Here's another of those business blogs I warned you about before. I was just thinking that so many people encourage others to follow their sites on social media to promote their business or brand or to just widen their catchment. There are obvious reasons for this especially when starting out and the going can be slow and it can be a hard slog but with time and patience the numbers go up and word spreads. What often strikes me when I go to look at a site I've been invited to follow is the vast chasm between their followers to following ratio.
It seems that there are many people out there who want lots of people following them but don't want to follow lots of people. To me this seems slightly egocentric. Why should lots of people follow you if you don't follow them? Why do you need followers but not feel the need to return the courtesy? One of the most obvious answers to this is that you have something to offer customers which they don't have to offer you and so they have a reason for following you whereas you have no real gain to come from following them. That might be well and good if you're a massive corporation who has already made it without social media's help but for a new start up that could be a rather insular way of looking at things.
Social media is just that a social media, a means of interacting with people and part of interaction is to invest some of your time into other people in the hope that they will invest some of their time into you and it does work. I've seen it work. People who actively engage their followers, who follow back, comment on posts and pics and videos and statuses have the same returned to them. These people do what is essential with social media if you want to use it as a promotions tool and that is they develop a community within their social media group. They use social media along the same lines that we used to form friendships and common interest groups in the days of old where we seek out, invite in, communicate and then invite to join other groups we are associated with thereby integrating the person into our life and building a rapport, getting to know them and making them feel valued. If we can do that then we can build loyalty and word of mouth promotions at a very early stage. It's not even contrived, it's a genuine feel good practice for business especially in these days where so many of us are one man bands or working from home in isolation.
OK so we can't do it with everyone we have following or liking or subscribing to us but we really do need to put some effort into participating within a community online rather than just being a passive mindless follower or being a silent voice expecting people to hear us. Think about who you delete from social media when you have a clear out... people who don't interact with you, who never respond to you or like anything you do or post, those who never comment... they are first to go and if we are behaving like that as businesses we run the risk of eventually being a potential customer's first to go.
So yes, engage is the key word today. Don't just expect followers to come flocking, engage with your followers and with the communities you roll within and make them want to follow you and feel valued by you. After all they are valued by you enormously so make sure you show it or they'll be gone.