Friday, March 31, 2017

Fun Friday: Why I Ain't No Follow-Back Girl

Bonus points if you read the title of this post and instantly had a certain song start playing itself in your head.

I'm a writer. An author, a blogger. Slowly but surely, I'm building a social media platform and I'm learning about business operation, growth, and management. All of these things are happening at once for me, behind the scenes of each blog post, each chapter of each book. Each Patreon story ... each social media tidbit.

Most of what I've learned is trial and error - I've messed up a lot. I've said things I wished I hadn't, I've posted things that maybe were unwise. I'm sure I've accidentally alienated readers that might have been valuable to my career. In the business world, I've made - and lost - friends.

But through it all, one strong lesson remains - a lesson that's hard for me to accept sometimes, a lesson I'm not always prepared to truly embody.

BUSINESS SUCCESS - REGARDLESS OF THE BUSINESS - MEANS ...dun dun dun ... NETWORKING.

I know, I know. It sounds intimidating, sure, especially if it's an unfamiliar concept. But it boils down to one simple thing that even the most business-ignorant person can learn to master - it all boils down to being friendly. Why? Because when you take the time to make friends, you create meaningful connections - not only with your readers, but with your colleagues. Share their work ... let them help share yours. Networking is, after all, the magic formula to everything - and, even as painfully introverted as I am, I'm okay with that.

But the fact is, there are some parts of it that I just can't get into.

I mean, don't get me wrong, I can play well with others just as much as the next kid, and I genuinely try to always see the best in other people, even if I disagree with them. I seek the good, even when the chances are high that the good simply isn't there - my personal history is a testament to this.

So, I get out on social media even though I'm not passionate about it, and I do that because I AM passionate about the connection it gives me - not only to my colleagues in the writing world, but to readers like you who often find this blog because someone shared a link on Facebook or Twitter or wherever. I do it because while the writing is a labor of love, the social media ... well, in a lot of ways, it just isn't. At least, not always, not when it comes to work.

So with that being said ...


Part of building my platform means watching anxiously for the magic ingredient to trickle into my hands - like when I'm playing Fashion Story and I complete a mission I didn't know was there, only to be surprise-rewarded with gems. In my world, in my real life, gems are found in the comments section, and I'm always looking for a gem to fall into my lap - because in life, just like in my current favorite game, that's how I grow.

I look for likes on my Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, because those likes help me figure out what my readers want to see from me. I look for comments, on Instagram, Facebook, and this blog, because your feedback helps me fill my editorial calendar. I look for tweets and retweets, because those things tell me how you want to interact with me.

So you can see why I truly value the time it takes you to interact with me and give me your feedback - when it's genuine. I will answer your comments. It may not always be  in a timely manner, but it will be done. And I see all of your likes, all of your retweets. I see every one of you who comes over to one of my social media pages and cares enough to click that follow button.

But I won't always reciprocate just for the sake of it, and recently someone asked me about why there's no guarantee that I will "follow-back". This same person asked me why, when they liked one of my photos, I "didn't take the time to like back."

HERE'S WHY.

Reason Number One: It's because, while I see and appreciate the genuine interaction, I also see the lack of genuine interaction. I see the bots. I see the way likes go up, and if I don't like back within the hour, the likes go back down (because it's weird when you have a notification on your phone from 9am, and you click it at 11:30am, only to realize that the like has been unliked or the comment has been deleted, etc). I also see when I post something with the same hashtag more than once, each time, I almost immediately get comments that are exactly the same as each other - right on down to the emojis - from the same account. That's not interaction, folks, that's a bot, an automation. And that's just not what I want to attract - nor is it what I want to be.

I see the way I interact - genuinely seeking out content that I'll have something relevant to say about - and I see the contrast between that and the way others interact. I see the comments from people who take the time to read my content or click my links, the people who leave genuine feedback because they CARE about my brand, and I see the contrast between that and the people who only interact in hopes of getting attention.

CONFESSION TIME:
  • I use Buffer.com to post to my social media. I use it because it allows me a way to keep interacting all day long with my followers - I spend a few minutes each day setting up posts, and then they go up throughout the day as scheduled. This leaves me with time to interact with my readers through responding to notifications, time to interact with other content creators by responding to their content, and time to create content of my own. It allows me time to play with my kids in the afternoon, to make their dinner, to help with their homework. But did you know that there are people who automate their likes and comments too? Let me assure you that I am not, and will never be, one of those. Because I'm genuine, and I intend to stay that way.
  • I am also a member of several blogger groups that allow me to network and interact with other bloggers. And even in the smaller, more close-knit groups, there is a marked difference between the people who are there to give back, and the ones who are there only looking to receive. It saddens me, this lack of genuine willingness.

Reason Number Two: In the interest of the aforementioned desire to stay genuine, I don't "like" pages that I don't like. I don't do "Like for Like" and "Follow for Follow." I don't do "Review for Review." I do "Post content that I like, and I'll like it. Do it consistently, and I will follow." And really, networking or not, I simply see no other way to go. So if you like my pages, really like them, and if you leave a comment, let it be because you took the time to have something to say.

But it's not just in business, people. It's life, it's friendship, it's family. It's your job and your neighborhood and the way you present yourself to the world. Don't be a bot.

Be genuine. Be kind. Be a friend. Search for the good - and give people something good to find in you.

The truth is, it's just better that way - and that's how you build real follows anyway, if that's what your after.

Because fake is out. So be real.

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42 comments:

  1. And you being real is one of the reason I love following you. I understand when I got to a FB for an author and other authors show up I'm gonna be asked to like their page but sometimes I got to my FB page later and look at things I like and wonder why am I seeing stuff from this person's page. I had no idea you could automate likes with auto posts. I've know of several of my authors I follow due post automatic posts but I didn't know they could set them up to auto like.
    I keep following and sharing your blog cause I know the struggle you face with PTSD personally and it's hard somedays to actually want to interact with the world. You have actually helped me with things you have said on your blog that help you. I'm so glad I discovered you and get to interact with you for real. I've been watching your blog grow this year and have to say I think your doing an awesome job with it.

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    1. Yeah you'd be surprised the way people automate everything these days. So for me, even though I WILL schedule posts for my social media, all the interaction is actually me. When I'm out there liking posts, commenting on stuff, sharing things, it's really ME doing it - and it'll stay that way.

      As for your compliments ... thank you. This is the kind of comment I take screenshots of to keep for when I need some encouragement.

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  2. Great post! Love your sense of humor

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  3. Such an interesting read. I dig it.

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  4. I always try to be genuine. I think it's important! I see some people that really aren't, and it rubs me the wrong way.

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    1. Me too. Getting busted being anything less than real is a surefire way to make me NOT interested at all - I don't want to get to know your bot program, I want to get to know YOU.

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  5. I totally agree with you! I also always try to see the best in people, even when we disagree! But, that doesn't automatically mean I'll subscribe if you do, or follow back if you follow me - networking is all too important but I'd rather genuine interest when it comes to follows or subscriptions, for sure!!

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    1. That's how I am, too - and my following reflects that, I think. There aren't a lot of really vocal people in my community just yet, but at least I know that most of the ones hanging out with me are there because they want to be, not because I made them. And when I'm hanging out on social media, my newsfeed isn't full of stuff I don't care about, because I generally don't follow things I don't genuinely like.

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  6. Haha I totally got the bonus points! (and now, thanks to you that song will be stuck in my head for a week!)

    Everything you wrote from "Reason Number Two" all the way to the end, I could have easily written that myself (except you said it so much better!) I learned the hard way that there are others out there who only have a huge following because they gave something in return ie "like for like". I have a following because those people chose to do so and at the end of the day, I feel so much better about it.

    To quote the blogger extraordinaire herself, "Don't be a bot" I love it.

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    1. Haha! "Holla Back" is the new Rick Roll! I'm glad you liked the post!

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  7. I seriously hate bot comments especially the ones I can get you so many followers. Well I can get you reported as spam good bye. I check out a persons page before I even will follow or follow back. There are several things I will look for to make that determination.

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    1. A lot of the time, when I get comments like that, I will block the accounts. I don't want that on my page, and I don't want those accounts using me to get to my readers. It's just not cool.

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  8. H have to agree with you. There is something fake about automatically following back. I engaged in a some of these threads early on and now tend to avoid them. I hope to continue to build an audience that visits my page because they like it and want to read what I write.

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    1. Yeah I've participated in giveaways and stuff where you had to like a page or whatever as an entry, but I don't do them anymore because I want people to follow me who actually care about what I have to say. Those are the people that'll comment on my social media, who will comment here, who will purchase my novels, etc. Those are my people - the people I want.

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  9. I absolutely love this post (and not in that I have to say I love it way). I too, am doing the facebook groups and I cringe when I post on a like or like or even some comment posts and I read the shenanigans I get as comments or the likes that disappear later. I have been picky on twitter for a while, and I think Facebook will be next. I find myself often wondering is it worth it, these people who don't really give a hoot is it worth it in the long run? I don't know, but I know how you feel. And ps, I so knew the song and sang your title in my head

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    1. Haha, are there people who DON'T know that song?

      I'm with you on wondering if social media is worth it, too. Sometimes it all just feels like a waste - and actually, THAT's what made me start scheduling my posts. They're still genuine in that I wrote them and planned them, etc ... but I don't have time to hang out on social media thinking of something interesting to say if no one's going to say anything back. I want to interact with my readers, but if they aren't even seeing me in the crowd ... then what?

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  10. lol, as a new blogger, I have enjoyed reading your post, I feel like you have spoken for many of us in the blogosphere. i love how you have put it across with humor. and it really is true, I feel you on the "lack of genuine interaction" Thanks for this. until next time, xo :-)

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    1. Thanks! I try to infuse a little humor especially when it's a "rant" style post - I believe that laughter makes everything look better.

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  11. This was a very entertaining read. I love your personality and insight to how you conduct your self. Love it!

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  12. It is important to be genuine with your likes and comments, however I love taking part in the comment-for-comment promo threads in my Facebook groups! I think they're an awesome way to find out about other blogs that I might not have come across on my own, and maybe learn something, in the process.

    I will always leave a comment, but will only subscribe to the blogs that I'm genuinely interested in hearing more from. Yours included :)

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    1. I agree, and I like those things sometimes too (although they also have their drawbacks). I always try to leave a comment too, on ANY blog post that I come across - regardless of how I found it. I know what those comments mean to the people behind the blogs, so it's important to me to give that. In the same right, I rarely read a book anymore without reviewing it.

      I'm glad you liked it here!

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  13. Hey. Thanks so much for even writing your comment on Facebook. I can't believe how badly my blog crapped out today, even if it looks nicer. I really do appreciate all of our interaction, even when it's spread apart. I have never heard of buffer.com but I will have to check it out when I get the chance. How have things been going for you otherwise?

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    1. Aww, it's no problem at all, David! I really like your blog quite a lot - the single father perspective is extra rich for me these days, and it's nice to be reminded that there are fathers out there who are THERE for their kids. I like our interaction too; you're fun to chat with!

      I'm okay for the most part - I'm surviving. Sometimes it's minute by minute, but I'm doing it. You?

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  14. Love your honesty and personal touch. A very nice way to approach social media.

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  15. I appreciate your honesty. However as a blogger with a smaller following, it is very hard for me to grow my audience without the follow-for-follow threads. That's fine if you don't want to follow, however, what really gets me are the ones who unfollow. What's the point?

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    1. Well for me (when I unfollow someone), it's because either the page content has changed enough to not apply to me anymore, or they've pissed me off somehow and I no longer want to see their content. Sometimes it's just because they post SO MUCH that it fills my whole newsfeed. That's so annoying!

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  16. I don't always follow back unless I like the blog and I'm certain that the social media account is not run by bots. Lol. I think it's your right to pick which ones you'd like to follow and which ones you'd like to skip.

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    1. Well, I just feel like this: I want GENUINE readers, GENUINE followers. I want people in my community and on my accounts that really care about my content. It's only fair to assume that the people I'm following ALSO want that, right?

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  17. Well put. Social media is double edged weapon.

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  18. Very true, I have participated in like for like before and ended up liking stuff I'd never like in a million years. But I am true to my word, I am supporting fellow bloggers so I don't get too bummed, but I won;t do it again. Then the worst is that those people unlike you and you can't figure out where your unlikes come from, so its all about the numbers and not helping each other.

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    1. That's part of why I don't do it, too. There are too many people out there who will say, "I'll scratch your back if you'll scratch mine," but when it's their turn to give something, they can't be bothered. I'd just prefer to keep it real, and it's okay if I like your content but you don't like mine. Just because I follow the Pope doesn't mean I expect him to suddenly become interested in me - that's just life.

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  19. Ughhhh.... I'm sorta a fb hater yet I feel because of my website I live on the social platform lol

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    1. Right?! Social media is NOT my passion. I can like it sometimes, but one, I'm more of a quiet lurker. Two, my life is really boring in the moment-by-moment. I'm not fascinating, you know? And three ... it's just discouraging to get out there where it's like walking on stage, and you start talking hoping someone will listen, and then you realize NO ONE is even in the theater. Or worse, there are so many people that you feel invisible.

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  20. I see your point. Many likers do unlike and followers unfollow when you don't follow them back and it's such a sad thing in the blogosphere

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    1. It really is. That's part of why I don't bother with any of that, and I figure if right now I get 14 new followers and then in an hour 10 of them are gone, that's alright with me. It just tells me who the bots are.

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  21. This is interesting. I tend to only read and like blogs that I am genuinely interested in too because I don't want my newsfeed littered with things that don't interest me.

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