Five mistakes that are stopping you from building the social media following you want

Want to know why you’re not building the social media following you hoped for? Social Media Angel Katie Brockhurst reveals the five mistakes that are stopping you.

When it comes to building an engaged social media audience who know, trust and like you (and are ready to buy whatever you are selling) there’s one magic word: consistency.

Clients often come to me asking for help with consistency, as it is an area many people and businesses struggle with. Consistency means building a social media presence over time, so that people can get to know you, your business, your message, your mission and your brand.

Too many people start out with great intentions on social media. But then, if they don’t see results they want straight away, tail off in their enthusiasm and consistency – then wonder why it has’t worked for them.

As Bruce Springsteen says: “Getting an audience is hard. Sustaining an audience is hard. It demands a consistency of thought, of purpose, and of action over a long period of time.” 

Five mistakes that are stopping you from building the social media following you want

If you want to reap the rewards of social media, you need to build your reputation, following and engagement by consistently creating great content, and then sharing and publishing it on a regular basis.

To help you master consistency, here are five common social media mistakes you need to avoid.

1) Don’t force yourself to post EVERY day

Consistency does not mean posting every day. Nor does it mean committing to posting five times a day (thank goodness!), or never taking time off from social media. You can be consistent with a regular blog, vlog or video series without the need to post every day.

Think about it: do you need to see your friends every day in order to remember them, like and love them? No, you don’t. So why do your customers need to see you every day?

Another myth is that that your social media platforms will break, your clients and customers will forget about you, and all the work you done will have been for nothing if you decide to take a few weeks, or even a few months off. None of this is true if you have consistently established a relationship.

If you compel yourself to posting and engaging daily, 365 days of the year – through holidays, birthdays, days off and when you’re sick – you know what will happen? You’ll burn out. You’ll come to resent social media and probably your own business too.

Focus on building genuine relationships through consistency of your posting and engagement, but don’t think the sky will fall in if you go on holiday for a week. Or fancy a few days off for Christmas.

If you want to schedule in a few placeholder posts, by all means do so. But otherwise take some much needed time away from social media and come back refreshed and ready to post with enthusiasm again once you’re back.

2) Stop measuring and comparing followings, likes and shares

Growing a platform and follower numbers has been (and still is) a big focus for many people. People come to me with their spreadsheets and expectations, tracking how many followers they gain and lose on a weekly basis, measuring their success (and their worth) on that.

This includes comparing themselves to other people’s follower numbers and feeling that they are not succeeding because they feel they *should* have X thousands, just because Doris over there does.

Firstly, we don’t know how anyone else achieved their follower numbers. Follow bots, click farms, big advertising budgets, influencer friends and so many other factors can help create big follower numbers. One thing I would love to see change in this new age of social media is people shifting valuing their worth based on follower or viewer numbers to the value they are providing for people. 

The measuring of numbers can (due to expectations and that social media ego of ours) get in the way of creating consistency. When we measure our success based on likes and shares, and we aren’t getting a lot of those, we can get despondent and feel like we are failing, which can stop us from creating and from sharing. We get tired of not getting the results we expect, so we give up and stop.

Or we veer from our own style of content in an attempt to replicate someone else’s social posting and engaging style – with no real idea if it really works for them, or if it’s even right for our audience.

You never know who you are helping, what connections you are creating, what magic you are manifesting – irrespective of the likes, shares and comments. So let go of comparison and focus on building your own following through consistently giving them what they want. 

Find out why comparing yourself to others is so dangerous – and pointless!

3) Let go of perfectionism 

I am not a perfectionist, but I have had some perfectionist clients. I know from speaking with them that the need to get it right or perfect before posting can really get in the way of creating consistency with their social media sharing. 

In fact, for many of us, it leans into that feeling of being exposed, of vulnerability when we share and it’s natural to want it to be perfect.

Like anything you want to get good at, you do have to actively commit to the process, and start before you feel you are ready or before it is ‘perfect’. So, if you want social media to be a key part of marketing and communications activity for your business or project, then you have to get over all the above and find a way to show up for it.

4) Overcome any resistance

When you throw some resistance into the mix it’s easy to get stuck and not move your social media forward. But if you don’t create the consistency, it won’t improve. So, I would invite you to sit with any resistance you might have and explore that and ask yourself where it’s coming from. Ask yourself:

  • What is getting in my way?
  • Am I resisting social media?
  • If so, what or where is the resistance?

Resistance can be due to many factors – from fear of being seen to fear of technology. Only when you identify where your resistance is coming from can you get the support or practical help you need to overcome it. Or just find ways to move past it yourself. 

5) Make sure you are not being TOO consistent

Being too consistent can also hold you back. If an account I am following is overly consistent, a bit over eager with their posting, I have found at times that I need to put a mute on that. Especially when it is not in alignment with where I am at in that moment.

If I find people’s accounts noisy or distracting it can have a negative rather than a positive effect on my relationship with them. 

We are all in different cycles and seasons, when one of us is in our summer, someone else may be experiencing a winter. So think about how your followers may be feeling, what they may be experiencing or care about right now, and don’t consistently post content that may jar with that.

It’s also important not to be so consistent in your posts that you become predictable or boring. While it’s good to create some routines (for example, an inspiring quote to get everyone going on a Monday morning), you do need to ensure your feed is colourful, varied and unexpected at times to keep your followers interested. And, well, following you. 

So, while it’s important to tick off consistency in terms or regularity of posting, tone of voice and choice of content,  don’t get so focused on it that you become too expected and more people into ignoring you. If you want to grow your social media following, throw the odd curve ball, or sense of excitement or mystery into your posts too.

Social media is a marathon, not a sprint

From someone who has worked in social media for over a decade, there isn’t just a magic button you can press that creates a successful social media presence. It takes consistency and commitment to create, grow and sustain a platform and community.

I understand that it can be hard to prioritise content creation, especially when other things get in the way, such as running your business, seeing clients, holding classes and workshops. But understand that social media is a marathon, not a sprint.

It takes time, work and patience to get results from social media, and it can be hard to stick to, especially when the rewards are not immediate or in your face, like the many ads promise you. But it’s worth investing in, trust me. 

Katie Brockhurst is the Social Media Angel and author of Social Media for a New Age.

Photo by Nick Karvounis