading analyst based in London, liked my first LinkedIn article, “I failed my maths exam.” At the time, I only had a few hundred connections. Whenever I visit London, I always invite Shakiru to join my networking events and introduce him to my other friends and connections in London. Meeting face to face helps strengthen our relationship.

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7. Be like bamboo

A reporter writing for a technology magazine asked me if the increase in my LinkedIn followers resembled a linear or exponential pattern. It was the last one. At first, I made slow progress in gaining followers, but I still enjoyed writing my articles. Users like Shakiru, by interacting with my posts, helped me build a following, improve my writing, and expand my thinking. This is how bamboo grows. When I planted some bamboo in my garden, nothing happened for the first year, and suddenly the new bamboo shot up several meters in a few weeks.

A blog with a million followers starts with a single connection.

For more tips on social media and professional development, see Small Actions: Leading Your Career to great success, by Eric Sim, CFA, and his co-author Simon Mortlock.

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All posts are the opinion of the author. Therefore, they should not be construed as investment advice, nor do the views expressed necessarily reflect the views of the CFA Institute or the author’s employer.

Image courtesy of Eric Sim, CFA

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Eric Sim, CFA

A key opinion leader at LinkedIn, Eric Sim, CFA, is the author of the book Small actions: lead your career to great success. He founded the Life Institute with the mission of training young professionals to be successful at work and in life. Previously, while in Hong Kong, Sim served as a managing director at UBS Investment Bank and an adjunct associate professor of finance at HKUST. Check out his visual resume and notable mistakes here.

Simon Mortlock

Simon Mortlock is a writer and editor and expert in B2B and B2C content production across multiple digital channels. He specializes in employment-related topics, and currently works as a content manager at eFinancialCareers (eFC), a leading careers website for the financial services industry.

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