Small bootstrapped startups all over the U.S. are leveraging their social media networks to compete with Fortune 500s, and you can too. Here are a few secrets behind how I grew my LinkedIn following to over 40,000 in three months.

With these five tips, your following will be approaching a brag worthy status in no time.

Commit to your social media outlets.

Kurt Vonnegut once said, "If you can do a half-assed job of anything, you're a one-eyed man in a kingdom of the blind."

While taking action is better than doing nothing at all, when it comes to social media we all know our viewers have lower attention spans than that of a goldfish. You must capture their attention, and quickly.

Curate a cohesive and visually stimulating profile. Take Frank Body, for example--its Instagram is full of customer-submitted photos, product placement, and inspirational images that elaborate on the brand's vibe. It maintains this cohesion by using a similar filter and border on every photo.

The captions are witty and exude the company's personality. This sets Frank apart from the competition. You can do the same by maintaining a strict guideline for your posts!

Converse with your followers.

You may have only a handful now, but word of mouth is the best form of marketing. Why should they be loyal to you if you don't even take the time to acknowledge them?

On LinkedIn, I privately messaged every person who commented on my posts, thanking them for providing an opinion (even if it was a negative comment). That personal touch, whether it's a simple "like" or a longer reply, will earn you trust and loyalty.

How many times have you reached out to someone and been ignored? How did it feel?

When you realize that your followers owe you nothing, and that your business's growth depends on the generosity of others, you will succeed.

Supplement your feed by sharing posts.

Constantly creating content early on when you're wearing many hats to build a business can be a daunting task. Supplement your feed with interesting content from others. They might share yours in return.

Imagine reaching hundreds, if not thousands of new potential customers simply because you took the time to repost someone else's article. Asking people if they would like to exchange posts is a great idea. The worst they could do is say no.

Increase your following by not only sharing more interesting content, but by potentially reaching new customers when others return the favor.

Be a real person.

I love real people, the movers and shakers, and those who motivate me to be better. Nobody relates to a huge corporation, so don't play one.

If you're a hardworking businesswoman who doesn't take no for an answer, there's a whole subcategory of women obsessed with the #GirlBoss trend. Take the ladies over at A Bikini a Day, for example--women follow their every move. They want to do the same workouts as they do, wear the same clothing, and even vacation in their favorite locations.

When people admire you, they will buy whatever you're selling.

Understand the different social platforms.

Not all social media networks are the same.

For example, including a link on Twitter is a great idea to direct your customer to another article or a specific product, but links on Instagram do not benefit anyone unless it's the clickable link in your bio.

Adding 30 photos to a Facebook album is acceptable, but posting many photos in a row on Instagram will look like spam, thus losing you followers.

Take the time to learn and understand each platform. Work smarter, not harder.

You will quickly get the hang of these easy to perform tasks, and your following will steadily increase. Keep in mind that customer experience is everything.

The best part about the five tips above? They are all free and take only a few minutes of your time.

Published on: Jun 14, 2016