How to Decide if a New Social Network or Medium is Right for You
Today I’m going to help you decide if you should start on that new social network or that new medium like a podcast or a YouTube channel.
As bloggers, we are constantly bombarded with choice as to how we can spend our time. There is an unlimited amount of things we could be doing to support our blogs, but not all of them are right for us.
I am going to go through some areas where we can ask questions to determine where we really should focus our energy.
Today, I received an email from a reader who was wondering if they should get on facebook live. It’s an emerging medium that many bloggers have been experimenting with.
This is a very common email that I get. People are wondering if they should get on different social networks or take advantage of new mediums.
In Today’s Episode Is It Right for My Audience, My Content and for Me?
- Is my audience there? Obvious example – LinkedIn is a great place if you’re wanting to reach a more business focused niche. (survey to find out)
- Not just where do they have accounts but also:
- where are they most active
- what are they using it for? (catching up with friends, research, sharing links etc)
- How long do they stay there?
- People’s intent and habits are important and will inform how you should use it but also if it’s right for you.
- For example – we noticed a lot of our readers use FB to share photos – so we started a FB group purely for photo sharing.
- If your readers are on a network more for personal reasons it could be a signal that it’s not a great place to sell. Rather – take a more conversational tone.
- If your readers are there to search for info – treating it as a Search Engine – then it might be a good place to be posting reviews, news, how to content.
- Are others in my niche using it?
- If so – how and with what results?
- If not – is there a reason (which might signal that it’s a place to avoid) or an opportunity?
- How much work does it take them?
- Do they use systems/automation?
- Are they around the clock or just certain hours?
- Are there certain techniques that they use that get results or that don’t?
- If you can ask someone that’s probably best – but you can learn a lot by observing what they do. Follow the biggest in your niche and see what they’re doing. What is working that you could emulate but what isn’t being done that you could try?
- Not just where do they have accounts but also:
- Is the network/medium trending up or down? Is it a good time to position yourself for a mainstream audience.
- Does it suit my topic?
- eg in the photography space we need to engage in networks and mediums that are visual. Blogging, YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest, FB, G+ in its day, Twitter etc – but to this point I’ve avoided podcasting as it doesn’t seem as natural a fit (although there are successful photography ones that talk gear or video ones that do well that talk technique).
- Eg ProBlogger we’re talking more about concepts, ideas, techniques that don’t require visuals, so podcasting suits more for some – although there are some things that are easier to show with a screenflow video, a webinar etc.
- Does it suit the the style/voice of content I produce?
- Eg – I teach people – which lends itself to some networks and mediums better than others. I think it’s a good fit for podcasting.
- Eg – dPS is very visual so we’ve invested more time into Instagram. It also lends itself to longer form content as we produce a lot of tutorials which is why our blog is the main thing we do.
- Can I repurpose the content I create on the new network/medium in some way to make the investment of time I put into it doubly valuable?
- Eg – video you create on FB Live could end up on Youtube or you could pull the audio from it to put into your podcast or you could transcribe it and then embed it to your blog….
- Am I creating content somewhere else that I could repurpose for this new thing?
- Eg – could I use articles I’ve previously written as the basis for a slideshare or for a podcast or for a video?
- Does it suit my style of presenting? Do I naturally enjoy it? Am I good at it? Do you feel energized by doing it?
- Does it fit with my current goals? (what is the priority for you right now. Finding new audience? Building Community? Developing a product? Pivoting topic? Some networks will help you do these things more effectively than others.
- Eg – if you’re just starting a blog you probably are in a phase where you need more eyeballs so it might make sense to engage in some of the new networks where there is less competition from the big players and where you can really stand out. For example, I saw a lot of people really establish themselves by being early adopters on Periscope and SnapChat.
- Others who might be more established might need to really buckle down and focus more energy on building engagement with the readers that they have. So it might make sense to put all your efforts into other activities like creating a product, membership area, newsletter etc rather than to start on a new network.
- Can you leverage the new thing to build your home base? Ultimately, the sustainability of your business hinges not on what you do in the short term on the social networks you’re on, but on whether you can hook people into a long term relationship. For me, that’s about getting people onto our email list. Some networks and mediums are easier to do this from than others. I’ve personally had less success doing this from Instagram than I have from the Podcast for example.
- Do I have time/energy for the new thing?
- If no – would I outsource or automate it (either the new thing or something else to free up time)?
- If it doesn’t take your personal interaction for it to be successful you could train someone to help you run it – you may not even need to be involved at all or could minimize the work.
- Podcast editing.
- I know of numerous bloggers whose Instagram accounts are not even touched by them.
- Using a tool like Meet Edgar I run one of my FB pages and supplement my Twitter account.
- If it doesn’t take your personal interaction for it to be successful you could train someone to help you run it – you may not even need to be involved at all or could minimize the work.
- If no – would I outsource or automate it (either the new thing or something else to free up time)?
- What would I have to stop doing to start it?
- Can I afford to play there?
- Some networks (the more established ones particularly) are in a stage in their own life stage where you need to pay to reach the audience (increasingly) while other networks are younger and organic reach is still very possible.
- How many other new things am I starting?
- Some bloggers have a habit of going all in on every new thing that comes along and do so at the expense of what they’re already doing. This means they end up feeling overstretched and don’t stick at things long enough to become established.
- It takes time and focus to build up a library of content on a new network, to learn how to use it, to establish credibility there.
- You don’t have to do everything – probably a lot better to be active and doing an amazing job on one social network as long as it’s the right one and you’re achieving your goals than to be on every network.
- Similarly it’s probably better to be on one medium (blog, podcast) than to try to do everything.
- I typically try to have only one new thing on the go at a time.
A Few Last Thoughts
- Keep in balance what you’re currently doing that is working and starting new things.
- If something is working well now – work that thing as hard as you can and for as long as you can until it doesn’t work any more.
- Don’t always be looking toward the ‘new’ and ‘emerging’ trends at the expense of the old things that actually work. For example – SEO, email, Facebook – these things are mainstream and they work. If you ignore them in order just to play on SnapChat, Instagram and to blog on Medium you might be missing out.
- Having said that you can become stale if you ignore the new and stubbornly hold on too long to something that is trending down and has no future. I remember way back when I started a couple of bloggers who resisted getting onto Facebook because MySpace had been so good to them… I’m not sure what they’re doing these days! `
- If you do want to try a new thing treat it as an experiment. Allocate a percentage of your time to experiment. Put boundaries around it. Give yourself a deadline. A good way to do this is to create a season of a podcast. Do a series of Youtube/FB Live clips. Start a FB Group for a purpose for a particular time (FB: feelgooder 3 months).
Lastly – Most of the really successful people I know focus on a small number of things and work hard on those rather than spreading themselves too thin.
Yes some big players seem to be doing everything…. but many times they have teams helping them produce their content, they’re freaks who have more energy than most of us, or they do it for a short time and then burn out.
- Find out where your readers are
- Experiment where you think you can add most value and where you can play to your strengths Invest significant time into the places where you’re seeing results!
Further Resources on Is It Right for My Audience, My Content and for Me?
Hey there, it’s Darren Rowse here from ProBlogger and I’d like to welcome you to Episode 134 of the ProBlogger podcast. Today, I want to help you to decide whether you should be starting on that new social network that everyone else seems to be on at the moment or whether you should start that medium, would it be a podcast or a YouTube channel or something else that you’ve been wondering about lately. As bloggers, we’re constantly bombarded with choice as to how we can spend our time. There really is an unlimited amount of things that we could be doing to promote our blog and to support the business that we’re building but not all of those things are right for everyone of us.
Today, I want to go through some areas that we can ask questions in to help us determine where is the best place to really focus our energies. You can find today’s show notes where I will have some further reading for you at problogger.com/podcast/134. Today’s podcast is brought to you by the ProBlogger Plus Newsletter. If you should go over to problogger.net/ideas, you can subscribe to our weekly newsletter where we’ll send you all our latest tips and tutorials, podcast episodes, and everything else that’s going on at ProBlogger.
If you do so end up there at problogger.net/ideas, we’ll give you six months of content ideas. Every month for the next six months, we’ll send you a little email with 30 different ideas, 180 ideas in total over six months which will give you some ideas for blog posts that you can be writing on your blog. Again, that is at problogger.net/ideas.
This morning, I got an email, a very common email from a reader over at ProBlogger. It was from a blogger who was wondering whether they should jump onto Facebook Live. Everyone’s been talking about Facebook Live, it’s an emerging medium that many bloggers have been experimenting with lately. I’m seeing a lot more of it in my Facebook feed and this blogger noticed the same thing, they noticed other people in their niche particularly getting into it and wondered whether they should too. In the email, there was some tension. If I get onto that, what should I give up to be able to do it?
This is a very common email that I get not just about Facebook Live but about podcasting, should I start a podcast about YouTube? Should I start a YouTube channel? Should I get on Snapchat, Pinterest, Instagram? Should I be blogging? All these social networks and different mediums that are at our fingertips as opportunities but also potentially as distractions from what it is that we’re trying to build. These questions come in thick and fast over at ProBlogger via email and in the comments that we get.
Today, I wanted to really delve into how do you make that decision about where you should be spending your time. As I said in the introduction, these are opportunities, these are incredible opportunities. Jumping to the right social network just at the right time, and it could be the difference between your blog having amazing success and failing. These things can also be incredible distractions so how do you make that decision?
Today, I want to get you to consider three different areas that you might want to ponder to make that decision. You really need to choose the right one that is right for your audience, for your content, and for you. Over the next 15 or so minutes, I really want to delve into each of those three things—your audience, your content, and you, and put some questions to you that you can ask to help you to work out whether that new social network is the right one for you. Is it the right one for your audience? Is it the right one for your content? And is it the right one for you?
I’m going to go through a whole heap of different questions here and they will all be summarized over in the show notes at problogger.com/podcast/134. You can get the full transcript over there as well, so let’s dig into those.
The first one is your audience. Is that new social network or that new medium that you are thinking about doing right for your audience? There’s some pretty obvious examples that have been given many times before, perhaps one of the most common ones is LinkedIn. Should you be jumping into LinkedIn? Should you start a blog and be producing content on LinkedIn? The obvious answer is that if your audience is a business focused audience, then perhaps LinkedIn is a good place for you to be engaging. Same can be said for different social networks.
Traditionally, Pinterest is seen as a great place to engage if you have lots of visual content and if your audience is women although I do know some big blogs that do very well that are focused on men over on Pinterest as well. That’s something you really need to do, some research. Your audience on these social networks, are they using the mediums that you’re considering using as well?
Here, you really need to dig a little bit deeper than just do they have an account in these places. That’s not what I’m really asking here. A lot of people have a Twitter account but do they use their Twitter account? Why are they using it? What I encourage you to ponder here is where do they have accounts but also where are they most active?
One of the questions that we ask in the surveys that we do is where do you have an account? We get all our readers to tell us all the difficult social media accounts that they are signed up for. Then, we ask them to tell us how often they use each of them. Are you using them daily? Are you using them weekly? Are you using them monthly, or do you never use them? That really gives you a lot more information about how active the people are there. How active are they on those networks, how long do they stay per session? You may need to dig in and do a little bit of research on that but there are a lot of studies that have been done into the session times that people typically have on different social networks.
I remember talking to one of the founders of the live streaming service Blab and they found that people when they go onto Blab were spending hours there, typically. Whereas people on Twitter sort of dip in and out and have fairly short shot burst of activity there, Facebook might be a little bit longer. How long are they staying there? That will reveal to you a whole heap about that social network. What are they doing there? What is their intent on that social network?
These are all things that you can do by surveying your readers and talking to your readers. Where are you active, what are you using these networks for? I think particularly it’s really interesting to see what they’re using it for. Are they on that social network to catch up with friends, are they there doing research for gathering of information? Are they there sharing what they’re doing, sharing the links? These things present different opportunities for us. People’s intents, their habits, how long they’re staying on these social networks will help us to work out whether it’s a place that we should be investing time.
I’ll give you a quick example. Over at Digital Photography School, we did a bit of a survey of our readers and asked them where are they spending time. We found that Facebook is one of the places that a lot of our readers do spend a lot of time. When we asked them what they did in those places and what they did in Facebook in particular, we found that the lot of Digital Photography School readers were sharing their photos on Facebook.
One of the things that we’ve been experimenting with over the last little while is a Facebook group that is purely there for the purpose of sharing photos. People can join it and they can share a photo just for the sake of sharing it or they can share with the question of can you critique my photo and then the community will critique their photo. We found that group has really worked very well but we would never have started that group unless we found out why people were on the network and what their habits were there, what were they doing there. That group doesn’t appeal to all of our readers, not all of our readers like to share photos but there’s been a segment of our readers that has been there.
Why are your readers on that social network? Are they there purely for personal reasons, maybe they’re there just to catch up with their friends. That presents a bit of a challenge and that may actually be a bit of a red flag that maybe you don’t want to get onto that network to sell, maybe you do want to get to that network to be conversational and to build community and to build engagement because people are there to engage with their friends and to find community. If your readers are there searching for information, are they there to research?
A lot of people go onto Pinterest to research and to get ideas. That maybe a really good place particularly for bloggers who have reviews of products or how to content because people are there with the intent of learning something or gathering information.
Do some analysis, where are your readers hanging out, how long are they hanging out in those places, what are they doing in those places, what’s their intent when they’re on those places. That will give you some hints as to whether it’s a fruitful place for you and whether it might fit with what your intentions are as well.
Another question you might want to ask kind of taps into where your audience is. Are the people in your niche using that social network or that medium? You want to be a little bit careful here because the answer yes could reveal a couple of things. It could actually reveal that it’s a good place or it could actually reveal that it’s too crowded as a place as well. Do some analysis. Are other people in your niche, are the bloggers, are the forums, are the influencers in your niche using that medium or that social network? If they are, how are they using it? What sort of results are they getting there? If they’re not there, is there a reason for that?
There may be no one else in your niche on this social network and that might present an opportunity for you but it also maybe a bit of a red flag as well because it hasn’t worked there for other people. You might want to look at inactive accounts there as well. Have there been people there and given up? How much work does it take the other people that are there? What types of things are they doing there? Are they using automation, do they have a very personal kind of account in those places? How often are they using it? What’s the frequency of the content that they’re producing and the updates that they’re doing?
Look at the different types of posts they might be doing and the different types of content that they’re producing and how well they have gained traction with those that are engaging with them there. It’s probably best if you can find someone else in your niche that’s willing to talk about it, and a lot of other bloggers in your niche will be willing to share their experience, it’s very collaborative in a lot of niches. But, you may just need to do some analysis and follow some of the big accounts that are relevant to your particular niche and just watch what they’re doing there, what traction they’re getting. You can learn a lot simply by following people and watching to see what they would do.
Again, you want to be a bit careful about just emulating what other people do or copying what they do and you also want to be looking for opportunities of things that people aren’t doing as well. That may present some opportunities to differentiate yourself by trying some new things there.
The last question I’d get you to ask in regards to your audience is is the network or is the medium trending up or is it trending down? At the moment, we’re seeing moments like Snapchat continuing to trend up. We’re seeing other networks like Twitter sort of plateauing and some people might even say it’s trending down at the moment. We’re seeing tools like mediums still seeming to grow. We’re seeing YouTube I think still presenting real opportunities as well so you might want to do some analysis there. We’re seeing other networks like Google Plus kind of fade away.
You want to really think about how big is the network and the overall size of it is another factor I guess to consider, but is it something that’s going to go away? You really don’t want to be investing your time into a network that has already passed its heyday. Ideally, you want to position yourself into a network that is about to really go mainstream. Bloggers that jumped onto Snapchat a year or so ago now really were positioning themselves for a tsunami of good things to happen for them as well there. All those questions are really about your audience; where are they, what are they doing in those places, that’s some really good questions to ask.
That’s not enough, don’t just ask those questions. The next area that I want to really dig into now is your content. Is the new medium, is the new network right for the content that you’re producing? The first question I want to put to you here is does it suit your topic? Does the new network, does the medium suit your topic?
Again, let me give you an example from my own situation, my photography blog, Digital Photography School. It’s obviously a very visual blog, we’re talking about photography, we’re talking about images. We’ve learned the hard way over the years that any kind of medium, any kind of network that has a visual component is much more suitable for us. Blogging itself, we can have images in our blog post. YouTube is one that can be potentially big for us, we’ve chosen to this point not to have a YouTube account but it’s one that we really wrestled with over the years and we’d like to do at some point because it’s a great place to illustrate particularly how to process photos. There’s been a lot of YouTube accounts that have done particularly well in that space.
Instagram obviously is another interesting space for us and one that we’ve been investing a bit more time into recently. It’s very visual, there’s some challenges there that I’ll talk about in a moment. Pinterest is one that we’ve had some success with over the years, Facebook we’ve had a lot of success with. The fact that you can share images there alone or that you can put images into the content you’re producing there is really great.
Google Plus in its heyday was really good for us as well because there was lots of big, beautiful images. Twitter has been okay for us as well because you can use images. Those types of mediums where you can have mediums really suit the topic of our content as opposed to podcasting. We have talked as a team about podcasting as a network but one of the reasons I decided not to go down the path—at least in the short term—is that it doesn’t really lend itself to visual content very well unless you want to do video which is a whole other beast. Whilst there has been some success for photography podcasts, a lot of them talk more of idea rather than techniques and teaching people how to take better photos which is something that we’re more into. That’s been something that we’ve resisted for a while.
ProBlogger on the other hand, a podcast works quite well for ProBlogger because it talking a lot of ideas. You don’t need to see the things that I’m talking about to get value out of doing it, at least I hope not anyway.
Does the topic suit the medium? Does it suit the network that you’re considering? Also, does the style or the voice of the content that you’re producing suit that network or medium as well? I teach people, both of my blogs are all about teaching. We want to work in networks where people have the intent of learning but also that suit teaching as well. For ProBlogger, I think podcasting is a good tool for us to be using as is blogging itself because people really can learn by listening and by reading. That suits the style of what I’m doing.
Again, Digital Photography School being more visual, we’ve invested more time into some of those visual forms as well. Also, I guess on Digital Photography School, it’s very much about teaching people and it’s about taking people through step by step content. The blog itself as a medium has worked very well for us there as well.
Another questions that you might want to ponder when it comes to the content and whether it suits the network that you’re considering is about repurposing. Sometimes, you can start something new and then use the content that you produce in that new thing in other places. That’s a really great investment of time.
For example, Facebook Live. If you invest time in Facebook Live, you can then take the video that you shot for Facebook Live and use it in other places. You could embed that video into a blog post, you could take that audio from that video and use snippets of that in a podcast. You could get the video that you produced transcribed and use that as a blog post as well. You could take the points that you are making in the video that you do and get them put into a Slide Share so it creates some slides about the things that you’re doing. There’s opportunities there to use that content in the new thing in other places. That is a great investment of time. I would be considering that.
The other thing that you could consider as the flip side, could you use content that you’ve already produced somewhere else and then repurpose it into the new thing that you’re doing? If you don’t have a Facebook page yet, I know most bloggers do already but for instance if you didn’t, you probably as a blogger already have a whole heap of stuff that you could be sharing on that Facebook page. You don’t have to come up with completely new stuff all the time, it may actually be a really simple way to getting to Facebook.
Another good example of that is this podcast. There’s been a number of episodes of this podcast that have been based upon blog posts that I wrote for four, five, six years ago that I then updated and put into the form of a podcast. Repurposing is something that I would be considering with the new mediums and networks that you might be engaging as well.
The last area that I would encourage you to think about when you’re considering a new medium or a new network is is it right for you? We’ve talked about is it right for your audience, is it right for your content, but is it right for you?
The first question to ponder with regards to is it right for you is does it suit your style of presenting? You’re only really going to know that by giving it a go. For me, again, to use this podcast as an example, I thought podcasting would be something that I would enjoy and that I would be reasonably okay at because I’ve had some experience in public speaking before. I didn’t really know that until I started it. I knew pretty quickly that it would be something that I would enjoy and that did suit my presenting and that gave me energy. I think it’s really important to choose to engage in spaces that give you energy and that you feel good about because that will come through in the content that you produced there and the energy that you bring to those places.
There have been a few times where I thought it would be really great to get into this new social network, Snapchat for me was one where I thought there was potential there. My audience is there, some of my audience are there. It does suit some of the content that we produce, particularly on Digital Photography School but you know what? I don’t really enjoy it. It’s been something that I’ve delved in but I’ve never really thrown myself fully into it because I don’t think it really suits me as such. It doesn’t fit the current time availability that I have as well.
Does it suit your style of presenting is the first question. The second one is does it fit with your current goals? Your blog, your business is going to go through different stages of a life cycle. The different stages of that life cycle, you will need to do different things to help to build your business. What is the big priority for you right now in your business? Is it finding a new audience? Is it building community? Is it monetization? Should you be spending your time developing a product? Should you be doing any of these particular types of things?
They will each mean that you should be focusing your energy on different types of things and different social networks will each have their strengths and weaknesses depending on the stage that you’re in. Let me give you an example. If you are just starting a blog right now, maybe two weeks ago you started a blog. You probably need a phase where you need to invest a whole heap of time into creating content for your blog, that’s one of the things that you should really be focusing on right now. You may need to do that at the expense of some of the other opportunities that are around you right now because you need to build up an asset, a library, an archive of good, solid content.
The other thing that you need to be doing in the early days of your blog is finding new readers. It may make some sense for you to start engaging into the newer emerging forms of social media where there’s perhaps a little bit less competition where you can establish yourself as the go-to person in your particular niche. It may make sense for you to jump onto Snapchat because you need to get more eyeballs and that’s a place where there’s a lot of people at the moment and there’s perhaps less competition than a place like Facebook.
You really need to ask yourself, what’s the priority for my business right now? I did a podcast a year ago probably now about Michael Hyatt deciding to get off Periscope. One of the things that I said about him getting off Periscope that I thought was a good thing is that he doesn’t need a whole heap of new readers for his blog right now, he’s already got a big list that he needs to focus more attention on building a product and monetizing it and building community with the readers he’s already got. There are other networks that are already working for him that he probably just needs to spend more time focusing upon because he doesn’t need those new readers. I thought Periscope at the time was particularly good for finding new readers.
What are your current goals? Do the new things that you’re considering lend themselves to those goals? There are times where we just need to buckle down and work on what is working for us already rather than establishing new things. There are other times when new things are perhaps more suited to our goals. Does it fit with your current goals?
Another question to ask is can you leverage the new thing to build your home base? Can you leverage that new thing? Can you leverage Snapchat? Is it going to help you to actually build your business and can you leverage it to get people onto your email list or over to your blog. Some social networks it’s easy to leverage them than others. Some of the social networks are very hard to get people away from the network itself because they’re such engaging places people just spend the whole time on there. A use of that social network may not ever visit your blog, they may not ever sign up to your email newsletter. Once you may be able to engage them in that space, I hope you’re able to get them to your home base.
Ultimately, the sustainability of your business hinges not on what you do in the short term on that social network but on whether you can hook people into a long term relationship with you. There’s new emerging social networks and they may come and go. A lot of them won’t be here in two or three years. What’s going to happen? Are you going to start a relationship that will continue beyond the life of that social network?
Really, one of the things I’m asking myself is is the investment at this time going to help to build my business in ten years or is it just gonna create a whole heap of buzz in the short term? Can I leverage those people or hook them into my email list? For me, my email list is number one. If I can’t get people onto my email list from the new social network, then I’m going to really strongly consider whether it’s worth my time doing it. Can I get them to visit my blog? Can I get them to buy my products? These are things that are not the most important but are important if I want to build a sustainable business.
Is it just going to be fun? If it’s just going to be fun, I’m not sure that it’s going to be something that’s going to help to build my business.
Another question to ask when it comes to you, do you have the time and the energy for a new thing? If the answer is yes, I’ve got a whole heap of time on my hands, go for it. That’s totally fine, experiment with the new things. If the answer is no, you even need to do one of two things. One, resist the temptation to do it or two, ask yourself, could I outsource or automate this new thing, or something else in what I’m doing to free up some time.
You don’t have to personally engage in all the social networks that you jump onto, some of them can be automated. I know for a fact a number of bloggers who do very, very well out of Instagram by using automation but also using outsourcing and getting assistance to create the posts that they do Instagram.
Podcasting, another good example. I cannot automate podcasting but I can outsource the editing of my podcast. That is one way that I can free up some time for myself.
Do you have the time, the energy? If the answer is no, is there potential to automate or to outsource some part of it or all of it? There are some great tools around that will help you to do that. I’ve talked about Mit Edga who used to help run our Twitter accounts. There are some personal interaction that we do on our Twitter account but some of it is automated as well and that frees up time for some of the new things as well.
Alongside this question of do you have time or energy for the new thing, you should be asking what would you have to stop doing to start the new thing? Sometimes, this is the crux of the matter for me. If I’m going to get into Snapchat, what do I have to give up to be able to do that? I probably have to give up my podcast or blog or Facebook and am I willing to give up something that’s already working to start something new. Sometimes, the answer is yes and sometimes the answer is no.
Another question to ask when it comes to you is can you afford to play in that space? Can you afford to play in it? Some social networks, particularly the more established ones like Facebook are in a stage in their kind of own life stage where they’re charging people to play. Most bloggers now know that their Facebook pages are getting less organic reach and less effective organically than they used to and to engage in that space, you do need to start to consider at least paying. Same is happening now on Instagram, but some of the new social networks are still anything goes almost. There’s much more opportunity for organic use of those. That’s another thing to factor in, is it getting to a stage in the life cycle of that particular network where you do need to pay to play? If so, can you afford to do that? Are you willing to do that?
The last question I’d get you to ask when it comes to you is how many other new things are you starting right now or have you started in the last little while? Some bloggers I know have a habit of going all in on every single new thing that comes along. They do so at the expense of the things that they’re already doing and they get to the point where this week they’re all in on Periscope, next week they’re all in on Snapchat, next week they’ll be all in on Facebook Live. They don’t really stick to anything for too long and this means that they can end up either feeling overstretched by trying to do too many things or they don’t stick at things long enough to become established in those new things that they’re doing.
It takes time and focus to build up a library of content on any new medium or social network. It takes time and focus to learn how to use that social network and to experiment with different types of content on it. It takes time and focus to establish credibility and to get traction in the new things as well. Ask yourself the question, are you starting lots of things at once? If so, you may need to pull back. If you have started lots of things in the last six months, maybe your readers are starting to push back on that as well, they don’t know where to find you anymore for example.
You don’t have to do everything. It’s probably a lot better to be active and doing an amazing job on one social network as long as it’s the right one and you’re achieving your goals there than to be on every one. Similarly, it’s probably better to have one main medium like your blog or podcast or your YouTube account, whatever it might be, than to be doing them all. Sometimes, I think there’s a big argument for having focus. I typically only try to have only one new thing on the go at any time. I find myself too distracted if I’m doing too many new things at once.
A few last thoughts for you that hopefully you’ve already heard some of these things but I kind of think are really important. The first thing is keep in balance what you’re currently doing that is working and starting new things. Something is already working really well for you, you need to continue to invest a lot of time into that. Work at that thing as hard as you can for as long as it continues to work.
If you’re already getting amazing traction from Facebook, then just keep investing into Facebook. You can still try some new things but that’s where your primary focus should be. If the blog itself is already bringing in lots of traffic from Google, then maybe that’s enough for you right now. You need to focus on just serving that audience while that is working.
Secondly, don’t always be looking for the new and emerging trends at the expense of the old things that are actually working. For example, Facebook, email, SEO, these things are old. SEO, search engine traffic, that’s so old. The reality is that most bloggers get most of their traffic from search engines, so maybe it would be much better use of your time to be optimizing your blog content for search engines and increasing the rankings than going to play on Snapchat. Maybe you should be investing your time in converting some of that search engine traffic into email subscribers. Maybe that’s where you should be spending your time creating opt-ins.
Maybe you should be spending more of your time building order responders to serve the people who sign up to you in newsletters, maybe that’s a better use of your time than the new cool thing that’s just out that everyone’s raving about. Maybe focusing upon the old stuff that actually works is a better use of your time than getting onto the new things.
There’s got to be some balance here. I think if there can also be an argument that some bloggers ignore the new things and stubbornly hold onto the old things that don’t work anymore, I remember back in the day talking to a blogger who said I’m not getting onto Facebook because Myspace is still working for me. I haven’t heard from that blogger for many years. Maybe they still have their Myspace account, I don’t really know. You’ve got to hold a bit of tension there. Sometimes, you got to pay attention to the new things but don’t do it at the expense of what’s already working that might be a little less cool but still works for you.
I guess for me, I’m always looking for the new thing but I’m focusing most of my time on the thing that’s already working. If you do want to try a new thing, treat it as an experiment. Allocate a small percentage of your time to the experiment, put some boundaries around that new thing. Give yourself a deadline perhaps.
For example when I started the ProBlogger podcast, some of you will remember when I started it. I think it was June, July of 2015. I announced that I was going to do 31 podcasts, a series. 31 shows, that was all going to be over a month. I was pretty clear upfront that I didn’t know whether I would continue after that 31 days, it was a test, an experiment—it was a lot of work to get those 31 posts up but I knew that I had an out if it didn’t work, if I didn’t find it energized me, if it didn’t connect with my audience, if i didn’t get some signs that I was getting some traction. You might want to announce to people that I’m going to do this new thing for a season and then see what I can learn.
Similarly, I started a Facebook group last year, it was the FeelGood Facebook group. It was about health and well being and I said I was going to do it for three months. I decided at the end of those three months that I didn’t really want to do that anymore. Because I’ve been upfront with the people that joined that group that it was for a season, I didn’t get any push back on that. Sometimes, setting yourself a deadline to do an experiment is a good thing as long as you get those expectations right with people who may join in on that thing.
Last thought for you. As I think about it, most of the really successful people I know in blogging and podcasting, most of them focus on a small number of things and they work hard on those things rather than spreading themselves too thin. As I’m saying that, I can think of a few people who are big players, who seem to be doing everything. They’re on video on Snapchat, they’re on YouTube, Facebook, doing all of those things.
Those people like Gary Vaynerchuk for example, he has an insane amount of energy—he has much more energy than me. He can sustain doing a lot of things but he also has a team behind him. He has someone helping him to produce some of the videos that he’s creating. Whilst he does do a lot of it himself which is amazing, a lot of these people who seem to be everywhere have teams of people behind them. A lot of them are repurposing content from one place to another as well.
I would really encourage you to focus and to bring some focus to what you’re doing. Find out where your readers are, experiment in those places, find out where you can add most value, where you can play to your strengths. And then invest significant time into the places where you are seeing results and don’t do it at the expense of things that are already working for you.
I really hope that something in what I shared today has been helpful for you in making decisions about where you should be spending your time and energy. I would love to get your feedback on this one, I’ve put a lot of thought and time into preparing this particular episode. I’d like to know whether it hit the mark for you. You can head over to the ProBlogger show notes, problogger.com/podcast/134 where I’d love to get a comment from you. Just let me know if it’s hit the mark for you, if you’d add something else to it.
Let me know where you are focusing your time at the moment as a result of thinking about these types of things. I’d love to hear where you’re getting traction as well in the different networks and mediums that you are engaging with.
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Thanks for listening, and we’ll chat with you in the next episode of the ProBlogger podcast.
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