Back in the late 90s and 00s, I was very much involved in my local Metal scene.
It was a really exciting time. The rise of Nu-Metal had made the genre mainstream again. There were a ton of great bands playing every week to big audiences and a sense of brotherhood and camaraderie between the fans and musicians (Also I had a full head of hair and could barely grow a goatee. Oh how the times have changed!).
With that being said, there was one thing I used to have an issue with; and this was the attitude of a handful of bands.
I’m going to be brutally frank here. These bands sucked the big one. But instead of taking responsibility for the poor turnout at their shows, they’d blame the fans and accuse them of “not supporting the scene”.
I believe my objection to this kind of ass-backwards reasoning should be self-evident. But just in case, I’m going to spell it out. “Support”, or fandom if you will, isn’t – and shouldn’t – be a given. You need to earn it. Why should anyone be your fan unless you actually have something appealing to offer?
Which brings me to my point.
Sadly, I see a lot of this same attitude on social media.
Just last week, I came across a tweet – from a fucking social media consultancy, no less – that said something along the lines of (I’m paraphrasing) “don’t waste your time with followers who don’t follow back”.
What. The actual. Fuck.
#teamfollowback isn’t new, by any stretch. In fact, by Internet standards it’s jurassic. But I was under the impression it was mostly relegated to the immature and the attention whores. Evidently, I was terribly mistaken. The fact that an actual marketing business thought it fit to pass this drivel off as legitimate social media advice proves just how insidious this kind of thinking can become.
Needless to say, I unfollowed the offender right there and then. I haven’t bothered to check whether I’ve been unfollowed in return (I’m assuming I was) and, frankly, I don’t give a shit.
Because that’s not the kind of follower I want. And it’s not the kind of follower you want, either.
Why It’s Stupid And Counter-Productive
You don’t need to be a social media guru to understand why #teamfollowback is such a terrible strategy.
Much like buying followers, it’s an exercise in futility. Sure, you might increase your following quite quickly in the short term. But how many of those followers do you think actually give a shit about your business and your message? Spoiler alert: probably none of them. It’s highly unlikely any one of these people will ever share or, hell, even give any of your posts a second glance. This, in turn, means you’re basically wasting a lot of time and effort creating, curating and putting out content in front of the wrong crowd.
Besides, what are you, five years old? Following only those people who follow you back sends the completely wrong message.
Sure, the point of Twitter (and any other social media platform, for that matter) is to build connections. But connections are meaningless unless they are genuine. You want real interaction. Real engagement. THAT is what will ultimately create brand awareness and make your social media efforts worthwhile, not following those who follow you.
More to the point, your driving consideration when it comes to social media strategy should be to make a real difference in your customers’ lives To share stuff that actually helps them, without expecting anything in return. Not to scratch the backs of those who scratch yours in the hope of reaching some completely meaningless follower benchmark.
So What Should I Do Instead?
The answer to this question is deceptively simple.
You need to stop following people in the hope they’ll follow you back and unfollowing those who don’t. In fact, forget ulterior motives altogether.
Try following those accounts that post stuff that’s interesting and relevant to your niche, irrespective of whether they follow back or not. And do interact with them in a genuine way. Like posts you’ve actually read and actually do like. And make thoughtful comments that actually mean something, instead of a bunch of platitudes or scammy attempts at including a link to your blog or website.
You might be surprised at the results.
What are your thoughts on #teamfollowback? Sound off in the comments below.