(Note: please forgive the unedited draft of this article released Friday evening)
Although some are working this angle, social media is not about making a fast buck. It’s about building trust and your reputation as an expert in your field. Trust is not earned overnight. On the other hand, distrust and a bad reputation can develop quickly.
Not everyone is cut out for the social media marathon. It takes time and effort. It is often a lonely game in the beginning. Submitting your first blog post, delivering your first tweet, or Facebook status update is usually met with the little fanfare.
As you network and make connections over time, you will gain followers. If you offer quality, insightful and unique information people will refer you, share your content, and encourage others to become a part of your community.
Some people don’t have the patience. They are sprinters. They charge out of the gate, knock on every door and invite every warm body that says yes into their community. They gain numbers fast and work them hard. In the end, they don’t find the rewards they thought they would with such large numbers. They don’t earn the results.
Social media is not about quantity; it’s about quality. Winners earn both quality and quantity. Having a large following of people who trust and care about you is extremely powerful.
Once you get past a few plateaus and earn critical mass you will notice how your following will compound and your calls to action will be answered in greater numbers with positive results.
Over time the competition will drop out of the race. Yes, new people will fill their shoes, but you will have been promoted in the standings, gaining new followers and earning more trust. Time will reward you with more influence.
The more power you have, the greater your responsibility. If you earn a large following the temptation is to attempt to squeeze every bit of social media ROI (return on influence) into fast-cash ROI (return on investment). This is the quickest way to lose trust and credibility with people you have worked so hard to earn.
Every social media platform has a different tipping point, or critical mass, in which your influence starts to carry a little weight.
The best method of gaining quality followers is to remember it’s about them. Give, give and give some more. It can take months or years to reach your goals, but that is why social media is a long-term project.