Jim's Marketing Blog

Marketing ideas to help you grow your business

Thousands of followers or engulfed in a massive flock?

If you have lots of followers on social networks and wonder why you get too few high quality business leads from them, this post is just for you!

When I was a child, I was constantly getting in trouble in class for staring out of the window and daydreaming.  Then, 10 years after leaving school, I discovered that most of Einstein’s breakthroughs came the same way; staring out of the window and daydreaming.

A habit the school worked hard to break, was in fact, an asset to me.  It’s how I stitch my thoughts together in order to create ideas.

You and your magic

We know that people think, create and work in different ways.  This uniqueness is something we need to embrace, if we want to achieve more of our potential.  You see, if we get 10 great people and hand them a manual on how to use social media, for example, and they all use it the same way, we end up with 10 clones.  We end up with 10 people doing it by the book.  The very uniqueness that would have allowed them to shine, would have been extinguished.

Yes, learn the basics, but then, go and make some magic happen.  Your magic.

Engulfed within a massive flock

Look around and you will see groups of business owners online, following the same approach as each other.  You can often tell in advance whose posts they will share, who they will name-check and which people they will recommend you follow.  Without knowing it, in an effort to build a bigger following, they simply end up part of a growing flock, doing the same predictable things as one another.

Paradoxically, as their follower numbers and site traffic increases from fellow members of the flock, their individual visibility decreases in direct proportion.  They become less and less relevant, as more people join their flock.  It’s hard to stand out and attract your prospective clients attention, when camouflaged like that.

You can’t influence or lead anyone, without a voice of your own and the courage to share what YOU think.

I get emails regularly, from people with social networks in the thousands and tens of thousands, who get very few business leads.  They see their follower numbers growing and assume they must be influencing people.  They have not yet learned that there is a chasm, between attracting social media followers and building a targeted audience for your unique message.  Anyone with the right software can get 100,000 social media followers.  It takes work that matters, to build a valuable, targeted community around you and your ideas.

Look out of your windows

An alternative approach to being in the middle of a flock, is to look out of the window a lot more and have the confidence to express yourself.

  • Tell us what you think.
  • Show us what you genuinely feel inspired by.
  • Let us know the people who truly inspire you.
  • Be yourself and give us the opportunity to get to know you.

Don’t ruin your chances of connecting with great people and future clients, by hiding the beautiful uniqueness, which makes you, you.

Photo: soham_pablo

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  1. Without naming names I can think of dozens of people who fit your bill. I don’t even know what they do for a living coz they seem to merge into eachother.

    Another spot on post Jim.

    • That, George, is the invisibility I referred to in the post.

      By being so similar to the others in their flock, they make it hard for prospective clients to connect with their message.

  2. Soooo glad you wrote this article. Now I have something to link to, when my clients ask about building their online network.

    Thanks James xXx

  3. Already recognizing this phenomenom after only a few weeks of Twittering. As Admiral Ackbar said in Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi: “It’s a trap!”. Or at least it can be if you don’t allow your personality and uniqueness to show through to attract like-minded followers.

  4. I don’t follow in real life so I don’t online – I believe in community but you need to think for yourself too.

    Standing up for what you believe and saying what you think may not make you instantly popular but in time the RIGHT people will appreciate you (or at least I keep telling myself that!)

    Thought provoking as always Jim!

    • There’s a huge difference between fostering a community and being a sheep.

      The interesting thing Ameena, is that when these people contact me for help, none of them think they are being sheep. They all talk about their individual approach and some claim to have a tribe! Thus far, none have displayed any form of leadership or individuality.

      Keep being you, Ameena. The more of your unique self you share with the world, the easier it is for people to connect with you.

      Thanks for the comment.

  5. John Paul Hughes

    September 25, 2011 at 21:53

    I see this a lot too Jim.

    It’s the blind leading the blind. People who have no idea what to do, following what they see others doing.

    IMHO they deserve to have no business with that mentality.

    • I wish I had thought of that phrase for the post, John Paul: “The blind, leading the blind.”

      I love that – Thanks for sharing my friend.

  6. Frankly Jim, this post is one of my favorite from you.
    Straight to the point, the basis of any business starting by now is concerned.
    Most of the successful businesses we know reached the top because they cultivate their differences.
    What I know, by experience, is that you don’t have to rely on a comfort zone doing the same things as you do. You will have to show on that you are unique and demonstrate your added value.
    Now in the digital world, and more on the social platforms we have to give ourselves a voice to express ourselves and stand out from the flock. Now or never.

    • Great point, Yael.

      It is indeed about expressing yourself.

      As an earlier commenter said, in many cases we have no idea what these sheep actually do.

      Their decision NOT to express themselves mean we see them as lacking in leadership and without a story to tell.

      Thanks for the feedback.

  7. Hi Jim

    Good post – it’s so depressing to see so many similar impersonal tweets over and over again. That’s one way to get unfollowed quickly!


    • Your comment makes an excellent point, Natalie.

      Whilst that sheep-like and often automated approach builds numbers, it builds low value numbers.

      High quality people like you, who value connection, don’t follow those people for long.

      Thanks for expanding the post, Nat!

  8. At one time, you could just make marketing a numbers game. Send out 1000 postcards and you’d likely get an expected percentage of responses. Some treat social media that way. I guess there are some for whom that approach does work, but I’d think it would be rare. Finding people interested in what you have to say and then building a relationship where they want to come back is where marketing has shifted to (thankfully). In order to do be successful now, not just a one hit wonder, you need to be your unique self and make a difference. Otherwise the point of friending/following you would be….?

  9. I used to use PLR articles or have people write for my old sites. After a while I found out that it’s not working. It’s just not me. Those articles or “ghost” couldn’t express what I really want to say.

    Decided to take on writing on my own. My writing has to has my voice. Readers would like to find a person behind those writing.

  10. Excellent excellent point on being yourself and not being afraid to be different. It is sometimes scary to think be your complete self because you are afraid of judgement

    Love it!

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