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    6 August 2008

    Barriers To Success

    Most bloggers would love to get more traffic with social media, regardless of how much they’re getting now. Unfortunately, a relatively small percentage of bloggers ever see significant results. If you’re looking to get more out of social media it’s important to know what’s holding you back so that you can fix it.

    1. Lack of a Network

    When most bloggers start using social media they wind up submitting their own posts to Digg and maybe some other social media sites, and they get very few votes. At this point, it’s typical to wonder how others can get hundred or even thousands of votes while your submissions barely get any.

    One of the keys to being noticed on social media sites is to build a network. Digg is notorious for favoring users that have a huge number of friends (although changes to the algorithm have improved this somewhat).

    A strong network can help you with just about any aspect of blogging, and social media marketing is no different. There are a few specific ways that your network can help you to get some exposure through social media. First, members of your network are more likely than others to vote for your posts.

    I’m a frequent user of social media, and I’ll be the first to admit that sometimes my voting decisions are influenced by my relationships with other bloggers. I think it’s only human nature to want our friends to do well, so building a strong network will lead others to look for opportunities to vote for your posts.

    Second, many social media sites include a feature for sharing a link with a friend. StumbleUpon’s share feature can be used directly from the toolbar, and Digg’s shout system is also used extensively by many Diggers. The more friends you have, and the better relationships you have with these friends, the more opportunities you will have to request a vote when you need it most. Also, many bloggers send requests to friends via email or IM.

    Third, your network will impact the overall readership of your blog. Those who are very well-connected and active networkers tend to have large, responsive audiences. These audiences will be more likely to vote for your submissions without any prompting. On many blogs you’ll see buttons (such as the “Digg This” button) or links to make it easier for readers to vote.

    If you’ve been struggling to gain any momentum with social media, take a look at your networking habits. Have you been actively getting to know other bloggers and social media users (this involves more than simply adding someone as a friend at Digg or StumbleUpon)?

    2. Lack of a Plan

    Social Media Marketing is like any other type of marketing, it requires strategy and execution. If your current plan only involves submitting your posts and hoping that they get a bunch of votes, that’s not much of a plan.

    Your social media plan should be defined by what you want to accomplish. The most obvious benefit of social media marketing is traffic, but the traffic means very little if it doesn’t convert into something. Otherwise, you’ll be left with some impressive stats for a few days, but nothing of real value to show for it.

    Do you want to use social media to gain subscribers (difficult, but possible)? Do you want to build links? Do you want to brand yourself or your blog through social media? Whatever your goals are, it’s important to understand what is most important to you so you can develop a plan to make it happen.

    Your plan should also include the type of content that you’re going to promote through social media. Are you going to use informational posts, resource lists, controversy, humor, news? Find the type of content that will best help you to meet your goals.

    The specific social media sites that you’ll be targeting should also be a part of your plan. There are hundreds or thousands of different social media sites, and it’s just not possible to effectively target more than a few. To have the best results you should be an active user at the sites that you’re targeting so you can get to know the users and what types of content work well. Then you can cater your content to that specific audience.

    3. Lack of an Audience

    If no one sees your content, no one will be able to vote for it. I mentioned earlier how building a network can help you to build a larger audience that will be willing to vote for you content. I’m sure you’ve noticed that most of the submissions that reach the front page of Digg are from major sites (like TechCrunch, Gizmodo, Smashing Magazine, etc.).

    These sites that have a huge audience have a much easier time getting votes than a blog that has 100 readers. For smaller blogs it’s unfortunate, but your success with social media will be more difficult than it would if you had a much larger audience. That doesn’t mean that you can’t have good results with social media, but it does mean that you should keep working on growing your audience so that things will get easier with time.

    4. Poor Content

    One of the obvious reasons for not succeeding with social media is the content itself. I know when I started using social media I submitted a few things that completely did not fit with the audience. Not everything will draw attention from social media users. The content not only needs to be of high quality, but it also needs to be something that will appeal to these users.

    If you’re new to social media, spend some time just going through the popular submissions and see what you can learn about the types of content that tend to generate a response. Think about how you can apply this to your own content. What can you create that will be relevant to your blog that will also appeal to this audience?

    5. Forcing Content

    As I mentioned in the previous point, not all content will work with social media. If you’re trying to force the content, you’re unlikely to get results. I use a few niche social media sites for web design and development, and every now and then I’ll come across submissions that are completely out of place. None of these submissions will ever make it to the front page and they’ll never get any type of exposure. It’s simply a waste of time for the person submitting the content.

    Forcing can also apply if you are submitting every post you publish to social media. It’s very unlikely that every post will be a good fit for social media. If a particular post doesn’t have much of a chance for success, don’t force the issue. Wait until you have a post that is a good fit and you’ll have much better results.

    6. Lack of Focus

    While your social media plan is important (point number 2), it’s also critical that you stay focused on your plan. Over the course of time it’s easy to get distracted by the numbers involved with social media and forget about what’s really most important to you.

    I think a good example is a blogger who constantly tries to get to the front page of Digg. There are plenty of other sites that are easier to have success with, but if you lose focus and just keep going after traffic from Digg, you’re likely to get nowhere.

    7. Poor Timing

    Timing is often overlooked by bloggers that are targeting social media traffic. Most of us learned quickly that blog traffic in general is lower on weekends, and that also applies to social media sites. So if your submission is featured on the front page of a social media site over the weekend you will get less exposure and less traffic than you would if this happened during the work week. On the other hand, less bloggers are targeting social media on the weekend, so getting to the front page might be a little easier.

    I’ve also found that the time of day can have an influence on social media traffic. I target Delicious with my blog and I’ve noticed that being on the front page during the work day in the US will lead to more traffic than being on the front page at other times of the day.

    Timing is often hard to manipulate (you can easily control when you publish a post, but controlling when it gets to the front page is a different story). However, you should give the timing some consideration. Test some things and see what works well for you.

    8. Submitted by the Wrong Person

    Many social media sites will make it easier or harder for a submission to have success based on the profile of the user that submits the item. If this is the case, your chances for success will be greatly improved if you can get a user with a strong profile to submit your post. You may have friends with strong profiles, or you may have one yourself. If you’re targeting Digg you’ll probably want to have someone specific submit your best posts, otherwise you’ll be taking a big risk if someone with a very weak profile submits a post that you were hoping to get to the front page.

    9. Ineffective Titles

    Standing out at a social media site is pretty difficult because there is so much content competing for the attention of users. The strength of your title will have a big influence on how many people click-through and how many people vote for you.

    Not only is the title of your blog post important, but the title of the submission is also important. In most cases this will be the same, but sometimes you’ll see savvy social media users alter a title to make it more appealing, which can drastically help the chances of success.

    What’s Your Experience?

    What have you noticed to be critical to success with social media?

    41 Responses to 9 Barriers to Success with Social Media

    1. Matt R. @ August 6, 2008 at 4:40 pm #

      Wow, being new to blogging this all seems a little overwhelming at first. Tthese are some good guidlines and I’ll definitely try to keep them in mind as I forge ahead into the blog-o-sphere!

    2. BlogSavvy August 7, 2008 at 8:19 pm #

      You sure nailed that one, it is amazing how in today’s world the items you spoke about are relative not only to individuals, but to businesses as well.

    3. Scott Fox, Author of Internet Riches August 8, 2008 at 2:08 am #

      Nice summary, Adnan. Social media is an odd mix of technology and “insider’s club”, so this is a useful guide to using it successfully for marketing purposes.

      The way you’ve spelled it out here is useful because it can help readers identify which areas they need to work on to find success in social media marketing.

    4. Wii Boy August 9, 2008 at 1:14 pm #

      By far the hardest of the things you mention is building your network, that must take an age. And do you ever really truly get to know your fellow bloggers?

    5. Noobpreneur August 11, 2008 at 4:53 am #

      Well, Steven – another excellent post.

      Lack of network – my biggest problem :P

      I have network in forums, but not in social media such as digg.

      Gotta network soon!

    6. Eva White August 11, 2008 at 6:51 am #

      You touched upon a lot of my initial troubles in this post. Thankfully I have got over them now. Great Article for someone starting out on a new blog.

    7. Winning Startups August 15, 2008 at 8:35 pm #

      re: #8, how do you know who has a good profile? I’m curious how this works, and would enjoy a post regarding #8 specifically. And, how can one get a good profile on something like Stumbleupon. Do you need to stumble a lot, or just have high traffic on your own website?

    8. Steven Snell August 15, 2008 at 9:46 pm #

      Winning Startups,
      A strong profile is referring to someone who uses the social media sites a lot, has a lot of friends/followers on the site, and as a result has a lot of influence. For example, if you study the front page of Digg you’ll notice that the same users show up over and over again as the submitter. For StumbleUpon to develop an influential profile you’ll need to be very active (meaning lots of thumbs up), get to good stories before others do so you can be the submitter, get postive reviews from other users, and attract a lot of followers. It has nothing to do with the traffic levels of your own website. You could develop a strong profile without even having your own website.

      Hope that helps.

    9. Marketing Deviant August 15, 2008 at 11:12 pm #

      Great guidelines. Social media is one tough nut to crack!

    10. Paula August 17, 2008 at 11:31 am #

      Some really good tips. I particularly like the one about using a friend with a strong profile to submit a post….now if only I had some friends.

    11. chuckie August 19, 2008 at 7:43 pm #

      You covered a lot of ground here. Now, if every new blogger would know how to apply this…

      I am guilty for not planning well, and this was I big obstacle for me. Without a long term goal, you lose focus and do not follow the path. It’s important to know where you are at any moment.

    12. Richard Muir August 27, 2008 at 10:32 am #

      Man that is a great comprehensive look at social media. Now just have to implement!


    13. sme September 2, 2008 at 4:35 pm #

      An excellent post.
      I just recognised myself jumping in at the deep end some months ago, trying (very badly) to be all things to all men.
      It is a hard slog and requires dedication to use social media sites, and then a lot of discipline not to waste that valuable time.

      Great job.

    14. PS3 September 8, 2008 at 10:01 pm #

      @Marketing Deviant – I’m not sure that it is such a tough nut to crack if you follow the guidance that great articles like this give you. Just takes time and patience.

    15. Search Free Content September 20, 2008 at 10:58 am #

      Good points for making sucess with social media.
      Social media has great scope for getting some free traffic for blog or site. But for getting this traffic we need to be careful. As Rechard saying we need discipline a lot.

    16. Simon from Otooo October 3, 2008 at 5:39 am #

      Haha, this one’s for me – I’m so bad and keeping updated on social media sites like Twitter – I prefer to keep sociable by commenting :)

    17. Zurpit October 11, 2008 at 3:11 pm #

      All of these barriers are very true, if there isn’t good content the article won’t get anywhere and plus a lot of the traffic is untargeted

    18. Joel Drapper October 15, 2008 at 10:09 am #

      I think you are right. I have been making these mistakes with digg,, etc.

      When I started using twitter I also made the mistake of keeping to myself for ages I had about 20 followers, then I read an article similar to this one but about twitter and it completely changed everything.

      The next day I had 500 followers, and now, only a few days later I have 1,181 followers and the number is growing fast.

      All I did was follow people, reply to people, and unfollow those that didn’t follow back within a few days.


    19. Healthy Chocolate October 15, 2008 at 3:37 pm #

      There are so many social networks or variations on a theme springing up, that a lot of time which can be spent writing other stuff is spent updating profiles and clicking on them now… So it’s a good idea (for the networking side of course) and a bad idea to get too involved with too many other sites perhaps. Well at least for me, because I can sometimes find myself chasing around doing loads of work and getting nowhere at the end of the day on social sites!

    20. Armen Shirvanian October 17, 2008 at 11:59 pm #

      Lack plan is a big deal, because a plan directs the individual towards a long-term goal. Not having an idea about how to tackle the steps along the way will leave a person vulnerable to having their focus reduced during the process.

    21. Rodney Smith October 18, 2008 at 7:43 am #

      Thsi is a great article, but quite daunting at the same time. I guess it’s something you have to grow into, rather than getting it all right overnight. Thanks for pointing the way though.

    22. kouji October 18, 2008 at 9:57 pm #

      still haven’t figured out a way to leverage these social media sites. and the thought of having to network is a bit daunting. :O

    23. businessgoonline October 21, 2008 at 1:50 pm #

      But sometimes social community allow you to spread word of mouth marketing effectively.

    24. How to Blog October 29, 2008 at 2:42 pm #

      Wow this is a great post, i just stumbled it. My only comment would be to say a little bit more about the ninth one, because a good article will fail in social media simply because of a bad title. And a Good title with a normal post will succeed. It has to be catchy and make the reader want to read it. But thanks for sharing all this advice, it must have taken you a while to write it.

      Jonathan Muller

    25. online savings October 30, 2008 at 6:11 pm #

      Thanks, guess this one will be for me – I’m so bad and keeping updated on social media sites like Twitter – Not really great with the whole commenting but community engager.

    26. Alan November 12, 2008 at 5:57 pm #

      I love this post! I’ve been struggling to get my blogs off the ground due to lack of time (part-time), but, thanks to this post, it’s also due to a lack of focused efforts.

      We’ll see how it goes from here. Probably much better. Thanks!

    27. Sire November 15, 2008 at 6:48 am #

      Networking may be the answer but it means a whole lot more to me when someone either diggs or stumbles my post than if I ask my network of friends to do it. Sure it gets traffic, but it’s empty traffic.

    28. David Siteman Garland November 18, 2008 at 3:16 pm #

      Awesome post. Quick question: Would you rather have a HUGE online presence on one popular site? i.e Facebook or smaller presences on a variety of social networking sites? (twitter, friendfeed, etc.)?

      Would love to hear everyone’s opinion and also are there any tricks to really maximize using a variety of sites? Can you have the best of both worlds?

    29. Matt Gio November 24, 2008 at 10:20 pm #

      I don’t have many friends on stumble upon but I’ll start working on it. Plus I am making this post one of my favorites. Good work.

    30. MLM Business November 25, 2008 at 11:46 pm #

      Great post. I’m still a newbie and just started with the social media sites and I find it not so easy to build a network. Thanks for sharing this tips. I’m sure they’ll help me get off the ground in this social media world.


    31. cleaning business guru December 5, 2008 at 3:52 pm #

      Wow, that was very helpful. I have made many of those mistakes. There is just so much to do when you are a service provider online. I teach people how to start a cleaning business which is a full time job and so is promoting the website.

    32. Mikael January 4, 2009 at 8:00 am #

      I have to agree with you that smaller blogs will have a harder time getting to the frontpage of places like Digg because they lack the readership that places like Techcrunch has.

      But on the other hand a small blog will not need to get 10,000 visitors in an hour to have been successful with the social media. Often blogs with 100 subscribers will easily see a difference in traffic when maybe 200 new social media users stop by and if you’re able to convert some of these visitors to new readers you can slowly build your blog to be the new TechCrunch.

      They didn’t build it overnight so why should you be able to?

    33. Saxophones For Sale January 5, 2009 at 1:50 am #

      My biggest problem with social media is that it’s always so hard to really have on our friends to do a good job of making friends. If that makes any sense. it’s like you have to have all these friends to get popular enough to really have a chance to get popular. It’s a vicious cycle.

      At this point, some of these sites are so well established that you almost have to pay someone to get yourself noticed.

    34. Rheen January 6, 2009 at 2:42 pm #

      Good thought, Social Media primarily an internet sharing and discussing the information. Hey, try to visit and check this out gotoWebinar its Social Networking here this link below.


    35. CJ May 11, 2009 at 6:26 am #

      This is some all really true information. I’ve never tested the waters with social media. But I think after reading this, I just might.

    36. Cleaning Business April 22, 2011 at 7:33 am #

      We have a difficult time still seeing other small businesses just getting on board with Twitter and Facebook. Forget the numerous other social networking sites. I think everyone feels they have to use all of them or none.

      Thanks- Kirk

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