Many people think that social media is a passive thing, where they simply post or like and they will instantly start trending and gaining an audience. However, Social Media is a relationship that demands as much giving as receiving, and having 1000 followers, even bought ones, is different than having 1000 interactive followers.

Interactive followers watch your videos, like and share your posts, and pounce on whatever content that you put out there the minute you put it out. Everyone wants that, and there are some simple ways to get them. It does take time and hard work, but building an audience that follows your work will almost always pay for itself in the long run.

First, treat every single follower you gain like a valued possession. For so many people who have large follower counts, followers are seen as a drop in the ocean and are treated as such. However, having this mindset going into building an audience is unhelpful at best and downright mean at worst.

Every single like, retweet, share, and comment needs to be addressed and responded too. If your social media page only has five commenters on your post, then theirs no excuse for those five people to not be responded to. Even if your comment is a simple thank you, send it anyway and then go take a look at their work.

If you respect your followers and the content they produce, then they will often return the favor and share you. Even if your audience is a small one at first, all those likes for Instagram will start piling up when you start promoting their posts and pages.

Don’t just take the like or the comment and passively say thanks, instead look at their posts. Not with the eye of someone who wants to return a favor, but with the eye of someone who is genuinely interested in what this account has to say about their niche or topic.

Social media is an expert at spotting fakers, so be sure to put effort into your comment. Don’t link back to your work or comment a copy-pasted “Really enjoyed this post” style of comment. Write them all individually, take your time, and remember that the more effort you put into posting on someone else’s feed, the more effort they will give back to you.

Above all, don’t spam your followers with links or posts to get what you want, or provoke the audience into growing with you. A fruitful audience is like a garden, where you take your time, water and nurture the plants, and then watch them ripen and bloom into something amazing.

It’s a beautiful thing that can’t be rushed, and if you try to rush it then bad things can happen to both your reputation and your audience. Treating every follower like a seed that can grow into ten, then twenty, and then, even more, is the proper way to go about creating a lasting audience.