In Guest Posts on
January 18, 2017

How to Grow Your Social Media Following Without Selling Your Soul

Social media | Marketing | Blogging | Blogging tips | Success | Business | Girl boss | Entrepreneurship | Twitter | Instagram | Social


By Michelle Rick


“If you get bored with social media, it’s because you’re trying to get more value than you create.” Fast Company

Have you seen that episode of Silicon Valley where Jared, out of good intent and desperation, hires a click farm to spike his company’s user numbers? Click farms are real, and they’re a good example of how far people will go to boost their follower count. And then there are the robots that automatically like posts with certain hashtags, people who follow you just so you’ll follow them back before they unfollow you, et cetera.

But you don’t have to swipe a credit card or sell your soul to build a following on social media…

The first time I really saw a post of mine resonate with an audience was at my first social media job, when I wrote about harmful thoughts and how they block creativity.

I was stunned at number of comments I received. People all over the world were pouring their hearts out to me about the inner critics they wanted to defeat so they could keep doing what they loved.

That’s when I realized that authenticity and speaking honestly about what matters most is key to getting shared and seen. If it mattered to me, it had to matter to someone else out there.

Boosted posts and audience targeting have their place, but there’s no real substitute for human interaction in social sharing.

Jordan Dansky said it best:  “In some way or another, your story will resonate with others. Sharing our collective human experiences is the most wonderful benefit of social media in my mind.”

Plenty of people use social media get attention and collect likes, but if you’re missing the puzzle piece of authenticity, it can end up feeling like the world’s most difficult video game. Teenage Instagram star Essena O’Neill addressed this when she quit social media in 2015, and rewrote the captions on all her photos with honest but imperfect truths. This move got her more attention than her Instagram stardom ever had.

What are we really looking for when we instinctively scroll through our Instagram feeds as we wait for our morning latte? Are we really trying to see how great someone else’s life is, or do we crave the authenticity that made Socality Barbie an overnight success?

Social media is a dialog, not a monologue. So give value. Educate. Entertain. Edutain!

Here are some tips on boosting your visibility and getting growth, without feeling gross about it!

Tell your story

Throwbacks and flashbacks are totally a thing, so feel free to travel back and forth in time. Talk about the milestones in your past, what you’re up to today if you fancy it, or offer sneak peeks of what the future holds.

And don’t be afraid to get real and a little personal. Like Bianca said, the posts that leave you a little scared to hit publish are everything.

Offer something unique

Maybe you have an amazing memory for meaningful movie quotes or Spice Girls lyrics. Share it! If you live in Vancouver, show everyone how beautiful your city is and offer insider tips on the best dishes at the hottest restaurants in town. If you know how to dress up a vintage cardigan, let the world know. Be original in the way that only you can!

Engage with your audience

Posing questions and putting calls to action into your post captions is a great way to get more comments and learn about what really makes your social community tick. Collecting feedback can also help you optimize the content you post.

And, of course, take the time to respond to or at least like the comments you get! It’ll make your followers feel valued and apt to stay tuned.

Pick out some staple hashtags

You can fit up to 30 hashtags into a comment with your Instagram post. As you may have noticed, most bloggers put their hashtags into a comment with five dots on a separate line to hide the full comment with all the hashtags and give a cleaner appearance.

Use a text editor to save all your hashtags in one paragraph, like your phone’s built-in notes app. Copy and paste all the dot with the hashtags into the comment box below your brand new post. It’s best to do this as quickly as you can once the post is live, so try to have your hashtags picked out beforehand.

Different niches have different hashtags, and you can do a little research by exploring hashtags on Instagram. For example, if you’re all about the #girlboss hashtag, consider using #ladyboss and #womeninbusiness too. They’re less popular, which isn’t necessarily bad — it means your photo has a better chance of becoming a top post and won’t be pushed down in the feed as quickly.

Twitter is also a very hashtag-friendly platform, but make sure you don’t overdo it. There’s no way to hide the hashtags with you’re limited to 140 characters. Utilizing trending hashtags works well here.

Start an engagement group

If you have some friends who are also interested in growing their social media presences, you can comment and like each other’s posts on Facebook and Instagram. You can retweet each other’s tweets, repin each other’s pins, you get the gist. The idea that you get as much as you’re giving is a great system to keeping everyone accountable.

You won’t gain 100 followers per day, but you’ll steadily gain the right kind of followers. Social media is really an extension of how you present yourself to the world. Figure out what makes you unique and double down on it.

Remember, your vibe attracts your tribe. Make it a good one.

Visit Michelle’s brilliant blog at


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  • Liv Woodward

    There’s some great advise here. I think engagement is definitely key – and the metric everyone should care most about tbh. Honestly, I get more excited when I get one comment on a blog post than when I get 100 views.

    When it comes to marketing and using social media as a business, again I think it’s important. If you’re selling something, sure it’s important to reach a large audience, but it’s more important to reach an engaged audience that has a history of really paying attention to what it is you’re saying. Anyone can click a link – but when someone engages through a comment or reply, that’s when you know you’ve got a good audience.

    Liv //

    January 18, 2017 at 2:19 pm Reply
    • Michelle Rick

      Hi Liv, thanks for reading! I couldn’t agree more, an engaged audience is so much more important than simply a large one.

      January 22, 2017 at 11:23 pm Reply
  • Laura

    As soon as I read the title of this post I knew I was going to love it! I’ve struggled with exactly this lately. Great guest post and amazing tips which I will certainly try to utilize! x

    Laura // Middle of Adventure

    January 18, 2017 at 3:09 pm Reply
    • Michelle Rick

      I’m so happy to hear that you enjoyed it, Laura! Thanks for commenting.

      January 22, 2017 at 11:23 pm Reply
  • Kate

    Really grat tips and advice – thank you so much for sharing!

    Kate |

    January 19, 2017 at 10:40 am Reply
    • Michelle Rick

      Thanks for reading, Kate. I’m glad you enjoyed the advice 🙂

      January 22, 2017 at 11:24 pm Reply
  • Shannon

    Such great advice and insight! I’ve definitely been trying to do most of things to not sell my soul on social media haha. Thanks for sharing! #societygal

    January 19, 2017 at 9:42 pm Reply
    • Michelle Rick

      Thanks for readinng, Shannon! So glad you enjoyed it 🙂

      January 22, 2017 at 11:28 pm Reply
  • Stacy & Maria

    What a great read! Thanks for all the advice! The using less popular hashtags is something we never thought about! Thanks again.
    xoxo Stacy & Maria of HashtagsAndHandbags

    January 19, 2017 at 11:12 pm Reply
  • Harriet

    I love your comment on doing throwbacks, I’d never thought of that! I think I need to try and work out what ‘unique’ thing I have to offer yet though… I’m just your average not so exciting girl! lol! xxx

    January 22, 2017 at 10:02 am Reply
    • Michelle Rick

      Harriet, I checked out your blog and absolutely love it! I love how honest and upfront you are about why you started blogging, and your Health Kick post! Those glittery pink shoes are everything 🙂 Thanks for reading!

      January 22, 2017 at 11:30 pm Reply
  • Emma @ The Happy Journal

    This post was so useful! Thank you for sharing this!

    January 22, 2017 at 11:46 am Reply
    • Michelle Rick

      Thanks for reading and commenting, Emma! So glad you found it useful 🙂

      January 22, 2017 at 11:33 pm Reply
  • Jeanette Mundy

    Great post! It’s really refreshing to hear someone talk about authenticity and actually mean it in the true sense of the word. My latest blog post has a love letter to my soul! Pushing publish and sharing that on social media just now was a risk I took because I have to be me xo

    January 22, 2017 at 12:37 pm Reply
    • Michelle Rick

      I love this, Jeanette! I’ll definitely have to check out your blog post. I definitely think that when things come from a genuine, honest place they resonate more with others. That’s definitely on the “pro” list for social media to me. Thanks for reading!

      January 22, 2017 at 11:35 pm Reply
  • Emily

    I’m really a fan of your perspective — I occasionally start to worry about my follower count and other stats, but honestly, I enjoy blogging so much more when I just write what comes naturally!

    And YES to that tip about having your hashtags saved and ready to go!


    January 23, 2017 at 7:34 pm Reply
    • biancabass

      Emily, thank you so much for taking the time to read and comment! I also worry about my stats every now and then, but I think it’s important to remind ourselves why we started blogging in the first place. I truly believe that if you write authentically and promote your work in the right places, you’ll find the right audience over time! In fact, your comment has inspired me to write something about how to stop obsessing over page views. Thank you! ?

      January 28, 2017 at 11:04 am Reply
  • Umberta

    Interesting & true post!

    January 23, 2017 at 8:20 pm Reply
    • biancabass

      Thanks so much for taking the time to read and comment, Umberta!

      January 28, 2017 at 10:59 am Reply
  • Jade

    This is so true! It’s hard not to get caught up in the numbers game because so much relies on higher numbers. Like consistent page views and being able to do sponsored posts. But it’s so important to be authentic and to not feel like you’re “selling out” to get the numbers you want. Thanks for such a great post!

    January 24, 2017 at 3:23 am Reply
    • biancabass

      Thank you so much for taking the time to read and comment, Jade! I totally agree about the consistent page views, and how easy it is to obsess over them. I do this more than I’d like to admit! However, I think it’s important to keep the bigger picture in mind and remember that the more we fixate on the numbers, the less we’re going to be attracting the readers who will stick around and truly engage with our content. Like so many things in life, it’s a balance ? your blog is excellent — keep going and trust the timing!

      January 28, 2017 at 10:58 am Reply
  • Kristie

    These are all great tips! Finding what works for you and being actively engaged with your audience is so important. Social media doesn’t have to be hard, you’ve just got to be willing to invest your authenticity in your brand. I love everything you pointed out!

    January 24, 2017 at 3:42 am Reply
    • biancabass

      Thank you so much for reading and taking the time to comment, Kristie! I also recommend keeping a conclusions and learnings doc if possible, with any wins / losses and a sentence on why that might have been. It’s been really helpful for me in figuring out what works and what doesn’t ?

      January 28, 2017 at 10:55 am Reply
  • Vicki @ Babies to Bookworms

    These are great tips!

    January 24, 2017 at 8:22 pm Reply
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  • How to Grow Your Social Media Following Without Selling Your Soul - Michelle Rick

    […] tips on boosting your visibility and getting growth (without feeling gross about it) visit the original post on Bianca Bass’s […]

    March 24, 2017 at 4:03 am Reply
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