Generic (Oversimplified) Marketing Formula
Focusing on growth is the goal of marketing and social media serves as a means to an end and that end is profit. At least to most companies, more followers = more potential customers = more profit.
Mathematically, this makes sense. After all, the more followers you gain as a result of social media marketing efforts, the more potential customers you have, and the higher the chances will be for them to pay for your services and/or products.
As A Struggling Teen Novelist
However, for me, as an individual, I’ve been struggling for years to gain followers authentically and keep them engaged with my content.
When I was 19, I wrote my first novel under a pen name and made a Twitter account solely for gaining potential customers and Instagram wasn’t really huge back then.
I didn’t know any better. I looked at the fanbases of my most favorite authors who wrote the same genre of books and followed a bunch of random people, in hopes that they’d follow me back.
I gained close to 1,000 followers, but that didn’t mean my book sold well (most of the money I made were from family members who bought a copy but weren’t big readers).
I know why I failed. A) my book simply wasn’t good and B) I didn’t have an effective marketing strategy.
My (Sorry) Attempt At Blogging
I started a blog on WordPress after a very dark time in my life (too personal). I blogged whenever I felt like it and churned out so many words each day, so much that I gained 100+ followers very quickly because I wrote about a variety of topics and didn’t really focus much on niche topics. All I did was write random autobiographical posts and somehow they struck a chord with people. I didn’t even make any social media accounts whatsoever.
Starting All Over Again
Today, as a digitally-obsessed, entrepreneurial-minded writer, I’m starting from scratch. I no longer recycle content from five years ago because it’s no longer relevant to me. Even though it’s 2018, and I’ve had an officially late entrance to the blogging world, I know that my experiences of trial-and-error as a nerdy girl just exploring various topics of interest have somehow paid off, and I’ve evolved much more than I give myself credit for.
I’ve customized my own website that reflects who I am as a digital creative (minimalist, pragmatic, detail-oriented, big-picture-oriented). I’ve created a theme for my Instagram account to ensure that there’s consistency with my personal brand. I focus on a few niche topics (minimalism, mental health, digital creativity, entrepreneurship) that intersect and show who I am as a writer in the digital sphere.
However, even after poring over hundreds of articles and blog posts about digital content marketing, I’m still uneasy about social media aspect of it.
I suck at growing a significant number of followers.
On Instagram, I usually gain 1–3 followers a day and lose 3–5 a day (mainly because of spam accounts).
On Twitter, I am still stagnant around 10 followers.
Only 6 people like my Facebook page.
I try to reassure myself that I’ve only had my Instagram and Twitter for about a week and that growth takes time, especially if it’s genuine.
A lot of bloggers recommend following a bunch of people with similar interests.
But I refuse to play the “If you follow me, I’ll follow you, and if I follow you, I want you to follow me” game. It feels sleazy. It makes me sick. And it’s like usury.
Most of all, it’s inauthentic.
I don’t expect much from Twitter because personally, it’s my least favorite social media, but I’ve read somewhere that it’s very vital for any online writing business. So I keep it just so I can have a place to share succinct updates.
I also don’t expect much from Facebook either.
However, my main focus is on Instagram. Within three days of reactivating my old Instagram account, I have gained roughly 40+ followers, which is pretty impressive, given how un-Instagram-savvy I am and how much other people seem to grow in the thousands overnight.
I don’t want to like posts or follow people if I’m not genuinely interested in their content.
I don’t want to pretend to be best buddies with people I can’t relate to.
That’s just me. I think people put too much emphasis on gaining followers, as if gaining them is like gaining money. It’s just using people for the money they give.
Right now, I’m focusing more on creating content and exploring a variety of topics that I haven’t discussed on blogs before and would like to expand my knowledge just for pure enjoyment. I think too much of the blogging world has morphed into a monstrous capitalist machine in which bloggers lie to their followers and scam them by promoting products that most people don’t need, placating them with empty feel-good words that have been circulating around the Internet too much, and posting photos that damage the self-esteem of aspiring bloggers who think they’re destined to fail because they aren’t photogenic or can’t afford to customize their home décor with a style that’s fitting only for catalogs and not for real life.
Maybe I’m just cynical. But I’ve lost interest in many bloggers and social media marketers because their ultimate goal is to sell a lifestyle and make money off of people that are easily influenced by them, those who are deep down, unsatisfied with their life and want to find an easier way to “follow their dreams.”
This doesn’t upset me. In fact, it encourages me as a digital creative to work harder, create more original content, express thoughts from a variety of different angles, learn and share my thoughts on things out of curiosity not just for profit, exemplify modern minimalism at its most unembellished and unfiltered state, and do all of this from an exploratory mindset.
I won’t churn out cheaply designed and poorly-researched manuals about how to make money from blogging.
I won’t have every other blog post talk about formulaic steps about achieving your dream life.
I also won’t make scammy online courses about how to make money blogging or encourage students to make their own scammy online courses about how to make money blogging (and then have the cycle metastasize throughout the already-cancerous web).
I won’t post envy-inducing photos on Instagram.
I have very high expectations for myself as a blogger and want to adhere to the rules I set for myself in all that I do.
Write interesting content in a clear, thought-provoking, and engaging manner.
Create an ingenious writing system that ensures that takes into account my curiosity, desire to learn, and determination to evolve in the process.
Establish myself as someone who’s trustworthy, genuine, and passionate about sharing thoughtful expressions with purposeful meaning.
Have everything (including seemingly unrelated topics) connect to form a digital mosaic of who I am as an artist, thinker, and creator of my own digital space.
In order to succeed in an overcrowded sphere, you must break a few rules and have a clear strategy with realistic end goals that would enable you to maximize your creative energy, present ideas in a way that captivates people who genuinely view you as a revolutionary thought leader (and not just a scammy salesperson), and pursue anything creative online with a combination of passion, grit, and unique individuality, which all need to be grounded in a concrete purpose. The numbers are irrelevant — what matters most is connecting with people that actually want to buy your content because they are captivated by the infectious energy and livelihood of your persona and the things you create that add genuine value to their lives.