How Can We Possibly Connect With ALL Our Followers?

I recently had a post entitled Marketing 101: Loving & Taking Care of Our Readers. Overall, the post resonated with most people. We all appreciate genuine and kind relationships on social media sites, as opposed to feeling “used” by others to promote themselves and their books.

However, the post did generate a few responses like, “Yeah, that sounds like a great idea in theory—to love and take care of your readers—but how in the world can you do that on a practical level?”

Betsy of @SevenEagles asked, “Just does one generously support over 1,200 followers? Are you able to personally connect with each one? Read all their blogs? Do you have a schedule you follow for when you pay them visits?"

Kristie Jackson asked, “Love the idea of connecting genuinely with readers and potential readers online. I just would love to know how people who do this well, do it without letting the social media part take over their life?”

The bottom line is that it IS hard to keep up with social media. It’s difficult no matter how many followers we have. But it gets more difficult as our web presence grows. If I were to even try to visit over 1200 blogs or chat with all my twitter followers, I’d have a new full time job. And I certainly wouldn’t have time for my writing—which is the most important aspect of my writing career (go figure!).

Here are a few things I’m learning about juggling social media relationships as my web presence grows:

1. As our presence grows, we won’t be able to keep up. And that’s normal.

When we first start blogging, we usually build our followings through reciprocal visiting and commenting on other blogs. That’s often the best way to meet people and find community. And we can do the same thing on Twitter. Get involved in writing communities. Meet and follow other writers.

However, as our followings grow, we won’t have the time to actively visit other blogs the same way. We won’t be able to read every tweet or comment when a friend says something on Facebook.

It’s normal (and even healthy) for writers to grow beyond their capacity. Agents and publishers like when writers are growing their followings. It tells them that the writer is doing something right.

2. Since building a brand is important, we shouldn’t limit our followings.

If we’re growing as we should be, we’ll likely reach a phase where we start to feel overwhelmed, like we can’t keep up with everyone. If we put the pressure on ourselves to keep doing what we did at first, we’ll get stressed.

Some writers take the approach of paring back their followers, limiting not only who they follow, even withdrawing from social media. But since numbers do matter (see this post: Why Are We So Obsessed With Our Numbers), we won’t be helping our efforts to pull back.

As we grow in our writing careers and build our readerships, we’ll always have more readers to meet. We won’t turn readers away simply because we have more than we can personally know or reach out to.

We can’t shut down because we’re overwhelmed. Instead, we need to get used to relating to new people in manageable ways.

3. We’ll have to look for ways to adjust our way of relating to others.

So, once we reach that place of being overwhelmed and unable to keep up the way we once did, what do we do (besides give up!)? How can we still genuinely care and connect with the followers we have? Is it even possible?

I believe it IS still possible to love and care for our readers and followers no matter how many we have. But we’ll need to do so on different levels:

Personal level: This is the level that takes the most time and will likely need the most adjusting. Maybe we won’t be able to respond to each blog comment anymore or reciprocate blog visits. But we can work to answer questions within blog posts or on twitter and respond to personal emails and messages. In other words, we can still be approachable and available.

Impersonal level: As we grow, we may have to address followers in a group effort. For example, I often answer individual questions in blog posts. That allows me to share my thoughts with everyone who may have a similar question. We can also support other bloggers when we retweet their links, shout out their good news, and help draw attention to their accomplishments. It might not be personal, but it’s supportive.

Professional level: Through our blogs and other articles, we can look for ways to give encouragement, support, knowledge, inspiration, and all of the things our readers need and appreciate. We can look for ways to bless our readers. Because ultimately it’s about them, not us.

What about you? Have you reached a point where you’ve been overwhelmed with trying to keep up with social media? Have you had to adjust your way of relating to others and if so, how?


  1. I haven't had to adjust yet, but I can definitely see how I will need to. Even as it is, checking blogs and tweets is taking time away from my actual writing. I'm not on any deadlines yet so I can afford the luxury, but I wonder how much of that will change once I start editing my book?

  2. Hi Paul,
    I think once a writer enters into the contracted or published stage of their writing career, it definitely gets harder to keep up with followings the way we used to. We'll have new responsiblities but we won't gain more time in which to do those things! At that point, we definitely have to figure out ways to keep on relating without getting discouraged and giving up. Because that's when it becomes even more critical for our social media presence to keep growing.

  3. I should probably work out some kind of schedule for social media work. At the moment I fit bits in here and there during the day as notifications come in by e-mail.

  4. I've been going to other blogs, and it seems like every day I find new ones that I want revisit. As the list grows it becomes harder to visit them all in one day and read the posts carefully. Did you find that was the case, before you were published?

    Thank you for the great post on something that I was literally just thinking about.

  5. Paul, I think building in some "social media" time is a good thing. It's part of the "job" too. If you know you'll give yourself 15-30 minutes later, then it's easier to focus on the writing time.

    Mark, glad the post hit home. And yes, I definitely found that to be true. My numbers of blogging connections became too high to visit all in one day. I had to spread it out over a week. And now, I only have time to visit blogs that catch my attention on Twitter. (Which shows the importance of Twitter links and titles!)

  6. Yes, and I've taken some tips from you. I have such a hyper conscience, I tend to feel badly if I don't connect individually with everyone, but I like how you've broken this out into different catagories, different ways to connect. It eases the pressure and helps give a realistic perspective on what one person can do.
    ~ Wendy

  7. Yes, I've def. been overwhelmed but I've adjusted and right now the schedule I have seems to be working really well for me, so I'm happy with it.
    Good post!

  8. Practical advice, as always. For me, the question always is-how can I make them all happy with my content? As our readership grows, it may also change as both writers and readers stumble across the blog through various channels. I think you've blogged about this in the past. I'll dig around in your archives to find my answer.

  9. Have I said before that you're a wise woman, Jody? Seriously. This is great.

    I'm not to the point where I need to pare back yet, but when I get to that point, I'll be following your model for sure.

    Happy Wednesday! :)

  10. I haven't reached that level yet, but I like your approach, Jody, although I do miss your visits and comments on my blog. But I totally get it.

  11. Thanks so much for your advice. I'm beginning to struggle with keeping up with all of the great blogs out there, but I want to support my friends and fellow writers. If I set aside a small amount of time each day, I may not be able to keep up the way I used to, but at least I'll be able to check in.

    Great post, as always!

  12. Every three months, I have to adjust how I approach social media. Part of it is my growing platform, and the other part is my personal schedule. My children's sports, in particular, dictate the time I spend online.

    I use all the strategies you mentioned!

  13. thanks Jody, everything you write in your blog is so helpful. When i started writing I had no idea the marketing would be so much work and take so much time. I have to really budget my time to get it in and I still feel I'm not doing enough. Can you tell me how much time is spent doing what?
    Elizabeth Loraine

  14. It's a very fair question but I love the honesty of your answer. There are only so many hours in the day (so THANK YOU, once again, for the time you spend retweeting our links!) and our job is really to write, so we can't ignore that responsibility because of other aspects of our writing life.

    Thank you for practical ways to try to find that balance we all so desperately need. And once again, kudos to you for always keeping all the balls in the air with such grace. You're truly a model to emulate...

  15. Anna asked: For me, the question always is-how can I make them all happy with my content?

    My response: Anna, that's a great question. I'm going to save a really full answer for a future post. But in the meantime, I'll just say, I think that is really the question that we're striving for with our books too. We want the words of our books to resonate with our BOOK readers. AND we want the words of our post to resonate with our BLOG readers. In both instances, I think our goal is figuring out how we can grab our readers right where they need it most.

  16. Loraine E asked: I have to really budget my time to get it in and I still feel I'm not doing enough. Can you tell me how much time is spent doing what?

    My Answer: I really think the amount of time we need to spend at social media is going to vary depending on where we're at in our writing careers. I really think newer writers need to spend the majority of their time focusing on learning how to write (and not worry so much about growing their followings). But those who are actively querying and getting near publication, will have to budget in more time for social media. At my stage, as a published author, I break up my social media time into several chunks throughout the day. I look at it as part of the job, but still devote the majority of my "writing time" toward the actual writing work.

    I usually spend about four hours writing for every one hour on social media (includes blogs, Twitter, FB, emails, etc). When I'm on deadline, the writing time goes up even more and social media time goes down.

  17. Yep, I'm totally overwhelmed. And I REALLY want to stay connected with everyone like I used to but it's impossible. I've just come to terms with that and if my followers can't understand that it's difficult and feel insulted by it, then that's only skin off their own nose. One day they'll be in the same position and realize how difficult it is. It just can't be helped.

    Great post, Jody!

  18. I love social media, but I have to be careful to not let it eat away the very limited time I have that I need to devote to my writing. The writing must come first.

  19. This post was very timely. I have under 100 followers on my blog and on twitter and not that many comments on my blog but I am already getting overwhelmed. And like Mark, I keep finding more blogs, like yours, that are helpful and fun to read but when do I write? Plus I'm working on my photography too and have a full time job. Aaagh! I'd like to take a month off to regroup but worry that I will lose the small following that I have. I need to figure out a schedule.

  20. Overwhelmed? Umm, yeah, just a tad. I haven't had time for social media lately. And my muse has dried up in regard to blog topics.

    I'm taking time in June to reconnect without the pressure of writing while juggling a full time job, family, church, and everything.

    As always, another terrific post, Jody!

  21. There have been times when I wonder if I WANT my followers to grow beyond what I can respond to - because I like that personal interaction. It's part of why I blog. But I like your progression, and I think it's inevitable, if we're going to be successful professionally. Which, I think, is the goal of most writers.

    Thanks for the great post!

  22. Timely post. I've just started to feel overwhelmed with blogger. I haven't been visiting people nearly as much as I used to and it's hard to carve out enough time. Thank you for the advice!

  23. My time is starting get the best of me. I want to visit more blogs and get to know new bloggers, but I find it a bit crazed sometimes.

    I like your suggestions Jody. Thanks.


  24. I try (too) hard to keep everybody in the personal category, and it's not working out for me very well. :)

  25. Excellent advice Jody. It can become very difficult and downright overwhelming trying to keep up when you have so many things spinning at once. I find it highly valuable to create an initial social media strategy and different phases for it. As you progress, you're already prepared for how to react and adjust yourself accordingly.

  26. Jody, when my freelance writing began to take off this fall, my blog reading really changed. I could no longer enjoy leisure mornings of keeping up with everyone. I do feel guilty about that, and perhaps my readership wasn't where it was for you at the point when you got overwhelmed. It's been a little frustrating for me knowing I still need to be growing my blog presence, but also have real work that pays that I must attend to first. But like you said, and I keep this in mind when I start to feel frustrated about it, I've got to do the first thing first: write. And if I'm spending all my time reading blogs and responding to social network, I don't meet my deadline...bottom line. So, I'm still out there, but only building my presence slowly because I'm a writer who is, happily, getting paid for her work. I still find the blogging exchange very valuable, though, and love when I can connect in that more personal way.

    Great post! Good food for thought. Thanks. :)

  27. Hi Jody,

    great post.

    I don't even have a book published yet (fingers crossed) and i already can't cope with my Twitter/blog following.

    I agree, we can't really know everyone who connects with us of social media. BUT i think we do need to make some new friends and grow the QUALITY of our support network. As well as not limiting who we follow.

    I used to comment (religiously) on the blogs of people as the signed to my website or Twitter. I can't do this any more. It is neither time efficient or creates the strong bonds that i like.

    Instead, i pick a few people every now and again that i would LIKE to know better. I post on their blog posts, i send them tweets, Retweet their tweets. They either think i'm a fruit-loop stalker and i back off, or they start to reciprocate. I learn something about a few of my followers/people i follow and i feel that something good has come out of all the new followers i gained.

    No one remembers one lone tweet you send them, but they normally do when you RT, tweet, respond on their blog several times over a few week period.

    Don't know what i will do when i can't even get time for that.

    tricky tricky.

    great post

    sarah ketley

  28. These comments have been as helpful as the initial posts. Especially Jody's answer about budgeting time and how it's different depending on where you are as a writer, not just where you're at in number of followers and comments received. Thanks!

  29. Did you write this post just for me, Judy? :)) Probably not, but it's just what I needed to read today. I'm adjusting to the stress of a growing web presence and searching for ways to budget my time so that I'm actually WRITING again. The tips and insights your shared here make me feel so much better about it all. Thanks! (And thanks to Jessica Bell for reading my post today and leaving a link to this post for me in the comments.)

    Have a wonderful weekend!

  30. Oops, was thinking 'Jody' and my fingers typed 'Judy.' Sorry, sweetie!! (I really need to preview my comments!)

  31. Wonderful post, Jody, and timely for me this week. I don't visit everyone anymore, but I have the "regulars" I visit daily whenever possible. I feel guiltiest when I am unable to reach them for a while. Your tips are all wise, as always! :-)

  32. I'm glad you addressed this. It is so easy to get swept away in the flurry of social media that we get burnt out trying to figure out how to "do it all".

  33. This is a great post.

    I am already overwhelmed and not remotely close to being published. I implemented a social media schedule to help me keep things in balance. Still, it's so easy to give myself 5 more minutes and then I'll go write (or whatever). Great suggestions. I appreciate your honesty on the subject.

  34. Wonderful insight. You painted a positive picture of a logical progression.

  35. I am at the stage where I have to start and do things differently, but it seems like everyone else I've grown up with on here is at the same stage anyway so it should pan out in the end. Moving all my feeds to google so I can fly through them quicker helps too.

  36. Yes, I completely get this!

    I've come to the conclusion that there are seasons to blogging/social media, just as there are seasons to parenting and many other parts of life. When I first started blogging, I read furiously, commented, wrote guest posts, etc. Now that I run two growing blogs and write books, my strategy has changed and my time must be spent much more intentionally.

    Thanks for these great thoughts, Jody!


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