Am I Shouting Into the Void? How I Built My Expansive Social Media Following

When I began using social media as a tool for personal branding and business growth in 2016, I had absolutely no experience with social media marketing. The only people who followed me on Facebook and Instagram were friends and family. I never joined Twitter. YouTube was a platform I only used for absorbing content, not creating it. At the time, TikTok didn’t exist yet (or maybe it did, and I just wasn’t aware of it).

After giving myself a brief education in social media marketing, I set up a Business account on Facebook and Instagram, and also created a YouTube channel. I believed that with a little courage and a lot of consistency, I would eventually grow a community and build my personal brand.

Indeed, I did. It’s been slow growth, and that growth has always been directly proportional to how much effort I invested. I never experienced a meteoric rise on any platform, like some have. I never went super-viral and gained millions of followers overnight. I just plugged away every day, showing up the best way I knew how. Now, in 2024, I have a sizable audience across several platforms:

600k on TikTok

53k on Instagram

17k on YouTube, and

8k on the new Threads

(I’ve remained true to my resolve to never join X, formerly known as Twitter, and spend very little time on Facebook these days)

It’s very satisfying to have so much reach. I have a message I care about, and connecting with other like-minded people who share my passions has been a truly incredible experience.

But, it didn’t start out that way.

One of my husband’s favorite stories about me is of the time I did my first Facebook Live for my business. Then called The Sensible Mama (now rebranded as LYMIA BRAND), my business was on online baby boutique that carried top brands in the industry. I had just received a large shipment of inventory and wanted to go Live to share the new merchandise. With a six-month-old baby in a bassinet at my feet, I took a deep breath and clicked “Start Live Video.”

Minutes went by, and no one joined. But knowing that this video would be uploaded to my Facebook page for customers to watch later, I decided to commit to the bit and just keep going.

I filmed a 45-minute Live video with no one but my husband in attendance.

I felt stupid, self-conscious, and a little embarrassed. But I got through it. And even though I knew the video was probably incredibly cringy, I posted it anyway.

It went on like that for months: going Live with no one there, posting pictures to my Instagram with no Likes or comments, creating time-consuming videos for YouTube that took hours to produce and even longer to edit and watching them stagnate.

It felt like waking up every morning to shout into the void. Many times, I wondered what was the point. I had a baby to care for, a business to nurture. Would my time not be better spent attending to those things than posting on social media where no one was listening?

But I kept at it.

Little by little, one agonizing week at a time, I noticed some engagement showing up on my posts. A Like here and there. Sometimes, a comment. Some mornings, I’d wake up to find a new follower or two. Once, I posted a tutorial video about how to use a Ring Sling with a baby on YouTube, and it got quite a bit more attention than most of my videos. What a rush!

I eventually joined TikTok during the COVID-19 shutdowns and devoted most of my time and energy to that app. It seemed like the app had the best algorithm and the most reach, so I felt like I could get a lot of return on my investment. Finally, between YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok, it no longer felt like I was shouting into the void.

I had a community.

Why am I telling this story?

Because I know there are many overwhelmed people out there who want to make a difference, connect with like-minded people, and start building a community but don’t feel like they’re getting anywhere. Whether they would like to grow their business or their personal brand, they aim to find their target audience but find themselves discouraged by how long it takes.

And I just want you to know that it’s normal. You’re probably not doing anything wrong. It just takes time.

I’m not a growth coach. I don’t have a course to sell you. I just want to offer some encouragement—a reminder that, even though you may see overnight success stories of people growing their platforms by 500% seemingly overnight with one viral post, those stories are not the norm. Most of us are simply plugging away every day, gaining small wins in the form of increased viewership and engagement at a slow and sometimes agonizing pace.

It does get a little easer as your platforms grow. You begin to see little pockets of substantial growth here and there that nourish you and keep you going. But even then, there are dry spells. There are posts that flop. There are days when it seems like everything you post gets lost in the ether. But it is infinitely easier than it was back in the void-shouting days.

So, keep at it. Stay consistent. You will find your people, and when you do, you will be so glad you didn’t give up.

The world deserves to hear what you have to say.

So keep shouting.


Amber Wardell is a doctor of psychology and author who speaks on women’s issues related to marriage, motherhood, and mental health. Subscribe to the free newsletter to get exclusive content delivered to your inbox and to never miss an upload.

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