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Social Media Followers Through Ads and Giveaways

I thought I'd talk a little about social media and gaining followers through advertisements, in case anyone happens to be interested in that topic. Followers/subscribers and social media are an interesting beast, especially as they relate to running a website. With Wordpress, certain social media sites (Facebook, Twitter, G+, Tumblr) count towards your "subscriber" total. That helps your numbers look good, and could theoretically get some money flowing your way if you're popular enough (I'm not). More importantly though, when those accounts are connected to your site, you can automatically share your website posts to social media. It's pretty seemless, and can get your name/brand out to more people. You may also get referral traffic, but honestly social media hasn't been great for referrals in my experience. Not on the level of the WP Reader, Reddit, StumbleUpon, and search engines anyway.

To expand my reach via social media, I have lightly dipped into advertising on a couple platforms. Nothing major, just a couple small dollar ($5-$10) campaigns to see what happens. Well, I have had absolutely excellent results with Twitter on this front! You can create ads that only charge you "per follow," and you set the maximum bid. This is really great for cheap people like me; I set my bid at a max of like 10-15 cents (yep, cents) per follow, and have gotten quite a bit of traffic from that. I think I have received more Twitter followers from contests via Gleam, but the ad-instigated users seem to engage with my posts and website more often (surprisingly). So, I'm really happy with Twitter. I've spent about $10 with them, and their system works well.

One system that does not seem to work as well is Facebook. If you've seen some of my other references to Facebook, you probably already know I'm not a fan. They banned my original Amdall Gallery Facebook page without explanation, and generally seem to be terrible stewards of data. Their customer service is essentially non-exsistent too, which is an incredible feat for such a huge company. I have done an ad with them on the old page, and it was not great. It seemed like some of the "likes" (followers) I got may have been bots, and they charged me a second time even though I ended the ad (in fairness, they did refund that charge eventually). To make matters worse, some of their ad functionality is broken (ex. the "per like" ad)...and since they don't have customer service reps, you can't get any real answers about it.

Well, unfortunately for me, I am a complete chump. Since the Amdall Gallery Facebook following is back to nothing, I actually did another ad. This is probably why Facebook can be a huge company while also being terrible; foolish hypocrites like me who still buy advertising. It's such a massive platform though, it's really hard to avoid. And I guess that's their secret - get huge, then coast off being huge. Anywho, like a chump, I threw down a $1 per day for 10 days ad. Maybe we can get more than 9 followers for the new Amdall Gallery page.

I guess my point here is this; if you want to broaden your reach and get more subscribers...

  • The WP Reader (if you're on Wordpress) is the best. Interact with other sites, the owners will interact with your site. Many will subscribe, too.
  • Twitter is also very good. You can use hashtags to broaden your reach, and interaction can earn followers. Their "per follow" ads work well; bid very low and you'll be surprised how many follows you get from real, active users.
  • Facebook is a huge, clunky monster. Their ads sort of work, but not that well. And they may ban you with no explanation...forever. So be careful.
  • The most effective way I've increased my follower counts are via giveaways (hosted through Gleam). Although it pads your numbers, the downside is that many of the followers are literally there only for the contest. I've had very few that engage at all afterward.
  • I haven't cracked the code on Google+ or Tumblr. I'm sure they have their niches, I just don't know what they are.

This is unnecessary, but I just want to talk more about my anger towards Facebook for shutting down the original Amdall Gallery page. One part that really burns me is that I lost followers from two Gleam contests, which added up to at least 150 people. I can't get those folks back, unless they jump onboard for future giveaways. I don't want to spam my site with giveaways, so I'm sure it will take at least six months to recover that many.

So, it was the page loss (without explanation)...and a couple Facebook Developer Apps I made...and followers from contests. Really irritating. I think I've said this before, but I would get a ton of schadenfreude from Facebook going the way of Myspace. It won't ever happen to that degree though, because Facebook has its tentacles in so many other things (Whatsapp, Instagram, etc). I still can't believe I bought another advertisement from them. "Hey I hate you Facebook, but can I give you $10?"

Well, I cancelled the Facebook ad. I know this sounds really dramatic, but I just couldn't live with myself. A voice in my head kept telling me how absurd it is to pay for an ad after all of my complaining, that it makes my criticisms seem hollow and empty, and so on.  In this case, I guess that pestering little voice was right. It reminds me of a quote from Tombstone; as Val Kilmer's Doc Holliday tells Kurt Russell's Wyatt Earp, "My hypocrisy only goes so far." So, I cancelled the Facebook ad campaign.

(Never mind the fact that later, Doc Holliday also says, "it appears my hypocrisy knows no bounds.")