Congratulations! You’ve taken the plunge and joined the wonderful world of social media. Now that you’ve set up your Facebook, Digg, Reddit, LinkedIn or Twitter accounts and have burnished your initial blog post to a fine sheen, you’re ready for the world to snap up your pearls of wisdom. But wait. Although savvy sales folks and business gurus often push social media as the latest and greatest marketing miracle, it has its hazards. Here are some common pitfalls to avoid:
1. Feeding readers a steady stream of me-centered posts. Fascinating as you may find yourself, the truth is that unless you’re the POTUS, a Nobel Laureate or the Pope, you’re probably a “small fish in a big pond.” One way to “enlarge” or enhance your presence is to get outside yourself and engage others. Offer content targeted to a specific audience. Carve out and cultivate your “niche” by offering readers something they can use: tips, tools, advice, links, feedback. Leverage your experience and expertise into a shared resource. Respond. Reciprocate. Retweet. Ask questions. Don’t forget to comment.
2. Opening an account and using it once in a blue moon. Your life need not revolve around your Twitter account or blog, nor do you need to develop a Facebook addiction that sends you into withdrawals if you’re not checking in every 20 minutes. But you need to post on a reasonably regular basis if you want to retain your readers/followers. Don’t forget to complete your profile and keep it updated!
3. Posting ho-hum or redundant content. You’re not the only game in town. If you’re not offering a new angle, fresh perspective, something original or breaking news, your followers will find someone who is.
4. Using profanity. A big turn-off and a big no-no.
5. Wordiness. You’ll lose readers if you dump the online equivalent of War and Peace on ‘em every time you post. Choose your content carefully, keeping in mind your focus, theme, and intended audience. Keep posts short, sweet, and to the point (2,000 words doesn’t qualify). Offer value, not volume.
6. Expecting to be an overnight heavyweight. Building a social media following takes time and effort. Schedule in a bit of time each day to work your outlets. Post quality content to a targeted audience. Participate, contribute, and be patient.
7. Taking your readers for granted. Social media is a community. Think dialogue, not monologue. Focus on building relationships and networking. That means joining a conversation, offering help, advice, or encouragement and highlighting those who contribute.
If your primary goal in using social media is to promote yourself or your product, you don’t get it. Instead of selling or self-promotion, focus on building friendships and offering content with “take-away” value. Be patient. Stay focused. Don’t forget your manners. “Please” and “Thank you” go a long way in both real and virtual worlds.
Keep these tips in mind and you’ll be well on your way to increasing your social media traffic. Bon voyage!
A multi-published author, Kristine Lowder specializes in creative non-fiction, historical/inspirational fiction and humor. Her blog is Roads Diverged. Web site: A Little Lowder. Follow her on Twitter at Road Diverged or on Facebook at Kristine’s Klips.