Follows For Follows?

This year in particular I have started to wonder at the reasons for social media. Encouraged by fellow users I re-opened my Instagram account. And that’s when things became a problem.

I’m not finding it any help from a sales point of view. Over the last few weeks I’ve been inundated by spammers – fake accounts telling you to follow for follows and how to buy 5k followers. Most social media seems to be about follows for follows and has nothing to do with product or what you post. It’s about numbers as if that really makes a difference. Realistically, it doesn’t. It’s about the quality of your fans not the number.

As a company you might have 4k followers. But if none of them are interested in buying your product, what’s the point? Do fake followers encourage new and genuine followers? Do people take you more seriously if you have a big following, even if those people have no interest in what you do, except what they can get from you? No, because anyone who gets spammed simply blocks or removes the account. I know I do.

It’s the same with networking. Many of my followers or those I follow are fellow industry professionals – makeup artists, hairdressers, photographers, models. They might be interesting to follow and inspirational (and boy are they inspirational), but they don’t buy product. They are collaborators.

I’ve started to follow more reciprocal businesses, those whose own customers are more likely to be interested in what I do. Also fashion bloggers, magazines and the kinds of people who could turn into customers or be positive advertising with the right tags and comments.

I did a social media review a while ago, but I feel like nothing has changed. Facebook pages are still just portfolio repositories. Facebook controls where your posts end up. And the reach is so low now there’s just no point in using it as a resource.

Twitter needs major site management to keep up with and you need to be careful who you follow otherwise you get lost in all the inspirational memes and selfies. I can’t remember the last time I went through my timeline. Life’s too short – especially when you run a business.

There’s also a culture of ‘if you don’t follow me, I unfollow you’. Something typical of Instagram followers. And yet Instagram seems to be the most responsive of all the social media sites (even without the spammers). As my account has only recently been resurrected I’m giving it the benefit of the doubt. I like that it’s image heavy and relies on hashtags which are easy to add to posts but I do spend a lot of my time removing myself from bulk spam messages where ghost accounts add you to images. You can get dozens of notifications in a matter of seconds which just annoys everyone and doesn’t generate new followers. I also get really annoyed by all those ‘business enterpreneurs’ who claim to offer you the secret of success if you buy their e-book. They are just spammers too. Searching via hashtags is at least easy, meaning I can seek out local followers or businesses who hashtag correctly.

So if social media is so hard for businesses to use successfully and is just free advertising with a major catch, what’s the future if you don’t have a presence on the high street?

Huge advances in the internet mean that many of our social interactions are virtual. We don’t network with real people face to face anymore. We don’t meet other business people or go to events in the same way we used to. So we rely on the internet which has little time for those aren’t insanely dedicated to the tagging and reposting. You have to be incredibly proactive to get yourself heard on social media these days.

So is the way forward face to face interaction? Probably.

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