There are few things in this world I hate as much as social media.
Don’t get me wrong – I love sharing cat memes as much as the next girl, and my life would be woefully incomplete without the 4am petty stalk… but it’s time to admit one thing: social media has turned me (and many other bloggers) into absolute, raging psychopaths.
If you’ve ever had a meltdown over algorithms, deleted a post because it got no likes or spent hours double tapping your fingerprints off, I’m sorry my friend, you’re in the same crazy boat.
As bloggers, these ridiculous 1st world struggles have become a normalized part of our day to day, simply because they are so deeply linked with our business.
But here’s the worst part: it’s now 2017, and the social media game is literally changing every single day. Algorithm shifts are turning even the sanest folks into foil-hat conspiracy theorists, and we’re all drowning in outdated strategies that just don’t work anymore. So, if, like me, you are ready to hurl a pie at the next person preaching ‘good content’ and ‘ideal posting times’ as enough for social media success, I have some good news…
I’m back with a new series!!
For those of you that remember my Blogtoberfest series from last year, you’ll know that I get a real kick out of sharing good information, all with a fun, sassy twist. While I haven’t written anything blogging-related in a while, it was only a matter of time before something pissed me off enough to warrant the unleashing of a new psychotic sh*storm of information.
SO here it is! To social media, the indecisive crapmachine that we all love, hate and need… this one’s for you.
Over the next month, in my #SlaySocial series, I’ll be lifting the veil on unconventional social media strategies that actually work for blog growth, specifically ones that nobody seems to be talking about. Posts will be released every Sunday, and here’s a sparkly preview of what to expect:
Week 1: the 6 Golden Rules of Social Media for Blogging in 2017
Week 2: How to Drive Serious Traffic to Your Blog with Facebook: 4 Hacks That Work!
Week 3: How to Leverage Twitter for Blog Growth (And Why Twitter Still Matters)
Week 4: Instagram Mistakes You’re Probably Making (and How to Fix Them)
Week 5: Pinterest Mistakes You’re Probably Making (And What to do About Them)
[Full disclosure – my initial name for this was Social MAY-dia month, but look who dropped the ball and let June happen. Now it’s #SlaySocial which is so much less cute, but let me just have this one okay? Rant over.]
As with last time, I need to clarify: I’m not writing this from the perspective of some social media super guru. I’ll be the first to admit I have loads of work to do… In the crazy, ever-changing world of social media, I wouldn’t trust anyone who calls themselves THE expert authority on anything. That said, what I have gotten pretty good at is maniacal experimentation, and what I’m sharing with you this month is the result of these experiments – strategies that have genuinely worked for me.
Now – moving on, I want to kick #SlaySocial off with the least sexy phrase ever: foundational principles! Woooooo.
Here’s the thing: I know you want the strategies… the simple step by steps. I know you want the low down on how to gain 1000 followers today and make every post go viral. I’m sorry guys, but I’m a blogger, not a freaking magician.
I’ve spent many a night staring up at the ceiling (regretting all my life decisions mostly), but also reflecting on what makes social media work. On one particular night, I had an epiphany. Everyone wants to be the next big thing, but a slim percentage of these people actually sit down and create a proper foundation for their strategies. SO, before we get into the nitty gritty of specific platforms, I wanted to introduce some overarching principles that will inform everything I say this month. SO, read them… digest them…. Tattoo them on your body, idk. The point is: I want you to be psychotically mumbling these in your sleep.
The 6 Golden Rules of Social Media for Blogging in 2017
Rule 1: You need a reason for people to follow you.
I need to start with a simple question: why should people follow you?
If you’re anything like me, you’ve just collapsed into a fit of sobs and peed a little.
And you’re not alone! It is mindboggling how few bloggers know the answer to this question.
“I post nice travel pics” and “I share cool articles” will not cut it… because it’s 2017, and literally everyone and their cats can do those things.
No matter your niche, the amount of content out there is becoming unbelievably saturated. Pretty, curated feeds are no longer exclusive to those of us in the blogging world. I’m sure we have non-blogging friends that take aerial views of their brunch and like posing candidly in front of walls – these blogging clichés have become so mainstream that they’re not special anymore.
So back to the question at hand – WHY should people follow you? Quite simply, I believe it boils down to two things: value and personality. People will follow you firstly because you add something to their life, and secondly they’ll stick around because they like who you are as a person.
That second bit is crucial, but severely overlooked. The problem is, we now live in a world where there are countless bloggers regurgitating the same tips and information. Providing unique value is nearly impossible when almost all travel bloggers have villa-hopped in Bali or backpacked Europe. A single Google search for most topics will unearth hundreds of blog posts fighting for the same clicks. And in this brutal Hunger Games of content, how do we rise from the crowd and become Katniss Everdeen?
Personality! (And lame references to young adult novels, apparently)
Here’s the thing: your personality is the one thing that sets you apart from the crowd. No matter how obscure your niche is, the second someone else moves into it, you’re in jeopardy. Content may be king, but personality is queen, and to succeed in the social media world, you need a personality worth following.
So for the next week, you should really think about what value you bring to the table and why people should follow you at all. A tough feat for those of us self-deprecating folk, but don’t worry. I’ll be sending a worksheet your way this week that will help you gain clarity on what it is that makes you the special Katniss/unicorn you are! Just make sure you’re subscribed to my VIP bloggers list to get it.
Rule 2: Your voice needs to be crystal clear.
The truth is, I think the majority of us suffer from something called Blogger Blandness.
In a blind quest to please everyone and emulate the hyper-successful bloggers in our industry, we’ve all become very… samey.
That’s the problem though – blandness is fatal.
So how do we de-bland? (Gosh I’m inventing a lot of words today). WELL, besides being an absolute basketcase (which does help, I assure you), you need to determine what your “thing” is. A distinctive “thing” that sets you apart. With the attention spans of social media audiences growing slimmer by the second, you really need a clear voice and brand to stand out.
Think about what makes you unique. For me, I realized a while ago that I am genuinely REALLY bad at life. For most travel bloggers, #getlost means dreamily escaping to paradise beaches halfway across the world. For ME, #getlost means reading Google Maps wrong and ending up in a shady back alley with greasy mechanics on their smoke break (true story from last week). Added onto that, I’m just a magnet for random and awkward situations, like that time I went on an accidental date with a 70 year old (another true story from last week).
But guess what? It turns out I’m not alone, and I’ve managed to find a lot of people who can relate to that sort of thing. Sure, in a world of aspirational perfect lifestyle content, I’m the weirdo dark horse that shouldn’t be allowed outside.
… but it’s unique. Which is nice.
SO – think about what makes you unique, what sets you apart. Your goal is to have a voice and personality, a “thing” that is distinctly yours, whether it’s your writing style, your story or your affinity for strange, awkward jokes.
Rule 3: Know the difference between vanity metrics and what’s actually helping you meet your goals.
Here’s a very harsh truth that we all must admit: much of social media revolves around vanity metrics that have zero impact on traffic.
As an example, if I had a nickel for every blogger who has gone batshit bananas over Instagram engagement, I’d have enough to buy a superyacht in the Med where (apart from the men I’d hire to feed me grapes), I’d never worry about social interaction ever again.
Ironically, Instagram tends to be one of the least helpful platforms for driving traffic.
That’s the problem – people tend to lump blogging success all into one pot, when the reality is so much more complicated. If your goal is traffic, and you’re spending all your time on Instagram, that might not be the best use of your time. Likewise, if you’re trying to connect with brands and land sponsorships, chasing Pinterest followers might not be the way to do it.
With only 24 hours in each day, we need to make sure every ounce of work we put in is worth our time, and contributes to our goals in some way. In order to form a solid social media strategy, we need to have clarity and laser sharp focus. SO, (with minimal tears) take this week to think about what stats you’re chasing and why. Learn to separate the vanity metrics from the ones that actually move you closer to your goals, whether that’s pageviews, monetization or whatever else.
Rule 4: Understand that different platforms exist for a reason.
I remember one of the first social media jobs I ever worked. I was the communications assistant at my uni’s Student Residence department.
One of my tasks was to schedule social media posts… And out of laziness, I’d just hop on HootSuite and write out a bunch of Tweets, which I then just scheduled for Facebook. After that, yay – I could eat lunch!
And while I have gleefully maintained my enthusiasm for lunch, present-me would gladly hop back in time and knock the laptop out of young Christina’s hand…
Because my friends, there’s a reason different platforms exist.
Sure, cross-publishing is easy. I get it. The lazy walrus in me agrees whole-heartedly…
But to get the most out of your social media presence, you really need to tailor your content to the strengths of each platform. A 140 character zinger might work well on Twitter, but then mysteriously fail on Facebook. Likewise, a gorgeous Pinnable graphic with text overlay would get thousands of repins, but then wreak havoc on your IG feed.
Rocking social media in 2017 requires an understanding that different content works for different platforms. I can admit that it’s a ridiculous amount of work, but we’ll be breaking it down into (sorta) digestible chunks this month so that you and I both don’t rage quit and retreat to caves forever.
Rule 5: Stay in your own lane
In the social media world, someone is bound to be doing better than you, growing faster than you, flexing in front of waterfalls better than you… that’s just how the world works. You will never be THE best at anything, unless you’re Olive Garden, in which I must thank you for making those crack-like breadsticks.
Back to the point though: comparisons in the social media game are toxic to your sanity.
I mean, we’ve all been there. Trust me, I’m like the queen of the petty scroll. “Could her feed be ANY less cohesive?” I mutter as I chomp on my 100th Pringle. BUT, comparisons are awful for so many reasons. 1 – you might begin to copy (even unconsciously), which helps nobody and 2 – you WILL drown in a pool of salt and pettiness.
So, in short, I know it’s tough: but stop comparing yourself to others. What should you do instead? Befriend and connect with groups of likeminded bloggers and share your tips and strategies for success. Most bloggers (whether they admit it or not) are going through similar struggles. Having a strong set of allies (rather than competitors) can do wonders for not only your sanity, but clue you in on various strategies that will help you grow in the long run.
Rule 6: Adapt and evolve.
Social media is a crazy, ever-changing world. One second Facebook’s cool, the next it’s run by grandmas, then Vine’s dead, Instagram is Snapchat and the world’s engulfed in paranoid frenzies about shadow bans, algorithms and 3rd party shut-downs. In fact, while you’ve been reading this post, the IG algorithm has probably changed 5 times.
So what’s a struggling blogger to do?
Step 1: try not to cry. Step 2: cry a lot.
BUT then step 3 of course, is to adapt and evolve.
One of the biggest mistakes I see bloggers making is that they cling onto their old ways too much. What works one day will literally not work the next, so you need to constantly learn, adapt, and *gulp* never get too attached to any one method.
Let’s take a very recent example for me – Instagram loop giveaways. Months ago, I would have never been caught dead doing a giveaway. Without ever trying one, I had it in my head that it was a cheap way to attract followers intent on unfollowing anyway… Then all sorts of crap hit the fan, with 3rd party app shutdowns, ever-changing algorithms and I basically just rage quit and said, “sure why not”.
After doing one, I got a modest boost in followers (around 1400) but to my amazement, I didn’t have a mass unfollowing after, and got loads of new, engaged followers in the process. How magical.
So while I’m no expert on giveaways (and this one could have been a fluke), it emphasizes the importance of trying new things and evolving with the platform. There are still many purists out there who maintain that all you need to do is post good content and engage. I’m sorry, but I have to call BS on that. In an ideal world, the best content will float to the top, but sadly there’s a lot of backstage workings that we are oblivious about. As such, it’s important that we are continually learning, adapting and giving new methods a try.
“Ain’t nobody got time for this!” shouts an angry, stressed out blogger from the back of the room (AKA all of you)
Yes, that was a long read… and YES I feel the same way! That said, succeeding in social media is a long, strategic game. If we were to all blindly throw content out there (which let’s be honest, most of us are), we don’t get optimal results. This month is all about cracking social media codes for 2017, and let’s be real: much of it will be outdated within the week. BUT, I’ve finally started to see some success in different confusing platforms, so I wanted to share the wealth. Again, I need to stress that I’m no guru, master, maven, or whatever the buzzword is at the moment, but stick with me and I can promise you at least a laugh or two.
So tell me in the comments – what are YOUR major social media questions that you want answered? I can’t promise I’ll have all the answers, but I’ll be sharing (no holds barred) what has worked for me and how you can whip your social presence into shape. I hope you’re as excited as I am! Let’s doooo dis.
Talk to you all soon,