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How Bad Advice Affects Social Media Growth

Growth is one of the most challenging and frustrating things about working in social media. There. I said it.

It's challenging if you're an influencer or content creator trying to monetize your content, and it's challenging if you're a brand or business growing your social media accounts to be more competitive or increase your share of voice.

Working in social media means that I have to be in learning mode a lot because platforms are constantly changing. I take courses and classes and attend webinars in my spare time.

I also learn from other professionals in the industry by following and interacting with them on LinkedIn and Twitter.

When I am in learning mode, however, I do so with a hefty dose of skepticism.

I've been in the industry for over a decade and have seen my fair share of bad advice: especially when it comes to organically growing your social media accounts.

Bad advice tends to look like this: a wolf in sheep's clothing –

  • Grow your social media accounts by posting high-quality content.

  • Reach more people by using compelling images in your posts.

  • Posting frequently will ensure that you will get more followers.

  • Hashtags are a great way to find people interested in you and who will want to follow you.

  • Following other people will often prompt them to follow you.

  • Tagging many people in your posts will expose your content to more people and therefore grow your social channels.

And the list goes on.

The advice above is incredibly misleading.

Many of these assertions are vague enough to seem genuine, or parts of them are true, making the whole idea and principle seem trustworthy.

Listen, it's okay to want to grow your social media following. The number of followers you have can even be a legitimate KPI at times. Having a large, meaningful online presence leads to abundant opportunities (many of those opportunities can be lucrative!).

As well-intentioned as the advice-giver or advice-receiver are, these suggestions mentioned may or may not actually help you.

In fact, numerous people follow advice similar to what's above, only to abandon social media efforts after a few months because they see little to no growth.

One of the only things that remain constant about the state of social media is that growth is challenging.

Adding to the discouragement some feel is when you KNOW your content is WAY BETTER than so-and-so, but so-and-so still has more followers and gets more engagement.

If you're in a position where you're feeling frustrated over the lack of growth on your social media accounts, it's helpful to step back and reframe the issue by remembering these three things:

  1. Know you're not alone. Even big brands and influencers (who seem to always get everything right on social) hit plateaus from time to time.

  2. The number of followers sometimes NEVER correlates to how good someone's content is (i.e., most celebrities, tbh).

  3. It's cheap and easy to buy followers. It isn't a white hat social media practice, but there are plenty of services out there that provide hundreds or thousands of followers instantly. So yes, even numbers lie.

Rather than getting caught up in having the ideal follower/following ratio, take a step back and think about the bigger picture.

Are you setting yourself up for disappointment by focusing more on the numbers that show up on your public profile? Are there other ways you can measure success instead?

Remember that success on social media doesn't always translate to success on other channels. I see many influencers who have a less-than-stellar SEO presence. Or people who absolutely rock at Instagram or TikTok but can barely get their Twitter account off the ground.

Success looks different for all of us, depending on our goals and how much we're willing to invest (think time, creativity, and even money) into making a really great social media presence.

Because I've worked in social media management for a decade, I can safely and confidently say that numbers aren't everything.

Having a "winning" social presence means something different to everyone.

If you create content you're proud of, you're winning.

If you're finding your voice, you're winning.

If the people who follow you also regularly LIKE and INTERACT with your content, you've already won.

If you focus on the bigger picture, understanding that growth is hard for every single one of us, you're definitely going to win. Hang in there!

And if it's no longer fun for you because you're so focused on the numbers that you can't enjoy other aspects of social media, sometimes stepping away can also be winning.


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