MLP011: Are You Breaking the Rules on Social Media? w/ Ian Anderson Gray

Are you breaking the rules on social media?Social Media is pretty easy, right?

Send a few tweets, copy the same content to all platforms, and then say “thanks for sharing”.

Not so fast there cowboy!

There are some unwritten rules to using social media, and maybe it’s worth finding out what they are before shooting from the hip.

Ok, these rules are not written in stone (or even on paper) but if you follow the advice of someone who has been using social media since Twitter started (that’s 8 years), then you certainly will make far more friends online.

I love reading what Ian Anderson Gray has to say. He thinks about what he is doing, and loves to make a difference.

So I decided to bring him on the show and have a chat…


Ian Explains the Dos and Don’ts of Social Media

ian-anderson-grayIan Anderson Gray is a Web Developer who loves Social Media and has been using it heavily since Twitter was born!

And in the past few months Ian has been questioning what people are really doing on Social Media and why we are not forming more meaningful relationships. And I couldn’t agree more.

So in this podcast we decided to discuss some of his “revolutionary” ideas:

  • Why just saying “Thanks” on social media is not enough
  • How to limit social media automation and still be present on social media
  • The importance of understand and using different social media channels the right way
  • How fake followers can kill your reputation
  • Why you should limit how thin you spread yourself on Social Media
  • Don’t just shout and sell your stuff
  • Be human and connect with people on a real level
  • Share useful content and don’t hold things back

If you are ready to take your social media to the next level (or even the one above that – level 12, I think it is), then this podcast will teach you more than enough to keep you busy for a few months!

**Note: If you enjoyed this episode, you will also love my previous chat with John Paul Aguiar about the importance of blogging relationships

Read the Transcript

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Show Podcast Transcript


Ashley: Welcome to the podcast, Ian. Thanks for joining me today.

Ian: No problem. It’s good to be here.

Ashley: After many months of tweeting online, we finally meet, like many a podcast guest.

Ian: I know, it’s been awhile. We’ve been chatting on Twitter and various social networks for – I don’t know. It’s certainly been months and months and months. Probably over a year, and we’ve not actually had a chance to speak to each other yet.

Ashley: That’s why I love the podcast. It’s a selfish thing; I get to meet people, I get to talk to things I love talking about and learn things with people, and we get to produce some great content at the same time. So it’s a win-win-win-win-win.

Anyway. I asked you to come on the podcast today because you’re also really big into Twitter and social media. Maybe we should quickly first just do a 2-minute spiel about your background and what you do.

Ian: Oh dear, put me on the spot. Yeah, I actually trained as a musician, so I’m a professional singer. But I’ve always been involved and interested in technology. About 12 years ago, I set up a small web business with my dad, and I’ve been doing that ever since.

About three or fours years ago I started a blog at, and I’ve been dabbling in podcasting as well. Yeah, I’ve just been fascinated by the psychology of social media and I enjoy blogging and meeting people online. Well, just what we’re doing today. That’s a little bit of a background on me, I think.

Ashley: One of the things that I’ve noticed over the last month, and one of the reasons I wanted to have a chat with you today, was that everyone’s doing the same thing on social media, and after awhile it gets a little bit dull, shall we say. I mean, it’s never dull on social media, but you know what I mean; you start seeing the same kinds of tweets and the same kinds of promotions.

In the last – I’d say it’s probably been 6 months, you’ve been throwing a few things out there that have really gotten my attention, and one of those was the “Stop Saying Thank You” post. What was your inspiration for that?

Ian: Well, it was an article by Mark Schaefer, and Mark Schaefer is a digital marketer based on – I forget where in the States, but he’s somewhere in possibly Tennessee. I met him at a conference in Wales last year, and I just was fascinated by the way he didn’t just take everything as read on social media. He really thought things through.

He wrote an article about why, when he reached a certain number of followers on Twitter, he unfortunately – he was trying to thank everyone for mentioning him or linking to an article, and he got to a point when he just physically couldn’t thank everyone. He just didn’t have the time to do that.

So he made the decision not to thank anyone. I won’t go into the full details of what he was saying in that article, except it really made me think. It made me think “Why do I spend, why do we all spend that time, when people link to one of our articles or mention us, why do we spend that time saying ‘thank you’ on its own?”

Now, I believe that manners are really important; I’m a polite person, and I do say thank you, and I do believe that it is important. But I was really analyzing this and thinking I’m saying “thank you, thank you, thank you” all the time. What am I actually saying? Am I just going through the routine of doing that, or am I actually engaging in a conversation with this person?

That’s what this article was about. It’s got a rather provocative title, “Stop Saying Thank You on Social Media.” I’m not quite saying that, but I’m saying don’t just say thank you. It’s a case of say thank you, but then carry on the conversation. Maybe share something else with them. That was really the point of the article.

Ashley: Okay, that’s really interesting. Basically, I’ve seen the same kind of thing, and there are a lot of people doing this “thank you” exercise, and I certainly did it for a long time, whether it’s a bulk “thank you” or an individual “thank you.”

Some of my more recent articles have had over 100 tweets, so then you’re getting kind of crazy. You’re getting a stream of “thank yous,” which is another issue, of course. Do you really want a stream of just constant “thank yous”?

But I think what’s behind that, and what you wrote further on in that article, is really interesting, which is that – yeah, what are you doing? “Thank you” in itself is almost like a minor acknowledgment or a placeholder. Are you really actually acknowledging that person? Are you starting a conversation? What are you doing there?

I really liked some of your ideas there. What were some of the other suggestions you had there?

Ian: Yes, I was really trying to give people ideas of what else to do instead of just saying “thank you.” Because I see, almost like when people say “How are you doing?” – which we all do, we all say “How are you?” as a greeting, and if we’re honest, most of us are probably not expecting the person to say “Well actually, I’m having a really bad day. My granddad has died.” Which I think is a shame, because that’s where we are.

But on social media, I think we’ve got the opportunity to be interested in more people, how people are, and just to be genuine, because thus is the power of social media. We can find out more about each other, even in the 140 characters. It’s an ongoing relationship.

One of the things that I came up with – well, it’s something really simple – it’s just really a list of ideas of how to replace a simple “thank you.” For example, instead of just saying “thanks for sharing,” you can ask them what they thought of one part of the article. Of course, that is assuming that they’ve actually read the article, which…

Ashley: Isn’t always the case.

Ian: Isn’t always the case. But actually, instead of shaming them and saying “Have you read my article?”, they may think – they haven’t read the article, “Maybe I need to have a look at it.” You’re actually getting them to read the article, so that they can reply to you.

And that actually has worked really well for me. You can actually get into a really interesting conversation about certain aspects of the article that you’ve written.

The other thing could be actually, instead of talking about yourself – because I’m sure we’ve all met people who tend to talk about themselves all the time – is actually be interested in them. Ask them about what they do and their website, their article, and is there anything, how’s their day going, that type of thing.

It could be something a bit more tacky, such as – I’ve written an article recently about Lead Generation Cards from Twitter, so that’s a way of enabling that person to sign up to your mailing list really quickly, just by inserting a Twitter Card.

Which basically is you’ll get a “subscribe” button that they can click on, and they’re automatically added onto your mailing list, their email address. So that’s a bit more of a geeky way, but it’s quite a good one to do.

Or just – we all have stressful days; why not tell a joke or just share something funny? Or maybe say something encouraging about them, something that you’ve learned from them. Because I think we all like to be encouraged. I think that’s one other thing.

In a way, these are just lessons of life, I suppose. But I think when we get behind a computer and play with social media, it’s so easy to forget those things, and sometimes we need reminding. I know I do. Actually, quite often when I write articles on my blog, I’m actually writing to myself, because these are things that I need to remind myself of. Because I do the same.

Particularly if you’re using a platform such as Triberr, which is a way of getting other people to share your content for you, which is fantastic – Triberr has been such a powerful tool for my business – but when you get lots of other people sharing your articles, and you’re saying “thank you, thank you, thank you,” there is just this kind of – it’s really a fairly boring conversation. There’s so many of these lost opportunities, I feel, for building relationships and talking on the internet, on social media.

Ashley: Yeah, I completely agree. I haven’t taken it far enough, I think, but I’ve done the random opportunity when I remember I need to make it a habit of doing half an hour a day of this or half an hour a day of that, because it certainly makes a difference and adds up.

Just thanking everybody, I stopped, especially after it got too much, and after reading your article, I thought, okay, I’m not achieving anything here, and it’s just kind of annoying, I find, actually. I don’t really find that much value in it. The bulk ones, maybe, that’s okay; that’s less.

But then I try and just do three or four a day, or people I haven’t thanked before or people I haven’t seen before. Because people I know very well, I’m going to make an assumption that they don’t need to be thanked every time, because they know I’m thanking them.

Maybe that’s a silly assumption, but I try and go that way and say okay, this is a new person I haven’t seen before; I’m going to click on their Twitter profile, see what they do, say thanks, maybe try and write something quick like – for example, when I first met Jenn Herman, she was in San Diego. I’d worked there once, so I wrote to her and said “Oh, I see you’re in San Diego. Whereabouts? I worked in the north of this area. That’s really cool, blah blah blah.”

Just try and connect with something. Like in real life, what do you have in common, and what can you say to this person apart from how’s the weather? Because of course, that’s the easiest thing to do. But I think starting conversations is really crucial, because otherwise the connection doesn’t really get established. You have a follower; you follow them, they follow you, but it’s not really more meaningful than that. That’s a shame.

But yeah, I think that’s a great way, and I’ve seen Daniel – what’s his name – Sharkov I think is the last name, from And he does the same thing. He writes to me, and sometimes I’ve shared his article and haven’t read it, and he writes, “What did you think about this?” and I was like, “Oh, yes, better go and read that, Daniel. Good work.”

Ian: Yeah, that’s great.

Ashley: Because I have not read everything that I share, because I share people automatically that I know have good stuff, and then I try and read the ones that spark my interest, that are relevant to what I’m doing at the moment or look particularly interesting.

So I apologize if people think I’m reading all of their articles; I do not have time for that anymore. I used to, but I don’t anymore.

Ian: Thank you for being honest there, because actually, I think the majority of people that share articles, or share articles maybe on a regular basis such as yourself, we don’t always do that.

But I think this is where it comes down to trust. If I’m going to be sharing an article automatically – the way I tend to do it is selective sharing. I use Feedly, for example. I will subscribe to people’s RSS Feeds, and I look down, and if I see any articles that seem really, really interesting, I will share them, and then I will hopefully get the time to read them later. Not always, because we’re busy. But because I trust you, I will share that article.

So I think it’s important to say we’re not just sharing any articles, without any form of trust. But yeah, I think that works really well.

Ashley: It’s a balance, and as you were saying, the inspiration for this discussion from Mark Schaefer was that he doesn’t have time to even thank anymore. I’m sure he does still engage with certain people; I’m sure he has a little bit of time for it.

But what he’s saying is – and this was something John Paul touched on in our podcast last week, which, if you’re listening to this one, is actually then 2 weeks ago. But anyway, he’s going to get to a point where he can’t do that anymore himself, and he apologizes in advance for that.

But it’s going to get to a shameful point where you get so popular because you are so nice that you’re no longer nice anymore. It’s ironic, but yeah, it’s the way it is.

Ian: Yes, it’s hard. It’s a hard one. I would be really sad to get to that point as well. But I think it’s a way where you can actually – you’re maybe stopping thanking everyone who mentions you, and engaging in the conversations that matter more, maybe. You’re being selective in those conversations.

Ashley: That’s what I’m starting to do anyway, because I’m having to focus on other things to build my business, and you have to sort of take the 80/20, or the 80/20 of the 20 from the 80/20, as one guy once said to me. Which is some really small percentage of the things that are actually driving you further in what you’re trying to achieve.

Last year, when I first started blogging, that was being on social media and being active, and now, unfortunately, that’s no longer the case. I have to do other things, because I need money to pay my bills. And that’s just the sad reality of life, but that’s how it goes.

Anyway, moving on to the other post which you wrote, which is related but not, but also was really fun to read, and I think I’ve shared it a number of times. It was the “20 Steps to Being a Social Media Guru,” and that was a great – actually, at first I read it, I thought “This is serious. What is he saying here? This is crazy?” Because some of it was kind of touching on possible, but still ironic, and then some of them were just ridiculous.

And then I realized that the whole thing was a parody of sorts. You were basically saying “Do not do these things, which some supposed experts or gurus do, because it just annoys people to no end.” I’ll go through the points one by one and we can discuss them as we hit them. I just summarized some of the ones I wanted to touch on when I was reading the article.

The first one was something we just touched on quickly, which was automation and automating absolutely everything and never being present in social media. Have you seen that a lot from some of these guys?

Ian: Oh, absolutely. I shouldn’t really admit this, but all of these points are based on real life examples. There are many examples of this every day. If we’re honest, there’s probably a little bit of all of us in these.

And I struggle with this, because when I first really embraced social media – I’ve been using Twitter since it came out, but really the last 4, 5 years of really starting to jump into social media in a big way, I wanted to automate everything. Because I’m a geek, and I saw all these amazing tools that could solve all my problems.

There’s tools such as IFTTT, depending on how you pronounce it, Zapier, and all these tools that will enable you to cross-post from Google+ to Twitter. The problem with all of these, or the potential problem with all of these, is that you can end up “set it and forget it.”

I think that’s what I was trying to make the point in this section, was that – I’ve said here, “to be a true guru, you must learn to automate every social media task, and particularly at all times.” Obviously, that is complete rubbish. We’re going to come onto this in the next one, but all different social networks are different. They’ve got different people, different mechanisms.

There’s going to be times when it’s not appropriate to share something on a particular social network. When the Boston bombings happened – was it last year? I can’t remember.

Ashley: I think I saw an anniversary discussion recently about it, so it must’ve been just over a year ago.

Ian: Yeah, and there were a number of bloggers or people tweeting. And because they had it automated, it kept on posting out these perhaps – particularly at the time of the bombings, could be construed as inappropriate tweets. I can’t remember the example.

I think what I’m advocating is semi-automation. But obviously, to be a “true guru” in the ironic sense, then you need to do it all the time. That’s what I said at the bottom, “some less experienced social media people will use some of these techniques, but to be a true social media guru, you must practice them all the time.” Yeah, I’m sure we’ve all seen examples of that.

Ashley: Automation in itself – I mean, I remember when I first started writing about Twitter awhile ago, and people were saying “Automation’s just not good.” As we’re discussing now with the time issue, I totally disagree. I think there is a balance to be had.

I think maybe I automate a little bit too much, but that’s the way it is, and my followers are hopefully used to that. Or maybe they don’t listen to what I tweet; it could be. Who knows?

But full automation, there’s a balance. You can automate it so that every new blog post gets sent out once or twice; there’s nothing wrong with that, because you want to tweet every blog post. And I think you could also automate – and this is something I encourage, using things like Followerwonk to find out your best times to tweet, and then putting them in some kind of system so that when you do rack up tweets to send out, they’re going out at times where you know you’re going to get engagement. I think at least knowing what those times are is useful.

The tools can help you, but only being automated – and I’ve seen this with a guy who I was actually included on a post of his last year, and he contacted me, and now I’ve got him in some kind of list stream that I monitor. And I’ve noticed that he only posts his own stuff. So if you’re automating and you’ve got no filler tweets in between your posts, then it’s going to look really horrible to your followers, that the only thing you ever talk about is yourself. But that’s a separate point.

The second one you discussed was that all social media channels are the same. Some people make this mistake, too, which is why I’ve stopped buffering things like Facebook posts because it doesn’t work. It’s too different. The audience is too different.

What’s your experience on the different platforms? What are your main platforms, other than Twitter?

Ian: I’m really getting into Google+. I’ve been using Google+ for a long time, but recently I’ve really started to see the value in that. Despite what people are saying; there’s a lot of negativity from some quarters about Google+.

But yeah, I would say Google+, Twitter, and LinkedIn to a degree. I do use Facebook, but I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with it.

Ashley: Me too.

Ian: It’s great to keep up with friends some of the time. I’ll say some of the time. But from a Facebook page point of view, it’s not easy.

Ashley: Yeah, to me it’s a very personal forum, so getting that to somehow bind to your business I find a very delicate business. I never established it; I was too late getting into it. I never got enough followers, and now those followers don’t see anything I post, so it’s almost a dead platform.

Ian: It is possible. I do follow Jon Loomer, who’s a really great guy. His blog is always coming up with some really interesting ideas. But it does require a lot of time and investment, and money, really. Certainly initially.

But yeah, coming back to the social networks all being the same, I think some social networks don’t help this. LinkedIn is the famous example, where you can cross-post to Twitter from your LinkedIn profile. Some people automatically, everything they tweet will be cross-posted to LinkedIn and to Facebook.

But the thing is, on Twitter, we’ve got hashtags, we’ve got screen names, and until recently, until last year, Facebook didn’t have hashtags, and LinkedIn still doesn’t have them. And screen names don’t make any sense. I think it looks horrible, 140 characters. You’ve got – is it like 40,000, 50,000 characters now on Facebook? So if you’re cross-posting your tweets, it just is not engaging.

Also, the audience is different. My Twitter followers are very different to my Facebook fans, which are very different to my Google+ followers. So it’s not to say we shouldn’t cross-post, and I do on a frequent basis, but I just see so many examples of cross-posting and treating all the networks as the same. That was really the point of that point.

Ashley: Yeah, sure. Maybe LinkedIn, to an extent, maybe could, because I find – I think there’s two fields; there’s the main field, I don’t know what they call it, and then the description where you can put in more information. But most people don’t put huge amounts of information in LinkedIn posts.

So you could get away with almost putting a tweet in there, except for the fact that the “@yourname” or whatever and the hashtag looks a bit – it looks clearly like you’ve just cross-posted it.

Ian: Indeed. And not only that, if you use certain cross-posting tools, like for example HootSuite, although I haven’t used HootSuite in awhile, when you cross-post, it doesn’t always cross-post them terribly well. If you cross-post to Twitter and LinkedIn and you include an article, it’s not necessarily going to include an article with the summary, image, and photo, depending on how you do it.

And hashtags, if you’re using hashtags in Twitter, which is a good thing, they don’t make any sense on LinkedIn. It kind of looks – to me, it looks ugly. And obviously on LinkedIn, you’ve got a title and a summary. Well, when you cross-post, how does it work that out?

Now, interestingly, there are two social tools that are different here.

There’s Oktopost, which actually doesn’t let you cross-post; it allows you to tailor-make each update to each network and gives you some advice in terms of how to channel that.

The other one is Friends+Me, which is what I’m using a lot at the moment, which allows you to cross-post from Google+, and that does a really, really good job of targeting it and formatting it properly.

But yeah, it’s just coming back to the whole point that I think some people think that all social networks, or treat all social networks as the same platform. So that was the point I was trying to make there.

Ashley: Yeah, my experience also recently now, I’ve been getting into Google+ a little bit more and LinkedIn, is that the audiences themselves are different. Their expectations of what things get posted, how often, and what they look like.

Especially on Google+. People expect huge, 100 word, 200 word blog post summaries of the blog posts. If you don’t even put an effort in to put a few sentences in, then most people don’t even touch it. And then you’ve got the pictures; if you put a picture in instead of the link, and then the link just in separately, it looks better and you get more engagement.

There’s all these sort of fine tuning elements. On Twitter now, you can put images, and on some of them you can choose which of the images that it’s found that you want to use. If you automate all of that stuff, it just doesn’t work right.

Yeah, so be careful. Get to know the social media platform, I think is a tip there. And also, I think you don’t necessarily have to post on all of them. I don’t. I rarely post on LinkedIn; I try to just contribute to discussions and find that I actually get more engagement from that than just posting.

Because just dropping your link, more often than not, depending on the group and stuff, and your audience, doesn’t necessarily get it. It really depends on what you’re trying to achieve, and the reactions you get. If you’re not getting any reactions, then maybe stop and get to know some people first before you do it.

Ian: That’s great.

Ashley: I’ve found that. I used to do a lot of link dropping, because everyone said to do it in Facebook groups, in LinkedIn groups, and now I don’t even bother, because no one clicks on them. I can see in my analytics that no one’s coming from there.

I’m just thinking, “What am I doing here? I’m just annoying people, probably.” Because no one likes all these – I don’t know about you, but if you look on communities in LinkedIn and in Google, I now am dropping out of ones where there’s no engagement. I see just link, link, link, link, link, link, link. Not even a +1, not even a comment. So why even bother? Obviously no one in there is doing anything.

Ian: Yeah, there are groups – LinkedIn groups can be, depending on the one you’re a member of, can be just people just linking to their articles.

Ashley: Exactly.

Ian: But there are a few where they do work, and I would recommend actually not posting links. Or link to other people’s articles and generate discussion, because I think LinkedIn groups can be very, very powerful, but not if you treat it in the same way as Twitter.

On Twitter, sharing links to other articles can work really, really well. Works well for both of us, I would say. But you can’t do that on LinkedIn. People are just not going to engage with it. In my experience, anyway.

Ashley: Yeah, I’ve tried to find groups across the board, even groups not related to my groups, because I’m trying to find business contacts. But I’m trying to find areas where I can contribute, and in a lot of those groups, there’s no point even dropping any of my links, because they’re irrelevant.

Only if a discussion hits towards a specific area, then maybe I’ll say “Look, I’ve got a really detailed article on that if you want to have a read of it.” But that’s very rare. I don’t do that very often.

I think for establishing really concrete relationships in places like LinkedIn and even Google+, you’re far better off just engaging with the people on a discussion, and then they’ll connect with you, rather than putting a link in which no one will read, and no one will connect with you. Anyway, that’s just something I’ve noticed recently as well, and it’s really interesting to see the behavior on these different networks.

Anyway, moving on, next one. “Numbers are everything” is another one that I saw. I don’t know if that was the exact title of the bullet point you used, because I’ve just quickly jotted them down here. But that’s another realization I’ve had over time. It’s an interesting one. What’s your experience with that?

Ian: I don’t know whether it’s a human trait or a human condition, but we do tend to – because Twitter, the number of followers that people have seems to be kind of in your face when you go to their profile, it seems it’s the one statistic that we use in determining how popular somebody is or how influential they are.

Now, don’t get me wrong; it can well be the case. Obviously, some big celebrities have got huge numbers of followers. But I just think we need to think about other types of statistics.

For example, somebody with millions of followers may not really engage with anyone. Is that the person that you want to follow and engage with? Whereas somebody with 1,000 followers, or even less than that, they may respond to you, they may communicate. They may be posting articles that are really, really interesting, if we’re talking about Twitter.

So I think we have to bear that in mind. I’m not going to pour too much scorn on the likes of Kred and Klout. But I think there’s so much talk about trying to get the biggest Klout score, and yes, I think Klout can be useful; it’s a bit of fun. It can give you a rough idea of how you’re engaging.

But I’ve seen many examples of people who post – how can I put it in a nice way? Just absolute drivel on Twitter and Google+, just posting all the time and all the time. And then will use tools such as Empire Avenue to effectively pay other people to like their content.

It isn’t necessarily easy to do, but you can artificially get your Klout score to go through the roof so you can get 60, 70, 80 by doing all of that.

I just think there are better things to think about, really. Think about who is in your core community? How are you engaging with them? That’s a more difficult thing to define. Just let’s use Klout as a bit of fun, maybe take it with a pinch of salt. It’s fine. But numbers aren’t everything, basically.

Ashley: Yeah, it’s something in social media that I’ve noticed as well. It’s something I strived for in the beginning, and now I’m sort of ignoring, more or less, because I’ve also found the same thing. It’s not what I need and it’s not – in the beginning, I didn’t know what I needed, so of course, we all make these mistakes.

But yeah, numbers – and I’ve been listening to a few interesting podcasts on this recently, more about Google Analytics and site visits, another metric that I also look at too often. Yeah, you just get sort of bogged down with pushing numbers up and vanity metrics, as they call them. Metrics which make you feel good. You’re like, “Yes, I’ve got so many hundreds of visitors today, that’s fantastic.”

But none of these people are opting in, or none of these people are buying your products or whatever it is you’re trying to achieve. It depends what you’re trying to achieve, and I think this is where it gets more interesting.

And that’s where these guys were really putting a lot of dose of reality on this podcast, was you have vanity metrics, which are the ones that make you feel good, so every other metric, that’s not useful. And then you have metrics which show you how you’re doing, and whatever those goals are that you’re trying to achieve, that’s very personal.

But yeah, we all got bogged down in these kind of things. Kred and Klout, okay, they can give us an idea of influences, and whether you’re looking for some kind of blogger outreach program, they might be helpful for that. But for most of us, it’s not particularly relevant.

And that leads to the next one, which is the buying the reputation. It’s interesting; I have no idea who’s done that, but I get probably – I always look, occasionally every night, if I’m lying on the couch and I’m looking at Twitter, I look at who’s followed me recently, and then I look to see if they’re interesting, and then I follow a couple back if they’re in my area.

But there’s always one or two who have in their profile, “For $100 bucks I can get you 1,000 followers.”

Ian: I know. You didn’t mention one of my other points, which is fine, which was automated direct messages. Just about all my automated direct messages that I receive are “You can get 20,000 followers for $30” or whatever. We all get them, don’t we?

But the fact is, people are willing to spend that money to get all these fake followers. It is big business. And you can quite easily go to a website like Fiverr – I shouldn’t really be mentioning this, but you can go to Fiverr and for $5 get all these zombie spam followers which are not going to engage with you. They may boost the number of followers you have, but they’re not going to engage with you. And actually, you may find that later on, Twitter will block all these followers and you’ll be down to where you were, and you spent all that money.

Yeah, you can actually find out how many spam followers you or somebody else has, or particular fake followers, by the fake follower check. If you go to, you can check how many fake followers you have or somebody else has. It’s quite interesting. That’s one tool you could use.

Ashley: I’ll make a note of that. We’ll put that in the notes. Was it fakers…

Ian: Yes,

Ashley: Okay, we’ll put that in the show notes, because I haven’t used that one before. I’ve used things like ManageFlitter and stuff. They do a portion of that; you can look for – but I’m not sure exactly what the criteria are.

Ian: I use ManageFlitter too, and it is kind of useful sometimes to weed out potential spammers, but yeah, this one’s pretty good. It’s actually quite interesting, because if you check some celebs, you can see that actually – there have been examples where 50% of them have been fake. They’ve obviously just bought followers.

Ashley: Okay, so that’s one for if you’re really trying to build your following for an actual purpose, other than just having a number and, I don’t know, selling your account maybe? I’m not sure how that would work. You can do that with traffic maybe? I read something similar this morning.

But anyway, if you’re trying to do it for that reason, then maybe it’s worthwhile. I can’t imagine why you would want to, but those people now know what to do. But the rest of you, who are trying to actually achieve something, don’t bother doing that, because it’s a complete waste of time.

Ian: Absolutely.

Ashley: And that will lead us to the next one. That was the direct messages one, actually. I just quickly touched on that. Someone wrote to me recently and said “I’ve sent you a direct message on Twitter.” I’m like, “I don’t read them.” Because I haven’t found one in the last months, I don’t think, that was actually a message. They’re all automated.

I tell people, if you’re trying to get hold of me, really, please, just email me via my website, because I read those. Whereas DMs – I read Google+ messages as well, and LinkedIn and all the rest, but DMs on Twitter, it’s just all “Thanks for following me. Now follow me on Facebook.” Okay.

Ian: Why?

Ashley: Sure I will. I followed you on Twitter because I love Facebook. Anyway, the next point we had was the using all platforms. Again, I might be skipping some here. I haven’t got the post open.

I think this falls back to more what we were saying before as well, which is that not all platforms are the same, and you can’t possibly achieve everything you want to achieve by being everywhere and posting everywhere, so be selective. What was your other point on there? I’m not reading the article.

Ian: This one was – I was actually writing this to myself, because I’m such an early adopter with all these. Anything new and shiny that comes, I have to sign up. I even have two accounts. is still going; it’s this niche social network where you pay – it’s come down in price, but it’s…

What I was saying there, just because it has been talked about, just because it’s new and shiny, think twice before you just jump on there. Because you need to be using your social networks effectively. If it’s just yourself, if you’ve got a small marketing team, then are you going to be able to use Google+, Facebook, Instagram, Vine, Path, Zeemee, SoundCloud, Last FM. Audioboo, blah blah blah blah. I could go on. Are you going to be able to use those effectively? Otherwise, just think why bother?

What I’d always suggest is always look at the new social networks and think “How best could I use this for my business?” But then just think very carefully about whether you have the resources to invest in that, because otherwise, I wouldn’t bother.

Ashley: Completely, and that’s something I’ve been looking at recently with my business as well, which is what kinds of people are on each of those audiences? You can find roughly demographics out, and also you can look at some posts that are out there analyzing the kinds of people.

For example, yeah, Pinterest is people who are looking to buy stuff, typically. I’m using it for social media, and it works, because many social media people are on there, but typically it’s people looking to buy stuff. It’s very good for products. People on LinkedIn are very business-oriented, looking to connect to do with business. People on Facebook, as we said before, are in there for fun. And people on Twitter are on there for – used in a lot of different purposes.

But it pays to know roughly what audiences are on there and what kind of things work well on those networks before you waste your time spreading yourself too thin. I think that’s something that I’ve really learned recently.

Ian: Yeah, definitely.

Ashley: And “follow everyone back”; we touched on that before. I follow some people back out of interest, but I certainly just don’t follow everyone who follows me. And I guess you don’t do that, either.

Ian: No. It used to be possible with ManageFlitter and other tools to do that automatically, but Twitter changed the rules last year. ManageFlitter had to change the way they worked. So you can’t automatically just follow all the people that follow you back. If you do that, if you find a tool that allows you to do that, then you effectively can get banned from Twitter, so it’s just not worth doing.

I would advocate what you’re saying, and that is to look at the people who followed you back and then look at who’s interesting, and selectively follow people back.

But there were many people in the Twitter community that were really upset by that, and it was a way that you could basically boost the number of followers. If you followed somebody, then they would follow you back, and then you’d unfollow the people that didn’t follow you back, and then basically, over time, that was how some people got lots and lots of followers.

Obviously, you can understand why they were upset by that, because they weren’t able to, in an automatic way, carry on with that.

Ashley: Yeah. I use TweetAdder occasionally. I used it a lot more last year, as I said, when I cared about those things. But I use it now just to look for people. It’s a very nice way to do some searching and stuff for specific niches, and even in specific cities. It has some quite nice search functionality. I could probably do it in Twitter, but I found it easier to just keep using TweetAdder. But they have the same thing, and they I think lost a lot of customers as a result of this change.

But I don’t think it’s a bad thing. I mean, I never had the tool when it had that available; I think I got in after that anyway. But automatically following everybody back, yeah, okay. Not really something I want to be doing. But anyway, some people obviously love that.

And another one, which I was chatting with Sarah yesterday, we were doing this week’s podcast about webinars, and she was saying that the killer of webinars – and it’s also the killer of email lists, and it seems to be also the killer of Twitter and so forth – is constantly pushing and selling and annoying people.

Ian: Yeah. It obviously works for some people.

Ashley: It must.

Ian: I just don’t understand it. In my dim and distant past, I worked in a music shop and I sold these digital pianos. We were forced to go on all these sales workshops, and what they wanted us to do was to pounce on the customer as soon as they walked up the stairs. We had to pounce on them, say, “What do you want to buy? You need to buy this one.”

Quite frankly, if anyone did that to me, I’d run a mile. I was never taught sales, but what worked for me was giving the customer some time to walk around the shop, go up to them, say “How are you doing?”, talk about anything other than the product, and then just make them realize that you’re not going to bite. You’re actually a nice human being.

I just don’t understand – when I come across these websites where an automatic video will play in a very sales-y way, saying that I need to buy this product, it just turns me off. Maybe I’m cynical; I don’t know.

But that’s why social media works for me, because we’re talking about ourselves, we’re talking about other people, we’re getting to know each other. And yes, obviously, occasionally we will talk about our products. But it’s on a much more personal and human level. And that always, for me, works – that has that long-lasting effect.

Maybe it depends on the product that you’re selling. For me, I want to build long-term relationships with people, and so for me, I don’t want to quick sell. I want to build that long-lasting relationship. Yeah, I think I’ve probably said all I need to say about that. It’s just don’t shove your product in their face. Think about where they’re coming from, and build your relationship over a period of time.

Ashley: Yeah, it’s easy to go for the quick fix on anything, and that’s a lot of the points we’re touching on anyway, which is a lot of the problems are that you think there’s a quick solution, whether it be numbers or automation or whatever.

This is something I hate about the selling in the example I brought up, again in the chat with Sarah, was I’ve recently been bombarded by a very popular internet marketer for a new course they have, and it’s quite common. Some people do it all the time, and I’m off their lists very quickly, and some do it less often.

But when they do it and they continue to do it, and they do it for 3 weeks running with 3 emails a week, then I also start to get annoyed. Because it’s kind of like, “Okay, how many times do you need to remind me of your amazing course, ‘time running out’? And if I haven’t bought in by now, do you really think I’m still going to buy in?”

There’s a balance, I think. It’s okay that they’re trying to sell something, because ultimately, for those of us who are running a business, that is how you make your money. You have to alert your customers to certain things, and I have no problem with that. But I would rather that people gradually get to know me and understand what I have to offer and trust me, and then ask me for help, whether it’s through a service, rather than me having to constantly send them 20 emails.

Because like you, that’s not the relationship I want to have with people. If I want to build a website for somebody, it’s like, “Okay, they’ve seen that I can do it, they trust me” – and I’m working with a girl now in Canada, for example, and it’s almost a friendship. It’s actually quite funny. In some ways it seems too familiar, because you have to sort of draw a line, a professional line, of saying “This is the service I’m doing. I’m not your friend.” But you also become friends, and I prefer that. I think that’s a lot nicer.

But these people somehow are just trying to – I don’t know, make millions or…

Ian: I think you can do both. I think Chris Brogan, in his newsletter, I like the way he’s transparent about it. His famous newsletter that he sends out on a Sunday, he’s not really that sales-y, but whenever he is going to talk about one of his courses, he’ll put a big subject line in the email, I think something like “Selly sell, this is a selly sell email!”

There’s a bit of humor in that. I thought, it’s pretty blatant. And he says “You don’t have to read this email. If you’re not interested in my selly sell emails, just delete it. That’s fine.” I kind of like that technique, being transparent. But yeah, it’s just the in-your-face type marketing that just makes me want to squirm.

Ashley: Yeah, there’s too much of it, and it’s always going to go on. There’s not much we can do about it. But for those who don’t wish to do it, now maybe you have some other ideas.

Okay, the second last one I’ve got on my list is to not admit to mistakes. I guess that’s also something similar, being an all-seeing, all-knowing, selling machine. You never talk about yourself and you never admit that you screwed a podcast up, like I did yesterday, which was interesting. Whatever, it doesn’t matter. #10. It’s going to happen at some point. Yeah, I have no problem with that, because I’m not perfect. Never will be.

Ian: Yeah, it’s a funny one, this. I think maybe some of us don’t have an issue with this, but I think it probably becomes more and more difficult. The more popular you become, the bigger the name or the brand or whatever that you have, maybe the more difficult it is to admit mistakes.

But I think it’s really, really important, no matter how big you are, to show your human side. Because it is actually quite attractive to people to admit your mistakes, because let’s face it, we are. As you say, we are all not perfect, and we all learn from our mistakes.

Say for example if you blog about the fact that you made a mistake – I’m not saying that you should write a blog post about your podcasting experience yesterday, but you could actually turn that into a really positive thing and say, “Look, these are the mistakes that I made, the technical mistakes, and here’s what I’m going to be doing to stop that from happening in the future.”

Actually, if you look at the big brands out there that really get social media, they do that too. They admit when they get things wrong, and they say what they’re going to do to reverse that and to move forward. I think people really respect that.

So I think you’re going to get a lot of respect if you admit your mistakes, as long as you are putting something into place to move forwards.

Ashley: Yeah, sure. I like that kind of stuff as well, and the more I get involved in this kind of stuff, the more I meet people online, people who are famous or whatever. I haven’t told that story before where I stalked a magician. Because I’m big into magic, and I actually went to the hometown of my favorite magician and went to his show and met him there, and he was stunned that I’d flown from San Diego and come from Switzerland to meet him, because he didn’t think he was so famous.

You realize when you meet these people – he was kind of like, “I’m just this guy. You want to come over to my place for a barbeque?” I was stunned, because to me, he was on a pedestal. But he wasn’t like that, actually, in real life. He’s an amazingly humble guy.

I think this happens in everything you do, even brands. Behind the brands, it’s just a bunch of people working in an office, and they’re all bumbling around. Half the companies that I’ve worked in, really big companies, like one of the biggest banks here in Switzerland, and if you realize in the background, the mistakes they’re making and the kind of things that are just cobbled together with sticky tape – it’s crazy. Or just Excel sheets, things that should be automated that aren’t, or no one knows the answers to basic questions. But of course, these guys don’t want to admit mistakes.

But I think it’s nice when you go behind the scenes – and I’ve heard this in a lot of discussions and podcasts – show a bit of reality. Show what you do on the weekend. Show that you’ve been sick. It’s not a problem talking about that. Don’t harp on about it, but mention it. I think it’s really nice, and it’s something I’ve been trying to do more of as well, is put a little bit of a human touch to the things that I’ve been doing.

Ian: Yeah. I think that works really well with your newsletter. It’s interesting to find the person – to kind of realize that the person writing this is actually another human being. I know that sounds silly, but we forget that. And actually, people are interested in other people.

Ashley: Yeah, that’s what makes it all tick. People like Pat Flynn are really popular for that, because he’s personalized and made humble his experience with people, and even though he’s extremely famous, he doesn’t behave that way. So I think that’s really nice.

All right, last point before we wrap up, because I don’t want to keep you on the phone all day, and I don’t want to keep our listeners. As Rob Cubbon said, “Keep jogging! You’ve got another half an hour to go!” Because a lot of people listen to this when they’re on the go. I like my podcasts, because I can do a walk and basically fit a podcast in or something.

But anyway, the last one is hold back on your secrets. I’m not sure I fully understood this one. Maybe you can quickly expand this. I was just speed reading it all earlier.

Ian: The title is “Hold back on your mystical secrets.” I think the first sentence says it all: “Social media, SEO, and digital marketing are all dark arts, ones that require years of training and research from the University of Middle Earth.”

What I’m trying to say here is that marketing – we’re talking about marketing here, so marketing and most other – science, if you’re studying biology or chemistry, they all have buzzwords, these mystical, strange words.

In marketing, we’ve got words such as “clickability,” “big data,” “gamification,” “agile marketing,” “KPI,” “PPC,” “ROI.” When I first started reading articles, I kept on seeing these words written, and I didn’t have a clue, “What’s ROI?” I feel stupid admitting that now, but I’m going to admit it. I didn’t have a clue what ROI was. People assumed that everyone else knew what they meant.

So what I was trying to say there is just admit it when you don’t know. And actually, if you are writing an article, don’t just expect your readers to understand what you’re talking about, because there are bound to be people that are coming into this for the first time who really don’t have a clue.

I just think that quite often, we always want to build these inner circles where we share these mystical words with each other, with this kind of virtual knowing smile, like – not an in joke, but this inner circle. And I think that’s a shame.

What I was trying to say, the best thing to do here really is to build trust by giving away your knowledge. That is quite counterintuitive, giving away your knowledge, but if you give away your knowledge and explain things and don’t try and hold things back, then people will trust you. You’re building up trust.

If you’re a social media guru, of course, you’re not going to do that, and people are going to maybe think that you know everything about everything. But actually, probably, the truth of the matter is that you don’t, and you’re just trying to make it look like you do.

Ashley: This is actually an interesting point, the giving away of knowledge, because I was answering a question, or participating in a discussion in a LinkedIn group yesterday, and the girl’s question was “What is the line that you draw in terms of giving away your knowledge for free?”

I answered it in terms of my point of view, which is coming more from a blog post point of view, and I think potentially one of the other people who answered it was answering it from the point of view of people booking your time in order to pick your brain for free, which are two different things. I think you have to be really careful with that, of course.

But keeping all your knowledge to yourself and never giving anything away, or not even giving a lot of it away, I think is actually counterproductive. And it’s also counterintuitive to think that, because you think, “If I tell people everything, then why would they want to pay me for anything, or why would they want to buy my products?”

But the one thing I’ve realized from listening to people who do it and still are extremely successful is that people are lazy, and you may give away all your information, but that doesn’t mean people are going to know how to implement it or understood what you’ve written or have the time to do it.

So people are still going to come to you and say, “Okay, I’ve read three of your blog posts on building a website; I can understand that you know what you’re talking about, and I need a website. I’m not going to go and learn how to do it, so I’ll pay you to do it.” By showing that you can do something, you’re advertising that you’re the person to come to.

Whereas thinking that everyone’s going to read your blog post and go out and do what you just said is actually completely incorrect. Those people are never going to pay you anyway.

Ian: Absolutely. The thing is, if people go to your blog post and you hold back your secrets, do you know what they’re going to do? They’re going to go somewhere else until they find the answer to that, and you’ve lost them forever.

They may read your article and they may think, “Wow, this guy knows what they’re talking about. I’m going to do it,” and then a month later, “Do you know what? I can’t be bothered. I haven’t got enough time. I’m going to make contact with this guy and see if they can do it for me.” I keep hearing that time and time again, what you just said. So yeah, just give away your secrets, and you will find that you are busier than ever.

Ashley: Yeah, by not giving everything away, you may prevent, I don’t know, some small percentage of really enthusiastic people with a lot of time who are just starting something or have time on their hands, for whatever reason.

Ian: You were never going to have them as a customer anyway, probably.

Ashley: Exactly, exactly, that’s just what I was going to say. Okay, you’re preventing them – by not giving the information, you’re making them pay for it, but they’re either going to resent you anyway and not want to do it, or they’re going to go and find someone else, like you say. Because everything is on the internet somewhere, pretty much. There’s a very small amount of information that’s not out there.

And the nice thing, like what Sarah said on her podcast yesterday, was that she has a $7 eBook that gives you a kickstart into getting into webinars. She said, “Look, quite honestly, if you don’t want to pay that $7 bucks, you can go and find that information on the internet somewhere and go for it. If you don’t want to spend the money, then you can do that.” But yeah, it’s $7 bucks and it probably saves you hours and hours of work. That’s up to you. Time is money.

Ian: Absolutely.

Ashley: All right, that’s all I wanted to cover today. We’ve got tons of other stuff to discuss, and we’ll postpone that to another podcast on all the tools of social media, because you use a lot.

Actually, one I quickly wanted to touch on before we end was I think you use that as well. That’s a really good way of keeping your Twitter contacts in your mind. How would you quickly explain

Ian: It’s a community tool. It enables you to segment your Twitter followers, or the people you follow on Twitter, into different I suppose demographics, different groups. Obviously, you can do that with Twitter Lists, but this really helps you. It comes up with people that you should maybe follow, people that would be good to reply to, people who are in your – who engage with you. It helps you keep on top of that.

And it also helps you – I was talking earlier about this thank you replacement list that enables you to quickly respond to these people just by adding these replies in a more engaging way. I use that on a regular basis, and I find it really, really useful.

Ashley: Yeah, I only jump into it occasionally, but actually every time I do, I’m reminded how nice it is. Basically it does things like saying, if you’re getting a lot of tweets and you’re over the hundreds of followers, maybe into the thousand, you won’t notice all your tweets anymore. You won’t have time to see them all.

It’ll say “This person has more recently been engaging with you. You haven’t written to them for awhile. This person has tweeted a lot of your stuff recently. This person is in your circle of influence but you’ve never engaged with them, and they have a lot of followers. Maybe you should connect with them.”

I think that’s really cool. It actually summarizes a lot of really useful things you could be doing to advance your Twitter following in a very quick and easy format. I really like it.

Ian: Definitely. That’s good.

Ashley: Okay, so that’s basically it. Don’t go crazy on automation – I’m just going to quickly summarize – Don’t get on every platform; get on the right ones. You don’t have to be everywhere, as Pat Flynn says. Don’t buy your followers. Don’t follow everyone back; selectively follow people.

Be human, engage with people, try to write a few tweets to people who are tweeting to you or re-tweeting you and ask them what they thought of something or how their day’s going, just a couple of times a day, do that. Just make it a habit.

I haven’t done it myself, and I admit my mistake there. I should do that more often, but I’ve seen people doing it, and it really works. People even doing it to me and making me respond to them, and I think that’s really cool.

Yeah, be better on social media. Don’t just pretend you’re behind a computer all day long. Get relationships, and I think your articles are great there. That was really cool, and I really appreciate your time, and we’ll book in another slot in the next few months and we’ll do another one on tools for social media.

Ian: That’ll be great. I’ll really look forward to that.

Ashley: All right. Thanks for your time again.

Ian: No problem.

Ashley: Have a good day.

Ian: Bye.

Send Ian A Thank You

If you enjoyed this Social Media chat with Ian, why not send him a thank you Tweet…

Thank Ian with a Thank You Tweet

Posts and Resources from the Podcast

Ian’s Posts Discussed in the Podcast

Stop Saying Thank You on Social Media & Say Something Meaningful!

* Mark Schaefer’s Post – Why I stopped thanking people on the social web

How to become a Social Media Guru in 20 Steps (beware lots of irony)

Social Media Tools  (keep track of your Twitter Interactions)

Triberr (Online Sharing Community)

ManageFlitter (Manage Your Twitter Followers) (Find your fake followers)

TweetAdder (Twitter Follower Search and Easy Add)

Followerwonk (Find your best times to tweet)

Connect with Ian – Seriously Social – Ian’s Website



Thanks for the Review on iTunes – Or Stitcher

As this podcast is just starting out, I would really appreciate it if you could leave a review on iTunes to help me promote it and reach more people.

I have a quick How To Do a Review on iTunes (only because it may not be so simple to find the place to do it).

Previous Podcast Episodes

If you don’t really need to head to iTunes or Stitcher, you can find all the previous podcasts here

Final Words

Social media is a great place to make connections and develop relationships online.

Don’t forget to interact with people, it can make a real difference.

If you have any questions of comments please let us know in the comments below – OR you can leave a voice mail on Speak Pipe :>

About the Author Ashley Faulkes

Ashley is obsessed with SEO and WordPress. He is also the founder of Mad Lemmings. When he is not busy helping clients get higher on Google he can be found doing crazy sports in the Swiss Alps (or eating too much chocolate - a habit he is trying to break).

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