Social Media Anxiety
I am not particularly concerned about my social media numbers, because honestly, my comics are more about therapy than anything else at this point in my life. I’m semi-retired, and my household has the money it needs to run smoothly. Plus, my friends on social media are absolutely amazing. Their company is the main reason I am there. Alas, there are a lot of comic creators who are extremely anxious about who follows them on social media. Perhaps, you are one of these individuals, and are struggling with the following concerns:
- You feel that your social media follower count is embarrassingly small
- People belittle you because you don’t have the follower counts that they do
- You feel that you will never be a social media influencer
If this is you, I have some solutions, insights and tips to share.
It’s Easy To Increase Your Follower Count (You Just Need Time)
A few months ago, we had over a thousand followers on the old Velvet Rasputin Twitter account. Sadly, a lot of bad stuff happened last spring and summer, and we ended up having to reset our account as a result. The aftermath of virtually starting over proved devastating for our follower count, and emotionally difficult because we lost track of many beloved friends. Recovery from that social media disaster is a slow process, but not an impossible one. Here’s proof:
On September 17, we had around 333 followers. I decided that for the sake of fun and of proving something to myself, I would make it a goal to reach 400 followers in a week. The plan was to accomplish this without purchasing Twitter ads, or paying for followers. Velvet Rasputin is a highly specialized niche comic publisher, and incredibly difficult to market. Waiting for followers was not an option. Perhaps, you have a brand new webcomic, or have very little experience marketing, so you may be stuck in a similar situation. This is why I’m going to share how I made it to 400 by September 21. I didn’t even have to resort to using shady “get more follower” apps, or wading through the wasteland that is #TeamFollowBack.
The Steps I Took
- Carve out some time in the day to work on your social media presence. I chose to spend at least two hours a day searching for people to interact with. You don’t have to spend that much time meeting new people to grow your social media accounts. Just make sure that you schedule at least a few minutes a day to seek out new connections. Consistency matters here.
- Step outside of your usual social circles or field of expertise by using the search or discovery features in your chosen social media sites. If you are a comic artist, don’t just stick to comic-related hashtag or topics. Look for keywords that reflect your comic’s story, your personality, or the kind of people that you want to attract in your life. Strike up conversations with people that seem interesting, strike a chord with you or, share similar values. This seems like it goes against the conventional wisdom of targeted marketing, and it does. But instead of finding compatible demographics, you’ll find relationships worth building. When you are selling a story, knowing the whole person matters more than a getting fleeting eyeballs.
- Look for people asking questions that you know you can answer. This is a great way to make new friends and put your expertise to good use. This is an especially great technique for people who are not socially gifted, because when answers help people, everyone benefits.
- Don’t just look for popular folks to follow. Sometimes, newbies with few followers can provide higher quality engagements than folks who are popular and too swamped to pay attention.
- Don’t neglect your existing followers. Getting new followers should not be an excuse to abandon your old friends. If you want to grow your follower base, you need to make sure that your old friends don’t get lost in the shuffle. You don’t need to follow every tweet, but make sure to say hello and chat for a bit, if you run into one of your old friend’s tweets.
- The more quality conversations you have, the more likely it is that your new acquaintances will follow you. Never hesitate to ask those chatty folks to follow you, or keep in touch in the future. Even if they don’t end up following you, other people will notice, which may help you gather goodwill with existing followers, and even earn some new followers who enjoy what you do. And of course, there are some people just need time to get to know you before they follow you back. Patience is key here.
- Avoid getting openly angry or disappointed if someone unfollows you, blocks you, or if you need to unfollow or block someone. It happens. It might be sad or enraging to let go of an old follower, but it’s all a part of establishing personal boundaries. Not everyone is going to get along.
- Run a contest or freebie promotion and post it on freebie or contest sites. This is a great way to get your first 100 followers. Unfortunately, this tactic is also a great way to get stuck with a bunch of unengaged followers that won’t interact with you long-term, as I learned the hard way when the Velvet Rasputin Twitter account was still the Rasputin Catamite account.
- Be sure to follow back if you see new followers that you feel are a great fit! Returning the favor is part of the fun.
This process of gathering new can be frustrating or tedious and it takes time. However, it’s the most effective, ethical and proven way to find and keep new followers. Feel free try one or more of these steps, if you want to increase your social media presence.
All That’s Followed Isn’t Necessarily Popular
It looks great doesn’t it? It does seem to have all the things a great social media account should have, doesn’t it?
- It has 592 followers
- A cool product
- A nice header banner
- A profile icon showing art from the book rather than a default image
- A diverse group of followers with interesting tweets
- Only five tweets
Wait a second, something seems fishy here. This account has only existed for three days. Unless someone is already a household name celebrity, getting that many followers in a that short of a time span is impossible without quality interactions. Here’s what the account looked like when this experiment started:
Oh no! Maybe we should check to see if any of these accounts are bots. Everybody knows that all fake followers are bots. Right?
Weird! All of the followers seem legit. Let’s compare this to my other account, where I obtained my followers the honest way.
Oh no! My real account has more fake followers than my dummy account? How can this be?
The Dirty Secret
It doesn’t make sense that my real account has more bot followers than for the account that has paid followers. I bought my bots fair and square, right? WRONG! None of these fake followers I bought for this experiment are bots. This is possible because there are websites where brokers pay real people to like and follow their clients.
Yes, an account with this many followers will attract people, and a portion of the followers of the fake account here are real. Yet, the rest of them were purchased from follower brokers on Fiverr.
For as little as $5, you can get anywhere between 100 and 3000 non-bot accounts to follow your account. I don’t recommend doing this at all, but I did this for the fake Tsarkias account so you can be aware of how easy it is for a business or individual to create the illusion of social media success.
Sometimes, individuals with a thousands of followers will belittle people with less followers. The often repeated mantra is that if you don’t have thousands of followers, then your social media presence is somehow less valuable. However, the truth is today’s follower brokers have gotten so sophisticated, that it’s almost impossible to tell their clients apart from people who legitimately earned their followers. Since there is no easy way to tell who earned their followers or not, social media users can’t automatically discern popularity or influence of a social media presence just by looking at follower numbers alone. Believe it or not, it is possible for someone with only ten followers to have more legitimate social media influence than someone with ten thousand followers.
Make no mistake, there are rarely any meaningful interactions behind purchased follows. None of the accounts following will likely belong to people who would actually buy the book that my dummy Twitter account is advertising. None of these accounts will yield meaningful networking or opportunities for friendship. The majority of this fake followers are there to create the illusion of popularity. The number of followers in this account is completely meaningless. Yet, in spite of the inherent uselessness of buying social media popularity, famous people often resort to these tactics. Again, inflated follower counts are all about image, and for the image conscious, this illusion is worth the potential risks. I personally, think that these types of activities are a waste of money that could potentially destroy your reputation and hard work.
If you are ever tempted to resort to this dirty trick for gaining social media followers, you’ll be better served using that $5 to support a fellow creative’s crowdfunding campaign. That single interaction will go a much longer way in establishing positive and long-lasting relationships with your social media following. Plus, instead of you creating the illusion of being popular in social media, you’ll create the reality of being an awesome person in social media.
Influence Is About Relationships Not Numbers
Influence is hard to quantify. Just one kind word to one person by an unknown, can change the world. Today’s celebrity can become tomorrow’s obscure person overnight. But, as long as you keep in mind that the main point of social media isn’t to sell, but to be social, you’ll have some influence even if your circle is tiny. One one or two great friends on social media can be an endless source of validation and enjoyment, if you are engaged and supportive. Likewise, there are people with thousands of friends who openly complain about being lonely and not having enough followers. Numbers don’t sell products anywhere near as well as trust, relationships, and great marketing techniques. If selling or creating awareness for your creative output is one of your goals, work on being social first, while you study the art of sales. In the long-run, this will improve your chances of financial success. But, if that’s not your priority, then simply enjoy your hard-earned social media followers with pleasant conversations and fun times. You’ll be glad you did.