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As a new blogger, one of the things that everyone tells you to do is build your social media presence. “Social media will drive traffic!” “If you want to monetize, you have to have a large following to attract brands!” “Social media will save the world!”
Ok, maybe not that last one.
So you dive in. You create your accounts. You tweet some tweets and pin some pins. And you wait for the likes and comments and saves to roll in. Except…they don’t. Building a social media presence is, in fact, a lot harder than you think.
In the blogging course I was taking, one of the recommendations to get things jump started is to join a social media sharing thread. So I did. And this is my story of the biggest mistake I made with sharing threads (and how you can avoid it).
What Is A Sharing Thread?
Before I jump into the story, I should first explain what a sharing thread is. Because I had definitely never heard of them before my blogging course.
A sharing thread is made up of a group of bloggers that band together to help each other out. Each day is usually dedicated to a specific social media (such as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest) or blog action. For instance, let’s say Monday is Twitter day. All the bloggers in the thread will leave a tweet, and then everyone will like and/or retweet all the tweets in the thread. So if there are 20 bloggers in the thread, you will like/retweet 19 other tweets and the tweet you left will get 19 likes/retweets. Basically you give love to a lot of tweets, and then, in return, your tweet gets a lot of love.
Why Are Sharing Threads Important?
As I said above, building a social media presence is hard. It’s not uncommon to put something out there (like an Instagram post) and get radio silence. Sharing threads not only ensure that your Instagram post gets some reactions, it helps get it in front of people who wouldn’t normally see it. Which hopefully leads to some new followers.
What Types of Sharing Threads Are Out There?
There are an amazing amount of sharing threads. It can be that everyone has to repin a pin, or like an Instagram post, or share a Facebook post, or comment on a blog post. It can include clicking through on links or following you on your account. Basically, anything that could be helpful in boosting your social media presence or driving traffic to your blog.
What Are the Rules of Sharing Threads?
The number one rule of all sharing threads in 100% reciprocation. That means, if you add something to the thread, you are committing to completing the action of the day on every single person’s link by the established deadline. Because it is totally a jerky thing to do to drop your Pinterest pin, have everyone in the thread repin it, and you do nothing in return.
Outside of 100% reciprocation, the rules depend on the administrators of the group. Some common rules include your account must be in English, it must be family friendly, and no dropping of ad links. Some threads also have content rules based on a specific niche (such as only travel-related content).
I should mention, sharing threads administrators are super serious about the rules (as they should be). If you don’t follow them exactly, you will get banned from the group.
What Was My Mistake?
Now that you have a basic idea of what a sharing thread is, let’s get back to the story. So, as I said, the blogging course introduced the idea of sharing threads and then actually gave us the opportunity to join one with the other students. It felt super easy. Every day the thread was posted in our Facebook group, everyone would read the rules, drop their links, and do the required action. Some days there would be 5 links. Some days there would be up to 20 or 25.
Feeling like I had this sharing thread down, I decided to join one of the recommended, larger sharing thread groups on Facebook. There were a few that were suggested, and I ended up choosing the Blog Support Group. After filling out the brief questionnaire, I waited for approval to join. Less than 24 hours later I was in.
Unlike the very small, one-thread-a-day group I had been in, this group was massive. As I started looking through all the options, I felt like a kid in a candy shop! I could do all the different social medias every single day! I could have more than 25 people on the thread! And then, my eyes stopped.
I saw my first follow thread. Set up for Twitter, this sharing thread stayed opened for 10 days. If you dropped your twitter profile page into the comments, you were agreeing to follow everyone in the thread and everyone would follow you.
This felt like gold. I was struggling to get my Twitter numbers into a respectable range. With this thread, maybe I could get 50 or even 100 more! The idea was tantalizing, so I dropped my profile link into the comments.
And I kept scrolling. Next I found the Facebook follow thread. And the Instagram follow thread. And the Pinterest follow thread. All of them had the same rules. Open for 10 days. You follow everyone and everyone follows you.
I dropped my respective links into every single thread.
Drinking From A Firehose
That was my biggest mistake. As excited as I was by the possibility of getting some followers, I failed to recognize the warning in the post: “These follow threads tend to get really active.”
They weren’t kidding. Within the first 24 hours, all four of the threads that I had joined had over 200 people in them. And counting.
Which meant I had a lot of work to do. Tedious, time-consuming work. I spent hours going through each thread, opening all the links, making sure I followed each account, and then signifying that I had done my duty (which you do by liking the comment the link was in). Every time I felt like I had made progress, my Facebook notifications would let me know that more links had been added to the thread (and every other thread). I felt like I was drinking from a firehouse.
It became all consuming. Personally, I have a hard time concentrating when I have an unfinished task, and so the other things I needed to do (such as write new blog posts) began to slide as I frantically tried to keep up with all my follows.
Introducing Facebook Jail
That’s when I was introduced to Facebook and Instagram jail. Now, again, in the guidelines for the follow threads, there was a caution. Right after the statement that the threads get active, there was a warning to do your follows in batches of 20-25 in order to avoid getting penalized. I wasn’t exactly sure what they were talking about, but I had, for the most part, been following the suggestion.
Then, late one night, I wasn’t paying attention. I was in the Facebook follow thread, and was pretty much on autopilot. Open link, like the page, close the page, like the comment. I was cruising along until, suddenly, I pushed like and I got an error message. Basically it said that I was “going to fast” with the like feature and so Facebook wasn’t going to let me do it anymore for “awhile.”
Awhile turned out to be 24 hours.
Frustrated by the restriction, and feeling like I would never catch up as I watched more comments drop on the thread, I switched over to the Instagram thread. Just a few minutes in, it happened again. Except Instagram didn’t even give me a message. It just stopped letting me like any accounts. For several hours.
Getting Caught Up
The two jails (as they are referred to in the sharing thread by other frustrated bloggers) ended up being a blessing in disguise. It forced me to close the threads and focus on other things. Which helped me get my perspective back. Eventually my restrictions were lifted, and I learned to slow down. I decided to go back to the recommended 20-25 at a time and then move on. It took me several days to get caught up in each thread, at which point they started to slow down. I finished out the 10 days being able to easily do the 10-15 (or less) that were added each day.
What Did I Learn?
Sharing threads can be great. And yes, I did see a big boost in my numbers on all my accounts. Sort of (more on that in an upcoming post). But I’m not sure that it was worth it. The stress to make sure that I followed the rules of 100% reciprocation within the deadline could potentially have been negligible if I had only joined one follow thread. But doing four follow threads, all with extended windows of entry, was enough to drive anyone crazy. And I got pretty close.
So from one new blogger to another, if you are thinking about joining a sharing thread, here’s how to avoid making the same mistake: Take it easy. Yes, it is tempting to join as many threads as you can (did I mention that I also joined two daily threads on top of the four follow threads? Yup, I’m insane.). But if you are in a large group (Blog Support Group has almost 25,000 members), then take seriously the idea that the threads can get very long. Figure out how much time you really have to devote to the reciprocation part of the thread and then only join as many threads as you can feasibly accomplish with your sanity in tact.
It can be hard to ignore all the other available threads. In my eagerness to reach my goals, there are still times that I am tempted to join more than I should. But as I focus on only doing one or two threads at a time, I have found that my overall blogging experience has benefited. I am able to concentrate on all the other millions of things a new blogger needs to do. And I enjoy being on the threads a lot more.
Next time, I hope that I don’t have to learn the lesson the really hard way.
Have you joined a sharing thread? Share your experiences in the comments below!
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