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Recommended Reading: Why I Abandoned My Social Media Presence

A blogger’s perspective on growing a popular blog — and Twitter and Facebook presence — and then starting over seven years later.

Image by Rhett Maxwell (CC BY 2.0)

Have you ever stopped to think about why you are on social media? For me, it has always been about connecting with people, learning from my community, and contributing to that community. Page views, subscribers, followers and fans were never a stand alone goal. They were a means to an end — the promise of a potential connection.

— Annie at Ethical Thinker

Note: The ideas here are targeted more to intermediate/advanced users and bloggers with established followings.

If you’re a new blogger, we can help you get started on social media: we publish resources on building your blog and online presence, and offer Blogging 201: Traffic and Growth, a guided course where you learn alongside other bloggers.

Annie at Ethical Thinker published an interesting read last month on why, after seven years of growing a popular parenting blog and social media presence, she abandoned her following, which consisted of nearly 80,000 Twitter followers and just over 42,000 Facebook fans.

In “Why I Abandoned My Popular Social Media Presence,” she describes how the larger her audience grew, the less meaningful it became. The more you put yourself out there — the more circulated you and your work become — the more exposed you are to, well, everything. Spam tweets. Irrelevant comments. PR email lists you never signed up for. Requests from people you don’t know. These probably aren’t people who want to connect with you in a genuine way, Annie writes. They want to access your expertise — and your audience.

What happened to listening and engaging with people? What happened to “how are you?” I remember when people used to complain about people tweeting what they had for breakfast. Perhaps they still do complain. That never bothered me though. At least their breakfast didn’t want something from me.

Annie offers insights on what it was like to feel watched by a huge mass of people — one that she could no longer keep track of:

I couldn’t notice each new follower and take in who they were. I started to feel self conscious about everything that I posted. . . .

Slowly but surely, I started to feel like I was standing naked in the middle of a huge stadium but couldn’t see the faces in the crowd. . . .

I started to retreat to my personal Facebook profile, where at least I had some idea who my 666 friends were (yes, that’s my current creepy friend count).

And yet, on top of not really knowing who might be lurking, she also felt no one was watching at all. (Do you ever publish a post or tweet something that gets no action? No likes, no replies, nothing? A relevant read you might enjoy, mentioned in Annie’s post, is Anil Dash’s “Nobody Famous,” in which he talks about his own experiences being “fake-famous” — and that a large following isn’t as valuable, and doesn’t generate enough meaningful engagement, as you might think.)

More Recommended Reading: Got regular readers? Here are tips on engaging them — and attracting new ones.

Ultimately, Annie says she’s happy to wipe the slate clean and engage with a more intimate community, where it’s no longer about lots of comments and clicks and numbers, but familiar faces and interactions of value.

I share “Why I Abandoned My Popular Social Media Presence” not to dissuade you from building your own online presence or interacting with readers, fans, and fellow bloggers — but to share a perspective on growth and engagement that emphasizes meaningful, strategic connections, no matter what type of blogger you are and how long you’ve been around.

What are your goals for building your blogs and social media followings? How do you measure your success? What have you learned so far from engaging with your followers and fans?

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  1. Great post. Thank you for sharing. Not having true connections contributed to my decision to stop blogging. It’s important to know what you’re seeking at and if what you do contributes to you goals and values.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. This is a difficult one for me, when I’ve spoken about followers, interaction etc on my blog sometimes it has been lamenting the lack of them, sometimes it is about what my hope were for my blog, but generally it seems like I am complaining even when I am not.

    When I started my blogs I had an idea of the types of things I wanted to post and the “feelings” I wanted to project from that, and my hope was to have likeminded people follow in return.

    However my findings were that out of say 100 followers only a very small percentage will be like that. Like the example in the post seems to allude to, they mix into a big melting pot, people that like posts but never comment, people that follow and never comment or like and only very few, may 2/100 that interact and get to know you but also post good stuff themselves so you want to reciprocate.

    I don’t think I’d want 80k + followers but I do know that getting ANY MEANINGFUL followers is a tough tough job, and ill admit it is one that I personally have given up on, at least for the short term

    Liked by 9 people

      1. Hi Dehggial, Thanks for replying. I think it is too late for that, changes that I made on the way I do things on my blogs (basically separated the creative stuff from everyday stuff) was its death really, all my own fault really, but the readership has dried up and so has my interest in many ways.
        The lack of interest then developed into a real lack of ideas for content, both for the creative blog and the general one, and so everything spiralled downwards to the point where the odd comment from a few people that do, and the occasional like is not enough.

        I’ve thought about just starting again even, trying from the beginning, even if I could get passed the lack of ideas for content, I am not sure I actually have the will anymore anyway. Good luck on your own blogging endeavours though.

        Like

      2. thank you! I actually had another blog before this one and that one died a death. I’m happy with how this one is doing so you never know. The different thing I did here was to be very clear and uncomplicated with its basic premise.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. interesting and good read for beginners too. I shunned social media till just two months ago, and am testing the waters to find out what type of (hopefully meaningful) results maintaining an unpretentious weekly blog could lead to. I’m a bit of a privacy fan, so I’m not on facebook, and my twitter’s there mainly to listen and learn. What? I’m not sure, but I’ll keep this post in mind. Thanks.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I’m in the same boat only I’ve been dipping my feet in the pool since 2013. I find that it’s just like real life. There’s a whole range of interactions. The only thing I really had to get used to was waiting.
      Being patient for the words to fly back at me after commenting or liking something.
      It becomes fun once you decide that you like your own content. If you can produce a site, or a service, or even just a story wether personal or fictional that you love you will have an audience that finds you marvelous.

      Liked by 8 people

      1. Amen to what Laughing Dragon said! As a new blogger, up until recently I struggled with the anxiety that “waiting for likes” and wondering if anyone at all cared about your thoughts caused. The anxiety made it feel like a job- one I didn’t like. The fun came back when I took the pressure off and fell back in love with my content and the idea that whether “liked” or not, there’s a chance it may help or simply resonate with someone else.

        Liked by 3 people

  4. I abandoned Facebook for nearly one and a half years but my blog also has a FB presence which I have only recently launched. So although I wanted to do away with my presence on FB for almost the same sentiments as yours, I had to reluctantly reactivate my account. Maybe at a later date when I too become entrenched in meaningless dribble, then I too may do what you have done.

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    1. I’m similar — I deleted my Facebook account last year, and I’m so glad, as it ultimately didn’t benefit me in regard to my personal/family/friends network. But that also meant letting go of my blog’s Facebook page, which meant losing a different set of readers. (If you’re smart about it, you can drive so much traffic from FB to your blog.)

      Overall, though, I’m not interested/driven enough to promote my personal blog in this way, and satisfied with using Twitter to promote to certain people and growing my WordPress following organically.

      Thanks for the comment.

      Liked by 4 people

      1. I have to admit that at first I cared about the numbers of ‘likes’ and ‘followers’, until I had to remind myself why I posted or replied to them at all whether to a trivial, opinionated or otherwise post. If I truly cared about people and their feelings, and cared that they were hurting and needed cheering up or just feeling happy or excited about life, or posting zillions of pictures that meant nothing to me I thought to myself, ‘what could I say to them that would cheer them up, encourage them, or let them just know I was thinking about them, praying for them,’ and wanted to be positive. Whether posting via my blog, Facebook or Twitter I vowed to no one but myself and God that whatever I wrote for the public or ‘friends’ was going to be something that helped them, not tear them down, criticize, or act as if I didn’t care what they did with their life. That is what counts to me; just be the one positive encourager in their lives if they needed that just then.

        Liked by 2 people

  5. Months ago I deleted all social media profiles except for my Instagram account (which I use as a photography portfolio) and my blog – the feelings of relief, unburdening, freedom, and renewed health are palpable. I don’t want to “brand” and “market” myself – I want to create, share, and connect in a genuine way with genuine people. Thank you for sharing this story; it is reassuring and encouraging to know that I’m not alone in my pursuit of meaningful engagement.

    Liked by 10 people

  6. Some time back i considered that my social profile should be the best. But with time i started living in totally virtual world. The friends who uses to chat with me for hours never ever cared in reality. Then i also abandoned all my social profile.
    I really like this blog
    Thanks for sharing

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Love this insight. I struggle thinking that social media will propel my message for me, but in reality I am stuck in a nether-world of checking stats and counting followers. All it does is steal attention away from the true work…the art of writing.

    Liked by 4 people

  8. Very thought-provoking and point well taken. I am gaining more followers daily (over 4000 now) and often wonder if they really even read the pieces or why they like what they purport to read–not many leave a comment for some reason. But mostly when I start to feel “obligated” to post–very rare, but it has happened–htta is disturbing. I love to write (we at WP love to write!), so I will just always write, sometimes seeking outside publication, also. But do the “followers” love to really feel and think along with the carratos of the posts?
    And, in regards to “who may be lurking out there”, can anyone explain how I can stop someone from reblogging every single piece–without any personal comment about it? I can’t even determine exactly where the reblogs are going…. so it concerns me that they may be improperly used somehow. One doesn’t really know, I guess…
    Also, how do I block/delete businesses or spam readers that are not already caught/stopped by WP?
    Anyway, Cheri, I always appreciate your insights, experiences, and information offered to us!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Under Settings > Sharing, you can turn off reblogs if you prefer:

      Screen Shot

      If you don’t want to turn them off entirely, you can consider contacting the blogger and kindly ask that they stop reblogging each piece with no additional commentary. I don’t think they’re required to stop — as reblogging isn’t the same as stealing w/o attribution (as mentioned here). But reaching out is certainly an option.

      Here are previous posts on reblogging:

      https://dailypost.wordpress.com/2014/03/25/reblogging/

      https://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/05/30/reblogs/

      On spam users/businesses — you cannot block/stop people from following you if your blog is public. You do, however, have control over spam comments — add usernames, email addresses, etc. in the boxes in your comment moderation settings (Settings > Discussion) so you can put comments in a moderation queue, and trash or mark as spam as necessary:

      https://en.support.wordpress.com/settings/discussion-settings/#comment-moderation

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Fascinating post! I don’t think I’ve really asked the question about why I blog, or at least have not thought it through. I think for me it’s more about a place of expression and a journal of sorts, so a lot of interaciton is not important to me. Although! I would find it valuable to interact with a few like-minded individuals in a meaningful way.

    However, I think in order to have a devoted, if small, following, one’s blog must be of a particular flavor. Mine is sort of all over the place and I post erratically…not conducive to committed readers/commenters.

    Thanks again for the insight!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Mine is sort of all over the place and I post erratically…not conducive to committed readers/commenters.

      Thought to chime in here, as I don’t have a narrow focus on my blog (sometimes I write about my last trip, or death, or photography, or an art exhibit, or music). So, I’m all over the place, too. I also post erratically and not often — I try to post once a month, but sometimes it’s every 2-3 months. Or I’ll randomly post 3x in a week (which is rare). So, I have no schedule.

      That said, I don’t think that means I’ve created an experience not conducive to committed readers and commenters — I think readers who enjoy what I write will return if they see a notification from me, regardless of how long it’s been or what my subject is. In the end, I truly believe that most of my readers follow my blog because of *me*, my point of view, and what my background and perspective bring to a particular subject — not because I write about X or Y or Z.

      Thanks for the comment!

      Liked by 2 people

  10. Definitely an interesting, thought-provoking post. It’s so easy to get sucked into numbers and there’s always someone with many more followers than you. My FB group is relatively small, limited to mostly people I know or those who are friends of friends, but not too many of the latter. On my blog, which has been going every day for over three years, I’m approaching 2,000 followers, but talk regularly with only a fraction of those. I don’t have time to follow 2,000 other blogs, so if someone follows me in hopes I’ll follow them, it probably won’t happen, although I’ve started following more of those who are regular commenters on my blog.

    I remember getting my first non-family followers and how excited that made me. For a time, I was sucked into the numbers, but I’ve found that they don’t really reflect how many are involved in an every day give-and-take, which is the enjoyable part of blogging.

    It’s not just me. I have friends with many more followers and they complain/remark that they rarely hear from any of these people. In this as in so much else, I think it’s quality, not quantity. I blog because I enjoy it and because there are a core of people who evidently like me and what I’m putting out. That’s the reward.

    janet

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Great insights.

      I’m not quite sure how many WP blogs I”m “following” in the Reader. Hundreds and hundreds, maybe close to a thousand. But what does that mean? Does that mean I regularly read 1,000 blogs? No! And some of the blogs and sites I return to, again and again, I’m not even “following” or subscribed to — I’ll just think to visit them on my own, no notification needed. I agree that it’s ultimately about quality, non quantity — and finding your core of people that you like to read, learn from, and interact with.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. And at some point, it’s just about limits and what you want to do with your life. 🙂 Last week I was visiting my parents, who don’t have internet. That meant in order not to use up all our phone data and to do anything online, I had to go somewhere with internet. I spent most of the week not connected and enjoyed it immensely. I had posts scheduled in advance and will be posting about my trip now that I’m back…or at least after the weekend when I’ll once again be mostly unconnected. There’s so much more to life than just the internet, although I enjoy it a lot.

        Liked by 1 person

  11. I love social media. I’ve connected with so many people. I have made new friends for life. That’s something so meaningful to me. Without social media, I would have never made the friendships that I have now. Example: I go to a lot of music festivals & there are groups on Facebook of people that are also going. That is where I connect with people and then we meet up in real life and BAM. It’s pretty amazing. I’ve met some people that have made huge impacts on my life. I go to music festivals for the music, but also for the people. I’ve been blessed to meet so many people. It’s opened up new opportunities for me. So to me, if used correctly, social media is an awesomely powerful tool.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. I just want to add that I recommend you blog for you and find like-minded people and then enjoy spending time with them, online or in person. I’ve met a number of other bloggers and that’s been a great part of blogging. Look at the numbers and interactions that matter. Join groups and challenges that are in areas you enjoy or areas you’d like to explore. You’ll find better contacts there.

    janet

    Liked by 1 person

  13. WOW. What a great read, full of thought-provoking insights I’d never considered before. I have always thought that a big following was the goal, but I hadn’t considered that the bigger the audience, the less meaningful the interaction and the more trolling/spamming/self-promotion you have to deal with. I love the line “on top of not really knowing who might be lurking, she also felt no one was watching at all.” Makes me think about who I’m striving to be seen by when I blog.

    Liked by 3 people

  14. What an interesting, if slightly worrying post. As someone who is fairly new to blogging, and who has a, let’s say, select following at the moment, I’m really enjoying the interaction each new post brings. I’m also becoming quite addicted to reading other people’s blogs – but I’m trying also trying to keep things real and only read blogs I’m really interested in. I can imagine a scenario in which one reads everything, and “likes” everything just in order to increase one’s own blogging presence. I’m trying to resist the temptation to inhabit this rather cynical world.

    Liked by 3 people

  15. There are plenty of clicks and follows on Twitter, but it is entirely shallow. I collected just over 3000 followers in 6-weeks, and no one had any real communication. I closed my account and decided to invest the time writing better blogs. I have 11 real followers, and we can actually have some depth of conversation about the topics written about.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for sharing your perspective. I’ve been on Twitter for 6 years and still don’t have 3,000 followers. (No, I’ve never actively promoted/grown it, as you can see! :)) But what I’ve noticed in this time is an interesting ebb and flow of followers — people follow, unfollow, follow, unfollow (and that is my own behavior, too) and so despite no substantial growth, my following has at least been steady, with a network that seems natural, three-dimensional, and representative of me and my interests. So, I think most of the people in my network are those who follow me for both personal and professional reasons, and because of our mix of shared interests (rather than people/experts/marketers trying to target people with specific subjects). For instance, several years ago, I was once put on a very popular “top travel bloggers list” and ever since, I’ve been added to other travel lists, blindly followed by travel bloggers who don’t actually know me or my blog, and spammed regularly by travel PR people. This type of network is of no value to me, and this type of follower doesn’t actively engage with me on Twitter.

      Thanks for your comment.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I would recommend using CrowdFire to help manage your followers. It’ll help remove non-followers. I also was in a faith-current affairs-politics circle that’s very full.

        Thanks for your reply 😊

        Like

  16. I always was skeptical about going for followers instead of the people on my Facebook blog because I would get people that are not into what I am into My few followers about a hundred have the same interests.

    Like

  17. I thought about getting out of Facebook, but I use it for Health Coaching, recipes for healthy eating, re-posting really helpful information for your health etc. on Health Coaching page. Unfortunately it is linked with my personal page as the main page and wish I could just undo that connection.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. I call it “the empty bar feeling”. Social network drives the good old conversation away. There are shares and likes now. Instead of saying “what do you do” when we meet new people we say ” are you on Facebook?”. People are connected and engrossed in the content of their devices but they usually do not go deep into the content.
    I am not interested in popularity or sharing of my blog. The idea of it was mostly for me, to document my travels and new impression of the everyday life.

    Liked by 2 people

  19. I love your post, I’m not really social media user, I have a FB acct that I maybe check once a month for family updates but that’s it. I think the last time I posted something was like a year ago. This is only my second post on this site and there is literally at least a year in between. I created my blog mostly to learn Scrapbooking techniques & brainstorm ideas. I was very happy to come across your blog!! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  20. I can’t help but agree… social media has its pros and cons. I abandoned it for a while and have now come back to it with a more balanced view. It doesn’t bother me if my following increases or dwindles. My blog following hasn’t even hit 200 yet. I’ll keep writing 🙂

    Liked by 1 person