Last week I started a four-week series of posts that is intended to help readers who are new to social media (or those who are just looking for better results) to have an organized and focused approach that will lead to some success. If you missed the first post in the series, you may want to read that one, as the contents of this post will pick up where that one ended.
In effort to make this series as practical and usable as possible, the activities for each week will be broken down into specific steps that should be taken. This week we’ll focus on taking action and moving towards that first successful social media post. So let’s start week two’s activities.
1. Continue to Use Your Targeted Social Media Sites Everyday
Last week we talked about the need to target a few specific social media sites rather than just taking a general approach. The reason for this is that as a new social media marketer you will need to be very active at these sites in order to maximize your results, and it’s just not possible to be active everywhere.
Since you should already have your targeted sites chosen, you’ll now need to continue to visit them on a daily basis and become an active user. Vote for submissions that you like, leave comments on submissions, add friends, and even submit some items if you find any that would be appropriate for that particular site.
As a new user, it’s best to submit items from sites other than your own at first. If active users notice a new account that has started submitting his or her own content right away and not really been active in other ways, it throws up a big red flag.
The goal here is to be truly social and get integrated into the communities of your targeted sites. Each social media will have its own community, and in order to help your chances for success, you’ll need to be useful member of the community.
You don’t need to spend hours at these sites each day, but set aside at least a little bit of time to start to build a profile. As you’re on these sites each day, continue to pay attention to the types of content that are doing well and to the content that is not doing well. You may want to subscribe to some RSS feeds from your targeted sites to save yourself some time. Knowing how an audience will likely react to a submission is a huge part of the process.
2. Take One Idea from Your Brainstorm and Develop a Post
At the end of week one we looked at the need to brainstorm for ideas of content that you could use to target social media audiences. By now you should have a better idea of what types of content are getting results for others, so you’ll want to take that into consideration as you choose the first idea to develop. Of course, you don’t want to copy the ideas that others have had success with, but you want to pay attention to the type of content. For example, you may see that users of a particular social media site tend to vote for resource lists, controversial articles, or some other specific type of content.
Before you start to write the post or put the content together, take some time to plan out the post to make sure that it is well thought out. I like to outline posts before writing as it helps me to get end results that are more thorough and organized.
As you’re developing the content, don’t skimp on time. It’s better to put in twice as much time and actually get positive results than it is to rush through it and wind up with something that doesn’t generate much interest. Especially at first, you’ll need to create something that is exceptional to get the best results.
Pay attention to formatting and layout of the post. Regardless of the type of content, make sure that it is easily readable and scannable. Use plenty of whitespace, short paragraphs, headers and sub-headers, bold text, lists, and anything else that will make it easier for visitors to quickly read the content. Formatting has much more of an impact on social media users than you may realize.
Also, using photos really tends to help with content that targets social media. You can either buy stock photos at sites like iStockphoto or StockXpert, or browse through Creative Commons photos at Flickr.
Another important issue that deserves plenty of attention and consideration is the post title. Titles can make or break the success of a post, so don’t just give it the first title that comes to your mind. This is another area where it is helpful to observe what types of titles are drawing results at your targeted social media sites.
For more details on creating content that will draw results, see How to Target Social Media with Specific Posts.
3. Publish and Submit to Your Targeted Sites
Once your post is ready and it has been proofread for mistakes, you’ll need to decide on a time for publishing. Timing can play a factor in terms of how many readers will see it and how much exposure it will get with social media. Typically, the weekends will draw less traffic, and Monday through Thursday will be the best days for getting exposure.
Personally, I recommend publishing this content Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday. If you’re able to achieve success with a social media site the traffic will usually last for a few days before tailing off. If you’re able to get that success early in the week you’ll have time to benefit from its peak before the weekend when the numbers will decrease faster. However, there are some benefits to posting on the weekend that can be considered, such as the reduced competition.
Once you’ve published the content you’ll need to get it submitted to your targeted social media sites. Some sites, such as Digg, tend to look down on self submissions, so you may want to consider asking a friend to do it for you. At most sites however, you can submit your own content and it won’t be an issue.
Many established blogs do not worry about getting their content submitted because someone will do it anyway, but for newer bloggers who don’t have much of an established audience are unlikely to get their content submitted to social media if they don’t give it a boost themselves.
4. Give it a Push
You’ve now taken the time to target the right social media sites, study the types of content that do well, use that knowledge to craft your own content, and published and submitted the content. However, the job isn’t done yet. In order to get anywhere, you’ll need to get people to see your content or it will get no votes.
It’s important to consider that social media votes come from a few different sources. Some social media users will see content on the upcoming page and vote for what they like. Other votes will come for visitors on the website or blog itself. For example, sometimes I put Sphinn buttons on my posts here at Traffikd, and some of the readers see the button and give it a Sphinn (I do recommend using one or two buttons on your posts for your targeted social media sites). Other votes may come from requests made to other social media users. Most major social media sites have a method for allowing users to share requests, such as Digg’s shout feature, but this is also done by email and IM by a lot of people.
To help your content out and give it the best chance for receiving votes, consider sending a request to your friends that are social media users, but be aware that this can be a touchy situation. It’s a very common practice among bloggers and social media users, but not everyone appreciates it. My recommendation is to use your knowledge of your contacts that you know pretty well.
You probably have a good idea about who would be interested in helping you in this way, and who may be uninterested. Limit your requests to those that you know well, and don’t bombard them with requests. It’s always a good idea to offer to vote for their requests as well if they want to send them to you. If you have several friends who are interested in helping out, you may want to set up a group where everyone can help each other when votes are needed.
5. Watch Your Stats
In order to improve your results with future posts that target social media, you’ll need to know what worked and what didn’t. Pay attention to your stats. See where your traffic came from, how long people stayed on the site, how many pages they visited, how many subscribers you gained, etc. Stats can’t tell you the whole story, but especially at first they’re necessary to know if you’re on the right track or not.
6. Have Patience
Ok, this isn’t really a step, but it’s something that needs to be said. Even if you do everything right and you create a great blog post, it’s possible that you won’t get the results that you want. Especially for small blogs that don’t have much of an established audience, achieving success with social media is a challenge. If it doesn’t work on your first try, don’t get discouraged. Just learn what you can from your experience and keep trying and tweaking your approach as needed.
At this point in the series you’ve now started to establish your presence on your targeted social media sites and you’re working towards achieving your first success. Next week we’ll look at what you can do to build on this and to take it from a one-time thing to something that has more lasting results.