Why “Follow for Follow” is a Bad Idea

by | Jun 21, 2021 | Entrepreneurship

Everybody, their dog, and even the fleas on the back of their dogs want a bigger social media following.

Which is fine. We all know that we can do so much more as creatives and creators on the back of a larger following – we can send traffic to our websites, grow our email lists, get more sales for our eBooks, develop a long-term relationship with our audiences, and more.

But of all the tactics people employ to grow their followings – from posting daily to paying for fake followers – the all-time worst idea to grow your following is categorically, “follow for follow.”

Follow for Follow is a Specific Tool for a Specific Situation

For the uninitiated, follow for follow means following someone with the (unexpressed) expectation that they’re going to follow you back.

Now, please understand what I’m saying. Most tactics and tools, outside of complete black hat, “this might almost be kind of illegal and might even violate the terms and conditions of the social network,” all is fair in the game of social media – even follow for follow.

But recognize that follow for follow is a specific tool for a specific situation. Even the best philosophies, devastatingly clever strategies, and quotes of wisdom are only effective in the right situations.

Walt Disney said:

The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.

I tend to agree with Mr. Disney. I don’t like sitting and talking endlessly about what needs to be done. I like to go out and do!

But if you’re working with a team, and they have no clue what they’re doing, let alone what’s expected of them, talking would be key to the team’s success.

If you’re in a relationship, and things have been going awry, communication is key to making things work. That might include “doing,” but without a sense of what “doing” is going to make a difference, talking to sort out the issue is your only option.

See what I mean? The Disney quote is amazing, but it’s not 100% applicable, all the time, in every situation.

When Does Follow for Follow Work?

Follow for follow works when there’s an established pretext. Generally, when two parties agree to follow each other and engage each other’s content. There’s a win-win, and maybe even a win-win-win (if the audience following each page or profile benefits from the shared content).

You can’t have that pretext without communication. It’s not going to happen by happenstance or accident. You’ve got to be able to articulate expectations and goals – come up with a plan or strategy for both parties to benefit.

Follow for follow is useless where there is no communication. It can be summed up in two words – self-interest.

Wonderful. You’re like every other human being on the planet if you’re interested in yourself. That’s not where breakthrough happens.

Breakthrough happens where you seek out and create mutually beneficial, easily actionable propositions.

If I had a friend approach me today with a plan that was easy to follow and action, I would have a hard time saying “no” – especially if there was a benefit. But just so we’re clear, there would be no benefit in me promoting an online poker site, for instance. It’s not aligned with what I’m up to. The opportunity would need to be aligned with my values and direction.

Why Follow Anyone?

Follow me because you’re interested in me. Follow me because you get value from my content. Otherwise, you’re wasting your time. Frankly, you’re wasting the time of the person you’re following too, because they have no idea who you are, what you’re about, or why they should be following or engaging you in the first place.

It takes but a paragraph or two to introduce yourself and suggest a workable, mutually beneficial plan. How hard could that possibly be?

No, not everyone will accept, and perhaps rejection is what you’re afraid of. But the traction you’re trying to create is on the other end of being of service to others. It’s simple if a little counterintuitive.

Stop being so selfish. Work on inspiring, entertaining, or educating others. Then you will give them a reason to follow you.

If all you do is show up to the party (make no mistake – social media is a party) a loud, incoherent drunken mess, you shouldn’t be surprised when others avoid you.

Let’s be strategic and considerate. Not just one or the other.

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