This week is about social media. One of the interesting / intimidating / freaky parts about growing a brand and business is putting things out into the world on social media. The first few times I was followed or liked by people I don’t know I a) was excited because it meant the messages I shared were spreading and b) had a deep desire to know who these people were.  

I allow anyone to follow me on Instagram, Twitter and the Small Town Leadership Facebook page. I’ve already shared my process for connecting with people on LinkedIn. On my personal Facebook page, I don’t typically accept a friend request unless I know the person or we have several friends in common.

Because I allow anyone to follow me on Instagram, I’ve started to pick up on the techniques people use to grow followership.  I’ll post something with a popular hashtag and attract a handful of new followers, only to lose most of them after a couple of days. I usually click on all of the profiles, and if I like what I see, I will follow them back. It’s pretty obvious to me that some are in the game of “I’ll follow you if you follow me back.”

This whole process has had me think about what a true connection on social media is. That’s why I turned to Shauna Orr, or Social Shauna as I’ve grown to know her, to ask her what true connection on social media looks like. Here are her top takeaways:

  • Size doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter the size of your following on social media. What matters is if people are having  real conversation about the content you are posting.
  • Make sure you are connecting with an actual person. There are a significant number of automatic programs and “bots” that will go out and like social media posts and follow new people on your behalf. Shauna said if you aren’t getting a response from a real person, it’s time to review the social media strategy.
  • Use the hashtag search. Many social media users use hashtags as a way to organize and label content. Find content and creators who resonate with you through this type of search.
  • Make time for authentic connection. Once you find people and brands that resonate with you, set aside 15-20 minutes a day to make a REAL connection. Ways to do this could include responding to people with a thoughtful comment or question about their post / picture / article; posting someone else’s work with a comment and tagging them on your social pages; finding material that would resonate with others in your network and tagging them on social media.
  • Bottom line: Make REAL time to interact with REAL people to make a REAL connection.

Here are some of the things I’ve started doing as a response to digital overwhelm:

  • Send a personal email. I send a personal email (in addition to the automatic email) to those who sign up on my email list who I don’t know. This makes me feel like I’m making an authentic connection and that they can reach out to the “real” person who is sending the emails and creating the content.
  • Profile deep dives. I take time to dig into people’s profiles on social media. In some instances, it’s a way to make me feel connected without taking further action. In other cases, I’ll send them a private message in order to revive an existing relationship or establish a new connection.
  • Comment more frequently. It’s easy to hit a heart or thumbs up on posts. Taking time to make a thoughtful comment is the extra step I’m working hard to take on days when I’m investing in social media connections.

Thanks, Shauna, for this great advice and getting me started on making REAL social media connections. If you’d like to learn more from Shauna, find her on Twitter @SocialShauna, LinkedIn, and at

Don’t even feel like you are ready to hit social media yet within your networking strategy? Reach out to me at so we can dig into what might be getting in the way.

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Small Town Leadership Founder; Natalie believes everything she needed to know to succeed in her career she learned by growing up in a town of 600 people. As a Certified Professional Coach and award-winning public speaker, she helps her clients and audiences make wherever they are feel like a small town. She lives in Dublin, Ohio with her husband, Rob, a professor at Ohio State and two little girls.

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