October 31, 2014

What to do When Social Media Isn’t Working for You

Despite the fact that there is a ton of information online about marketing a blog with social media, it just doesn’t work all of the time. In fact, sometimes there can be too much information and even contradictory information from different sources. if you’ve found yourself trying to follow the advice of others but it just hasn’t been working, before you give up there are a few things you can do to turn it around.

When dealing with social media marketing, persistence and patience is key. However, at some point you also have to step back and take an objective look at what you’re doing. You should evaluate your efforts to make sure that you’re not wasting your time, or worse, doing something that can damage your reputation and actually wind up hurting you more than helping you.

Re-Evaluate Your Plan

Do you have a clear definition of what you want to accomplish though social media marketing?

I’m not just talking about getting visitors, but once you have the visitors, what do you want to happen? Are you hoping to get more subscribers, get clicks on ads, draw inbound links, branding? Without a clear purpose in mind you’ll find yourself spinning your wheels and getting results that aren’t lasting.

Do you have an idea of how you can get there?

Once you have a goal in mind, you should have an idea of how you will go about accomplishing that goal. For example, if you want to build subscribers through social media you’ll not only need a plan for getting votes and drawing traffic to your blog, but you’ll also need a plan for converting those visitors to subscribers. Will you use a free giveaway like an e-book to draw subscribers? Will you mention upcoming posts that can create anticipation? Will you feature your subscription options in more prominent locations on the screen?

If your plan is weak or non-existent it’s like trying to build a house without securing the foundation. Everything that’s built on top of it will rely on the foundation for structure, just like all of your marketing efforts will rely on your plan.

Re-Evaluate the Specific Sites that You’re Using

If you’ve been using a specific social media site for months with no success, maybe you should focus your efforts in another direction. Are the sites that you’re using the best fits for your content? You may be able to drastically improve your results just by focusing on different sites.

If you’re only focusing on major social media sites, you should also consider some niche sites if there are any that are relevant for your content (see our list of categorized social media sites). Don’t necessarily give up on a site just because you don’t get quick results, but you also don’t want to spend all of your time running into a brick wall.

Re-Evaluate Your Content

Obviously one of the major factors in your success with social media is your content. Quality and originality are very important in order to get results with social media. Take a look at the content that is popular at your social media sites of choice. How does your content stack up? If there is a big drop off, you’ll need to find ways to improve your content. You can spend more time researching and writing posts, or take more time for brainstorming ideas for posts. If your content compares favorably to what is popular, you’re in good shape.

One other thing to keep in mind when looking at what’s popular is to consider the source. Major websites and blogs can often achieve social media success with types of posts that smaller blogs could not, such as breaking news. My advice is to disregard this type of content and just focus on comparing yours to other bloggers that are in situations similar to yours. Unless you have a team of writers or an enormous audience, breaking news isn’t a good strategy for social media success.

Re-Evaluate Your Timing

When have you been publishing your content or submitting it to social media sites? Have you tried doing so at other times of the day or other days of the week? Typically you will get the best results during the workday in the U.S. If you’re publishing on weekends or if your content appears on the front page in the middle of the night you won’t get as much exposure. Try a few different approaches and see what works.

Re-Evaluate Your Headlines

The title of your posts and the headline that gets submitted to social media will have a big impact on your results. Personally, I struggle with creating attention-grabbing headlines. Every time you publish a post give some consideration to the headline, don’t just type the first thing you think of to describe the post.

Take a look at the headlines of popular items at social media sites. Pay attention to which ones grab your attention and see what trends you can find. See if you can apply what you’re seeing to your own blog and headlines.

Are You Asking for or Encouraging Votes?

Asking for votes from friends can be a touchy subject. Some bloggers do it way too often and others never do it. Personally, I’ll ask for votes from friends who also ask me for votes, but only when I have something that has real potential with social media (in other words, only when the vote will really make a difference).

If you’re getting no results and not asking for votes you may want to consider networking and making some friends at the social media sites you use. That way you can help them by voting for their content and you can request a vote from them when you really need it.

Another similar issue is adding voting buttons to your blog posts. Simply adding a widget or button from a site that many of your visitors use can have a big impact in your success. The key is to not add too many buttons or they will be ignored. On my primary blog I have a Design Float button on every page and that draws great results. Here at Traffikd I occasionally use a Sphinn button when I think a post has a good chance there, but not on every post.

What Are Your Options?

If you’re looking to get better results with social media you’ll have a few basic options:

Hire a consultant

There are a number of social media marketing consultants out there who can evaluate what you’re doing and help you set up a plan to maximize your results. Some of the consultants are qualified and will truly get results and others are probably not so qualified. Before hiring a consultant I would make sure you have some testimonials or a list of past clients. You may also be able to get an email address of a past client to get a recommendation. Some clients and consultants will opt for privacy because it can be a sensitive issue. If that’s the case you’ll need to evaluate the consultants credentials based on what you can get your hands on. Any decent consultant will be able to give you some type of evidence of their qualifications.

Spend more time on content

Because content is so critical to success with social media, one of the best things you can do is devote more of your time to allow you to create better content. All other things being equal you should have better results with better content.

Hire a writer

Some consultants will also offer to produce content for you that is specifically created to target social media. Again, you should do some research to see who is qualified. You’ll also have the option of hiring freelance writers to create content for your blog, although it may or may not be developed with social media in mind.

Network more

Along with the quality of the content, building a network is one of the best things you can do to improve your results with social media. The more contacts and friends you have, the more potential influence you will have. Focus on getting to know other bloggers in your niche and other users of your targeted social media sites.

Change your posting frequency

Several months ago I reduced my posts on my primary blog from 5 per week to 3 – 4 per week (usually 3). That’s allowed me to spend more time on each post and traffic and subscribers have grown at a much faster rate. If your current frequency isn’t giving you enough time to create your best work, consider cutting back and sacrificing some quantity in favor of quality.

Things You Must Do to Get Better Results:

Give it some time

In most cases, social media success doesn’t happen overnight. If you submit a post to a few social media sites and it goes nowhere, don’t give up. Spend the time to get familiar with your targeted sites and learn more about what types of content you need to create. You’ll never have success with everything you publish (in terms of social media). Just having a hit a few times a month can make a huge difference.

Build an audience one way or another

In order to get the best long term results with social media you need to build an audience for your blog. Those bloggers who have large, loyal audiences tend to do well with social media even without promoting their own work. So anything you can do to build your audience should also eventually impact your results with social media.

Promote only your best work

If you’re trying to promote everything you publish at social media sites you’re unlikely to be successful. Very few bloggers can accomplish this, and in these cases they’re only publishing excellent work. Not every blog post has to do well with social media, so don’t try to force content that isn’t a good fit.

Ignore the temptation to focus on Digg

Digg is a great resource for those who get to the front page, but for most marketers it’s not so productive. Digg is an all-or-nothing game, which is good when you’re on the right end, but not for the majority of people. Other sites such as StumbleUpon will give you a much better chance for success. If you’re struggling to get results with social media in general, start somewhere else besides Digg. Once you’ve had some success and you know more about social media marketing, then put more effort into Digg (or hire someone to do it for you).

About Steven Snell

Steven is a web designer, blogger, and freelance writer.

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