|Comic from Inkygirl|
That said, seriously, follower counts don't really matter much. Twitter, blogs, Facebook, Google+ ... the numbers are usually just that -- numbers. I mean, I'm not going to sit here and pretend that follower numbers don't have SOME effect on how you're perceived, because that's just not true. There's no arguing that a large following increases someone's appeal at first glance and makes people wonder what they're missing, so they'll often follow as well. It's called "social proof." It gives you more authority in their eyes than someone with fewer followers.
So, with that admission out of the way, I'm going to go into why writers in particular should worry less about their follower count and more about the quality of their interactions.
Focusing on the number can stress you out, depress you, and make you feel inadequate. And frankly, as a pre-published writer, cranking up your numbers isn't where your focus should be. Using social media for marketing purposes is a whole other can of worms, but it's not your concern yet. Maybe it will be someday (I hope so! I'm rooting for you!), but not yet. For now, focus on having fun and making friends. That is where you're going to get the most enjoyment, and when you're acting like yourself and making connections, the followers will come eventually. I promise.
Numbers are easy to get. Quality followers who give a crap are harder to find. I've written about building a quality Twitter following before, and that still stands. I'm going to let you all in on a secret. If you are really and truly desperate to make your number go up, it's actually pretty easy. You can either buy followers (which I do not recommend, ever), or you can go to Follower Wonk and run bio searches for anyone with "followback" or "I follow back" in their bio. Add a few. Bam. Instant numbers. The problem with that method? None of those people care about you or will interact with you or support you or buy your book. They're only interested in increasing their own counts.
Another "trick?" Participate in those blog follower-a-thons. Now, I'm not talking about the genuinely supportive ones that encourage you to actually get to know each other. I mean the ones that are more of an "add as many people as you can and then follow back everyone who adds you" madhouses. Again, this is a great way to boost your number, but not so great for attracting people who will actually, like, READ YOUR BLOG.
I'll let you in on another secret: I never do auto follow backs, I rarely add follow-whores, and I instantly block spammers/bots who follow me. Yeah, those things could pump up my numbers and make them look real nice. But you know what? I don't want a fake following. I want a real following. And I feel reasonably certain that the vast majority of my followers are following because they, you know, think I'm at least moderately interesting and/or like me and want to support me on my writing/publishing journey. AND I LOVE YOU GUYS MWAH MWAH MWAH *kissy faces*.
Here's one last secret: the best way to get followers is to be worth following. This one is HIGHLY subjective and not always fair, and I'm sure there isn't anyone out there who's thinking, "HECK YEAH, I'M TOTALLY BORING, I SHOULD SHARE MY BORINGNESS!" Everyone has a voice and a story to share, and it's really difficult when you aren't finding the audience you were hoping to find. But the process of building a quality following can be really slow going sometimes. You have to find your rhythm, and for some of us, that takes a while.
Some people really get it. They managed to figure out a niche that a lot of people connected with, they have a sense of humor that's instantly engaging, their method of delivery is fresh and unique, or they're just all around cool and everyone wants to be their friend.
Sometimes it's totally random chance. Sometimes it totally makes sense. But again, I repeat that follower count doesn't matter. What you do with the followers you have matters. I know it's hard to hear sometimes, but if you push past that feeling of social media inadequacy and learn how to enjoy yourself, you'll get there. And you'll be awesome.
Have you ever fretted about your follower count? Are you happy with your current count? What have you done to gain followers that you felt was successful?