Let me preface this with a friendly reminder of what the purpose of social media is – to share and receive “valuable” information through various connections. That’s literally it. This information can range from being something personal, like so-and-so is getting married, to more professional topics like how to start a business. Yes, there are other subsidiary things that social media can accomplish like increasing sales and website traffic, but if you’re missing the fundamental components of 1) beneficial information and 2) genuine connections, the collateral benefits of social media are not available to you.
So, first things first, I’m not even going to talk about buying followers. That should be obvious and if you follow me on anything you are well aware this is unacceptable. However, if the temptation creeps in, you can read this. Now onto the good stuff:
1.) Following back everyone.
Someone favorites your Tweet. You get curious and go check out their profile. You see they are following 10,000 people and have 10 followers. What is your reaction? You probably assume this particular account is spammy and doesn’t provide a ton of value to the Twitter eco-system. Someone who has 25K followers but is also 25K people has much less influence, and has a less impressive profile on first glance, than someone who has 25K followers and follows 1,000 accounts. Even if the ratio is less extreme, don’t be one of the profiles people overlook because your following numbers are way higher than your followers. Keep your standards high and your following-t0-follower ratio low. Always think before you follow.
2.) Approaching Facebook Groups the wrong way.
There are SO many amazing Facebook Groups out there for creatives, entrepreneurs, and bloggers that you should absolutely be utilizing. However, every so often, I run into a Facebook Group where the admins are so strict and serious one would think they are trying to run a country, not a social media assembly. Now, it is important that you are respectful of the rules for each Facebook group you participate in, however, if you find one where they’ll threaten to kick you out if you don’t comment on every single person’s post in the blog love thread or you don’t follow every last Twitter account on follow Friday, you’re wasting your time and energy.
It is important to support others and put good social media karma out there in order to get it back. But my advice is to support content and accounts that you’re actually interested in. Support people who you would be likely to engage with even if you didn’t find their post in that thread. For instance, if you run a beauty blog/business, your current followers probably aren’t going to appreciate you sharing a post about free printables for potty training your kids. In the event that you do choose to share content that is unrelated to your regular niche, you need to find some way to connect it back to your brand. So something like, “For the moms following us, check out this fellow beauty addict’s tips and tricks for potty training without the headache…” would be more appropriate than something that just says, “Here is [so-and-so]’s guide to potty training children”. The second option will most likely lose you a few followers.
3.) Neglecting original content.
All I seem to hear anymore is ‘engage, engage, engage’. Diving into conversations and actually engaging with people is a key component in developing your social media presence. However, now people are forgetting that your content is just as important. When you have a meaningful interaction with someone, there’s a solid chance they are going to be intrigued enough to look at your profile. If your last 20 posts are filled with you sharing the content of your social media friends to appear supportive and engaging conversations that mean nothing to the person currently pursuing your handle, they leave with nothing. They came to your profile to learn about you and probably to investigate if getting to know you further is worth their time.
So, while you’re engaging, interacting, and sharing, be sure your own content is sprinkled regularly through your activity, too! Sure, maybe they followed you because they appreciated the engagement (shame on them for only following you for that), but you haven’t created a loyal, interested follower who is on the lookout for the valuable information you have to provide. Those quality followers are the most important steps in the ladder to social media success.
I know that most of you reading this have fallen victim to at least one of these scenarios. I’ve been there and have naively done each one of these things. Here’s what to do about it. First, take a look at who you’re currently following. When you scroll through your social media feeds, how much of the content that comes up is applicable, interesting, and of importance to you? If more than 25% of it is crap that you could care less about, it’s time to start unfollowing. I give 25% as a baseline because we all have those friends that we love to death, but who post meaningless memes and excessive articles about celebrities licking donuts, so you can let a few of them slide if they’re providing value to you in other areas of your life. Bottom line is that you should look forward to your social media feed – and not just because it’s what you do when you’re procrastinating, but because you find articles that are applicable to you and insightful information from likeminded individuals. Let me reword that just to be safe, only follow people who add value to your time spent on social media and never feel obligated to follow anyone; we’re all grown ups here, we can take it. If someone gets upset that you’re not following them back, they clearly have much bigger issues they need to work out.
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