Blogging can be tough most days. As a blogger, you are up against a lot. Algorithms. Timelines. Feeds. SEO. Rankings. To be honest, it’s exhausting.
You always have to be on top of the new strategies and trends. Everyone is always trying to get ahead. And they don’t care who they step on in the process.
Recently, there’s been a lot of buzz on Instagram strategies. I talked about one, Instagram loops, last month and that conversation hasn’t fizzled out. In fact, it’s grown. Now the conversation has grown into comment pods, follow/unfollow tactics and buying fake followers.
And this isn’t coming from fellow bloggers. This is coming right from the horse’s mouth: the brands and PR. Whether you want to believe it or not, they are looking at followers. They are asking hard questions. This is long overdue and I am relieved to know that this is happening.
The Wake Up Call
If hearing that brands and PR are starting to question some blogging practices isn’t a wake up call, then I don’t know what is.
Let’s take comment pods, for example. Brands are starting to view pod activity as fraudulent. Why? Because it artificially inflates the post’s performance. Brands don’t want to reach fellow bloggers. They want to reach the mom down the street or the dad at the grocery store.
I know, we are moms and dads, too. We shop, too. But, in a way, they already have us. They want to get to the next level of shoppers. The people they don’t have in their pockets.
If brands and PR are starting to ask about comment pods, Secret Loops and buying followers are next. Let’s face it. Comment pods are pretty tame when you compare them to Secret “Loops” and inflating your numbers by buying followers.
It’s ok to go against the grain.
I have seen these conversation come up time and again. Usually, the same thing results. Someone raises a very valid point and they they are shamed for their opinion. I guess that’s the way of the internet these days, isn’t it?
You don’t agree with me you’re being a bully. You think what I’m doing is wrong and you asked me about it? It’s a witch hunt.
This is not a witch hunt or bullying. This is asking questions and trying to figure out where this industry is going.
It is our job to be aware of what’s going on in our industry. We shouldn’t be told to stay in our lane or to not peek over the fence.
I’ve been blogging for 11 years now. And I didn’t get to where I am by staying in my lane.
I made u-turns.
I ran into dead ends.
Peek Over the Fence
It’s ok to pick your head up from time to time and see what your peers are doing. Most days you will find bloggers and influencers hanging out in Facebook groups. Whether you call them masterminds, hives, tribes, whatever the newest name for the week is, these groups exist so we can peek over the fence.
We share what’s working and what’s not. Some things are good and some things are, well, not so good. When someone questions something, don’t dismiss them. These conversations can be healthy and productive. When evaluating new strategies and techniques, you need to look at them from all the angles. See why they’re working and, maybe, why they’re not. If something smells funny, it’s usually rotten.
Stop telling people to mind their own business. My business is to see what others are doing so that I can learn from their successes (and failures) to stay my course.
At the end of the day, I believe we all want to be on the right side of things. That’s why we disclose, over hashtag, link and tag, and go above and beyond. We want to be perceived as doing the right thing.
Why do you care?
That’s usually the first question you get when you question a popular strategy. Why do you care so much what everyone else is doing?
To put it simply, it’s my business to care. We need brands and PR to trust us bloggers and influencers. How can they trust us when we are inflating our numbers and asking our friends to comment/like? It can be rough waters to navigate when we are trying to feed into an algorithm that predetermines if our content is gonna sink or sail. But it’s our job to get our content to float.
There’s plenty of room at the table.
I have heard this saying so many times in my years as a blogger. While I agree with this saying to an extent, it can be a little disheartening. There’s plenty of room at the table when the table is on an even playing field. Those of us who are choosing to stay authentic are being punished. We are losing jobs to those who are employing these tactics to inflate their numbers.
This inflation is raising the bar higher and higher and, in some cases, that bar is not attainable to the majority of bloggers who are trying to grow.
Where do we go from here?
Open dialogue is key if we are to hurdle this. It’s ok for someone to ask you questions about what you are doing. It’s ok for everyone to not agree. Instead of jumping the gun and feeling attacked, take a look at the questions that you are being asked. We can all get excited when something is working for us that we can put blinders on to the downsides. Or maybe you just don’t care. And that is ok too.
This industry has so much potential. We are more than just hawking product on Instagram or going viral. We started off in this industry being about the people. The connections. The recent Facebook changes give me hope that we are going back.
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