The Biggest Mistake I Made With Sharing Threads
Blogging Tips,  Travel

The Biggest Mistake I Made With Sharing Threads (and How You Can Avoid It)

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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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50 Comments

  • Pam

    Really good advice! Years ago I joined a blog comment group and it was so time-consuming commenting on 100 different blogs. What was sad is I think I only got about 25 comments on my own post – so many people weren’t even following through! I do some social sharing now, but try to keep it to a reasonable amount.

    • Janine

      I agree! It’s disheartening when you spend so much time replying to others and then they don’t hold up their end of the bargain. I definitely learned that the hard way and have become much more selective since then.

  • Jocelyn

    Thanks for sharing! Great tips and insight. I sometimes get caught up in it all, too. I had never thought about some of the things you mentioned, like getting into one too big. Great things to think about as I move forward.

  • Kristi @ Way Beyond The Norm

    Yes, girl, YES!!!! I only do the share threads if I feel like I can handle them at the time. There are some weeks where I have nothing on my plate, so I do them. Then there are other weeks when I know I’ll be running from one place to the next or doing way too many things. I have to limit myself and back off of those threads. It starts getting burdensome when there are hundreds of comments on a post and it requires 100% participation. Sometimes I wish those group moderators would be like “hey y’all, the group is getting quite large, so we’re going to say you have to reciprocate 10 at a minimum.” I’d do more if I have the time, but some days I just have the time to do a few. I think it would also give bloggers a chance to really get to know a few other bloggers that they click with…which in turn gives the blog more meaningful comments and followers.

    • Janine

      I agree! I’ve met a few bloggers who I really like and enjoy following, which is great. But yes, sometimes I go back to check and see the number of posts on the thread and my heart just stops as I think of how much time it’s going to take.

    • Janine

      Wow. I’ve seen some that long and couldn’t bring myself to join. That is a lot of liking! Kudos to you for finishing.

  • Katie

    AMEN! But also great to know it boosted numbers, I’m a newbie blogger too, and I’ll make sure not to it off more than I can chew or get “jailed”!

    • Janine

      Yes, it’s a bit of a catch 22. Your numbers boost and you meet some great new people. But it takes a lot of time (potentially away from other blogger things you need to do). So it’s all about prioritizing!

    • Janine

      I couldn’t agree more. Now I always think, what do I actually have time to do today? And how much do I WANT to do today?

  • Megan

    Great post and great advice. I can feel overwhelmed sometimes with just a small sharing thread. I keep having to remind myself with my 9-day-old blog that I won’t have a zillion followers overnight–and that’s ok. Keep plugging away!

    • Janine

      I hear ya. I always want to be 100 steps farther ahead than I am. Which sometimes pushes me to do crazy things (like join all those threads). I have to consistently remind myself that it is a marathon not a sprint.

  • Annick

    Sharing threads have a learning curve for sure! I’ve had to write a post it note to myself as a reminder to return to some of the threads and make sure I’ve completed all the shares! I’ve tried to avoid anything that is open for longer than 24 hours and only jump onboard when I have some time. Great tips for new bloggers!

    • Janine

      I use a sticky note on my laptop to remember them. And I find it helpful to save the thread so that I can find them easily.

  • Heidi

    Great post! I have been very careful in finding the appropriate threads to post my content on- it can be very time consuming like you said!

  • Tina

    Agree with this so much! I am a member of several comment pods on Instagram. What I have learned is that it’s better to take it slow, and really focus on engaging with the people in your pod – and ones that you find on social media, rather than just commenting or liking to do it. These people will now follow and engage with me, and I can continually build up real engagement.

  • T.M. Brown

    Posts like these are great because they were what steered me away from making that mistake early in my blogging. I still bite off more than I can chew at times, but I evaluate my day, my week, etc to see if I can complete the task. If I can’t, I really try hard to mention something in the post before it closes (such as a family emergency or not feeling well), but that doesn’t happen often. Thanks for sharing your experience – I KNOW it will be a benefit to others as they read through it and begin their own blogging journeys.

    • Janine

      Thank you for that! Yes, so much of the advice out there is from long term, established bloggers. Which is helpful on many levels. But don’t always address the situations and mistakes that you make as a newbie. I am hoping that these tips will help people just like me!

  • Dominique

    This is a great post. As a new blogger, I often get overwhelmed about sharing threads and it becomes difficult to keep up. This is the first time I have read about someone having the same issues that I have been having.

    • Janine

      So glad I could help you understand that a lot of this feel this way. It’s like drinking from a firehose for a new blogger.

  • Rebecca

    So true! It can be like drinking from a fire hose…haha…Moderation in all things is ideal. It’s a marathon not a sprint.

  • Ruth

    Thank you for sharing your experiences! I hesitate to join other blogging sharing groups because I can barely keep up with our class sharing group. Maybe if I didn’t have kids or a job I could devote all my time to building my numbers but I want to attract real people interested and have real connections. I take too long enjoying everyone’s blog and giving sincere comments that I’ve fallen behind. I’m a true to my word kinda person so I’m doing the best I can to keep up. Thanks again for sharing your experiences!

    • Janine

      I think you’re doing great. We have to prioritize what is more important, and for you that just might not be haring threads at the moment. And that’s ok! I totally agree that it is best to attract people who are truly interested in your blog.

  • Yetunde

    I always make a point to join the threads/groups that have a quota e.g. at least 5 links. That way I’m not spending all of my time reciprocating and I can actually give thoughtful feedback. Nice post btw.

    • Janine

      That’s a really good idea. I also like doing the “insta” ones – where they’re only open for 30 minutes or the like. So I know it’s quick and I can get it done. And thanks!

  • Lesley Connor

    A really great post. I also found the sharing threads overly time consuming, and began to question whether I was getting value for my time. I re-evaluated after one particularly long thread when I got nowhere near the number of comments I theoretically should have and a number of participants said they “tweeted all”, whereas I had not one single re-tweet. I felt like I had wasted an awful lot of time promoting others blogs with no return. Am now very selective which ones I join

    • Janine

      I hear ya. I’ve been very disappointed in the amount of people who don’t reciprocate. I find that I am also much more selective on which ones I choose.

  • Mykki

    I’ve joined a couple of sharing threads on Twitter, but I’m cautious about it because I don’t want to be roped into following and interacting with content that might not serve my best interests or be relevant to me. So I avoid the ones that require participants to like and follow each and every single post added.

    • Janine

      That’s smart. I’ve definitely become more cautious about which ones I join. Luckily there are quite a few that have content restrictions (mostly language or other potentially offensive content) so you can have the assurance that you won’t have to send out things that could upset your followers.

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