I was asked recently how well I am doing building my following on social media for my business. Loaded question right? Are you asking me if my followers are increasing or if those followers are converting to customers? What’s really behind that question?
If the question is about building a following so I can share information – then I think I am doing very well overall but it’s not been without some interesting situations.
In building a business online, it’s important to realize that it is more work than anyone thinks about when you first start out working like this for your business. If only you just had to slap up a Facebook page for your business and call it a day!
There’s a lot of time planning, creating, researching and just looking for stuff to make sure your content is relevant, eye-catching and meaningful. This can be a lot of trial and error to find the right format, layout and hashtags.
Then there is the part about how to attract and retain followers. From all that I have seen and heard from others, finding followers does seem to be where the bulk of worry and frustration stems from. Seriously, this whole hashtag thing can be pure madness!
Here are my best lessons so far when it comes to building followers. Please let me know if you have other lessons learned to add to this list. This is a great topic that I am constantly being asked and also continually expanding my knowledge on.
Modern Day Groupies
Everything that is old is once again new. The term “follower” is actually an up-cycled word from “groupie.”
Groupies are/were the band of people who religiously followed popular bands, movie stars and other public figures. They bought the magazines, records and other merchandise to support their favorite person or band. With the emergence of social media, now anyone, including bands and movie stars, can have groupies following them and claim their own fame through a consistent and devoted group of followers.
When you are an entrepreneur, followers are your best friend. The theory being the more followers you have on any or multiple social media platforms is an opportunity to develop relationships, reach new audiences, build brand awareness and demonstrate the value of your product or service. This loyal following known as a tribe will eventually and hopefully turn followers into customers creating the coveted referrals that helps our businesses blossom further. Sure sounds easy right?
One of the unwritten etiquette rules of social media is that when someone follows you, you follow them back. This is a great way to establish common interests, support one another and expand each other’s circle. It also helps fellow entrepreneurs and others who are also trying to build their social media presence. You will never regret making a connection with a fellow entrepreneur just trying to make their mark like you.
The best way to find people is to find and like pages and groups where your target audience also goes for information. Do your research and try a few different sources to see if that is truly where your audience is or not. This takes time but is well worth the investment to land the right areas for your business. Once your own presence becomes large you could become one of these sources of information and others will come to you.
As someone builds their followers and expands their social media reach they can become an influencer on that social media platform. Reaching this status enables you to help drive trends, news and have your posts promoted over others due to your vast following. It’s a bit like the high school popularity contest. Essentially you become a self-made social media rock star that everyone wants to follow.
Reaching this prestigious rank of an influencer takes time, lots of careful posting and consistent building of your followers. If done right it is a well deserved rank of someone who can truly influence others and get engagement on important and interesting topics.
This takes a lot of work to achieve. You need LOTS of meaningful content that people want to see and read. You have to be consistent in posting and leveraging the key times when people are on any particular type of social media. You have to spend some time designing appealing pictures, writing catchy headlines and researching information to make sure its right. Build your skills in these areas and trust your instincts. It’s ok to be creative and be yourself.
Anyone who has legitimately made it to influencer status has earned it and I hope their efforts have paid off with lots of paying customers.
Unfortunately, there are some who do not play by the unwritten rules and are simply out to build their follower numbers and that ultimately hurts everyone. Sadly, there are lots of people doing this too.
This situation occurs seemingly innocent when a new follower appears on the scene following you. This is a good thing as we all want more followers for our small business. This person may like a post, give a comment or send you a direct message. Most entrepreneur’s engage with this person by responding back and following that person in return. All is well.
However, then you notice over a little bit of time the number of people you follow is significantly more than the number of people following you. Ideally, you want your followers and those you follow to be within the same range. I try to keep mine within about a reasonable range of each other on all social media platforms I use for my business.
On your personal pages and profiles it’s ok to have a much larger gap as understandably you would like more of what you care about personally, TV shows, movies, music, sports, etc, than perhaps you in return have as followers. Followers being in this case people you actually know, like and perhaps love on a personal level.
This growing difference on your business pages is the result of what I have labeled the “social media posers.” These are people who follow you, get you to follow them and then drop their follow. You are left following and not leading. This person did this to increase their following and develop influence falsely. It looks super great to have a large following and small number you actually follow. If you’re not watching this regularly you’ll be left wondering why you don’t have any followers anymore.
Please note this is different than someone who changed their mind about following your page. Maybe it was not what they thought it was or their interest changed. That is perfectly alright and happens.
The poser however hurts all of us because as someone builds a false following using this method they become influencers of information and content. Their posts are getting promoted over yours and their posts may also be false, inaccurate or misleading. Think about it. If someone is willing to “cheat” at building a following how can you know they won’t do the same elsewhere to take advantage of people? Since they are interested in only building their own reputation or business then they are probably not reputable business owners either. That hurts everyone trying to build an honest business using social media because potential customers will have already been burned or have heard stories of others in this situation and be less willing to convert from follower to customer with you.
It’s terrible and the only thing we can do is protect ourselves as consumers, protect our followers as best we can and protect our business brand and image.
Tips for Handling
I have run across a few of these individuals in my business social media pages and it’s not fun but I have figured out a few ways to manage them. If you have other techniques you have found work please post them in the comments.
Look for red flags
Do they have a profile that looks like your desired follower or customer?
What type of posts have they made in recent times?
Is this someone you want as your follower? It is very much your business and your choice. Build the audience that best fits your business and desired results.
On Instagram new followers simply appear so its often more reactionary to identifying these types of situations. I encourage you to look at the profile before you follow the person back.
Periodically review all your followers and those you follow
It’s ok that interests change or maybe even your desired target market has changed. Unfollow those that don’t follow you or have stopped following you if there’s no value to it. It’s ok to do a little “house cleaning” now and then.
There are apps available that will help you know who is following who so you can do this without harming good followers. Look also at the analytics that most social media platforms have on them. Look at who is liking, commenting and sharing your content.
Immediately unfollow trouble
If someone starts posting spam, nudity, profanity and other things that don’t align with your business and message then immediately unfollow them. Don’t risk turning off good followers and customers because of someone’s inappropriateness. In most platforms you can also delete these types of comments and images.
You may want to even consider reporting them to the social media platform. Keep in mind however, some platforms have looser rules than others when it comes to this type of thing but at least you made it known it’s not ok for you.
With Facebook you can restrict entry to your page or group by setting upfront questions that allow you to scan the person before allowing them to be part of your group. This can be good for preventing posers from entering but also may slow your ability to build a large following as some people prefer to watch a group before being part of it.
Part of the popularity with Instagram is the looser ways you can follow, watch and join pages and people. Along with that comes an increased risk of these situations.
On WordPress you can have comments filtered before they appear on your page. This helps prevent spam and prevents unrelated or inappropriate comments from appearing on your page. Facebook also allows you to do control what comments appear on your page.
Interested in more?
Imagine your business is a brick and mortar store and who you want to see come through the door. It’s ok to let everyone in but it’s also ok to ask some people to leave too. Protect your business and support the people you desire as customers.
If you’re looking to build followers, then be respectful and follow back. Support one another and help everyone in the best way you can be successful.
Links to our WordPress, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages are provided. We will happily follow you back and are always interested by the creativity of others!
To those who have faithfully followed us from the beginning, THANK YOU! You are very appreciated and we thank you for continuing to support us.
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