Being Bruce -: Business Social Media Tip #24 - Bring 'Em On! Accept All Followers

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Business Social Media Tip #24 - Bring 'Em On! Accept All Followers

Pop quiz: How many followers or friends do you want on social media?

Answer: All of them!

Better answer: It depends. (Doesn't it always?)

When some people start using social media (and we're all really just starting, since it's a relatively new communications form), they keep their friend and follower lists at a minimum. Those folks have no intention of using social media to create new relationships, but rather as a way to communicate with their existing "tribe".

Others reach out, more or less openly, looking to make as many connections as they can, either just for fun, to be social, or to get their messages out.

Business use of social media parallels personal use. Many businesses want as all the people (and other businesses) they can attract as friends and followers. Other organizations would rather limit their social media circles to a select clientele (this likely won't compute for some, but what I'm thinking of here are, for examples, companies that have an extremely elite client base where the bar of entry is quite high, or possibly a company that caters to a very narrow interest.

So what should you do? Most likely the best bet, unless you already know you only want a very limited following, is to work for big numbers. So accept all friend and follower requests. It could also suit your objectives to use one or more strategies for building follower lists, such as searching for "friends" in certain locations or by particular interests. The various social media usually have built in friend search features and there are also third party utilities that serve that purpose.

When is it not a good idea to take all followers or accept all friend invitations? Often you won't know in advance, but, since many people will look at your existing friends/followers before deciding to follow you, if your list is slanted toward a specific demographic you might miss opportunities to expand your reach. For example, if your follower list is populated with people who all appear to be banks or news sources, you might not be followed by individuals looking for casual information or relationships.

You also can consider the wisdom of accepting followers if doing so exposes your existing list to others who might use the list for their own purposes. I don't want to make too big a deal about this and it's certainly true that with many social media sites even non-followers can see who your friends are, there's no reason to make it easier for spammers, for example, to use a social media 'friend' relationship with you to contact your real friends.

So pay attention to the types of friends and followers you attract and certainly at first be somewhat selective in an attempt to trend your follower list toward your target market. Once your list gets huge, of course, generally you won't have time or much reason to cull follower requests.