Building a Virtual Army: Part One

Written by Jeremy Allmendinger

Edited by Emma Reed


Jeremy Allmendinger is the founder of the website Pavlov’s Hair Conditioner. He is a graduate of Champlain College’s Professional Writing program and is currently a digital media consultant specializing in first time authors and start-up publishers. This four-part series was written by Jeremy to explain his rise in internet popularity through the use of social media, beginning with explaining his media of choice. He shares numerous tips and tricks to gaining followers and amassing page likes on various sites including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


Last May I was tossed into an uncertain world of possibility and failure before I could remove my mortarboard or robe. Trading a signed and stamped piece of paper for a job didn’t pan out, so I did what any attention-starved millennial in my shoes would have done and took to the Internet. I’ve never been much for traditional employment anyway.


Before graduation, I’d spent most of my waking hours in search of online stardom. Between Pavlov’s Hair Conditioner, my Facebook profile, and my Twitter account, I had a decent number of followers but still nothing to write home about. With my senior-year course load, I didn’t have much time to create new content for my site, so I needed a strategy to make do with what I had. Turns out I’m really good at not creating new content.


I started my crusade on New Year’s Day 2014. My stats were not very impressive. (The Facebook numbers are from my website’s fan page. I didn’t focus on boosting my personal profile’s stats because I’ve been told friendship occasionally exists offline.)




As of today, they’re pleasantly inflated.





By numbers alone, we’re still not looking at anything too remarkable here. I’ve only got a few more Instagram followers than Michelangelo had. But this bump in stats was managed by spending less time online than I spend shaving. It’s the five-minute abs of Internet fame.


Of course, generating new and interesting content remains the best way to gain followers short of walking on water and feeding five thousand with some bread crusts. The best advice I can give to anyone who wants online attention is to keep writing and post regularly. But schedules get full and deadlines whizz by, so thankfully there are a number of ways to supplement your website’s content and still drive traffic where you want it. But first, let’s talk basics.


Part One: Why Not WordPress?


For the past four years I’ve touted the benefits of WordPress. From its publicity features to its simple design and ease of use, I can’t recommend another host more highly. We’re not going to talk about WordPress.


You’re busy. You post as much as you can but sometimes a couple days go by without your fans hearing from you. You know what’s easy to use on the go? Facebook. In fact, chances are you already find yourself habitually checking from your phone or laptop. For many people it’s a unconscious action. Facebook represents a switch from the old way of information gathering, in which individuals searched numerous sources for specific information. Now it’s reversed. We know what source we want to read from, we just don’t know what information we’re looking for.


Facebook already has plenty of built-in tools and resources. Relative to most of my friends, I’m a fairly new user – I signed on in June of 2010. I was quickly hooked. What appealed to me especially was creating pages and studying the life of a post. Specifically, I watched how people interact with an update from their favorite band or TV show, from the moment it’s created to its ultimate death, which I define as the last interaction before the post stops organically appearing on users’ feeds.


Twitter is also a boon, but for different reasons. My Twitter account is both personal and professional. This is surprisingly common for the website, especially among people whose natural tone is similar to that of their work – think stand-up comedians and genre writers. The greatest thing about Twitter is that no one knows how to use it. The second anyone claims to have the key, the site spawns a hundred posts that behave in brand new ways. In the high school sitcom of the Internet, Twitter is the kid with the unconventional sense of humor and constantly changing wardrobe who always wants to show you the newest addition to his collection of rocks or bees or paint cans. There is no defining it and that’s what makes it so perfect.


LinkedIn and Instagram are useful and often-overlooked tools even for the most unprofessional and text-oriented websites. I’ve gotten several publishing opportunities through my website’s connection with LinkedIn, and even a few job offers. I’ve linked my Instagram feed to Pavlov’s Hair Conditioner even though the two have nothing in common – my personal images humanize my online persona. I didn’t spend too much time developing either social media channel, because neither directly connects to my website’s content, but I have seen bumps in traffic after a particularly successful image post or well-connected LinkedIn share.


WordPress is a beautifully diverse group of people, but with no way to directly target individuals we need a little help to drive up that traffic count. With Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn, we have much more control over who sees what and how. But before anyone can see anything, we have to build a following.


This will be discussed further in Part Two of “Building a Virtual Army.”

Click here to visit Jeremy’s website, Pavlov’s Hair Conditioner.