Monday, October 20, 2014

Social Media Monday—9 Reasons You're Failing at Social Media & How to Fix It

by Edie Melson @EdieMelson

I wish I had a nickel for every one who’s told me that Social Media just doesn’t work for them.

Let me suggest, respectfully, that you’re just going about it the wrong way.

I know it sounds harsh, but hear me out. Today I’m going to give you nine reasons you’re failing at social media and I’m going to share how to fix each one.

As you’ve heard me say many times, social media isn’t a one-size-fits-all proposition. But, that’s still not an excuse not to use it.

1. You’re not doing the basics. I teach that to have an effective social media presence on the Internet you need to do three things: Facebook, Twitter, and Blogging. The reason you must use Facebook and Twitter is because, no matter what or who you’re promoting, you’ll find almost 100% of your audience on these two networks. There may come a time, especially with Pinterest, that this changes. But it hasn’t happened yet.

You also need to be blogging someplace regularly. Notice I did NOT say you have to have a blog. I said you have to blogging somewhere, regularly. It could be a group blog or professional blog where you have a regular column. The idea is to have somewhere to send your audience so they can interact with you on a deeper level than social media. Think of it as a place to sit down and have coffee with them, to get to know each other better.

2. You’re trying to be fair. By this I mean you’re trying to spend the same amount of time on all the social networks you’re involved with. Each of us has differing personalities. I’m better at some ways of engagement than you are. For instance, I excel at Twitter, but not at Facebook. So, I spend the majority of my time on Twitter because I get a better return on investment. I don’t ignore Facebook, but I know my limitations and my strengths and I work to those.

3. You’re trying to do too much. These days we’re all busy…crazy busy sometimes. So why make yourself even crazier by trying to do it all. I remember a commercial in the 70s that showed a beautiful woman holding a frying pan, singing a song about how she can bring home the bacon and fry it up in a pan. The prevailing myth was women, as well as men, could do it all. Maybe some can. But I have to ask, who wants to? Not me. Work on the basics, then just add what you can handle and/or what you enjoy. Remember, this is a means to an end, not the point of your existence!

4. You have unrealistic expectations. Unless all the stars in the universe line up exactly right and spell out your name, with your blog’s URL, growing a following takes time. I had someone the other day complain because his blog wasn’t growing and he’d been consistent with posting for almost six weeks. That’s just too short a time to judge what’s working and what’s not. How long is long enough? Read point number five to find out.

5. You haven’t been at it long enough. Social media, like almost everything else has a learning curve. It takes time to learn what works for you and what doesn’t. And even beyond that, it takes time build up a following. Sure there are short cuts, but most violate the user agreements of the different social networking platforms and can get you banned—for life. And personally, I’d rather build up a solid following that sticks with me, not get some quick numbers that disappear as soon as they arrive. So what’s long enough? Six months to a year, minimum, depending on how consistent you are. And that brings me to my next point.

6. You’re not being consistent. Blogging on a schedule for six weeks isn’t long enough to grow a following or even tell if you have an audience that’s interested—ESPECIALLY if you’re not also being consistent at social media. Decide how many time a week you’re going to post to your blog,  how many times a day you’re going to Tweet, and how many times a day you’re going to post to Facebook, then do it at least four days a week. How long should you do it? Minimum of six months straight. Then come to me and tell me that social media doesn’t work. At that point we’ll have something to talk about. 

7. You’re trying to do it alone. Trying to keep the schedule I mention in number five without using an ancillary program is a recipe for failure. No one I know, who has a life, can be on social media twelve hours a day. I recommend everyone use some kind of ancillary program for scheduling social media updates. I recommend Hootsuite,  but I know a lot of you also like Buffer, or even TweetDeck.

8. You’re spending too much time on it. Yep, you read that right. After you come up to speed on social media, I recommend you spend NO MORE than thirty minutes a day on social networks and a one to two hour block of time, once a week, writing your blog posts for the week. Anything after that and you’re going to find yourself arrested by the social media law of diminishing return.

9. You’re only talking about yourself. One of the biggest mistakes I see with social media is people confusing it with mass marketing. Let me ask you a question. Do you engage with people who are mass marketing on social networks or do you block them as quickly as I do? Then why think that’s the way to use social media? If you don’t like it, you can bet no one else will. Instead post things on social media that are valuable to those who follow or friend you. Talk about them, share interesting tips gleaned from others, promote other people. I know it sounds counterintuitive, but I guarantee you it works. I use what I call Edie’s 5 to 1 rule. For every 1 social media updates about me, I have to post 5 about someone else. This is my NUMBER ONE HARD AND FAST RULE. Truly, social media is a return to polite society

I've listed the top 9 reasons I see people fail at social networking, what things make you follow—or unfollow—someone on social media? 

Don't forget to join the conversation!



  1. Great post, Edie. Your tips make sense. When I first started my blog, I spent a lot of time on yours learning the basics. One of the best pieces of wisdom you offered was that building a following takes time. I've been at it a year and a half, and I've got close to 150 followers on my blog. Now commenters? Not nearly that, but the people who comment engage, and I appreciate that. :)

    For me, the things that turn me off are when someone is always promoting their book or product (I see this mostly on Twitter). Or (also on Twitter) seeing inappropriate posts (about sex or using profanity). I unfollow those quickly.

    My biggest frustration with the Facebook piece is knowing how to engage more people with my author page. I can post an update and it reaches maybe 20 people. I am still figuring out how to make that piece work. Honestly, I don't spend too much time on it. I try to update once a week. Yes, I'm inconsistent, mostly because it's a bit discouraging. :)

    Sorry for the novella here. :)

  2. Jeanne, building a following does take time and you're doing an excellent job. As far as FB, that's an issue with the way FB categorizes the updates from pages. It's almost impossible to build a following on a page on FB these days. I use my personal profile for my professional interactions and that's working well right now. But with FB, you never know how long you can count on something working. Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing your thoughts! You can write a novella anytime here LOL! Blessings, E

  3. Edie, great advice. What's your opinion on one more thing bloggers might consider-- giving blog readers something in return for their time and effort spent to follow you.
    Appreciate you.

    1. Richard, I think that giving things away for following has value when used in moderation. I think we always want to strive to be so relevant and helpful that we don't get into the bribing mindset. Thanks for the great question - you've given me an idea for a future blog post! Blessings, E

  4. Great advice, Edie! Thank you! I struggle with #6 and #8. I'm not consistent at all yet on how much and when I tweet or post on Facebook. When I do get to tweeting, I tend to retweet and tweet a bunch of things at once. Bad idea? I think I read somewhere that was a "no-no." :) Still, it's the only way I seem to fit in tweets, which is actually my better aspect of social media.

    And I get so easily distracted every time I go on Facebook, so that's a huge time-killer. I know I should probably use Hootsuite, but so far I lack the time and inclination to do so. I'm also not sure it would do me good, since I'd still have to invest a lot of time up-front to pre-write my tweets and posts. I think that's the main reason I haven't tried Hootsuite yet. Thoughts on that? Thanks for the post!

    1. Jerusha, it's not that doing everything all at once is bad, it's just a little less effective. Statistics prove that never more than 16% of your u diene is online at the same time. If you only post I one timeframe - instead inc of spreading it out, you're not reaching much of your audience. As far as FB, it can be a huge time-suck for me, so I have to be very aware of my time when I'm on there. Thanks so much for stopping by, Blessings, E

  5. My favorite sentiment: "The prevailing myth was women, as well as men, could do it all. Maybe some can. But I have to ask, who wants to? Not me."

    Excellent article. Thanks! Will share.

    1. Donna, that was really a huge Ephifany for me. I'm glad it resonated with you as well! Thanks for taking time to comment, Blessings E