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6 Answers to Common Social Media Questions

Social Media Answers

This blog post contains affiliate links.

Let’s face it, when it comes to social media, we’re all still learning. Sure, some people call themselves Social Media Gurus and experts, but the truth is, we’re all still finding our way. Many of us have spent time on social media researching, strategizing, tweaking, analysing, playing and reporting. However there are always going to be questions, and asking questions is a great way to learn!

In this article I cover 6 common social media questions and I’ll attempt to answer them!

#1 Should I send LinkedIn connection requests to people I don’t know?
Should I accept LinkedIn connection requests from people I don’t know?


  • Quick Answer: No
  • Slightly Longer Answer: Technically you shouldn’t send connection requests to people you don’t know, but there are exceptions to this rule. It’s up to you whether you want to accept connection requests from people you don’t know- there are some advantages and disadvantages in this.

It’s a common question, and it comes down to the fact that LinkedIn is very different to other social networks such as Facebook and Twitter. LinkedIn is a professional network and aimed primarily at business connections. To connect with someone on LinkedIn, you both need to agree to this connection i.e. it’s a reciprocal 2-way connection – just like Facebook friends.

The question definitely divides the marketing community, and you’ll see passionate arguments on both sides! My view is that it is down to your marketing strategy. Technically sending a connection request to someone you don’t know is against the LinkedIn User Agreement. If someone receives a connection request from someone they don’t know they can respond by checking “I don’t know this person”. LinkedIn monitors the amount of “I don’t know”s and once you reach a certain amount, you can get a warning and potentially your account could be restricted. You can read more on this LinkedIn company page entitled Close to Being Restricted.

My strategy is to only send and receive connection requests to/from people I know in some way. That could mean I know them in person, or I could have exchanged emails or had a conversation on another network such as Twitter.  I know some people advocate growing your network as large as possible. Despite that going against LinkedIn’s terms, I can kind of see the logic in that strategy, but it doesn’t work for me. Can you vouch for all your connections? What if someone asks how you know one of your connections? That happened to me once, and because I had just accepted this person (someone that I didn’t really know) I wasn’t able to say anything about them. Don’t chase numbers- chase real connections and real relationships!

Having said that, there are exceptions to this rule. Social media is mainly down to building relationships. Why should LinkedIn be any different? If you don’t know the person have a look at their profile and see whether it would be helpful to connect to them – if they are someone relevant and influential. If you really don’t know them, then reply personally to start with a conversation. Many do reply and we get to know each other from then on. Unfortunately some never reply and it was fairly obvious that they weren’t interested in connecting with me as such, but just chasing numbers.

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Should I accept LinkedIn connection requests from people I don't know?Click To Tweet

#2 How do I get more followers on Twitter?


  • Quick Answer: It’s not about followers- it’s about community and relationships
  • Slightly Longer Answer: Don’t just chase followers. If you do, you could end up with lots of irrelevant followers who never engage with you. Instead seek to build a community of people who want to engage with you.

It might sound controversial, but the number of followers you have isn’t everything! It can make you look good if you have loads of followers, but at the end of the day, you need to make sure you are getting followers who are relevant to you. Instead of asking the question on how to increase your followers, it’s better to ask how to build your community on Twitter. It’s far better to have a small number of engaged followers who are interested in what you are saying and interact with you regularly. Having 50,000 followers or fans might make you feel important, but is that your ultimate goal? How about building existing relationships, or creating new ones? How about increasing sales? Surely those are better goals to achieve?

If you’re interested in building up your community and building your relationships, then there is a better question to answer. Here are some tips:

  • Use a tool such as twtrland* to help you find influencers in your area. Follow the people your influencers/competitors follow – Once you find the people your competitors or influencers follow, you can start to follow them. The people they follow are likely to be the ones you’d like to follow.
  • Use the tool* – it’s a social media relationship tool which helps you find and build your community on Twitter.
  • Regular quality posts – make sure you are consistently posting quality and relevant content- the kind of stuff that the people you want to follow you will like.
  • Comment/mention/get involved – get involved with your community and reply to the tweets of the people in your community. It’s a way to build relationships and nobody likes a timeline of one way tweets.
  • Say more than thank you– if someone retweets you or shares your stuff, don’t just say “thank you” – turn the situation in to an opportunity.
  • Use relevant hashtags – a lot of people use Twitter search or follow a particular hashtag. You’ll extend your reach significantly if you do this. Use a tool such as Ritetag
  • Be a giver and not just a taker- be authentically helpful.

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#3 Should you always follow back?

Twitter Fail Whale

  • Quick Answer: No
  • Slightly Longer Answer: No. It’s always best to review each follower and make a decision with each one. Otherwise you’ll end up following irrelevant, spammy or obscene Twitter accounts.

This would be a better question if it asked “When should I follow back?”. In an ideal world, only people who were genuinely interested in you and your posts would follow you. However, people follow a social media account for many reasons:

  • Because they love that business or brand
  • Because they are interested in their posts
  • Because they want them to follow them back
  • Because they want to spam them
  • Because they want to bombard them with obscene posts and links

You could automate the process, like some people do, and automatically follow everyone back. However, it’s highly probable that you’ll end up following some rather unsavory types – spammers and obscene accounts. It’s even more probable that you’ll end up with lots of followers who will never engage with you. They could be dormant accounts or accounts totally irrelevant to you and who will never engage with you.

My approach is to check the people who followed me and see if they are relevant. More often than not I will follow them back. I’m not so concerned about a cluttered timeline on Facebook and Twitter because I use lists. That allows me to zoom in and not miss the updates from people I really want to follow. It’s quite easy to spot spammers and irrelevant profiles, and using a tool such as ManageFlitter can really make this easy.

Listen to this interview with Mark Schaefer on How to Succeed on Twitter (Social Media Marketing Podcast):

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#4 How often should you blog or post on a social network?


Photo Credit: photosteve101 via Compfight cc

  • Quick Answer: It depends!
  • Slightly Longer Answer: There isn’t an easy answer to this question. First of all, it’s best to ask yourself why you want to blog at all! What are you trying to achieve? Once you answer this, you’ll need to work out how long and in-depth your posts will be and how long it will take you to write them. The frequency of your social media posts is completely different and depends on the platform.

This sounds like a simple question, but it really isn’t. You need to work out what frequency will work for you. Let’s tackle blogging first. Have you asked yourself what you are wishing to achieve through your blog? Is it for fun? If so, I suppose it doesn’t matter – just blog when you feel like it. Is it to market your business, have you formed a strategy and what you want to achieve through your blog? Who are you trying to target?

We are all drowning in a sea of content. So much content is being created or re-purposed over day. With this in mind, you need to create quality content – content that resonates with people and creates a buzz. You may be able to create short quality content on a very regular basis – that’s great! You may be very good at creating highly detailed and in-depth articles on a much less regular basis- that’s great too! You have to find a schedule that works for you and your business. Remember too, that there are different types of content. If writing articles isn’t your thing or the thing of your potential customers, then try other formats such as videos, slideshows, images or podcasts.

Working out how often you post on your social media channels is going to be different again. Each network has to be treated differently. Twitter is fast moving, and each tweet has a very short half life. Back in 2012, Peter Bray wrote a fascinating article on the average lifespan of a Tweet entitled When Is My Tweet’s Prime of Life? (published on the Moz Blog). He discovered that each tweet had a prime time of visibility for 18 minutes! And this was back in 2012, so that number is likely to have decreased. With that in mind, it’s best to publish much more regularly on Twitter so that your Tweets are seen to different audiences throughout the day. There are plenty of tools to help you schedule, track, analyse and monitor- read 20+ Tools that willl turn you into a Twitter Power User.

As for LinkedIn, Google+ and Facebook, it’s best to post far less regularly- and concentrate on quality content. Facebook ranks all posts using its EdgeRank algorithm and you’ll get penalised if you are posting too regularly content that people aren’t engaging with. If you want to increase your visibility and reach on Facebook, then a recent article on the Agora Pulse blog will be your friend – 5 Ways to Get More Organic Reach for Your Facebook Posts. Nicholas Grizzell gives some great advice such as posting at non-peak times, be timely, posting more often, embedding your posts and more.

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#5 Should I use automated direct messages on Twitter?

Automated DMs

  • Quick Answer: NO!
  • Slightly Longer Answer: NO!

If you’ve been on Twitter even for a short time, I am sure you will have received direct messages similar to the following:

  • Hey, thanks for following me, I really appreciate it! Please also like my Facebook page.
  • Thx 4 the follow. Really looking forwards to reading your tweets
  • Thanks for the follow. Download my free ebook. Normally $7 trillion dollars, but for you – free!

The technique is to set up a system to send automatic direct messages to new followers. It may seem like a good idea at first. Instead of personally thanking your new followers, why not automate the process? Well, you shouldn’t send automated direct messages to new followers for many reasons:

  • You can’t control who you are sending the message to
    The new follower might be a spammer or might not speak the same language as you
  • It gives the impression of a lack of sincerity or genuineness.
    You wouldn’t automate an initial conversation or a “thank you” in real life. An automated direct message can give the impression that you just can’t be bothered. Don’t just say thank you on social media– say something meaningful and connect with them personally.
  • It dramatically increases your unfollow rate
    There is no doubt about it, automatic direct messages annoy a lot of people. So much so, that many will actually unfollow you. Research by (the now defunct) Optify, showed a 245% increase in the unfollow rates after using this technique.
  • It makes direct messages unusable
    My direct message inbox is broken. It’s broken because it’s drowning in a sea of automated direct messages. Have a look at the screenshot and you’ll see a small proportion of my direct messages- they’re all automated ones! On the occasion that someone sends me a genuine personal direct message, it can sometimes get lost in the sea of spam.

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#6 Should I buy followers?

Buy Twitter Followers

  • Quick Answer: NO!
  • Slightly Longer Answer: No, unless you want an army of zombie spam followers!

We’ve already covered why you shouldn’t be focussed on increasing your followers in #2. Concentrate on building up your community and building real relationships with people. Having said that, there can still be a temptation to increase the number of followers – just to look good. Building up a large number of relevant and engaged followers takes time and effort, so why bother when you can get lots of followers from Fiverr for $5?!

Well, there are quite a few reasons actually:

  • When you buy followers, they’re almost never going to engage with you. They’ll be zombie accounts. That means your engagement will drop dramatically. On Facebook that means your EdgeRank score will drop and your reach will decrease.
  • Buying followers is against Twitter and Facebook’s terms of service
  • You find your account compromised. It’s not always the case, but some follower services may ask for your log in details and gain access to your account. This could mean that your account could send spam messages to your followers or your account could be hijacked.
  • Loss of integrity and reputation. It can look very suspicious if you have gained a huge amount of followers in a short space of time. It’s also easy to see how many spammy followers an account has. You could get found out- and that could mean you or your business loses its integrity and reputation.

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What are your Questions?

I’ve included 6 social media questions, but I could have included a lot more. Have you got a question? If so, ask it below. I’ll try and answer your question, and I might include it a forthcoming article! Did any of the questions or answers above resonate with you? If so, let me know in the comments below!

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Shanella Gunaratna

What does it mean if I see or
At the end of a comment made by a friend on social media (FB) is it a link or is it a monitoring tool or what. Pls help

Shanella Gunaratna

Chris Mathan

I can’t find an answer to this simple question anywhere. I have been hired to open social media accounts and manage them for a 100 year old (now) non-profit. I don’t mind the accounts being in my name but at some time in the future, someone else will be managing the accounts. As a non-profit, no one is an owner or will be there indefinitely. Whose names should the accounts be in and can they be transferred to someone else in the future. I understand the accounts can have multiple editors but not owners.

Shan Raj

What is the best way to increase traffic from Particular zone to your website?


Thank you for useful article! I was surprised with the results of the research on #5 245% increased unfollow rates because of those annoying auto messages.
Do you think auto messages on Twitter hurts your account always and should be avoided all the time?
Or it can be useful but the message content should be much more valuable than ‘Thx for follow, like my other page … ‘
If yes, how should a successful auto message look like?

Leonie Thomas

Thank you for putting together this advice and providing the resources, Ian. I’m sure I will refer back frequently!

Saul Fleischman

Thank you for recommending RiteTag, Ian. I like your answers – all of them. As for an alternative to DMs in Twitter, for engaging, let me share one of the things that I do seven days/week, and numerous times, a RiteTag exclusive:

1. Get the RiteTag browser extension (Chrome, Firefox, Safari).

2. In Tweetdeck/Hootsuite, click a name to open the Twitter account mini-profile, go to the bottom of it for “Run hashtag audit…” – and basically you get what you need to get on anyone’s radar. Re-hashtag a retweet, auto-schedule. Do another, send now. Do a third, send a day or two later.

Get ready to be talking. This is how I got to talk with Ian, and what got us in Inc Magazine, Forbes and The Next Web. Customers, too, naturally.


See this

Saul Fleischman

Yeah, sorry – animated gifs don’t animate in comments here, I see. The Audit feature: you can audit your own or any public (not “protected”) Twitter account – whether they follow you or not. That’s on the site. But also, in Tweetdeck/Hootsuite, click a name to open the Twitter account mini-profile, go to the bottom of it for “Run hashtag audit…” – and basically you get what you need to get on anyone’s radar. I do this every day, and it opens so many doors.

Ahmad Imran

First time I have been on your blog. Nice one Ian and I enjoyed reading this article. Some solid advice and real-life experience is evident in your words. I myself believe that just followers mean very little, they have to be engaged and loyal followers. This comes with true quality, effort, consistency and building relationships.

Christopher Watkins

Thanks for a fine article, and for touching off such an interesting stream of comments! Particularly fascinating how so many of them respond directly to the issues around connecting/networking on LinkedIn; clear proof, it would seem, that LI remains a dark horse of sorts on the social landscape; a reputation LI themselves haven’t done much to dispel, unfortunately; the rate at which LI seems to come in and out of focus for me as regards its outreach and engagement efficacy is borderline dizzying. I want to second one of the comments below in particular, for praising the organizing principle of your post; it’s simply really well done, and a nice proof of concept of what you touch on in #4; quality content! In the end I think I am most especially appreciative of the ways in which this post serves to remind us that a) we have to remember our fundamentals when it comes to social, and b) there is a difference between etiquette and manners; you memorize the former, but you LEARN the latter! Part of why I find social so appealing, in fact, is actually its old-fashioned-ness; in many ways, it’s a return to an earlier time, when… Read more »

Yael Kochman

Great post Ian, agree on almost everything you said 🙂 In regards to Linkedin – I disagree. I think LI is a networking platform and just like in a conference you don’t want to network only with those you know already, you want to meet new people, learn about them and build new relationships.

So my answer is – Yes. You should send LI invites to people you don’t know. BUT:

1. Don’t do it just to collect connections. It really doesn’t matter how many connections you have.
2. Only send invites to people you are truly interested in ad think you have something to offer or ask them.
3. In your connection invitation, state what it is that you want from them, or that they’ll probably ignore it.
4. If they accepted the invitation, follow up as quickly as you can and start building the relationship.

I met a lot of great people this way that I wouldn’t have met without this pro-active approach.


After I saw the headline and started to read the post I had one burning question: Facebook. We’re fairly new on social media and building up our community from the nothing. We aim for an audience that is truly interested in what we do, and I have to admit that trying to grow an organic audience as a page on FB is a struggle. Then I saw you refer to a recent post about Facebook visibility issues in question #4. Still, I’d be very interested in what you have to say about the FB situation. Other than that, excellent post with very helpful answers and explanations.


My pleasure Ian! Yeah, saw Jon Loomer’s post, didn’t get to it yet, but I definitely will! 1) I know that I should ask Twitter and G+ followers, to check out our FB page too, but we’re at the very beginning of our social media presence and I don’t want it to come off as pushy. So, I think I’ll just have to wait with that. 2) This sounds great! I’d definitely keep a database of our fans, but like you said it’s hard. But if it’s possible with AgoraPulse, then I’ll do that. 3) 9 followers so far :/ I feel like I’m really talking to the wall for now, so I want to keep those for when we at least have 100 likes on the page. 4) 99% of the cases I share visual content, I believe in it and I think that those are the best posts. Canva is my absolute favorite tool for creating visuals, using it on a daily basis. (Love the changes they made, btw) Also Buffer is a favorite. 5) Yeah, I know PostPlanner. I mean I read their blog. So, I’ll definitely check it out. 6) Very few posts so far, but… Read more »

Mark W. Schaefer

Superb article sir. Thanks for the shout-out!

Andy Detweiler

Hey Ian,

I always love when people take on these questions – I don’t think they’re going to go away for a long, long time. And making matters more confusing is that even some of the biggest names in the marketing industry seem to have completely different views on some of these questions. And not only do they have different views, they are passionate about why their ways are better. Ultimately, as is the case with almost all sales and marketing efforts,I think it’s mainly a matter critical thinking and problem solving ability. Only you know what your goals are, as well as your specific resources and circumstances. How can you take all of those factors into account and come up with the best plan to get the job done — whatever you consider that job to be.


Jim Moritz

In this is the most extensive information I have previously read regarding LinkedIn. You can find a lot of you included which it is very tough to make out where to get started.

Carol Lynn Rivera

Love it. I especially love the long answer for #5 🙂 Some things are just a given.

I don’t mind accepting invitations from people on LinkedIn who I don’t know – provided they have a photo and an actual job (“entrepreneur” doesn’t count) and a decent bio. Although on the risky side I find this is a tactic used by a lot of MLM marketers so next thing you know, you’re being bombarded with people asking you if you want to look 20 years younger and whether you’re interested in a “great opportunity for relationships and growth” or some such generic nonsense. There is always the delete button for those!


Awesome post! And I love the format with the short answer, long answer, followed by more explanation and extra resources. Very helpful!
The LinkedIn question about whether to accept invitations from people you don’t know is something I question every single time “should I really accept this invitation?” and the answer has always depended on my whim at the moment. But…I like your idea to reply to them to start a conversation if they look like they are relevant to me. After all, what is the connection worth if you don’t know anything about them and vice versa. Glad that I can finally stop asking myself that question now 🙂


Totally agree. I think it’s ok if you don’t know them yet…so long as they are someone you want to know and not just a number added to your connection count. I suppose I’ve got some work to do getting to know all the random people whose invites I previously accepted 😉

Petra Fisher

Knowing someone in my book does not have to include ‘met in person’. We knew each other before we linked didn’t we Ian yet we’ve never met. And as much as I advocate sending a personal invite, you thoughfully included the link to a post where I explain how I sent out not one but 300 invites with the default line! Thanks for shaming me so publicly 🙂

Petra Fisher

Yup Triberr it was. I have neglegted Triberr for a while. Don’t think Dino is impressed with me after at first we recorded an interview together how to use Triberr.

Mary Jane Kinkade

By the way, the Man Cold video is hysterical! I’m sharing that one for sure! Go easy with that bell!

Mary Jane Kinkade

Great tips…although I do sometimes try and connect with people I don’t know on LInkedIn if they appear to be the type of people I’d like to get to know and learn from. I do always reply with a personal message. I really enjoy this newsletter. Hope you feel better. — MJ

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