Do you ever feel like you're spinning your wheels on social media? You publish a post and then think that it's time to get to work sharing it all over Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google +?
We hope that the traffic comes in and our numbers go up and our audience is engaged. But we also feel tired and more often than not as if we're talking to a wall.
It's time to rethink social media.
Image: Jason Howie via Flickr
I want you to imagine for a moment that you are a 5th grade teacher. You are about to teach a unit on diseases that affect the human body. You love to integrate different concepts and have it cross all subjects so you begin to plan your strategy.
- In reading, you'll assign an age-appropriate novel about the Black Death plague in the Middle Ages.
- In writing, you'll ask them to write an exposition on a virus that attacked a country in the past.
- In history, you'll explore the effects of virus outbreaks in populations such as the Native Americans.
- In math, you'll use statistics to teach how the CDC predicts how many people might be infected and how the virus replicates.
- In science, you'll dig deep into the workings of viruses and bacteria and what the differences are.
- In art, you'll have your students look at paintings done during some of the dark periods of sickness.
Your topic is getting hit at from every angle. The students will learn valuable skills in multiple subjects, all the while exploring deeply the subject at hand.
So how does this tie in with social media?
If you are a blogger, you need to start thinking like a teacher.
You have your blog, your Facebook page, your Twitter handle, your Pinterest boards, and your G+ profile. In essence, you have five subjects you are in charge of.Social Media Fail
Since so many bloggers are obsessed with numbers and traffic, we spend all our time laboring over the one subject - the blog. We write and design and write some more. Then we use all the other subjects to yak about the main one.
And we're doing it all wrong.
What kind of grade would your students get with this method? Not good. They'd fail. So let's think about this like an educator.
Successful people on social media are the ones who treat it as an end in and of itself, and not simply as a means to an end.
Pick a topic. It could be your niche as a blogger or it could be a more specific thing you want to write about. I'll use the example of a food blogger. This food blogger has a great recipe for chicken. Here's the wrong way to do it:
- Write the recipe post.
- Share it everywhere, multiple times, until people are so annoyed they start unfollowing you.
Here's the new way to think about it. Use your five subjects to explore the topic from different angles. Your students are awaiting an interactive lesson, not a lecture.
This is where the main post is and the recipe. You use pictures, etc. This goes out to your email subscribers and hopefully gets read and shared.
Here, you don't post your link. No, instead you write a little story about how you nearly cut your finger off while making the recipe. Make it funny. Then ask people to tell you their horror stories in the kitchen with knives.
With all the changes to Facebook pages, it's more important than ever that you use your page as its own blog. People will have to click on your page to see the content, and it has to be compelling enough to make them come and check you out. You won't be seen in the newsfeed (unless you pay), so the next time you send out an email newsletter, tell your followers that there will be stuff on your Facebook page that you can't find anywhere else. And then stick to it!
Or if you want to (when you first start), mention at the bottom of your blog that your Facebook page will have "behind the scenes of the blog" stories that you can't find anywhere else. Then provide a link so they can jump right over to it!
Here, you write another mini blog post (think practical). Offer something you haven't yet introduced on your blog post. It could be related to the topic, include images, hashtags, and by golly -- respond to people who comment! No need to link to your post at the bottom unless you want to, and if you do -- make it pinnable as well. The goal here is to offer unique content in all subject areas. Blogging on G+ is very popular and will help build your community over there. Here is a great tutorial on how to create compelling content on G+ in a way that won't annoy your readers.
Make a chicken recipes board and post other chicken recipes from all over the web. Maybe include some how-to posts (like how to roast a chicken perfectly, etc.).
Instead of having a board that is labeled "YOUR BLOG" with all your posts, just make boards that center on the topics you talk about. You can pin your post to the relevant board, but then pin other things that people will find useful. Pinterest is only as useful as your ability to organize good content. And be sure to always check a pin when repinning directly from Pinterest. There are a lot of dead-end links out there.
Yes, you can tweet out your link once or twice, but use Twitter to talk with other bloggers. Be funny (if you can). If you're a foodie blogger, make a few cooking jokes. Retweet some other food bloggers. Twitter is the world having a conversation. So converse, don't announce and proclaim. Chat.
The point is this:
Maybe you don't have tons of traffic flocking to any particular blog post, but you are building a strong community on all your profiles. You're creating an atmosphere of buzz, and people will be drawn to you because they know you aren't going to scream at them to read your stuff. You're going to educate.
People will follow and then when you do write something that is amazing, epic, and shareable -- it will take off like one of those viruses we were learning about! :)
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