Have you encountered this one yet?
You look at your Twitter or Instagram and ZOMG LOOK WHO FOLLOWED ME! You get all excited because Miss Influencer with 100k followers, and who only follows 310 people, has followed YOU.
Yeah, it’s happened to all of us when we first get started, and so, enthusiastically, we follow them back (if we aren’t already), and (*cough*) maybe even send them a private “THANKS FOR FOLLOWING ME!”
Two days later, you notice you’ve lost a “follower”. If you’ve got a small chunk of followers, you might be able to determine exactly who left your little world, and maybe you suffer a little letdown because yeah… Miss Influencer has flown your coop.
You’ve just been suckered.
When it comes to social media (hell, when it comes to anything) I’m all about authenticity, and this, to me, is a total asshole move. What it says to me is “hey, look at me! I’m so effin’ fabulous! I’m going to follow you so that you follow me – but then, because I really don’t actually give a shit what you have to say, and because I just want a huge amount of followers, I’m going to unfollow you as soon as you take the bait, sucka.”
It might not be exactly what Miss Influencer was trying to say, but that’s what she said – and once that’s been said, it’s hard for me to view her message as anything other than egocentric and totally inauthentic. In fact, sometimes it’s even ten times more detrimental than Miss Influencer could possibly imagine.
Maybe I took this to the extreme, but…
I’m a knitter, and there was a knitwear and pattern designer I’d been following since she first started putting herself out there on popular knitting website Ravelry several years ago. She followed my Instagram account one day and, all excited because I was new, I sent her a quick thank you via private message – and of course, followed her back, happy that her newest designs and projects would start filling my feed.
By this point, I’d already encountered the follow/unfollow game a little, and so later on when I noticed I’d lost a follower I made use of a handy tool (link at the end of this article) to see who it was. Oh yeah, I was miffed. She’d unfollowed me literally minutes after I’d taken the follow bait. Not only did I unfollow her but I also unfollowed her everywhere else – and deleted her knitting patterns from my queue of “I might knit this someday” on Ravelry. Yeah, perhaps my stung little ego reacted a little bit excessively, but yeah… This is totally how it can go for you, too, if you play like that. Egos are touchy little creatures.
There was another one who literally played this back and forth with me THREE TIMES. She’d follow me, I’d follow back, she’d unfollow immediately. I’d unfollow her. After the third time, I blocked her entirely. She wasn’t just some weirdo, either – she was, apparently, a very popular intimacy coach and “tantrika”. But seriously, what kind of person keeps doing that?
(And yeah I know, I said a while back that swearing was kind of silly, and it is, but man oh man this one ruffles my feathers).You don't need to play a game that doesn't expand your horizons. #StopFollowUnfollow Click To Tweet
Seriously? You don’t need this in your life. And you certainly don’t need to play a game that doesn’t expand your horizons or take you where you need to go. Bigger bloggers than I have already expounded on this perfectly, so I’m going to wrap this up simply by offering a few techniques for not getting sucked into this silly game until we can put an end to it once and for all. If your subject matter is good enough, you don’t need to play this kind of game – you’ll get and grow your followers by merit of what you’re offering.
How to tell when you bein’ played…
So yeah… There you are, checking out your Instagram and you’ve got a new follower. Your initial reaction, being new to social media, enthusiastic about what you’re doing and putting all kinds of time into getting the word out there, is “OMG YIPPIE!” Even though their subject matter is totally unrelated to yours, they’ve got thousands of followers – and wow, they must really like what you’re doing because they only follow 45 accounts.
Once you bite? They’re out.You just got played by someone using a tired and tacky social media move. #StopFollowUnfollow Click To Tweet
After a while you can guess who these folks are ahead of time – again, because they aren’t actually following too many people, but they might have tons of followers themselves. Maybe the fact that they’ve followed you, since their content is thematically totally unrelated to yours, seems very random. Making use of the apps I’m about to suggest below will allow you to take the bite if you wish, and then unfollow them if they’re simply pulling the ole follow/unfollow. Not everyone who decides to follow your new and awesome feed is pulling this crap tho, so put these tools to use so you don’t mistakenly opt out of growing your audience with the help of someone more experienced who’s genuinely interested in what you have to offer!
Apps and online tools to help you avoid players
I use a few simple tools to keep my accounts lookin’ good and full of authentic people. Some are phone apps, and some are online, but all are free or so inexpensive they’re worth the investment if social media is an important part of your business game.
For Twitter, this is all you need. I peep this once a week or so to keep things clean.
For Instagram, I use a few things. Online, I use this awesome free tool, Instaunf.
On my iPhone, I use the Followers app. I’ve been using this one for a while, despite it being extraordinarily slow to load. It does make it really easy to see, immediately, who has unfollowed me. I’ll be switching to Android soon (I’ll be writing soon, on the Chromebook that replaced my iPad, about why my love affair with Apple has ended) and there are a few apps for Android that do much the same thing. The one I most hear about is Followers+. I’ll update this if I find anything better once I get rollin’ with my new ‘droid.
I also make use of the Cleaner app – every once in a while I get on a whim and I follow a fairly sizeable collection of people linked to a theme (herbal medicine, ethical fashion, a particular kind of electronic music genre, the list goes on) – and eventually, I realize I’m spending too much time hanging out on Instagram or whatnot, or my love affair with boho ubergoddess tea ceremonialists from LA has ended. When I see the need to pare down again, Cleaner lets me do that in one fell swoop. Again, I haven’t tested out the comparable Android version yet, but this has been said is the equivalent app – i’ll update once I do, or if you’re already using this, please let me know!
So, once again, if you’re new to social media for your small business and just getting started growing your following, put your effort into providing quality content and building your audience authentically. Make it a point to get into what your peers are offering by commenting on their posts, follow accounts of people who are pushing content you enjoy and are inspired and motivated by, and keep your own tactics true and honest. You’ll build an audience that’s worth something this way.