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