What does social media mean to you?
Maybe it's a place for you to go and connect with other professionals.
Maybe it's a place to promote your business.
Maybe you just care to share snippets about your life and check in on others'.
Maybe it's your primary socializing channel.
Regardless, there are a few things you may be tempted to do to grow your follower base. (Or maybe you're already doing some of them...)
I can tell you as someone with a small following on social media, that thousands of followers are probably awesome to have! But only if you use your social channel properly.
My "thousand gold nuggets" aren't on social media. They're in my email tribe.
(But that's a story for another day.)
Today, I'm sharing the 4 recognizably skeazy social media sins that warrant unfollows and sometimes straight up SPAMs.
So if you're looking to expand your follower base the non-sleazy way, then this post is what you need right now.
Here are the 4 strategies that can skyrocket your follower base on social media. And why I won't do them.
(With suggested alternatives to being a skeazer.)
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1. I'll Follow You If You Follow Me (Then I'll Unfollow You)
It's not only Twitter that this happens on.
After reaching over 350 followers on Pinterest, I started getting heaps of followers. 10 by 10, it seemed.
But, within a couple days if I hadn't followed back, those new followers were gone.
This strategy to build a large following fast works well. Especially on Twitter, it seems.
It's a common way that many social media fast-trackers use to try to "encourage" people to follow them back.
But, the problem is, regardless of whether you do follow them back or not, they'll likely unfollow you soon after.
Not because the content you share is bad or anything like that. It's because they're trying to quickly build a followership. (Yes, I just made that word up...)
Generally, they're trying to appear influential to potential followers.
You know, like someone who has a ton of followers. But are, in turn, following less than a quarter of their following.
Or an obscene difference like author and blogger, Seth Godin.
Once they've reached what they feel is an influential amount of followers, they unfollow a bulk of people.
EXAMPLE: (Sorry Mel, I needed an example...) Melyssa Griffin recently unfollowed boat loads of people.
Now her "influencer status" is official.
SIDE NOTE: I don't know if that's what Seth did to grow his follower base, however, I highly doubt that since his books are quite renowned.
Melyssa also rightfully earned her following, too.
PERSONAL OPINION: I believe the "Messiah Complex" is revealed more when someone has an insanely high following, yet only follows a handful of people.
To me, I see that person as someone more interested in themselves than they are in their followers.
Someone who seems to care more about connection and being a part of their community doesn't need to "Messiah" themselves.
But again, that's what registers in my mind when I see it.
WHAT YOU CAN DO INSTEAD: Follow people you want to follow.
Well, how about this:
Screw what other people think is "influencer status". Screw all the rules.
Screw playing the social media "game".
Earn your followers.
If you only want to follow 5 people, only follow 5 people.
If you want to follow thousands, follow thousands.
Who gives a flying crap what me or anybody else thinks. It's your social platform to use however you like.
But if you're starting out or searching for a new, people-focused strategy — try this:
STEP 1: Follow the people you find interesting. If the feeling's mutual, they'll likely follow you back. And if that's not the case, don't fret or unfollow them out of spite.
STEP 2: Focus on the relationship with your followers and those you follow. Share their quality content. Share your appreciation for something they've done, that they've shared of yours, or something they've been forthcoming about.
Be a good human being online.
STEP 3. Use CrowdFire to keep your Twitter following and followers lists clean. Without any ill will for the people who don't reciprocate a follow. But because there are lots of spammers out there. Use the list of people you follow as a display of your personal and professional brand. "You are who you hang around." (You've heard that, right? It applies on social media, too.)
STEP 4. Keep your social profiles clean, on brand, and specific. Whether a potential follower stumbles onto your social profile first or is lead to it from your site, they should know they're in the right place. And that you're a good fit for them.
2. New Follower Offer Bait
Have you ever followed someone back, and soon after got a private message?
Maybe it was a friendly, "thanks for the follow! I'll look forward to your posts!"
Or maybe it was a: "thanks for the follow! Come check out my free [offer] at [shortened URL link]."
The former is a great relationship builder. It acknowledges your new follower, shows appreciation, and opens the door to a future email subscriber, joint venture, professional friend, and / or customer.
The latter, however, drives me bonkers and warrants an immediate unfollow.
NOTE: Don't SPAM someone for sending you an offer. SPAM them if they belligerently try to get you to buy something, though.
Your social accounts need and want to know who's abusing their platforms.
If you believe in Karma, have no fear. Unless you're a spammer, you have nothing to worry about.
EXAMPLE: Recently I got a "Hey! Thanks for following me back! *Hearts*"
Me: "Hi! No problem. Thanks for the follow, yourself!"
Her: "How are you today?"
Me: "Doing well! How about you?"
Her: "Do you wanna buy my account?"
And here's some more examples that just happened as I was editing this post:
WHAT YOU CAN DO INSTEAD: Publicly send an individualized message of gratitude. Or a private message when applicable.
Just don't expect or ask for anything in return.
Easy peasy. Human kindness at it's simplest.
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3. The More Social Accounts, The Higher Reach You Have
I call bullshit.
Have you ever actually tried to keep up with a bunch of social accounts.
I'm not just talking about scheduling everything on Buffer to look like you're oh-so-active online.
I'm talking about paying quality attention to the people and content across those channels.
Yeah, you can't do it if you're running a solopreneur business and you actually handle your social accounts yourself.
Sure, you could hire someone to do it. But as a solopreneur, doesn't that take the relationship part out of your business?
WHAT YOU CAN DO INSTEAD: Pick 2-3 [professional] social channels and stick to those.
If you can throw in a personal channel (like a Facebook page or Instagram), that's fine.
But if you're anything like me — kids, partner, solo business, other activities — personal channels only serve as a distraction from what really matters.
So, if you're just starting out, sign up for a few social accounts.
Test the waters for up to 3 months to see which 2-3 are worth your time.
(Just make sure you have Google Analytics set up beforehand. Otherwise aggregated tracking is obsolete.)
Depending on what industry you're in, some channels will do nothing for you. But here's a list of a few places that work well for me and why:
Pinterest. The #1 source of social traffic to my site. Long, unique images and infographics, plus the keyword infused descriptions made Pinterest my top performing social channel.
Twitter. Great professional connection channel for me. Simple, loads of fast-moving content, and easy to track, connect, and navigate. (Optimized images work well here, too.)
LinkedIn. I'm not active on LinkedIn. But it accounts for about 2% of my blog traffic. How? Because LinkedIn Group activity. I visit LinkedIn once, sometimes twice a week to connect with other professionals and share my latest blog post.
Other notable channels (I'm not on or active on):
Facebook. Great for groups and group interactions. Don't count on much legitimacy from a Business Page, though. Not unless you pay for ads.
Instagram. Image sharing. Great for personal and for business use. I'm not a fan, but doesn't mean it's not a fantastic traffic generator for others.
Snapchat. (Still don't get it nor care too, but I've heard others love it.)
Periscope. (I follow others on here — but I don't 'scope.)
Medium. (I find lots of great content to share from Medium — I post occasionally.)
[Know of more you think should be here? Let me know!]
4. Me, myself, and I
I did it.
You probably have, too.
When almost everything you share is promoting yourself or your business.
When you don't share other people's content, you're a pretentious asshole.
Well, you seem like one, at least.
Okay, let me clarify something first...
Because lots of people consider sharing your own blog content as constant self promotion. But here's the thing:
If your content is valuable and rarely intended for self-serving purposes, then I don't consider sharing your own content more often than others' a bad thing.
But, if you only share your own stuff, you're a pretentious asshole.
Again, you come across that way, anyhow.
WHAT YOU CAN DO INSTEAD: Share your own posts, but remember to share others's quality, audience-focused content too.
EXAMPLE: My Buffer Queue for Twitter typically has 3 of my own content and 2 of others's.
But I also go onto Twitter at least once a day to respond to Tweets and messages, and to find new content to read, share, or schedule for later.
So, most days I end up sharing 1-5 more posts from other people-focused bloggers.
It's all about balance.
Because even though you're promoting someone else, you're also showing your appreciation for variety, your audience, and other professionals.
And when you do for others more than you do for yourself, you wind up on the receiving end of various benefits.
Committed any of my 4 acknowledged social media sins lately?
Well, you're forgiven. (As long as you stop and / or fix it.)
And if you're new to social media or are looking for ways to explode your audience fast, avoid being a spammer.
You have a conscience.
You have a heart, soul, and a purpose.
But your online presence is only as good as you present it to be. Let's wipe the slate clean and start anew today.
Any note-worthy social media sins you've witnessed or been a recipient of? Call it out on Twitter with hashtag #SMsins.
P.S. Comments, emails, running a business and being a mom of 3 were just too much for me to handle all together, apparently. But the lack of a comment box doesn't mean I don't want to hear what you think! Share your thoughts with me via @GoffCreative on Twitter or directly via email.
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