10 Ways to Be More Popular (On Social Media)

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I was never very popular at school. I had a group of four friends who I stuck pretty close to and we were delightfully nicknamed ‘the bods’ (our school’s name for geeks/ nerds/ squares) by our much more popular peers. As a teen, popularity is such a life-defining thing. If you don’t act a certain way or fit in with a particular group you’re ostracised or bullied and you spend your days saying “Well who’d want to be like them anyway!?” while all the time wondering what you ever did to be so despised.

As soon as I left that horrific school, I unwittingly shed my unpopularity pretty quickly. In college being an outsider was considered cool and at university pretty much everyone was best friends. I have since learned that when you get past those awkward teenage years, it’s actually your idiosyncrasies and differences that make you more liked.

One of the questions I get asked the most (by far!) is how to get more followers on social media. So while I can’t claim to have always been someone that people wanted to follow, here are a few little tips I’ve discovered along the way about what makes people want to on social media.

1. Be interesting

It’s sounds pretty flipping obvious, but look back at your last 10 or so tweets, Instagrams or Facebook updates… are they? Would you follow someone who posted those things? If not, why not?

Share things that are funny, engaging, happy, sad, inspiring, quirky, colourful, useful, entertaining. Be kooky but considerate, be funny but not sarcastic, share personal stories but don’t be boring. Don’t just tweet the fact that it’s raining or post yet another photo of your lunch. Come on now, who wants to follow that?

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2. Vary your uses

The social media platforms are all very different beasts so don’t treat them the same. If you’re cross-posting the same things everywhere it’s going to be repetitive and boring for anyone that follows you in more than one place, and you’re also not going to be getting the best out of each platform. Similarly, the kinds of people that follow you in each place will be different. I’d say that the majority of my Twitter followers (or at least the ones that engage with me) are people in the wedding industry, whereas my Facebook is chock-full of brides. So why would I post wedding industry specific updates on Facebook? It wouldn’t make any sense!

Things that work really well on Facebook will die a death on Twitter because people use them in very different ways. Twitter is more like a constant newsfeed of information – people often keep it open all day and check in but don’t necessarily comment on what they see or click the links that are posted. On the other hand people go to Facebook specifically to either connect with their friends or to procrastinate – so give them something to be distracted by!

Here are some things that work really well for me on the main platforms that I use:

♥ Twitter: Inspirational quotes, sharing news, links to things I’ve found online that I think my followers will like.

♥ Facebook: Sneak peeks (photos), inspirational or funny real life stories, memes, simple questions.

♥ Instagram: DLSR photos, details shots, colourful and sparkly stuff, cute cat shots (in moderation), pretty things that I’ve bought.

Take some time to experiment and figure out what things get the best reaction and resist the urge to post everything everywhere!

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3. Be courteous

It sounds obvious but so many people aren’t! If someone tweets you something nice or asks you a question then reply to them. Go out of your way to help people. If someone you follow asks a question or for advice, offer some. If people think you’re going to be useful to them and that you’ll give them the time of day they’re more likely to follow you.

4. Follow the right people and engage with them

Follow the kinds of people you want to chat to or aspire to be like and engage with them. Not in a weird, creepy or stalkerish way obviously! Also, learn from these people. If they have a lot of followers or engagement, what are they doing that you’re not? Of course don’t just go and copy their tweets or anything (!) but take what they’re doing and see how you can adapt it for your own style.

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5. Remember, social media is not about you

Don’t just use social media to pimp your own stuff because that’s boring (refer back to point one!) Who wants to follow someone that’s all ‘me me me’ anyway? Use your social media to help others – share things they’ll like, be entertaining, be funny… serve some kind of purpose in their lives and they’ll want to follow you!

6. Think before you tweet

Before I post anything I always ask myself the following questions: How would I feel if my Nan read this? Would I walk into a room full of strangers and shout this at the top of my lungs? Would I be mortified if my ideal client read this?

Remember, people may come across you in different ways and this one update might be the first thing they see of you so think about the message it gives off. First impressions can be lasting so just one snarky tweet, one ranty post or one blurry out of focus photo can be enough for them to think “Meh, this isn’t the kind of person I want to follow…” Also remember that things can easily be misconstrued in 140 characters so make sure your witty, slightly sarcastic post doesn’t actually come across like a bitchy rant.

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7. Don’t be annoying

Again it sounds so obvious so why are so many people so spammy or annoying on social media!? If someone does something that irritates you, ask yourself why that is and don’t do it yourself. Don’t be over salesy (people on social media do not want to be sold to!), don’t post a link to your latest blog post every hour and don’t get into heated debates or purposely stir controversy. Social media dramas may get you a flurry of new followers who want to follow that drama while it plays out, but they’re probably not going to want to stick around much longer than that.

Same goes for hashtags. For the love of God don’t over-hashtag your posts. It is one of the most annoying things ever. It will not get you loads of new followers searching for those hashtags. Sure, it might get you a few but in the process it makes you look like a twat.

8. Tease… but not too much

I love a good sneak peek but know when enough is enough! Use your social media to titillate and tease but don’t give so much away that we’re all bored of whatever you’re ‘exciting new project’ is by the time you actually release it. Sometimes I see photographers sneak peeking so much of a wedding on Facebook that by the time I see the full blog post I feel like I’ve seen it all already! Your goal should still be to drive people to your website or blog so don’t sneak peek it into irrelevance.

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9. Be consistent

Make sure you’re posting something everyday, even if its just a RT of something you’ve enjoyed or a reply to someone that’s spoken to you. It’s important that your followers know that you’re still there and that you’re reliable. People won’t want to follow you if they’re not sure if they’re going to get anything back or if you might disappear for weeks at a time.

If you’re struggling to keep up, pre-schedule your updates. Both Tweetdeck, Hootsuite and Facebook allow you to do this and if you’re not the kind of person to ‘tweet on the go’ then this might be a worthwhile thing for you to do.

10. Know which platforms to use

Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Vine, Google+, Linkedin, Myspace… it can seem like there’s a new social media platform popping up every day. So how are you supposed to keep on top of them all? Personally I feel it’s a much better to just use just two or three of them really well rather than trying to do them all. For example, the people I want to attract (brides, wedding industry people) aren’t really using Google+ or Linkedin at the moment so why would I waste my time trying to do all of the above in those places right now?

Do make sure you register your user name in all these places though. It’s important to use the same handle across all your social media platforms and you don’t want to risk someone else nabbing yours, because you never know, maybe one day MySpace will have a resurgence in popularity.

So tell me, what do you do that makes you popular on your favourite social media sites?

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19 comments

  1. Hmmm, no idea if I’m ‘popular’ or not, but I do tend to use Twitter much more than any other social media platform :- and the way I use it is to keep the balance pretty much like real life. Some funny RTs, some amusing asides (I hope) about my own life, some work stuff, and some downright randomness. But, most importantly of all, I listen and respond as well as talk. That old chestnut about ‘you have two ears and one mouth, use them in that proportion’ is bang on. There’s nothing worse than someone just just bores on about themselves and never engages.

    I have to admit, my Instagram feed is full of pictures of a small person. But, I do warn people before they follow me, and I make it clear it’s not for business use.

  2. Fabulous, fabulous, fabulous and it makes me smile remembering you speaking on Friday – touching on some of these tips. Love you lady xo

  3. Bex

    I need this. I’m pretty terrible at social media. Either my fingers type faster than my brain works (a problem I have with my mouth in real life) or I say nothing through fear of making a tit of myself or saying the wrong thing and offending someone.

    I find instagram the best for me personally. I can talk about my day with the use of images which is handy for my crochet work and means I don’t have to stress about saying the wrong thing and I can talk to others with a few short words of joy, kindness, love etc. or even just the odd emoticon if I’m really fearing foot in mouth might be a problem.

  4. Excellent advice – especially the point about cross-posting. The best piece of advice I got was to share my FB posts on Twitter but not the other way and I have found that it is soooo annoying when you log on to FB and find a stream of retweets from someone clogging up the newsfeed.
    I do need to get on top of Twitter though, still haven’t quite got it right, although I always try to engage with others by responding to retweets and mentions.

  5. Diane

    wonderful post! i am new to cross platforms of social media and this is great. thank you, oh wise and rockin’woman!

  6. Some great advice! My personal pet peeve is the cross posting, like Helen above. If I like you, I follow you on two, probably three or more platforms. Seeing a Facebook autopost to Twitter of an Instagram photo posted to Tumblr is the worst. Do you think your readers are that thick that they don’t see it on the original feed? Is that photo that awesome you feel the need to share it three or four different times? Maybe, but likely no.

    Also, just autoposts with NO explanation on the link. When someone’s Twitter feed is just Facebook links. No. Would YOU click on that? I know I sure don’t, so who is? I know we’re all busy, but don’t be lazy.

  7. Abbie

    So many things have now become clear. But if I didn’t rant I think my online presence may actually disappear. Oh dear 🙁

  8. Brilliant and useful post as always! I was never popular in school either, in fact the whole social media thing has made me feel so unconfident at times because I worry that I’m not witty or funny or interesting enough, but people seem to respond non the less! I’ve been thinking a lot about how I use social media to connect with others, I have two FB pages, one for my blog and one for my health coaching practice – which now I have realised is daft to have separated them as it’s pretty much the same people following me on each! After reading this I will be unhooking instagram and facebook – such a good point about duplicating content!

  9. You really have this social media thing pretty much worked out. I appreciate your tips – and that you share them readily. They’ve helped me in my attempts to navigate this medium.

  10. Great post! I’m very new to the whole blogging, online thing. So it’s super awesome to read such informative and obviously professional advice. I’m signed up for the Blogacademy in Auckland (yippeee – big smile) – it’s given me such a huge shot in the arm. All of a sudden this kind of post really speaks to me. I have loads of questions but one stands out for me – do you have a buddy who you sit down with for official critics of your online activities? I have a couple of artists who I take advice from in my painting, but am very careful not to take just anyones criticism. Do you do that with your blogging? Do you advise that? Or do you take a more sort of keep check on yourself? If so, do you have a structure for doing that? Bless your rock and roll socks for your generosity! xE

  11. I’m not the best at social media! I’m good with my blog and Instagram (which I love), but Twitter and Facebook is something I struggle with, there’s just too many to focus on!

    Off topic though; would anyone know where to get the “Blog Your Dreams” bag?! I’ve seen it everywhere and love it 🙂 Thanks!

    x Renee

  12. I am fairly new to social media for my business and I am certainly learning a lot about what people react to and what they just aren’t bothered about. I think it is important to show you have a sense of humor but that you are serious about what you are doing. I am aware that sometimes the quality of photographs make a huge difference so just watch out you don’t just post anything.
    Lola x

  13. Thanks for your outstanding writing. There are many things new for me. I was not new in Facebook but I don’t enjoy this so much as other do.I know that there are many important things to focus on. Now I will apply this.

  14. Lucy

    Be yourself. That’s all you need. Don’t pretend anybody else. And share your amazing moments with your followers. That’s the hardest part. Some people even use apps like zen-promo to get more followers. I don’t know it is good or not

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