Social media is all about content. Every second, huge amounts of content is being shared neatly packed into small vessels, microcosms of information called tweets, status updates, pinterest pins, etc. Being a social media user enables you to sort through this vast sea of media, selecting only the waves that are best suited for your wants and needs to reach your shores. The best part about social media is that everyone has different uses for it. Some people use it strictly for news; others use it for comedy and entertainment; still others use it simply as a fun way to connect and interact with friends and that’s okay! Excepting the etiquette guidelines and helpful tips I outline in this blog, there’s no real set rules on how to use social media.
You, as a follower, have hopefully seen many pieces of awesome content and enjoyed it, subsequently making the conscious decision to follow whoever posted it, allowing their “waves” of content to regularly reach your “shores.” But you’ve noticed something; you also send out content, and they’re not seeing it because they don’t follow you back! Most people, knowing this, don’t really care; they simply appreciate the content being produced and don’t bother with the politics. There are a few, however, who become bothered or offended at this realization and decide to “exact revenge” by unfollowing the original poster. Like I said, it’s your shore; you decide which waves will end up there. But before you make a voodoo doll out of that person’s hair and start giving them neck pains, let me list the possible reasons why they chose not to follow you back.
They don’t know you. The person you chose to follow might be the type of social media user who only really likes to view content produced by his IRL friends and family. I personally am not against following a stranger (if their content suits me well) and feel that social media should be more inclusive of others, but some users just don’t feel that way. If you’re a stranger to them, it’s probably not gonna work out. This is one of the few instances in which the cliche line rings true: it’s not you, it’s them.
You haven’t developed a niche/voice. I cannot emphasize the importance of this enough. If you’re using social media simply to keep in touch with friends, then you shouldn’t even be interested in growing your following. If you are interested in it, then develop your niche. Figure out what you’re interested in, decide on how you’ll brand your web presence within that niche (serious vs. humorous commentary, how to’s vs. news and stats, etc). and start posting. If one day you post a bunch of great content on one topic and gain 15 followers then for the next week post about nonsense, those 15 will be gone in a hurry.
Your content is not important to them. Try to follow people who have your same interests. If you post primarily about politics, go around and jump in on political conversations, following people whose political messages resonate with you. Your chances of receiving a follow back using this method are much greater than just following anyone who has a hot profile image. For me, you could literally be my best friend and if all you tweeted were NHL scores, I still wouldn’t follow you.
You are too conversational. Don’t misunderstand me here; engaging in conversations with others is one of the most important things to do when building a social media presence. However, when all of your content is in response to people’s posts on your wall, your tweets are all @’s to your friends, or you flood the web with mini journal entries (“had thai for dinner tonight. so good.”), your chances of engaging a following are slim. Inside jokes and reminiscing about the weekend are for iMessage, and no one likes a cluttered feed. Keep your content relevant to your niche and watch the followers pour in like mindless lemmings.
You rarely post. Social media is a constantly changing stream of information, and users expect to enjoy new content every time they log in. If you’re not consistently participating in that stream, you’ll get left behind.
These simple issues, if corrected, can turn your follower drought into a veritable waterfall of user interaction. Give it a try and see what a difference it can make in for your web presence.