a sign outside that says wake me up when I'm famous

Hear ye, hear ye. I call into order today, for all social media users and gurus alike to take heed of some practices that are becoming trends.

I love using social media as an aide to grow my engagement and expand my audience.

In the midst of my growth, I’m seeing some tacky practices that other business owners and I are tired of seeing.

So today I call an order to put an end to all the nonsense and do better as a people.

1. Follow/Unfollow/Follow/Unfollow

I don’t know why this is a trend, and what makes anyone think this is a great idea, but it’s not. If I follow you, I’m interested in your content. If you follow me I think you’re thinking the same.

“This is the person I want to engage with. This could lead to future meet-ups, collaborations. Let’s do this!”

Then the unfollow two seconds later…because it’s cute to have more followers than people following you…or something.


Could it have been a mistake? Sure, but is it a mistake if you play the follow/unfollow game a million times? What is fun? Sending you an invitation to the block party.

Cut that out! 

Follow the people you want to follow and engage with them. Be authentic. Sure that phrase has run its course, but it holds true. Maybe they’ll follow back after a while, maybe they won’t ever. That’s their choice. You are not entitled to followers!

2. Buying Likes and Followers

When I was younger, as an only child, I had an imaginary friend. Her name was Veronica and she had magic powers to go from human to unicorn. My mom went along with it because this is her child with a vivid imagination. She sat at the table with us for dinner (though she was never hungry because magical unicorns are never hungry), and she and I played games.

But when I wanted to buy things for her with actual money, my mom put a stop to that.

How is this story relevant?

Because when you are buying followers and likes, you’re giving money to humanlike unicorns that don’t really exist.


On top of that, people are really lazy with theirs. How do you 6,000 followers and 58 photos that are most likely from Unsplash? Do you see how the math doesn’t add up? At least try to make it look realistic.

The kicker? Every now and then Instagram and Facebook (tomato/tomata) go on an anti-spam cleaning spree and will trash all of your faux accounts. You magically go from 10K to 200. Do you want to be embarrassed like that?

Granted, some accounts are spam and that’s not something you can help. Some are REALLY good at looking real, but that’s not what we’re talking about right now. We’re talking about you actively purchasing those accounts to “look” cool.

If you’re wanting to contribute to a brand and worry that your numbers are too low, focus on engagement. I have 390+ followers on Instagram. I know why my follower account is on the low end- I focused too much on Twitter than I did Instagram and got caught up in the algorithm rapture.

But I have a plan. In the last month, I went from 335 to 390. How? Constant posting and engaging on all parts of Instagram. Doing this without the help of anyone else is a big win for me. Plus, I have control over my account. When you give your money to these random companies, you lose control and it’s hard to get it back. You might as well throw the entire account away and start over.

Don’t play yourself or your funds. Build organically by creating content that will attract followers and again, focus on engagement.

3. Using Bots to Comment







What is this? Why would you leave this kind of comment on anyone’s post?

Bots only know a handful of emojis to leave randomly and it baffles me. One, they don’t always fit the post. For example, someone left a, “Love this!” On a post about how I’m trying to get through a rough week of depression. Really? Do you love that? You think it’s worthy of a wink and a smile?

If you’re using a bot system or an IFTT (If This Than That) recipe to engage, don’t. Turn the feature off and also throw that in the trash, because it’s trash 🚮

Take a moment out of your day and write a comment. If you can’t reply right then, that’s fine. It’s better to wait until you have time than using a mindless emoji.

4. Promoting yourself on someone else’s account.

My post about branding is not a post for you to talk about your mixed tape, your photography business, your fitness page, your “competing services” unless you want to collaborate, your acting reel, or your YouTube channel.

The nerve to go on someone’s page and make it about you is baffling. How dare you? Why dare you? What you SHOULD do is build up followers on YOUR social media page. Do not slide into my posts or DMs, because that’s the fastest way to get blocked.

Unless one asks for your services, do not promote yourself on their page, period. 

5. Teaching webinars to “beat” algorithms and other unrealistic expectations.

This is what you can’t do: beat an algorithm a billion-dollar company has created. It’s not realistic. Taking advantage of people who want to grow their social media without understanding how it works is dishonest and should be illegal.

Doing this, “one-trick” will not help you gain 1000 followers in one minute. It’s impossible and you know it.

There are so many tricks and tools you can use to increase your engagement, but you have to understand it will take time and you have to be proactive throughout the process. When things change, you have to be able to adjust and roll with the process.

There are people who teach how to work with the algorithms, which is a different story, but one cannot simply “beat” an algorithm. We as users have to learn how to adapt to them. Most importantly, since we are not in control of our social media accounts 100%, we must use them as an asset to our brand, not the base. That’s where the getcha-gotcha comes in and how you end up losing in the end.

So if anyone tells you they can show you how to beat an algorithm when you pay $997, run for the hills!

In the end:

Follow accounts whose information you value. Work on your platforms so you can have engaging content but remember–you are not worthy of a follower.

Save your money and hire a strategist if you want to grow but feel stuck. It’s OK to not know what you’re doing and ask for help. Just don’t take the easy way out.

Even though we don’t have 100% control over our social media accounts, we can use that 90 percent to our advantage by having authentic engagement with our audience. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to grow, just make sure you have a realistic strategy that complies with the platforms.

Bonus: not all platforms are treated the same, so plan accordingly. Being proactive is the best way to stay ahead of the curve. Keep up with upcoming trends and find a way to use them in your brand.

FIVE12 Tip: When working on growth, don’t worry about numbers. That will get you in your feelings and make feel discouraged. Engagement is the biggest focus here.

This closes out the FIVE12 Social Media State of the Union. Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

PS. How many times can one mention “engagement” in a single post?