Have you taken the time to create great content, but feel like you’re not getting the recognition you deserve? We’ve listed some of the most common ways to make sure your content fails on social media sites. So, come on, back away from the ledge and let’s take a look at how you can save your great content from dying a slow and painful death.
HAVE NO SOCIAL MEDIA PLAN
Research and planning is just as important on Social Media websites as it is any other form of marketing and advertising. Every community is different and won’t respond in the same manner. Although it may be difficult to monitor the ROI of social media campaigns, there should always be goals so that you can research what you need to achieve them.
Every successful campaign needs to have a set of goals. Ask yourself what do you want to achieve with your social media content? Are you able to identify what type of impact that you want to have? What are your reasons for wanting to use social media sites? Do you want to:
Increase your RSS or newsletter subscribers?
If your plan is to increase RSS and newsletter subscribers then you need to know the sites where users are web savvy enough to use RSS readers. Members of social news sites, such as, Digg and Reddit will generally be more inclined to subscribe to RSS feeds than users on social network sites such as, MySpace and Facebook.
Sell a product or service?
Do you want to sell a product or particular service? You might attract more traffic from social news sites, but are these users really in the frame of mind to buy something when they reach your site or do they just want to be entertained? If you’re selling a product then you might be better off using social shopping sites and contacting influential bloggers in your niche.
Increase the recognition of your site/brand?
Do you want people to instantly recognise your website or brand name? You can use social news and video sites to help you spread the word about your company, but you still need to have set clear goals for what you want to achieve from this brand recognition.
Create a community?
Do you want to create a community? If you do, then you’ll need to research the best ways to engage your audience. Do you want more comments to your blog or for your audience to create content? If you want more comments then ask for your readers opinions. If you want your audience to create content for your site then you need to provide them with the tools to do so.
You might want visitors to your site for more than one of the reasons above, but you have to define your goals before you create your content and submit it to the various social media sites. If you don’t know what your goals are then neither will your new visitors. Whatever your goals are you need a clear “call to action”.
A few careless mistakes can prevent your potentially killer content from going viral. . We’ve begun publishing monthly stats on the type of content that is popular on the major social news and bookmark sites. Hopefully, you’ll find these stats useful when planning where to launch different aspects of your campaign. If you want to promote yourself on social network sites then find a niche site or a group within a larger network and take the time to look at what your target audience is interested in on those sites.
IGNORE CRITICISM ABOUT YOUR WEBSITE
It is inevitable that you will get negative comments as well as positive ones. Do not make the mistake of ignoring or dismissing your visitor’s criticisms. Sure, sometimes it’s frustrating to read negative feedback about your site – but criticism can also be beneficial. If you want to know what people are saying about you then set-up Google Alerts, subscribe to comment threads and monitor blog reactions on Technorati and BlogPulse.
Obviously, not all things can be changed, or need to be changed, but try to respond politely to any criticism. Also, don’t respond immediately if you’re upset. Get some perspective and talk to your family or friends about something else until you’ve calmed down a bit. There is no way to please everyone, but be diplomatic. Nothing damages your brand and website more ignoring criticism or fighting fire with fire.
USE MISLEADING IMAGES, HEADLINES AND TAGS
Coming up with a great headline and intro are important for written content, but make sure your headline isn’t misleading. If your headline has no relation to your content then your visitors won’t stick around for very long.
Similarly, don’t use misleading tags or images if you post anything to online video sites, such as, YouTube. That image of the girl in the bikini might get you some initial clicks interest, but most people won’t ever come back to your site if it appears that you deliberately tried to deceive them.
DON’T INCLUDE THE OPTION TO SHARE
A great way to make sure you don’t get onto social networks in the first place is to not have an option to spread your content onto different social networks. Make it as easy as you can for your content to be submitted. Most blogging platforms have plug-ins and extensions that will allow your readers to submit content to most major sites.
TARGET ONLY ONE SOCIAL NETWORK
With so many social networks covering almost every available niche, why are you just targeting one? Most successful websites that target social media traffic will use many different social networks. More often than not, once your content does well and gets exposure one site, it will spiral onto a few others.
If you have written a great tutorial article then why not make a screencast of the same tutorial and upload it across online video networks?
Have a look at our post 115 Social News and Bookmark Sites rated and ranked for a few ideas.
ONLY PROMOTE YOUR OWN CONTENT
Ayn Rand may think that selfishness is a virtue, but it’s not a wise idea to follow that advice on any social media site.
If you are commenting on somebody’s blog then don’t just promote yourself. Obviously, if you have written a post that carries on the conversation then it’s ok to drop a link in your comment, but don’t do this repeatedly or people will eventually just ignore you or come to regard you as a spammer.
Similarly, if you’re using social news and bookmark sites then don’t only promote your own content. Not only does it make you look selfish to other social news users but also the sites will generally have algorithms in place against this. Find other good websites and promote content you find interesting. Chances are, if you find something interesting, some others will too. We guarantee this is the best way to go with social news and bookmark sites.
Also, remember to link to posts or websites that you find interesting. If you link out then you’ll attract the attention of your peers and you could end up making new friends. We can all learn from other people and your readers will be will appreciate reading useful posts that can help them. For instance, Jack Humphrey has his own membership program but still links to others on his blog.
Don’t be selfish – it will improve your karma!
TOO MANY ADS
Social media users do not like annoying ads such as pop-ups and in-text advertising. They will also not be happy about attempts to disguise ads as regular content so don’t waste your time making Google ads look like your regular links. Social media users are web savvy and ad aware. They can spot these techniques a mile off.
We are not telling you to completely abandon all your ads. Just keep the number of ads on your landing pages to a minimum or else the task of reaching front pages of social media sites will be much harder to achieve.
One of the worse things you can do is to send out your content to completely the wrong people. Most social networks allow you to have friends who you can share you links with. Use the search bar to find people who have an interest in your topic. Sending every piece of your content with everyone on your friends list is a definite way to have your content voted down in the short run, and in the longer term, you’ll be labelled as a spammer.
What you should do is to get to know who you’ve added as friends and find out what they are interested in. Why not start a small spreadsheet with a list of friends and their interests? This way, you will be able to share relevant links and you will increase the chances of others voting your story up.
Don’t kid yourself, you won’t make it to the popular sections of social news, bookmark or video sites with your friends alone, but they can give your content a useful nudge in the right direction.
DON’T USE IMAGES IN YOUR WRITTEN CONTENT
Images in your content help to break-up text and makes your content easier to digest (we tend to use multiple images only on longer posts). Most readers will scan your content and images can help to guide their eyes to new sections. Use images that are relevant to your content and e sure to check for copyright and give credit where credit is due.
Some of the social news and bookmark sites also allow for images to be placed next to your content. If you choose interesting images then it’s more likely that social news users will be intrigued enough to look at your content (and you never know, you might end up gaining a few extra votes from it.). If you do use images, make sure the file sizes aren’t too large or your website will take longer to load, which leads us neatly to the next point…
HAVE A SLOW LOADING WEBSITE
If your website takes more than 10 seconds to load then you could be losing out on lots of potential visitors. How many times have you clicked away from a site because it took too long to load?
If your website is slow to load then have to figure out whether the slow speeds are because of your web host and package or because of the website itself.
You should approach the website first. Use this great free tool to analyse your website for errors and fatal page sizes. Correct anything in red and you should see an improvement in your speeds. Have a look at css optimization.
If you notice that your site is still slower than a lame mule, then remove the ads and plugins from your site. Some scripts and ads can slow down a site dramatically, so take them all off one-by-one and see if there is any improvement.
If you are still slow, then your webhost is probably the problem. We have been through a few different hosts and Liquidweb (aff) is by far the best in terms of price and service. Their customer service team are excellent and It’s really given us a piece of mind knowing that help is always very near if needed.
MAKE YOUR VISITORS’ EYES BLEED
The design of your website plays an important role in how users vote for your content. If your website looks clean and professional, users will immediately give you the benefit of the doubt. Smart website design can influence how users react. It may just nudge them to agree with your content and give you the vote of approval. Do not underestimate web design.
We know professional web design doesn’t come cheap. If you can’t afford to hire web designers, have you ever thought about exchanging your services? Browse a few forums and see if you can trade your services for a new design. If you still can’t find somebody then you could always take the plunge and try to learn for yourself. Vandelay Design is a great blog if you want to learn some useful tips (or if you’re looking for somebody to hire)
MAKE THE SAME MISTAKES TIME AND AGAIN
When I got my girlfriend pregnant, her dad clearly saw I was distraught and said “Look, many men have been here before, you’ll be ok”. He was right, chances are people have been in the same position as you before and they have probably blogged about it! Learn from your mistakes and learn from theirs. Everyone makes mistakes, but the worst thing you can do is to make them over and over again.
We hope this post will help you avoid the major mistakes you can make when targeting social media for your traffic. Have we missed something important? Let us know in the comments
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