Ten ways to grow your online presence that I ignore

When you first start getting involved in Twitter and the blogosphere, it’s kind of like going to a new place for the first time. Everything is bright and shiny and new and exciting. It seems like everyone talks about “giving to get.” People who write really good stuff get the credit. It’s all a Polyanna could wish for.

As you stick with it longer, you start to see that people who have a lot of Twitter followers or a lot of blog activity tend to have a lot of tricks up their sleeves. Actually, it’s kind of easy to learn about a lot of those tricks because people write about them on their blogs. I’ve come to recognize 10 ways that people seem to use successfully on a regular basis to grow their Social Media presence.

My problem is that personally, I don’t like doing any of them. That doesn’t mean they’re wrong. It just means they’re out of my comfort zone. Here are those ten ways I’m talking about.

1. Posting links to blogs in chats: This is a great way to drive traffic to your blog, especially if you’re participating in #blogchat on Sunday nights. However, it just doesn’t seem natural to me to interject into a conversation, “by the way, check out this blog post I wrote about that.” I feel like chats are there for chatting, like a conversation. Do you bring a portfolio to a cocktail party? Maybe. It just seems weird to me.

2. Asking people to promote blog posts: I talked about this one in my post about how to get 25% of your readers to take an action on your blog. Asking a person with a lot of pull to tweet out your blog post can drive huge amounts of traffic to your blog, and may even introduce you to new people who want to subscribe to your blog. However, the big name is probably just acting out of a sense of obligation. Did they read the post before tweeting it out? Hard to say sometimes. I don’t feel comfortable asking people to promote my posts. I want to know that they really liked them, and I want them to pass on my posts to others because they think it’s worthwhile.

3. Arguing with a big name on Twitter: If you get into it with an influential person on Twitter, you’ll get a lot of attention because the person with pull will be using your name a lot. Personally, I’d rather be known for doing nice things.

4. “Calling out:” Similar to the arguing on Twitter, a lot of people “call out” big names in their blog posts. “Oh, so and so is such a sell-out.” Those kinds of posts. Again, this is a great way to drive traffic to your post, and you might even get a good ole flash mob in your comments section. Is that really what you want?

5. Super controversial blog posts: It’s pretty easy to be controversial online. You could write a post called, “Social Media is stupid.” You could write a post called, “I think shooting elephants is a good idea.” You’ll get a lot of traffic and a lot of comments. Do you really mean what you say, though? Do you want to be tied to that point of view forever?

6. Ultra-Personal posts: I wrote awhile back about how personal posts can be prickly. There is a difference between being personable and personal. Yes, writing about really personal stuff will probably get you a lot of traffic and comments and tweets. Do you want that information out there though? Do you want your boss or your clients reading about how you had anorexia when you were a teenager? Maybe you do. But it can be tricky.

7. Forgetting what it was like to be new: A lot of people comment that they like my posts because I try to avoid saying things like, “This will definitely work.” That’s because I remember all too well what it was like to be new to this online world. I read all of those “10 best ways” posts, and none of them worked for me. It made me feel like I was doing something wrong or missing a trick. I don’t want to make you feel that way anywhere in the online world where we meet up.

8. Swearing: Do I swear in the confines of my home? Yeah. Do I swear at a client meeting? Heck no. Therefore, I do not swear here. I am in the minority in this issue. If you put an f-bomb or two into your blog headline, you are sure to get a lot of traffic. If you call “BS” on something, you’ll probably do well. My take is generally that if you can’t get people to flock to the post because of the concept, you probably need to improve the post rather than writing like a sailor.

9. Retweeting anything I’m mentioned in: I have been very fortunate. A lot of people have mentioned me kindly in tweets or in blog posts. I am always torn about how to react to these events. A lot of people simply retweet the post or the tweet. “There, that gets my name out there and sends some awareness to the person.” But if all you do is retweet nice things about yourself, aren’t you really kind of out there like a peacock complimenting yourself? I tend to promote a post if the quality is good and then disclose, with gratitude, that I am mentioned. I simply say thank you to tweets. Would it help me get super-huge online if I retweeted that stuff? I dunno. It seems to work for lots of people.

10. Ignoring people who don’t have a lot of followers: Trey Pennington joked about this in his post about Klout awhile back. Make sure you don’t talk to people who only have a few followers because they won’t improve your Klout score at all. Unfortunately, I think some people really do think that’s a legit way to go about things. “You’re too small potatoes for me now. I don’t want to send my influence your way. Frankly, I love it when people who are trying to learn this game follow me as one of their first follows on Twitter. There are a lot of people to choose from, and they chose me.

So those are ten great tricks that I ignore at my own peril. How about you? Do you find success doing these things? Why am I wrong?

1st Image by Paul Brunskill. http://www.sxc.hu/profile/bigdodaddy

2nd Image by Robert Aichinger. http://www.sxc.hu/profile/raichinger

15 comments
Sabrina
Sabrina

Margie, your post was very refreshing. Your advice shows a lot of integrity and I agree that blog content, as well as 'tweets', should have matter about content, not just controversy.

Trey Pennington
Trey Pennington

Thanks Marjorie. I'm so glad you pointed out that I was being satirical in suggesting folks ignore unimportant people. I love the title of an essay by Francis Schaeffer: No Little People. Every person, regardless of number of followers, readers, fans, subscribers, or even Klout score, is a worthwhile individual. Imagine a world where we all attended to our fellow man, acknowledged those around us, and proactively sought to affirm everyone in our lives.

Zig Ziglar summed it up perfectly, "You can get everything you want in life if you'll just help enough other people get what they want."

Kathy Manweiler
Kathy Manweiler

Margie, this is a very helpful list, especially for someone like me who's just been on Twitter for a few months for the nonprofit I work for.

As a former journalist, I still stick to the guideline of not writing anything that I would be embarrassed to see on the front page of the paper. (That goes for e-mail, Twitter, memos, etc.)

I totally agree with almost everything on your list, but like CinziaRolling said, I also struggle with how to deal with RTs that include me. Since our foundation is fairly new to Twitter and trying to raise awareness that we're here to help Kansas nonprofits, I typically do include our foundation in anything that mentions us in an RT, but rarely do that in my personal account.

Thanks so much for the great advice! @kamkansas

Carol Roth
Carol Roth

Very compelling post Margie.
Here are my thoughts on a few of the items

Posting links in blog chats- I don't really participate in a lot of chats, but if there is a relevant post that doesn't come across in 140 characters, that seems fairly authentic to me, as long as it's not abused.

Asking people to promote- with few exceptions, I don't do this because I generally don't like to bother people, but am fine when people ask me if it is important to them (I am so busy I do miss a lot of good content, as I am sure most people do). The thing that drives me batty is the "I think you would like this" DM. If you want me to RT, just ask, but don't disguise it as something it's not.

Swearing- I do this sometimes, but I also swear in client meetings. It's authentic and not done for shock value alone and I try to be mindful and not overdo it.

Ignoring people with few followers- this is the one that hits close to home for me. I came onto Twitter just a year ago and a LOT of people ignored me (even with introductions) who are now not doing that so much. It doesn't go unnoticed.....

Thanks for a great post as always!

CinziaRolling
CinziaRolling

Great post. I agree with everything on here and it is great that you point these things out because it is difficult at times when first starting out to figure all the things going on out. IMO it boils down to doing things that you are comfortable with. Everyone will not always agree with you no matter what and as Shakespeare said, "To Thine Own Self Be True."

I myself know I have struggled and still do on #9. It makes me completely uncomfortable tweeting anything that I am in, but when people include me I like to give them a thank you and often times it is much later than the originally tweet so I include their tweet as a reference. Every time (it isn't often) I do it, I struggle. I can say that if I have to do any editing to it due to length I always take my name out of it. I am still not sure about it, but will have to work it out in my own way because I am also not comfortable with not acknowledging individuals for their effort in something that they believe.

Bottom line, I guess, is that there will always be issues and people that push limits, but overall IMO the good outweighs the bad. I have met a lot of wonderful and interesting people on Twitter that I may not have met otherwise.

Thanks for the post, Margie.

Mary Weimer
Mary Weimer

Thanks, Margie. This list makes good sense to me. When I see someone with only a few followers (say less than 200/300) I think "oh, good. Better chance that we will get to know each other."

It certainly is fun navigating the social media world and staying true to oneself!

I always enjoy your tweets and your blog.
Have a great day
-Mary Weimer
Regina, SK Canada

Tommy Walker
Tommy Walker

I love this list!

When it comes to getting bigger names attention, it's always better to be nice and helpful than it is to call people out or debate with them.

In the long run you just end up looking like a jerk.

Personal posts are good, so long as it's in line with what your message is and you can tie it all back to your business... but I think too many people miss the point on that one too. Penelope Trunk is very personal in her posts, but they also have a point about being fearless when it comes to business.

Lisa Porter
Lisa Porter

Loved your article, and I agree with you on all points. I'm just getting started though, and I can't even understand why I would want to be so popular. I'm not an author. I'm not on television or in the movies. I sell health insurance. I really don't think that people liking my personal blog is going to bring me more business.

But maybe I'm wrong and I should concentrate on a blog for business. Don't know. We'll see...

Again, loved your post!

Nancy Davis
Nancy Davis

I don't do any of those things either. Maybe that is why I like you. I don't want to just broadcast how great I am (it just seems so egotistical)

I am here to have real relationships. I follow people I find interesting. Hopefully they will follow me back. I never retweet things I am mentioned in. It does not feel right to me. I like @ replies so much more anyway.

Why someone would curse on Twitter or a blog post just does not make a lot of sense to me. This all is pretty much common sense. I always say, if I would not say it to your face, it does not belong on Twitter.

I have about 220 followers. Maybe if I did these things I would have more, but would I be alright with doing things that way? Probably not.

Thanks for posting this. I suggest we band together and form our own "Twitter Ethics" group and see how many others we find who don't do these things.

Suzanne Vara
Suzanne Vara

I love you Carol! I swear in client meetings (not so much at home as 6 yr old ears are always listening) and I swear with my friends but I do not swear so much on twitter or in posts. That is because I have my mother in my ear all the time reminding me "is that what you want on the front page of the NY times about you?" looks around - um well not sure.

The obligation tweet - Margie and I were talking about this on the phone earlier and it is something that I cannot bring myself to ask for and for that matter, really do. It is something that is "hot" right now but as I said to Margie, in the long run, it is not building much and what if the people I am asking to tweet out for me, suddenly stop doing it?

Like me for me, not cuz I asked ya to is where I live. Sometimes it is a very lonely island.

Margie Clayman
Margie Clayman

Hi Carol!

As I said on Twitter, I think you hit the nail on the head with the disingenuous request thing. Maybe that is what rubs me the wrong way. I'd almost rather someone say, "Hey, can you tweet this out for me?" rather than, "Oh, I think you'll like this." Especially when that's done over direct message, it just makes me feel like I have an obligation rather than a desire to visit that post. I don't like to make other people feel that way.

Now with the current Women & Social Media series, I ping you and the other ladies involved when there's a new post up, but I feel okay about doing that because we are all working on this as a group (sort of), and I figure everyone would want to keep updated on who has written what. I am also not against tweeting a post and saying, "Hey so and so, I think you'll like this." In that case, I'm bringing it to their attention because I truly think it will interest them.

Glad you have a long memory. I do too. I think it pays in this space :)

Margie Clayman
Margie Clayman

You're exactly right - it's about your own comfort level and what you like to do. If you believe in your heart that doing all 10 things is a great way to go, then far be it from me to dissuade you. You shouldn't let me influence you either way. I'm just telling you that for me, these are things that I know that I *could* do, but they don't feel comfortable for me. And yes, acknowledging nice things being said about you is probably one of the more tricky things, but it's an awfully nice problem to have :)

Margie Clayman
Margie Clayman

Hi Mary!

Thank you so much :) That's a great way to look at it. I always try to make sure I kind of keep track of new followers who don't have many people following them. I'll try and bump them up a little so they feel the love. Wouldn't trade those kinds of exchanges for the world :)

Margie Clayman
Margie Clayman

Hey there Tommy! Thanks :)

I think if you start out from the beginning writing personal posts and that's your style, that's one thing. If you generally don't write personal posts and then you pop one in just to give your traffic a boost - that's what I find troubling. I think people can sniff those kinds of things out. I just don't find it appealing. Could just be me though :)

Margie Clayman
Margie Clayman

I am all for it, Nancy, believe me :)

As for your number of followers, I find you highly engaging, and I think people will appreciate you just like they started to appreciate me. It takes awhile, this whole doing things the tortoise way. But we know what we're doing :)

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  1. [...] convinced that nothing is good or bad, right or wrong, black or white. For example, consider the ten things people do to grow their online presence that I ignore. If people do those things, are they bad people? Hardly. In fact, it would be extremely easy to [...]