One of my readers asked me to blog what I did to grow my blog thus far so this post if for that person. I will use boxing as an analogy because 1) the road to mastery is not so different and 2) an analogy always helps, doesn’t it? It does for me at least.
Here are 5 social media mistakes to avoid that I made but you don’t have to!
1. It Doesn’t Happen Overnight
We’ve all heard about bloggers who seem to be huge overnight (ok, perhaps not overnight but within one year of blogging) and the inevitable reaction is, “I must be doing something wrong!”
There are no shortcuts my friends, in boxing, or in growing your social media or blogging audience. At least for mere mortals.
For boxing, the building block is jump roping with a goal of 15 minutes for a warm up. That seems like a lofty goal. Jumping for two minutes with frequent entanglements was a huffing and puffing challenge for me. But now, I set a clock and just try for 15 minutes. I can’t do it continuously. But it’s amazing how much you can improve if you just log in 15 minutes three times a week.
Johnny from ExpertBoxing gave advice that was helpful. Johnny said, “You need to be able to jump rope for 15 minutes as a warm up and it’s gonna totally suck [as a beginner.] Don’t worry. Just log in the time and you will improve.”
That advice really freed me up to know it’s ok to be bad at it. And that practice is the key.
Likewise in blogging, start with quality. Focus on two things: 1) the quality of your content around an overarching theme and 2) building relationships one person at a time. This balance is, I think, the key to success.
Mistake #1: Not balancing building content with building relationships. If you build it, they will come, right? WRONG! Instead of posting 7 to 10 times a week (frantically and with questionable quality), I SHOULD have posted 3 or 4 times a week and used the other time building relationships via social media.
Instead, I did frantic posting and used my social media to shoot out my posts. LOOK AT ME is not a good way to go. Instead of one way Tweeting, I should have taken the same amount of time to tweet back, retweet, and otherwise engage in conversation. Ditto for all other social media platforms.
2. Practice, Practice, Practice
Just like improving my boxing through regular jump rope practice, I also needed to improve my social media interactions platform by platform. Each platform — Pinterest, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google +, Sulia etc. and phew! — has subtle differences and using each one effectively is a matter of much trial and error and/or study.
Growing your social media like improving your boxing skills takes dedicated practice. But, it can be overwhelming where to begin and what to do. There are just so many different aspects.
And even more daunting is to keep up a steady stream of content onto each platform on a regular basis.
My advice is to create a routine and then stick to it every day. Consider it a daily drill. I think my daily drill will be different from yours simply because we probably like different social media platforms and have grown our social media relationships in different ways. I think the key here is consistency. Figure out what works for you and just keep doing it. Do this platform by platform. I know it’s easier said than done!
Mistake #2: Using the same message from one social media platform to the next. I used to cut and paste my tweet into Facebook, LinkedIn and other social media platforms. It seemed very efficient. But no, each platform is different so the messaging needs to be different!
3. Instructional Videos Really Do Help!
When I first started boxing, I was enamoured with the speed bag. My boxing trainer gave us a quick lesson so we could try it out, but I wanted to see how a really good boxer worked the speed bag so I did a search and discovered Manny Pacquiao. Pound for pound, he’s considered the best boxer ever.
I watch videos of Manny Pacquiao training both for technique and for inspiration. Here he is hitting the speed bag. Can I hit the speed bag like Manny? No, but I’m working on his technique of hitting the speed bag — you see how he flips his hands as he alternates between hands? You hit with the side of your fist and then the back of your fist, and then do the other side while keeping that same 1-2-3 rhythm of the bag. He also hits the bag with single strokes — I can’t do that yet (and it’s very frustrating!).
My boxing trainer showed me how to do this but only because I told him I wanted to learn to do this. And I wouldn’t have known if I hadn’t seen Manny on the speed bag.
It’s amazing how much you can self teach yourselves these days using videos! I learned Search Engine Optimization (SEO) from my SEO consultant Vanita Cyril*. Vanita would give me advice on changes I needed to make on my blog, but I just could not understand what she said via email. I’m just not technical enough. Eventually, she made a series of training videos and for a small fee, I watched them. All of them. And then fixed the egregious errors in my blog. I didn’t set up my social buttons correctly. I didn’t know how to use H1, H2 or H3 headings AT ALL. Keywords were confusing to me. How many? Too many? Not enough?
I found Holly Homer’s Blogpreneur video series to be incredibily helpful. I especially liked her video interviewing Melissa Taylor of Imagination Soup on how she built her success as a teacher to blogger to Pinterest expert to entrepreneur. For both inspiration and helpful information, I encourage you to learn from fellow bloggers.
Mistake #3: Using trial and error as my instructor instead of fellow bloggers! Learn from other bloggers whether it’s a video series that you pay for or just from reading their posts or watching their videos. Everyone is willing to share and you can save a lot of trial and error learning by taking time to seek out instructional videos.
4. Getting Advice is Different From Executing Said Advice
My boxing trainer says that training is different from being in the ring. You can be amazing at every boxing drill but toast in the ring. One needs to be applied to the other but it’s not so simple or easy to execute. I do a lot of drills of what to do when someone is throwing a punch at my head. I do blocking drills. And slipping drills. And ducking drills. But in the ring, I’m often frozen with indecision or trying to both block and duck at the same time which isn’t pretty or effective.
Likewise, the mantras of social media bear repeating. Social media is a conversation. I learned that in the early days when I first started blogging yet this simple message still bears repeating even though I’ve been blogging for five years now.
It also took time to realize that I need to be promoting other people’s content via my social media. It takes time to find your “tribe” but well worth the effort. Use the 80/20 rule to promote other great content 80% of the time to 20% of your own.
Mistake #4: Not making every social media interaction a conversation. It easier said that done because it’s very time consuming but in the long run, it’s the road to success. And use that conversation to promote other great content of bloggers that you love and support. Because guess what? They will support you back!
5. Apps and Blog Tools Worth the Money
Getting the right jump rope at the mere cost of $12 was worth every penny. Likewise, getting a few helpful apps can really help. These are the apps that I am paying for:
CommentLuv . Why? It threads my comments so it’s easier to follow the conversation and it gets rid of the spam comments. The unpaid version crashed my site, by the way.
Buffer App. Oh my god. Why did I wait? I lost tons of Twitter followers by piling up tweets since I am only on Twitter once a day, trying to reply to all my tweets. The buffer apps let’s me spread my tweets out. I used the free version but I really needed the unlimited buffer capability of the paid version. Once I finally did, my ratio of new followers to unfollowers improved tremendously.
PicMonkey. If you use Pinterest (and I highly suggest that you do), PicMonkey is how to make those amazing graphic images that get repinned. There’s a free version but the paid version has the templates suited for Pinterest and the popular fonts.
Rafflecopter. I’m using the paid version to run my giveaways. I am not sure of the differences between the paid and unpaid version but I really love the feature that lets me show my winner on the Rafflecopter itself. Before that, I had to update each post with the winner and announce it on Twitter and Facebook.
MaxCDN. My SEO consultant had me use MaxCDN to improve my blog’s load speed. That’s really important for Google SEO. I have no idea how to do it and I think it’s tricky to install correctly. I just had her do it and I would recommend that for anyone who needs faster blog load speed. Tell Vanita I sent you and she’ll take care of you!
Just Unfollow. I would not have 51,000 Twitter followers with Just Unfollow. It makes it easy (no carpal tunnel!) to follow and unfollow on Twitter.
Mistake #5: Not spending can really cost you.
Catherine asked me to rate my apps in case you just want to buy a few. I would say (but it also depends on what social media you use) ….
1) MaxCDN if your blog has load speed issues. You want your blog to load in under 2 seconds; faster is better and will be rewarded by more SEO traffic. It’s the pricest, but it’s worth it if you blog loads slowly. You can test load speed time using Pingdom (for free).
2) PicMonkey would be my next investment but you have to be heavily time invested in Pinterest for it to be worth it. Pinterest is the number one referral for me and lots of bloggers so I would spend time on both Pinterest and in PicMonkey in order to make images that get repinned.
3) Buffer App is worth the money if you tweet excessively like I do. If you tweet frequently from your smart phone which spreads out your tweets, you don’t need this. But I tweet in one fell swoop so spreading out my tweets keeps me from pissing off my followers.
I hope my mistakes will help you in your blogging journey. What social media advice would you give? Please share! Thank you!