While it’s not new, I’m often surprised by the way bloggers use—and mis-use—social media.
Each of us has our own blogging journey, and we use different tools in our own unique ways. Yet there are still quite a few very common errors that I continue to see bloggers making as they work with social media.
These mistakes have the potential to make your social media experience a struggle—if not put you off it completely. But if you persist with them over time, they have the potential to do significant harm to your brand and your blog.
Think about it: social media is a very public space, perhaps even more public than your blog. Although we might not be conscious of it, every time we make a status update on a social network, we have the potential to reach a huge audience of people we don’t know through others sharing our messages.
That can happen whether the messages are good or bad, for better or for worse.
Take a look at these 15 mistakes, which definitely send the wrong message. Then, let me know in the comments if you’re making any of these errors.
1. Using social media as broadcast media
We all know that social media is an engagement tool, but how many of us treat it that way?
What’s your ratio of “broadcast” updates to direct, personal updates that address other users individually? And who are those direct updates to—friends and family and people you feel “safe” with, or are you reaching out to new contacts, readers, and others in your niche?
Make sure you know How to Socialize Your Posts for Maximum Effect AND The 10 Rules of Social Media Engagement.
2. Not responding to contacts
While you may not want to connect with everyone on every social network, the blogger looking to build an online presence should focus on responding to contacts from others on social media.
Avoiding one-word responses is ideal—look for ways to connect naturally and easily with every person who approaches you, and you’ll see real benefits from social media.
3. Not joining your readers on the networks they use
Where are your users congregating online? Which networks do they use? Are you on those networks, or are you holding off because you think you don’t have enough time or energy to tackle a new network?
Not long ago, I started developing the dPS presence on Pinterest, and I’ve never looked back. While there’s no perfect time for anything, leaving yourself out of a social network where your audience is active could mean you’re leaving money on the table—or readers out of the loop!
Here’s how I use social media in my blogging as ‘outposts’.
4. Not offering follow and share buttons on your content
On your post pages, do you offer readers the option to share the post on social networks and the opportunity to follow you on those networks?
Offering one or the other is better than nothing, but it’s important to offer both. Of course, your follow buttons might appear in a location that’s globally available throughout your blog—like in the header or sidebar. But do make sure users have both options.
Here’s The Step-by-Step Method to Making Your Content Shareable on Social Media.
5. Not following or friending your readers
If a reader contacts you on social media, do you follow them?
While following massive numbers of people can be overwhelming, if you’re just starting out on a new network, connecting with those who contact you is a great way to make the most of the medium and get a feel for what your readers are doing on that network.
6. Not following or friending industry contacts
Connecting with people from your broader niche is an excellent way to stay abreast of news and get on the radars of others you haven’t met, but whose work you admire.
Who knows? They might follow you back—and share your updates with their followers. But even if they don’t, you have the potential to get a sound perspective of the players in your niche, and their work, on social media.
Here’s some more benefits of networking and collaboration.
7. Not presenting your brand consistently on a network
Every blogger and blog brand has a range of facets, but these need to be carefully managed—even curated—if you want to give your followers a clear idea of who you are and what you’re about.
Chop and change in the way you approach a given network or your followers, or present your brand, and you might do more harm than good.
If you’re not sure about your brand, you need to know How to Define Your Blog’s Brand.
8. Not presenting your brand consistently across different networks
Following on from the previous point, you will have readers who follow you on multiple networks, so it’s important to present yourself and behave consistently in all your dealings, whatever the network.
Your blog’s Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Pinterest accounts should share brand characteristics, even if you target the information you share with each network individually.
9. Only doing the basics on each network
Social networks have come a long way since they were first launched. Even the more recent arrivals to this industry are evolving new features all the time. Yet many of us ignore these developments, and just keep posting the same stuff, day in, day out.
Are you aware of the features of each of the networks you’re using? Are you up-to-date with what each network offers your blog? If you’re not, you could be missing valuable opportunities to promote your blog, to meet potential readers, and eventually, to make sales.
10. Not tracking social media traffic
At the most basic level, it’s worth knowing what portion of your blog’s traffic comes from social media, and from which networks.
This knowledge can help you focus your efforts, prioritize your work, and manage your time to best effect. It can also help you to respond to one-off traffic events arising from particular networks.
11. Not tracking how much your content is shared
On the other side of the coin, it’s also important to keep an eye on how much your content is shared. I’ve found this particularly useful when I’ve joined a new network, as it helps me to understand what works in that space and what doesn’t.
Looking at what’s shared—in terms of blog content and my own social media updates—is an essential step in making the most of a social network.
12. Not listening to discussions about your brand and niche
Similarly, it’s important to track not just what people on a given social network are saying about your blog and brand, but also about your niche itself. Social listening is the answer.
This can give you post ideas, opportunities to connect with readers on topical issues that they care about—even ideas for updating your blog’s layout or post categorisation. Social media listening is a great way to get to know what your audience is thinking and feeling.
13. Not listening to your main competitors
The listening doesn’t stop there, though. you can also set up searches for social media discussions of your main competitors, or key players in your niche, and find out what the audience has to say about them.
This can help you find gaps in your market for information and commentary, give you prodict ideas, and a lot more.
14. Not posting at high-sharing, high-visibility times of day
This is a big one. Even if your social media followers are in your timezone, there are going to be better and worse times to share on social media.
If you’re listening to find out the way your niche works on social media, you should have an idea of when its players—organizations and audience members—are most active. By tying that information to the traffic and sharing tracking mentioned above, you should be able to piece together a picture of the best times to get traction from social media among your target readership.
15. Not realising that promotion doesn’t stop with social media
Social media has its place, but it’s only one way to reach the people you want to read your blog. It’s one piece in a big promotional puzzle, and it’s one that’s actually independent of a digital presence that you own.
That presence is on your blog itself. But if you only ever use social media to try to get people to your site, you’ll soon kill off any goodwill you’d established. This is why social media really should be used as part of a broader promotional toolkit that lets you attract some of the other kinds of readers we mention in this article.
Are you making any of these 15 mistakes? They could be slowly strangling your blog’s authority, brand, and ability to attract new readers! Share your thoughts—and tips for social media success—with us in the comments.
This article was first published on December 16, 2012 and updated May 12, 2022
I love the article and the great tips. I was going to +1 it but don’t see the option. Do you guys use G+ ?
Yes, i do use G+ and would suggest all others to start using G+ and other social media buttons if you are really serious about traffic generation through social media campaigns. This article is a great effort, and could be great booster for anyone looking at all the minor aspects of social media campaigning.
These are great points, but my question is this: as a single parent with a full-time job, how could I ever keep up with 8-10 different social media in such detail? I tend to focus on one or two. I’m slowly growing a few of the others. But my time has to go into my blog, my content, my writing, my music. If I let social media eat up too much of my time I’d have no product.
Yes, I do agree, to follow all the points in this article it would become a full time job. Following, engaging, responding, updating, tracking and so on, it is just too much, I just wonder where people get the time and motivation. Only option I can see it to outsource it and get a social media manager.
The problem with outsourcing to a social media manager is that you lose having your own voice on your social media. Put another person in that job and everyone knows it isn’t you.
This is chock full of some absolutely solid advice, Georgina. Far too many bloggers believe that they just need to build up their followerships and can then simply broadcast. Social media is all about being social and interacting with your peers, readers, and customers.
Beyond that, I believe that your advice on following the numbers is essential — if you’re spending your time and energy on one means of social promotion and can’t tell whether it is effective or not, you’re never going to know if doing something similar in the future is worthwhile. Thanks for the post!
I think you forgot to cover one aspect. Social media can be an incredible time suck.That’s particularly true when you have to cover yet another social media site with your brand. What if you have multiple blogs with different messages? Do you create a Facebook Page, Google+ Community, Pinterest page and Twitter account for each of them – each with hundreds or thousands of hungry voices that want your attention?
I could spend all day managing social media using the tips you’ve mentioned, but I haven’t that much time.
Great piece Georgina! Social media however should include video. Soon enough it will most likely be 90% of all information consumption online. By adding video, which is a huge social media network, to your content has been a great way to increase brand awareness, brand trust and, time on site for SEO purposes. Anyways, great piece and I will be looking to add a couple of these calls to action in the future…Merry Christmas too!
But if your brand is you, then like Darren’s talking head videos, the obvious tactic is to put yourself in front of the camera, isn’t it? Shudder. In my humble opinion YouTube is best left for the photogenic, and young women (like myself) are often thought of as their own worst enemies, but again, in my humble opinion, we are second-worst to the catty sockpuppets on social websites. I don’t think I’d ever be able to cope with the bully commenters who make horrible jokes about even successful people — there are some pretty nasty things at the bottom of Adele videos, for example. And Rebecca Black is just a cute perky kid who’s not even old enough to vote, but even she got death threats (!) from YouTube hackers. Awful, just awful.
The above is a response to a Chris Brogan article in which I discuss YouTube being the heir apparent to MTV. When MTV was launched, the first video offered a prophetic message: video killed the radio star. Maybe it didn’t kill it per se, but brought about a new era in which radio stars could no longer get away with having a “face for radio.” Roy Orbison, for example, could never have been the success he was if he had to compete with Bon Jovi and Poison. But boy, oh boy, could that man sing. Not a great looker, but boy, could he sing. It’s not as easy to Photoshop a video file either unless you tweak it frame by frame.
Thanks for this article! I found it a good reminder of many details I miss in the whole social media game. The difficulty is balancing the time spent taking care of all these points on the various social networks and the time needed to research and write really good, quality content.
I suppose it all goes back to the question of time management….
You got some very good pointers here! Especially point 2. Not leaving one-word responses. Often they look like they’re being copied and used for mass reply. Not at all personal…
Thanks for summing it up so well and for sharing.
Fantastic post and so true.
The mistake I see bloggers make time and again is the “post and run.” I belong to several groups on various social networking sites and there are members who only stop by to post their latest blog post. Some don’t even bother to add an intro. They don’t realized that they’re spamming the group with their content by not engaging with the group. ;(
I have always had trouble getting social media to work for me. My best successes have been to just use social media as a way to connect with readers, and not as a way to push or promote products. I use social media for my business the same way I use it for personal use. I share things I think are interesting, and connect with people who are interested in the same thing I am.
Recently I have been making sure and taking the respond to contacts advice to heart. I make sure I am always available and open to anyone who wants to talk to me. If you ignore someone they are lost forever.
Thanks for the great insight!
You nailed this one Georgina. I definitely friend or follow my fans on Social Media. This one act alone has helped me tremendously on Social Media.
Very good mistakes identified by you. I think its easy to let go and share your content to only those who you are comfortable with. You must reach out to those who are in the same niche and follow them and re-tweet their tweets. You are bound to get noticed then.
Hello – great post. I have been a blogger for 4 years now & I’m tired. =D I mostly promote on FB (several different sites), G+ and Twitter and often I wonder how to reach out of those warm markets and reach new readers. I often feel like I’m just talking to the same people all the time – and need to get out of that. =D I’ve tried hootsuite and I’m not impressed – I like being able to control my posts, tweaking them so they are a little different for each post. Thoughts?
Question – Facebook has me limited at 5000 likes – is there a way to find out which people I’ve followed that haven’t followed me back? I need to clean out my FB page & need an easy way to do that.
Although social media is the best tool to come closer to your audience but it has so many problems for marketers which are missing here .So I would like to add some of these problems that i have discussed in my post
Thanks for identifying these mistakes.
I was inspecting my site these days. I was really sad for my blog as I am not having good traffic. But your tips are so handy and I will soon implement it in my blog.
Thanks for the post. As an owner of a new small business I am still pretty new to Twitter. I find a big turn off for me personally are companies that follow my profile in order to get new followers and then quickly unfollow a day or two later in order to boost their numbers (after I have followed them back). As a business owner and a consumer it makes one think “so you deem yourself more important then others”. So basically, they have introduced their brand and then made a bad impression. Personally, it seems pretty stupid to me.
So I follow my followers back because I sincerely want to hear what they have to say, and ultimately because I care about my customers.
I agree! This is a common and annoying behavior not just by companies but also those who just want the numbers. They follow then unfollow and some even follow again a week later. It’s like poking me in the back and makes sure I actually do not follow back!
Providing social share buttons and joining the social media your fans/visitors belong to can help expose your blog to even a bigger audience as it will not just be easy to share your posts with their friends but you can also interact with them and respond to them directly, building personal relationships with your visitors can really help your blog grow. This is indeed an awesome post and i can’t leave without saying thanks for the insight.
Excellent post Georgina. I haven’t been too active on the social media front but after reading this post I realize the importance of networking with other people.
Have to say that the point on this list that rings true for me is the posting at certain times of day gives you a better response. Only being able to blog evenings and weekends can really hinder this.
Simply put, it’s like getting back to the basics. Staying in touch with your audience, in any way possible, is the best way to get more targeted and repeat audience. Social media has evolved s much in the last decade, it used to be just the contact forms or guestbooks. Pinterest, Twitter, G+ make it much easier to broadcast your brand and stay in touch with people interested in your content. Great tips, Georgina!
Really informative article, specially I like the point number 4 and i’m totally agree with that point. It’s true not allowing follow and share can put you in great trouble because by doing this are losing your chance to gain more popularity for your product.
Great advice, Social sites plays main role in blogging world. We should look at social traffic and other things to make our blog better.
Great advice Georgina. first thing I did for the company I work for is add social sharing buttons on their blog, When you mention it it seems obvious but so many people don’t provide this option on their content.
I also couldn’t emphasis enough the importance of measuring social traffic. Commercially this is how you justify your effort online. You can actually calculate ROI pretty accurately if you monitor your traffic online. With Google analytics, there’s no excuse to not be doing this.
FInally, monitoring your competitor has never been easier Social media is public, you can follow your competitors onine and see exactly what they’re doing, I use hootsuite streams for a few of my competitors to see what they’re doing in the social field. Keeps you on your toes!
Social media has great benefits without any doubt. However being succesfull requires you spend lot of time on them. In my opinion other means of promotion can be better if you put the same energy in them as you do in social media.
Good post Georgina,
Its true I have to admit I’m a victim of #1.
Come on man you can’t help it.
It’s like Twitter makes you talk to “yourself” lol.
I’m bookmarking your post, excellent tips especially NOT listening to your competitors.
This is very true. What works for someone else may never work for you.
wow there is so many things i dont even know where to start I just started to fix number one and talk people outside of friends and family.I never considered joining the communitys that my readers are in I do join the sites that the readers own.thanks for this I am going go read the schedule thing i have been wondering about this for a while
Great article, Georgina.
I will admit that social media has been my ” Achilles Heel” in many ways…
I actually closed up some of my accounts, and have not been very active in the accounts that are still running…so I need to get back into the medium, and try to at least get more established and connected….
The lack of time factor, was the main reason I dropped out of social media, and the fact that many people stated that they ended up wasted so much time, without any real benefit to their website business….
Very good points. I have to admit that I’ve definitely made some of those mistakes. An important part of using social media effectively is making sure you dedicate some time to it. Consistency is the key.
Very nice points. Social media playing great role in blogging.
I agree with 2 & 5. Those were my mistakes earlier, but nowadays i started interacting with my followers. It really works. Anyway, thanks for such a great article! Few more points to remember.
Great points but how does a single person do all this work? It’s literally a full time job. Is there a key to managing all this from the home front which is where many bloggers are blogging from.?
So many great comments – especially on the time commitment it would take to do all these things – would be great to hear Georgina’s reaction / suggestions.
I’m just thinking I probably need to pop some sort of pill to get over social media stage fright. I just started blogging all of two weeks ago and have 0 social media accounts besides Google+, which I only have by default (it’s a Blogspot blog). Facebook “owns” all your content regardless of what notice or protection you have with Creative Commons or even the government registration office. Twitter is too real-time and reminds me of AOL Instant Messenger which freaked me out because I don’t have the requisite time between responses to think up what I want to say. (I’m an introvert, one of those people who values quality of responses over quantity or immediacy.)
As I stated above (if the comment shows up), commenters on social media sites can sometimes be judge, jury AND executioner — more so the latter. I wonder how Barbra Streisand would achieve her eponymous Internet effect if she were still having the crippling stage fright she had in the 1970s?