- Using the floaty ‘Follow’ button in WordPress only makes posts visible in the WordPress Reader. If you want to ‘follow’ someone and be notified by email when they post, you need to ‘follow by email’, which is different.
Bottom line: Put a highly-visible follow-by-email button on your site.
- Gain an immediate (and impressive!) follower count boost by linking your accounts on Facebook, Twitter and other platforms to your WordPress account. But beware: if your blog has a high post count before you do, you may upset your followers…
For years, my follower count was at 130. It didn’t matter what I wrote about, nor how objectively ‘good’ the posts were; that number remained resolutely static.
And then I discovered The Daily Post‘s First Friday, a weekly open thread where any new blogger can share a link to their very first post with the larger WordPress.com community. Spending some time visiting, liking, commenting on and following the new blogs advertised there pays dividends; my follower count increases steadily when I do this, although it is a pretty time-consuming exercise.
(The Daily Post also features Community Pool, where more established bloggers can highlight their own blog posts every Monday. This is one way to reach a new audience.)
Some (not all) bloggers have a ‘follow-for-follow’ policy, so anyone who follows them gets followed back. I know of one blogger who owned up (and kudos to them for their honesty) to using this technique to build up a following of over 1000 in a relatively short space of time. You may — or may not — wish to utilise such a tactic yourself.
But the really big surprise came when I linked my Twitter and Facebook accounts to my WordPress blog: my follower count jumped from 196 to 503! So perhaps this is how those blogs I see with ‘followers’ in the thousands get those silly numbers?
I did some digging in the support forums, and found this:
If you have connected any of your social networking services (such as Facebook or Twitter) through our Publicize feature, counts for your followers on those services will also be shown.
… the sad thing (for me) is that I found one day, soon after I’d allowed the connection between WordPress, Facebook and Twitter, that The System was reposting old posts (like, from long, long ago) to my Facebook and Twitter feeds. Needless to say, I immediately disconnected these erring things — spam sucks, and no spam sucks more than old spam. Sure enough, my follower count dropped back to near 200 once again.
I got in touch with a WordPress Happiness Engineer about this spam problem. I was told that ‘Publicize’ will share old posts if they weren’t shared in the past, and that if I didn’t want certain posts to be shared, I could disable it on specific posts.
The problem is: I currently have over 400 published posts… and the thought of going through all of those and manually disabling the shares on each of them gives me a severe case of the screaming heebiejeebies!
The Happiness Engineer admitted that the only option is to automatically share each post and then manually turn sharing off again after publication. One other idea is to skip the automatic publishing and use the share buttons to manually share the posts instead. Neither of which is ideal (and for the purposes of this post, neither one increases your follower count).
So, learn from my mistake: if you’re going to share your blog to other platforms, do it before your blog post count gets too high!