Five Ways to Fail at Social Media if You Want to Grow an Audience

By Bethany Jett, @betjett

There is a huge difference between utilizing social media for pleasure and for growing an audience. It’s especially hard if you’re using it for both. Where do we draw the line? Why can’t we speak our minds about anything we want? How do we keep our friends and our readers interested at the same time?

If there was a secret formula, we’d all be master platform builders. Unfortunately, everyone’s audience is different in terms of their expectations. Fortunately, we can follow best practices to ensure that we’re doing our utmost best to be ourselves, share valuable content, and stay sane.

Listed below are five ways that we can fail at social media if we want to grow an audience with some tongue-in-cheek myths and best practice solutions.

  1. Always post and share about yourself.Myth:
    Everyone loves it when you coerce them to buy your book. Instagram feeds are the best when it’s nothing but selfies.

    Best practice:
    Sharing other people’s content makes you more trustworthy to your audience. They look to you as a resource expert. Giving valuable content is a priority on social media, so share your stuff but give some love to your fellow colleagues. They’ll probably return the favor.

  2. Flood your newsfeeds with posts and status updates every fifteen minutes.Myth:
    Out of sight, out of mind, right?

    Best practice:
    Twitter may be the one platform that posting more often is helpful, but every fifteen minutes is laughable. Space your content so you’re not spamming your followers, especially on Facebook and Instagram. If you have a lot of photos for an event, create a Facebook album or use the multi-add feature in Instagram. Another tip: use the Instagram Stories, SnapChat, or Facebook’s My Day features to share all the wonderful moments of your day. That’s why they were created.

  1. Conversely, never update anything. Ever.Myth: “I like to visit your Twitter wall and see nothing posted. It makes me feel happy and good about you as a person.”
    …said no one ever.

    Best practice:
    Social media is social by nature. People can create true and lasting online relationships. When your social media wall or feed is sparse, your account looks spammy and fake. If you’re not comfortable sharing your life with the online world, share other people’s content about things you love. Share a Scripture verse or funny meme. You don’t have to get deep and personal online, but don’t be so afraid that you don’t ever share.

  1. Keep all your settings on “Private.”Myth: If someone really wants to follow you, they’ll follow you no matter what.

    Best practice:
    It’s disheartening to gain a new follower, only to check out their profile and find a big giant lock. It’s like the person said, “No peeking! If you’re gonna follow me, you’ll have to guess to see if I’m normal.”

    Different platforms have different privacy “feels.” If you want to grow your numbers and gain a following, open your Twitter and Instagram feeds to public. Facebook has a different “feel,” so decide how much you want to share on your personal profile and open a business author page. Additionally, Facebook has settings you can assign to different people to help keep your most private items private. However, it’s always a good rule of thumb to not post anything that you don’t want seen, because once it’s online, it’s there forever

  2. Share every political thought you have… the more controversial the better.Myth: You’re just engaging people in lively debate, right?

    Best practice:
    There is a time and place to discuss politics and controversial issues. Sometimes it’s on social media and most of the time, it isn’t. Facebook groups are a win-win solution to join in targeted conversations about practically any topic you want. Twitter is a better platform than Facebook to engage on hot button issues. Remember, you can be a salve to your audience by being a source of peace. The key is to understand your audience and understand the social media platform you’re utilizing.

    Got any more myths for using social media? Please share in the comments!

Award-winning author Bethany Jett is the Co-Owner of Serious Writer Academy, and Vice President of Platinum Literary Services where she specializes in marketing, nonfiction proposal creation, ghostwriting, and developmental editing. She is currently pursuing her Master of Fine Arts degree in Communication: New Media and Marketing.

Bethany is a military spouse, momma-of-boys, suspense-novel junkie who describes herself as “mid-maintenance” and loves cute shoes and all things girly. Check her out at, catch her live on Writers Chat every Tuesday morning, and follow her across all social media: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest | LinkedIn | Snapchat: @bethanyjett.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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