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Question: How Do You Beat the Social Media Monster?

Over the last couple of days we’ve looked at various tactics that bloggers are using to gain traction, grow followings, and generate blog traffic on:

I’m sure that these posts gave you some great ideas for developing your interaction with fans and followers on these social networks. But I also know that social media is one of the key distractions that bloggers face.

Without a solid strategy or approach to social media, you can end up feeling like you’ve wasted time, fragmented your following, and—in some cases—created a social media monster that just wants to suck up more and more of your waking hours.

What’s your strategy for beating the social media monster?

I’m interested to hear how you choose to spend your time on social media. How important is this tool to your blogging efforts? Do your audiences congregate on certain networks, and ignore others? Have you had to change your approach over time as social media and its users have evolved?

My own approach involves three components:

  1. Audience: I focus my engagements on the social media I know are the most popular with my blogs’ readers. Primarily, this is a simple time-cost tradeoff. I don’t have time to try every new social network that pops up, so I focus on those where I know a lot of readers hang out, and I’ll get the greatest possible return (in terms of engagement) on my time investment. But my audience also helps me understand how I need to evolve my social media usage. That’s why I was so eager to create a following on Google+ when it was launched: because I knew from talking with my blogs’ readers that this network would be big with them.
  2. Goals: I control my time on social media by keeping my blog business goals top of mind. Every so often while I’m using social media (and throughout my day in general) I’ll ask myself if the way I’m spending my time is moving me closer to my goals. If it’s not, I check what I’m doing, and refocus on something that will. My goals also dictate a baseline for social media interaction—for instance, they helped me decide to auto-tweet the articles we publish here at ProBlogger, and help me choose what to add to the ProBlogger Facebook page. Finally, my goals also help me to choose which new networks to try as new options come onto the market.
  3. My schedule: Social media can swallow up a lot of time, and as a blogger there are many, many things I need to do each day. So my social media strategy is also limited by my schedule. I can only give social media so much time out of each week, and I try to streamline that time as much as I can so that I can achieve as much with social networking as possible.

That’s me—but what about you? I’d really love to hear a bit about your social media strategy in the comments.

How conscious have you been about creating a strategy for your social media interaction? Have the articles we’ve published in the last few days given you some new ideas to try? What else is working for your social media engagement? Don’t forget to link us to your social media profiles so we can check them out and see what you’re doing for ourselves!

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Harriet says:

    Having only recently launched my blog I have found the management of social media more challenging than expected. However setting up accounts with sites such as Hootsuite and ensuring all your social media is carried out at a specific time definitely assists to keep control… otherwise it is very easy to let it overtake you (and your life!). Thanks again ProBlogger for yet again another fantastic article! Your posts continue to inspire and encourage every day!

  2. I like fitting it into little snippets: responding to comments and messages while waiting to pick up kids from activities, etc. However, I have found recently that customer ‘needs’ and friends’ crises seem to takeover my day because I’m so accessible. I’ve decided to put an out of office reply on my business email one day per week until I retrain my customers to expect that I’m unavailable that day. I also turned FB chat off on my phone and use the list feature to be permanently unavailable to certain groups all the time.

  3. Dan Blystone says:

    Personally I have experienced the highest level of engagement on Twitter and LinkedIn. Would love to see more coverage of LinkedIn Groups. I think consistency in your participation is a really important factor in growth on these networks and also cultivating a sense of the type of information your followers really want.

  4. My blog is still new, but I’ve just recently noticed something with my social media efforts. I get the most traffic from Twitter, a moderate amount from Facebook, and very little from Google+. However, I get the best comments from Google+ and none from Facebook. People respond with meaningful information and opinions on G+, and the info has helped shaped some of my articles.

  5. Mr.G says:

    I decided to focus my efforts only on twitter and FB. Google+ is non-existent for my readership and Pitnerest even less… so go where your readers gather, right?

    I follow twitter closely. It’s easier at the office (as it’s not blocked, like FB) and more dynamic.

    For FB, I always have an hour at home where I interact with my readers and check other groups and conversations on my niche.

    And that’s it. I do not want to be overwhelmed by all the SM crazyness!

    I have a business to run with my blog and SM does not put food on the table, it just helps to the effort

  6. Hi Darren,

    Setting time limits on social networks helps. Sometimes I am disciplined in this area. Other times, not so much.

    Keeping your detailed business goals in mind helps you effectively use networks. Some forget their goals, and wind up BSing hours weeks and months away on social sites, never achieving their business goals. You need to have a goal in mind and stick to a social strategy. Otherwise, you wind up chatting, socializing and totally forgetting that you want to grow your business with social sites.

    I gravitate toward twitter and Facebook Darren. I also adopted Google Plus a bit more recently. Each network helps me engage with my audience. As always, sharing is caring. Be social by writing value-packed comments, asking questions and providing answers. Successful social media usage means giving a great deal more than you take, to build your network. Keep giving freely and the getting happens quite effortlessly.

    I agree with Dan above. Consistency in participation on social networks makes you stand out. No need to spend hours on social sites. Simply hang out in a few choice spot where your target audience congregates, add massive value, make a powerful impact and you are good to go.

    Thanks for sharing your insight Darren.

    RB

  7. Am I totally missing the boat if my only form of social media is my blog itself? I don’t Tweet, I’m not on Facebook, I’ve never used Pinterest, and of course I have played with Google+ either. Is my blog doomed without these peripheral marketing tools? I do market via email and am active on several forums specific to my blog content, but that’s about it. My focus has always been on well written content that I believe in. But the more I read ProBlogger the more I fear I’m doing it all wrong.

  8. H Darren,

    I think social media is a great tool, but i do agree can be a big distraction. When I’m doing any other work I close social networks down for an hour then check no longer than 15 mins. After the work is done I’ll open them back up again :)

    Thanks
    Dave

  9. Carolyn says:

    Facebook and Pinterest are my two big ones. When I began, I guessed that interested readers would be on FB more than anywhere and that’s certainly been true, although Pinterest is really picking up. A big part of picking your social media is knowing your audience and I find that it’s tremendously helpful that I’m sort of a representative member of my target audience. So, on to my FB strategy:

    The first thing to know is that on my blog, most of my content is evergreen — my strategy wouldn’t work otherwise.

    Every day, I post on Facebook two links to blog posts, with a short comment about why they’re relevant. One posts at 6 AM local time, one at 5 PM — I use Post Planner ($5 per month); used to use PostCron (free) but had some problems and switched. On days when I have a new post on the blog, it’s the 6AM one on FB (using RSS Graffiti).

    I also post at other times of the day if I find something that readers/fans might be interested in, but those are generally not links to blog posts.

    I use a spreadsheet listing all blog posts and the date they were last posted on FB and sort so that the ones that have been on most recently are at the bottom of the list. Some posts, of course, are seasonal or outdated, so I don’t just blindly take the top post next.

    Once a week or so, I set all the posts for the coming week, trying to balance topics with the new blog posts that will be coming up.

    I also really encourage readers to post questions and tips on FB — then I repost them, so that everyone will see them (depending on the OP’s privacy settings, they often won’t be visible to everyone unless I repost). At times, we’ve had some great discussions going. I take a quick glance on the page and respond as needed several times a day — usually as a “reward” for finishing another task.

    The Facebook page: http://facebook.com/TheBoatGalley

    Also, instead of just putting a FB Likebox in my sidebar, I switched and put a bit of discussion about what someone will get by “Liking” The Boat Galley on Facebook. Made this switch recently as the Likebox was really dragging down the pageload speed, but it seems to be helping get more likes. It’s only been about 10 days, so too soon for definitive results on this.

    I used to try to do Twitter and Google+ as well as make more of my YouTube videos. Recently decided to put more time into the things that were really working and drop those (I’m still planning to do more with YouTube, but an ankle injury has made doing videos impossible for a while). I literally had no traffic from them, and I haven’t had anyone ask why I haven’t posted on them lately (if something goes haywire and I miss a FB post by more than an hour, I DO get e-mails).

  10. Understanding where the readers are in your niche and building relationships with them there is key. For my niche (running at a competitive level), there are certain social sites such as dailymile, and the relationships I’ve built there form the core of my readership, and the first buyers of my book. They then do s great job of spreading word through Facebook, Twitter, and, with a few examples, Pinterest. While I have my own Twitter and FB presence, I find most of the traffic comes from others posting or RTing my content.

    Google+ is worth investing in mainly because it is Google, so it makes sense to hedge your bets from an SEO standpoint by building your presence there early. The traffic I get from Google+ is minimal, but one benefit is that I’ve been able to forge closer relationships with a few key bloggers since there isn’t much noise to cut through.

  11. It is a delight to know that there are people actually reading your post and seriously believing in what you believe in. I am blogging for pleasure and if there are viewers ill sure be happy to interact if there’s none It’s okay I know that there’s perfect time to actually make them appreciate your writing. But I do agree that Twitter is more powerful over Facebook as per exposure of the blog.

  12. Sean Chang says:

    Great tips Darren. I find the part about knowing where your readers hang out especially true. If your target audience is not on the platform, then it probably’s not going to be an effective use of time to be marketing on it, even if the platform itself is popular.

    Also, as Harriet has mentioned above, having a good social media management tool (e.g. HootSuite) can also help to keep things organized and more efficient.

    Apart from that, I’ve also found that having a social calendar where you pre-plan what to post for each day (maybe 1 week in advance) can help to keep things moving faster. Once the content is fixed, they can even be pre-scheduled so you don’t even have to physically post them at the allocated time.

    That said, at the end of the day, I believe it’s really the relationship that’s developed with the readers that truly makes the difference. Once we understand how the readers are interacting on the social media platform, we can then decide how best to provide them with the most value and optimize the process to make it more efficient.

  13. Tia Tofu says:

    I haven’t really figured out how to manage my social media. i try to limit it… like, when I’m working on typing a post I won’t check or respond to anything else that’s sending alerts to my phone or computer. But other than that I feel like it uses up a lot of my time. I can’t really say it “wastes” my time because I get a lot of traffic from the social media sites I use… but I just wish it took less time. Or that I had the money to hire someone (like whoever does @TacoBell ‘s twitter page- LOL) to respond to everything. :)

  14. Marc Ensign says:

    Surprisingly, I have probably had the best luck with LinkedIn with Twitter and Facebook tied for second. Google+ is third but only because I’m still trying to figure out who it all fits in in the grand scheme of things. I think the key is to constantly experiment and make note of what works. If it works, make it a part of your vocabulary. If it doesn’t, throw it out. Rinse and repeat.

    Oh, and not sleeping that much helps too.

  15. It is amazing how much social media matters now. Nearly every website has some sort of profile and it has gone absolutely wild. Even though it takes up a lot of time, it is so important.

  16. I just don’t think Google+ worth bothering with right now, think Twitters the way to go!

  17. Tom says:

    My blog will always be my home base. One day I’ll break off and form my own nation, taking my subjects with me. :)

    Since my blog is very young, it’s going to take time to generate any sort of organic traffic. I get spikes when I ping my new posts, but it seems to dwindle off.

    So instead of just sitting there waiting for something to happen, I’ve moved over to FB and Twitter. Twitter is fairly automatic, using TweetAdder, so I don’t concentrate a LOT of time there.

    Over on FB though, I’ve set up a secondary base. I’ve started promoting my fan page, and creating Notes which are spun versions of my original articles. I haven’t seen any significant change in traffic numbers yet, but it’s a lot easier to friend people, and invite them to my fan page, than it is to send them to my blog.

    I find people who are on FB like to stay there.

  18. It’s easy to get sucked into social media and spend hours there. It’s best to try and set aside a specific amount of time each day. Use tools like Hootsuite to schedule posts ahead of time and then check in daily to follow up. Finding out which social networks to be active on is important too. There are so many sites that it’s nearly impossible to dedicate ample time to them all.

  19. Having only recently launched my blog I have found the management of social media more challenging than expected. However setting up accounts with sites such as Hootsuite and ensuring all your social media is carried out at a specific time definitely assists to keep control… otherwise it is very easy to let it overtake you (and your life!). Thanks again ProBlogger for yet again another fantastic article! Your posts continue to inspire and encourage every day!

  20. I think that one important piece is deciding what NOT to do. The first question should always be about where I can spend my time most productively with customers and potential customers. But if we don’t ask the NOT question, we’ll eventually find ourselves exploring, testing, commenting and wasting time in nonproductive areas for the sake of “getting ready for the next thing.” The decision to test is a good one, but shouldn’t just happen accidentally.

  21. Dave Young says:

    These are great insights. Doesn’t it always come back around to having relevant content to your audience and then utilizing it as a way to feed the Social Media Machine? That’s why your blog should always be your cornerstone.

  22. My strategy is still in the process of being made as I have been adapting to my rise in “popularity” for lack of a better term, but I’m getting there. I like to take the time to speak to each person that shows an interest, I have pre made templates but always customize them for each person as to not be a robot.