With some social media platforms, it’s relatively easy to expand your social network. Facebook and LinkedIn, for example, can extend invitations to every email address in your contacts list with just the click of a button. From there you can easily go about extending your network by adding friends of friends or by searching for people by name. Once a connection has been made, information can be transmitted back and forth.
Yet, how do you get more followers on Twitter? Or readers of your blog? With these social media formats, expanding your network is not so easy. On Twitter, you can start following any one in the whole world, but that doesn’t mean that they will follow you. Take, for example, our media savvy president. @BarackObama has 26,889,672 followers. How many people does he follow? 666,185. @sjsuslis, by contrast, has 995 followers, but follows only 186. In each case, there is nothing like the parity of connections between Facebook or LinkedIn users.
To return to the questions above, there are many strategies for gaining a following. Perhaps the easiest method is to be famous already. For most of us, we’ll have to work at it the hard way. Above all, that means creating good content, stuff that people will want to read. We will also have to engage with other bloggers and Twitter users.
In the blogosphere, that could mean leaving your own comments on someone else’s blog. Or it could mean linking to someone else’s blog from your own, in what is called a pingback. You can also simply “like” a blog.
It’s interesting to notice how some blogs are much better at encouraging and facilitating discussion than others. The Scholarly Kitchen, which is concerned with academic publishing, has a thriving community and multiple authors. Many of its posts attract dozens of comments and its authors stay in the conversation by responding to them. The British Library’s Medieval and Earlier Manuscripts Blog, however, rarely attracts comments. It seems to be more interested in providing pretty manuscript illuminations from its collections than in nurturing dialogue.
In the twitterverse, engagement often begins by following more than by being followed. With a steady stream of tweets on your home page, you could then choose to comment by including someone’s Twitter handle in your tweet, Or you could retweet or favorite something that you find interesting or worth spreading about.
The more you blog and tweet, the more likely people will be able to find you. Also, another useful strategy is to link your various social media accounts together, for example, by installing a Twitter widget to your Facebook page, LinkedIn profile or blog feed.
Implementing these strategies might take enormous amounts of time, but the rewards can be great. You might find the job of your dreams or land a six-figure book contract!
— Barnaby Hughes