- by Alyson Shane
Let's face it: social media is challenging, and most people feel totally overwhelmed when they first sign up for a social network without any prior knowledge of how to use it.
This is totally normal, but unfortunately it's the reason that many people sign up for social networks, spend a little bit of time trying to get to know them... and then promptly abandon them when they encounter a challenge (like getting new followers, or having authentic conversations) that they don't know how to overcome.
Stop the madness! While social media can certainly be complicated and feel challenging (trust me, I know) it's not rocket science, and with that in mind I wanted to cover four of the biggest, trickiest challenges that people ask me about on a regular basis.
Let’s jump in!
Challenge #1: Creating an authentic connection
One of the things that people seem to struggle with the most when it comes to interacting on social media is authentic interactions. An "authentic interaction" is when a person or brand takes the time to get to know their audience on a personal level by interacting with them in a natural, non-salesy way, and is an important part of building feelings or trust and familiarity online.
How to solve it
The easiest way to create an authentic connection online is to be legitimately interested in other people, and to engage with them in a variety of positive ways. These can include:
- Asking questions
- Sharing links to articles and blog posts
- Responding to posts, tweets and comments
- Offering advice or a solution to someone's problem
One of my favourite ways to engage with other people is to find relevant Twitter chats and participate regularly. Never participated in a Twitter chat? Don't worry, I have a whole series called the Twitter Crash Course to get you started.
Challenge #2: Developing a social media strategy
Most people are on social networks without much of a plan, but when you make the decision to start investing the time and energy into growing your audience, it's time to sit down and start planning how to do it.
How to solve it
There are lots of things that you can do to pave your path to social media success, but a few of the most basic ones you ought to have figured out before diving in are:
- Why you're on social media. Don't just say "because everyone else is"! Legitimately ask yourself why you want to invest your time growing an online audience and let those goals guide your actions.
- How you're going to achieve those goals. Maybe you'll put together a kickass paid advertising campaign, maybe you'll start sharing hilarious cat videos, whatever the case may be.
- How will you measure success? There are lots of ways you can measure success: number of page views, tweets, responds etc over a specific period of time, etc. What matters is that you keep records (I do mine on a monthly basis) to track your progress.
Challenge #3: Creating engaging, quality content
If you think that consistently coming up with good, consistent content for your social media feeds and blog is challenging and time-consuming... well, you're right. In fact, it's exactly why people like me exist: because most people simply don't have the time to create, update, curate, monitor, respond, and schedule content across multiple social media profiles.
But if you're not ready to invest in someone else handling your content for you, it can feel like an overwhelming amount of work, and is often something that leads to people avoiding or abandoning their social profiles entirely.
How to solve it
One of my favourite ways to suss out high-quality content ideas is to use a great tool called Buzzsumo, which allows you to punch in topics or websites and see the most popular posts about those topics. You can also try finding relevant Twitter chats and paying attention to what people discussing your industry or products are asking, or searching forum websites for questions and discussion threads.
When posting articles, make sure to use eye-catching images whenever possible; if you're sharing a link an image from the page will usually auto-generate (it's usually fine to just use these instead of your own), but if you're posting links to your own blog posts and content, take the time to create a unique and original image to go along with it.
Challenge #4: Getting the word out about your content
Unfortunately setting up a blog and social feeds doesn't necessarily mean that people will immediately flock to you (I wish it were that easy!) - you'll have to hustle your content in order for people to know that it's there. No matter how great your content may be, if you aren't promoting it then nobody is likely to find it.
How to solve it
The trick to getting your content out there is to be proactive in sharing it and encouraging other people to share it, as well. Try and identify people who would benefit from seeing your content and make a point to share it with them. There are a few ways that you can accomplish this:
- Share your blog or website updates on social media.
- Reach out to influencers in your industry (in a nice, non-sleazy way) and ask them to share it or work with you to promote your content.
- Tag people you mention in your post. For example, last year I wrote a post about the Winnipeg Folk Festival and tagged them in the tweet, which they retweeted and subsequently earned me a lot of traffic.
- Post links to your content on relevant Facebook or LinkedIn groups, Pinterest groups, and forum websites like Reddit and HackerNews (be sure to mind the posting rules on these sites!)
- Repost your content on Medium.com, and reach out to publications to see if they would be interested in republishing your work.
There you have it! Four steps to social media success and overcoming some of the trickiest obstacles that people face when they first start wading out into the big, wide world of social networks.
Do you have any social media challenges you struggle to deal with, or tips for overcoming some of these tricky issues? Tell me in the comments or tweet at me!