Heads up guys; this post will be roughly summarized as an amazed rant. It’s early in the morning, I’m hungry, functioning purely on caffeine, and just saw something that blew my mind, and not in a good way.
There’s something going on in the blogosphere that I know isn’t new. But what with Instagram’s algorithm, YouTube altering it’s partner program to the detriment of smaller influencers, and a lot of negativity surrounding working with brands right now, drawing people to your blog has become more important that ever. And some tactics have been dragged to the forefront. Now, whilst some tactics might be described by some as ‘Shady’, I’m gonna go down a different route and put a very opinionated spin on them. The tactics I’m talking about today are, quite frankly, stupid. And whilst I debated trying to put a more positive spin on this, I have something to say. Sometimes, after all, honesty is the best policy.
I’m have noticed that a lot of these tactics seem to happen in January, when creation of new blogs peaks. I’m not slamming new bloggers at all – I’m still what you could call new, and I know establishing yourself in the blogosphere takes time and a lot of trial and error. We all make mistakes. And when you’re new, you see some people with 10k+ followers utterly killing it, and you think it will be easy to get there. It’s not. And there’s no shortcut. Sure, some people blog for a year, end up with 5k followers and have brand collaborations you could only dream about. But these bloggers get that because they put in the effort to grow organically. To connect with a readership that follows their blog. I’ve been here a year, and after re-brands, considerations, and blogging slumps, I’m finally starting to establish a regular readership, albeit a small one. It takes time, and the best advice I can give is be yourself, establish a writing style, and find your niche. Once you start writing about what you enjoy writing about, and learning about what people actually read from you, it gets easier. There’s no quick fix. And there’s certainly no fake it ’til you make it approach!
I was reading another blogger’s post today, and it was a bad review of a hyped up product. All fair. The product that everyone loved didn’t stack up for this blogger. It happens. But amongst a huge number of comments either agreeing with her, or exclaiming disbelief that this Holy Grail product didn’t work, was one that I’ve seen far too many times on bad reviews:
“Loved this post. I can’t wait to try this product!”
To her credit, the blogger that wrote the post set her straight by simply telling her not to. But as I’ve said, I’ve seen this multiple times! It’s always signed off by a link to their own blog, and shows a stunning amount of ignorance. It’s suddenly plain that you didn’t read the post. You just want backlinks to your own blog. And honestly – what the hell are you thinking if you do this?!
It’s not restricted to blog comments too! I’ve once written out an Instagram caption about a difficult period in my life, only to find a “your hair looks great!” comment in amongst lots of sympathetic acknowledgements. It’s obvious in that case that the caption just wasn’t read. I mean, thanks, but it just makes you look a bit heartless and uncaring. It’s tactless, and more importantly, it’s seen by a lot of people.
The tactics I’ve seen year have been stunning, and it’s barely even been 2 months! I know there’s a lot of falseness on Instagram, but when someone running one of those “travel” pages that basically just puts up stock images of nice locations with a filter whacked on top to make it a bit more “unique” (seriously, what is the goal with these profiles run on images you didn’t take/stolen images?) left a comment that said “You should check out my page” under a photo of mine that had nothing to do with their profile or niche, I laughed out loud. They didn’t even try and sweeten me up with a “nice profile” or “great shot”. That was most likely a bot, but still! All I did was select the comment and hit that delete button. Why should anyone check out your page when you aren’t helping them? This one is pretty mainstream, and the more direct ones have been even better. When I started sharing my 2018 Goals Post, I was tweeted by another blogger that told me “I have a similar post! Check it out!”. Except my views didn’t change in the hour before or after she tweeted me. Why would I read your post, simply because you told me to, if you can’t even be bothered to support my post first? Truth be told, had that post just floated in my feed, I probably would’ve clicked on it and read it, without any expectations of that support being returned. But having it shoved in my face like that put me off. The next day, a girl followed me on Instagram, and then sent me a DM telling me I should “check out her post because it might give me some ideas!”. Excuse me?! Not only was that stupid, but downright insulting. To add insult to injury, just a few hours later she unfollowed me.
I know that when you start a blog, most people will tell you that to grow, you need to engage with others. This is true. But that engagement needs to be genuine. Read their posts. Follow them on Instagram and Twitter. Don’t get upset when people don’t follow you back. Don’t tweet them telling them you’ve been following them for a while now and think they should be following you back (yes, this happens!). You aren’t doing anyone a favour by following them, and they don’t owe you anything just because you did. People should only follow those that interest them. I know it’s disheartening when you’re a new blogger to have a small follower count, but if it’s all about the numbers to you, you’re maybe in this for the wrong reasons. And you’re not likely to grow a following when you’re clearly only commenting because you’ve been told it’s good to grow, and are leaving 3 word comments everywhere. Important thing to note – comments less than 8 words will increase your spam score, meaning all your comments are filtered out and don’t make it through people’s spam filters. So maybe rethink leaving that “Great Post!” comment for the hundredth time.
At the end of the day, fake engagement is pretty obvious. With every maybe 50 posts about loving the latest hyped up product, they’ll be one person that didn’t like it. Read the post before you make an idiot of yourself by commenting that the review made you want to try the product. We all know to just ignore those “great shot”, “nice pic”, or “like it” Instagram comments, and will likely mentally blacklist your profile with just one comment left like that. And it’s not going to give anyone a good impression of your content if you have to ask them directly to read it, especially if you suggest your content is better than theirs, or more worthy of their time than what they might be doing at that moment. There is no easy way to gain a genuine following. Fake engagement isn’t just obviously paid for – it can be as simple as leaving a thoughtless comment. You might think that because you are genuinely typing out those two word comments, it’s fine. It’s not. And it will make the journey that little bit harder for you.
If you seriously want to increase your page views and follower count, do it properly. Follow profiles that you like on Twitter on Instagram, without any expectations of being followed back. Interact with other bloggers by genuinely responding to their social media content. Read other blogs and leave comments if you like them, that explain why you liked it, not just “I like this!”. Create content that you love, and seriously, don’t focus on your numbers. With great content, that you’re passionate about, will come followers, and friendships. Trust me, it’s worth the wait to put in the effort.
Don’t shoot yourself in the foot over some mad belief you need to grow immediately.
Pinterest: @Word of Rachel