Who’s that following me? Growing authentic blog followers
The desperate Blogger (that’s you and me)
Let’s face it, we’re all desperate aren’t we. Come on, I’m desperate – you’re desperate. It’s ok, let’s be honest, we are all desperate for followers.
So I guess you’ve set up a blog. And like me, your first inspiration was to write about something that you’re passionate about, or at the least, something you’re interested in. You got yourself a domain, a host, a platform, and a pretty trendy theme. Then it’s time to launch. You write a couple of posts, or grab a couple that you already had completed, and you publish them on your brand-new website. What happens next is a bit like lighting a campfire with wet wood. You keep trying to light it, you add more kindling, you screw up more paper and stuff it in the cracks and you sit back and watch for the flame. Chances are it’s pretty disappointing, a whole lot of smoke, hard work, and not a lot of fire and you certainly don’t get that warm feeling you were expecting.
When we start our blogs, we’re all hoping for a huge number of visits almost immediately. Surely they know where we are and how great we are. And what’s more, we hope those visitors will keep returning. If you spend a little time researching this on the Internet, you can be sure you’ll convince yourself that you can be an overnight success. But the truth is, it only happens like that for a few bloggers.
If you don’t have any friends, the next best thing is to buy some
As soon as we realise things aren’t going to grow as quickly as we had hoped, we start looking for artificial ways to develop our reader base. Again, the Internet is our best friend (and possibly our worst enemy), with 1001 ways to grow a huge following. But what we all really need is an authentic reader base. We need a reader base that is coming to visit because they are interested in what we’ve got to say. And when they visit, they are actually going to read our content and then, and most importantly, come back.
I write for We Blog Better, but I actually have my own blog. My blog is all about personal and professional development, as well as employee engagement. Yes, this is quite different to We Blog Better’s core content, but like most bloggers, I have developed a fascination for the whole process, which has attracted me to writing about my relevant experience. What’s important is to know what your writing about, stick to it, and find an interested audience.
There are plenty of followers to go around – the world is at your fingertips
Now there are a lot of people out there in the world, on computers, who are really interested in personal and professional development and employee engagement. My challenge is just to find them. My main platforms are LinkedIn, Twitter and Google plus. I have varying degrees of success with each.
Linking up on LinkedIn
Because many of my articles are primarily business based, I began by building connections on LinkedIn. I connected with as many people as I possibly could on LinkedIn simply by sending invites. Very quickly I had thousands of connections. But I was soon disappointed to discover that this had very little impact on the number of readers that I actually attracted. Only a couple of percent of all my connections read my articles each week, and often it’s the same people. What this tells me is, there is a equally as much value in targeting your efforts towards readers who are specifically interested in your subject, as a blanket catchall approach that leaves you with thousands of inactive connections.
Then a flutter on Twitter
Then I got very excited, and took on twitter. If you have a twitter account, like me you’ll be bombarded by advertisements for growing your followers. For just 10 or 20 dollars, in a matter of days you can grow your following by many thousands. And guess what, like my experience with LinkedIn, the vast majority of all those people are not in the least bit interested in what you’re writing. Some of them are apparently not even human.
What I have discovered about twitter though, is there is some value in looking at the connections of who I will call your ‘authentic followers’ and there are ways to do this. What I mean is, if someone has connected with you because they are genuinely interested in your content, then there is a good chance that many of their connections may also be genuinely interested in your content. These are the people that you want to connect with. If you find your real supporters on Twitter and check their lists on their profiles, you can find people who are far more likely to be interested in your content.
One advantage of Twitter is it seems to be pretty good at natural attrition. Many of the followers who are not at all interested in following you (but have), simply drift away and unfollow you in time. Others seem to remain dormant, with little if any activity, including any interest in your posts, for long periods of time (no real harm done).
And in the end…
There really is no simple and very fast way to grow an authentic following other than to continue to publish good content, and to socialise your personal brand. If you’d like to know more about personal brand, then read my article Personal Brand – The simple explanation of a must have. I’m not saying you shouldn’t attempt some of these ways to artificially grow your following, after all, the process costs little more than a couple of cups of coffee and a very small % of this cup of coffee may turn out to be interested followers. But what I am saying is, avoid disappointment, and understand from the outset that only a very very small percentage of the number of people who will follow you through these processes will be in the least bit interested in your content. The good news is, if your content is good, your approach and your brand is consistent and predictable, then you will grow followers, just not as quickly as you’d hoped.