Last Updated June 11th, 2018

Which Social Media Sites Should You Be Marketing On?

Which Social Media Sites Should You Be Marketing On?

There are a lot of social media websites out there. You could spend hours each day on marketing on them, but which social media sites will give you the best results?

That depends on you and your target market.

Social media websites will rarely do you any good at all if you don’t put some effort into it. If you just sign up and drop your link in, you probably aren’t going to see much benefit from any of them. Occasionally,  a business will have some success on a social media site they weren’t even trying for because visitors keep sharing them, but that’s an exception, not the rule.

Which Social Media Sites Have The Right Demographics?

Every social media site attracts a somewhat different demographic, and this is what you need to look at as you figure out which social media sites to use. I’ve pulled some demographic information from Pew Research Center to get you started, but you may decide to look deeper.

To make the most of this information, of course, you need to know what your target market is. How old are they? What gender? What are their interests?

social media sites

YouTube

YouTube is huge. You may think of it as a video sharing site, but it has its social media side too. 73% of American adults use YouTube. 94% of 18- to 24-year-olds use it, making it a great option if you’re seeking a younger audience.

In other words, video is huge. If you can add video to your marketing mix, you have the chance to reach a lot of people.

Facebook

Facebook is the other big one. 68% of American adults use Facebook. It’s widely used by most demographics, although people are frustrated with Facebook’s privacy issues.

Snapchat

If you’re looking at a younger audience, 78% of 18- to 24-year-olds use Snapchat. That’s a lot. Snapchat offers ways for businesses to advertise on their platform. Snapchat can be extremely effective for advertisers, offering twice the visual attention of Facebook, beating out Instagram and YouTube as well.

You can use Snapchat to build your business free as well, of course. You have to understand the limitations of the platform and tell interesting stories to attract followers.

Twitter

Twitter attracts only 24% of American adults but jumps up to 45% of 18- to 24-year-olds. They increased the maximum tweet length to 280 characters a while ago, which is a huge help to marketers.

Pinterest

Many bloggers love Pinterest. The visual style is highly appealing, and for the right business, the demographics are great. It only gets 29% of American adults overall, but 41% of women. Pinterest is particularly popular for crafting and recipe websites, but many other niches do well there.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a great choice if you’re targeting college graduates in a professional capacity. 50% of Americans with a college degree use LinkedIn, but only 9% with a high school diploma or less. LinkedIn is very much focused on professional networking, so it’s probably not a good choice if your business doesn’t relate to that. B2B can do well on LinkedIn.

Instagram

Instagram presents special challenges to marketers, as you cannot put live links in your updates. You can have one in your profile, but that’s it. Still, Instagram attracts 35% of American adults and 71% of 18- to 24-year-olds. Some marketers do very well with Instagram.

You can view more details of the demographics from the Pew report through this link.

Where’s Your Target Market?

Demographic information is only helpful if you know enough about your target demographics. They aren’t always what you think they are.

If you know your competition, you can take a bit of a shortcut and see which social media sites they’re having success with. Take a look at their social media buttons. Many sites show how many shares they’ve received on individual posts and pages as a form of social proof.  This can help you decide where you want to focus your efforts as well.

Visit their social media pages as well, especially for social media sites such as Instagram, where you can’t otherwise see how well they’re doing.

Using this data from your competition is not the only thing you should do, of course. It’s just a starting place. You can experiment with other social media. You might find a place to focus where your competition is not.

Seek out references to your best keywords on the different social media sites. Don’t do this by just typing your keywords into a search box. Learn how to use hashtags to search them and see how often your keywords are used that way. Take a look at the content you find this way and the accounts it’s attached to. This can give you both inspiration and people to follow on those sites.

How Do You Use Social Media?

How you use a particular social media site depends on which one you’re using. What works well for one may not be the best way to build a network on another.

How often you should post on which social media sites varies tremendously. Some do poorly if you post more than once or twice a day, while others need frequent posts if you’re to do well at all. I’ve pulled data from this Coschedule post on how often to share on social media. I also looked at when social media users are most active through SproutSocial. The best times may vary somewhat by niche as well as by social media site. Don’t forget to consider the time zones of your target market when posting.

dream big

On any social media site, being overly promotional is not a good idea. People aren’t there to have things sold to them. They’re networking because they enjoy it, to build their own business, to get good information, that kind of thing. If you do nothing but say “buy, buy, buy,” they’ll unfriend you as fast as they can.

Instead, give quality information to bring people to you. If you sound like an expert and they need what you have to offer, they’ll decide to do business with you.

One thing that is valued by most social media sites is consistency. Don’t keep changing your post frequency. Your fans and followers will come to expect a certain number of posts per day from you, even if it’s more than the usual for that platform.

Most social media platforms love hashtags. They help people find your content. Even Pinterest likes hashtags now.

While you can learn some things just by reading online about the social networks you prefer, you will probably get faster results if you take an in-depth course. Sign up for one only if you have the time to put what you learn into practice. There is absolutely no point in paying for something and then never using it. A good course will help you avoid making too many mistakes with your social media.

These are, of course, affiliate links to the courses, but they are ones I consider to be good choices and have good reviews.

YouTube

The key to YouTube starts with making great videos, but that’s not where it ends. Your videos must be discovered by viewers, or it all means nothing. You need to learn how the YouTube search algorithm works and which techniques will bring your videos to the first page of YouTube so that they’re seen by potential viewers.

Course recommended: A Million Subs In A Year: YouTube Marketing and YouTube SEO

Facebook

You have so many options to market your business on Facebook. Starting a Facebook Page for your business is a must, but many businesses find starting a Facebook Group is even more powerful.

Most people suggest posting on your Facebook business page no more than twice a day, with once a day being ideal. This is especially true for promotional posts. If you’re being social and fun, you can probably get away with more, but be extremely careful that you do not post excessively or your reach will decrease and your fans will view your posts as spammy.

Businesses on Facebook often complain about how algorithm changes make it hard to reach their fans without paying for ads. It’s a legitimate problem. Facebook changes their algorithm often, and that can be a real headache. Paying for ads can be well worth it, however, once you know what you’re doing.

In general, you want to post on Facebook on weekdays from about 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., with Wednesdays and Thursdays performing best. Saturdays, evenings and early mornings have the least engagement.

Course recommended: Facebook Ads & Facebook Marketing MASTERY

Snapchat

I have not used Snapchat myself, and know very little about it. Hubspot recommends posting a Story only once or twice per week on Snapchat. Then spread your Snaps out through the day. You should also consider that not everyone has the sound turned on when they use Snapchat, so including text in your Stories is very helpful.

Course recommended: The Complete Snapchat Marketing Course

Twitter

Twitter is one of those places you can post a lot. 15 times a day is recommended, with several retweets of someone else’s content. Some recommend up to 50 or more tweets a day. Tweets disappear quickly as new tweets appear, giving each tweet a short lifespan if no one retweets it.

Don’t batch all your tweets into a short time frame, of course. Spread them out. Twitter does best on weekdays, with Fridays being the best around 9-10 a.m. Mornings are better than the afternoon in general, and weekends don’t do as well, with some exceptions.

Twitter has recently become more picky about the reuse of content. It used to be that you could use a scheduler to post the same tweet over and over again for as long as you liked. These days, Twitter views that as spam.

They prefer that you either rewrite the tweet in a new way each time you share a link to the same site or retweet your original tweet. Twitter is looking for more original content. This makes using schedulers such as HootSuite more difficult but not impossible. You just have to put a little more time into your individual tweets.

Course recommended: Twitter Marketing: 2 Minutes A Day To 10k Twitter Followers

Pinterest

Pinterest marketing can be a lot of fun, so long as you don’t fall for the time sink. Give it half a chance and you’ll probably find an interesting recipe or something to catch your eye.

There are a few key things you must do on Pinterest. The first is to create some keyword rich boards for the content you’ll pin from your own site. Make sure you add them to an appropriate category and give them a good description. You will want to follow relevant pinners and build up your own following.

Make sure your create your account as a business account to make the most of Pinterest. This will give you access to analytics and the ability to make your pins into rich pins.

Joining group boards on Pinterest is an excellent way to get your pins out to a wider audience, but be picky. Niche boards are usually far more powerful than “pin anything” boards, even if the “pin anything” board has a larger following. Pinterest prefers to see your pins categorized properly.

Pin a lot. Recommendations run from about 15-30 a day according to the Coschedule post, but I’ve seen many pinners swear by a higher number.

Recently, Pinterest has stated a preference for a variety of descriptions on pins. This makes scheduling more difficult, as tools such as Tailwind allow you to quickly schedule a bunch of identical pins. You have to do extra work to vary things. Make sure you create multiple pinnable images for each post. You never know which will take off best until you test them. Vertical images with a 2:3 ratio do best.

Pinterest currently gives priority to the first five pins you do each day, starting at midnight UTC. Pinterest activity peaks at about 9 p.m.

If you want to know when your best time to pin is, use Tailwind. Tailwind’s SmartSchedule will post pins at the time that is best for your industry, and by when it sees that you get the most engagement.

Course recommended: Pinterest Marketing: Using Pinterest for Business Growth

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is another of those sites that does not tolerate a lot of posting from businesses. Posting once a day is plenty.

If you want to do more, join LinkedIn groups and interact with people there. Be careful how promotional you get. You need to be seen as a quality resource. Be the trusted professional you want to be seen as, not the person who’s only interested in the next sale.

LinkedIn engagement is better Tuesday-Thursday, with Wednesdays from 3-5 p.m. being the best.

Course recommended: Linkedin Marketing: B2B Sales & Lead Generation From Scratch

Instagram

Even with its disadvantages, I know a lot of marketers love what they can do with Instagram. You should only post once or twice a day on Instagram, although a few people report doing well with more, even 10 times a day. Be careful about how often you post, and see what works for your audience.

Being heavily promotional is not likely to work on Instagram. As always, provide value. You can use Instagram to give a little behind the scenes look at your business as well as to promote.

Weekdays do better than weekends on Instagram, and you should post first thing in the morning. Later posts can do well going into the afternoon.

Course recommended: Instagram Marketing 2018: A Step-By-Step to 10,000 Followers

How Many to Use?

You can’t do a good job of using all social media websites, not even if you only stick to the big ones. There’s too much to do.

You’ll be better off if you can pick a couple to focus on. Get good at marketing on them.

Dividing your efforts dilutes them. There’s a balance between being available on a variety of networks and being unable to keep up.

As with any other sort of marketing you haven’t tried before, start by using just one social media site. Figure out what you’re doing. Get some fans, friends, followers, whatever they’re called. Get comfortable.

Even though each site takes a slightly different approach, you can take some of what you learn from each site and apply it to the next one while continuing with the sites you’re already on. You’re learning how to bring in business with a possibly more personal touch than other forms of marketing may have been for you.

Social media marketing isn’t something that comes naturally for everyone, but it’s a big help for bringing in traffic and business if you use it right. Give yourself some time and really pay attention to the learning process. You might find it a lot of fun as well as profitable.

Should You Automate?

Within reason, automation of your social media efforts is a great idea. It’s too hard to keep up otherwise.

I use HootSuite to automate many of my posts. It works with Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Pinterest. Its Pinterest tools are not as powerful as what Tailwind has to offer, so you may want a subscription to that as well.

What you cannot automate is the social side of social media. You need to interact with people appropriately, retweeting interesting tweets, for example, or replying to comments. Spending a few minutes on social media is a great way to handle those parts of your day when you know you have limited time to get something done.

You also need to be aware of current events when you automate. If a big event happens, make sure you don’t have any inappropriate posts going out at that time. A reference that is perfectly innocent at other times may be taken as offensive if something has gone wrong.

Do not try to automate your following of other users. Take some time to find them.

I also do not recommend using software to follow and then unfollow anyone who doesn’t follow you back. I know many bloggers worry about their following/followers ratio, but it’s really not that big of a deal in most ways. Follow people because you want to see what they post. Many social media sites now see a high rate of following and quick unfollowing as a sign of spam.

How Long Does It Take To Know Which Social Media Sites Work?

We all want fast results with social media. That would be nice, wouldn’t it? But that’s often not the way things go.

Social media results take time, just like anything else. Don’t compare yourself to the people who have tens of thousands of followers. Most of those have been at it for years.

Work on improving what you’re doing instead. You can get ideas for what works by watching the people who are successful at social media, but in the end, it’s up to you to stand out. If you’re nothing but a copycat, you’ll never stand out.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

Last Updated April 18th, 2018

How To Use Pinterest To Market Your Blog Or Business

How To Use Pinterest To Market Your Blog Or Business

How hard have you tried to use Pinterest to drive traffic to your blog or business? It seems like a lot of people are having amazing success with it, but maybe it isn’t going that well for you. It’s incredibly frustrating. You’d love to use Pinterest to market your blog or business. What does it take?

The first thing I will warn you against is an excessive focus on going viral. If your content is good, and your pins are attractive, viral pins will come in their own time, so long as you’re also working on your Pinterest marketing.

Besides, the traffic from viral pins can peak suddenly, then disappear. You want consistency. You want to build regular traffic. Viral pins can help with that, but they aren’t everything.

Start With The Basics

Whether you’re just starting out with Pinterest or have been pinning for some time, there are some basic things you need to take care of before you do anything else.

If you haven’t created your Pinterest business account, do so now. This will give you access to analytics, which is a huge help in discovering how your pins are doing. It’s free. You can convert your personal account or start a new one to use entirely for business purposes.

Make sure you verify your website with Pinterest. Pinterest will give you a code for this.

A business account can also pay for sponsored pins, which can be a help in bringing attention to your pins. You don’t have to do this, but it’s worth considering.

Next, apply for rich pins. You will need some code on your site. If you’re using WordPress and have the Yoast SEO plugin, this is super easy. If you’re using WordPress and don’t use Yoast, I strongly recommend adding it. It’s helpful in many ways.

In the Yoast SEO section of your WordPress admin, you will see a social section. Select the Facebook tab and enable the Open Graph metadata setting. This will give Pinterest the information it needs as well.

turn on open graph

Once this is done, you need to validate one of your URLs with Pinterest. Choose any blog post and put it into Pinterest’s Rich Pins Validator. If everything comes up fine, you can tell Pinterest that you used HTML tags, then click “Apply Now.” If everything has gone right, your pins will now show up as Rich Pins.

Rich pins show more information from your site. They can pull recipe information if you share recipes, or article titles and a bit of text from articles.

Figure Out Your Best Pinterest Keywords

In many ways, Pinterest is more a search engine than a social website. This makes the right keywords in your profile, boards, and pins vital to your success. Take some time early on to figure out your basic Pinterest keywords.

Start out with your best keyword for your business. Put it into the search box on Pinterest and see what comes up. It should look something like this:

find keywords pinterest

See those colored boxes with words in them? Those are words other Pinterest users include in their searches for that term. You want to use these words in your profile, board descriptions, and pins whenever they’re relevant.

Do this often. You may find it worthwhile to check Pinterest keywords for most of your posts, especially when coming up with a description as you pin them.

Make The Most Of Your Profile

How does your Pinterest profile look? Is it clear to people who visit it what your business has to offer?

Take advantage of the space Pinterest offers to create an appealing description of what followers can expect from your Pinterest profile. If you do this well, it may also attract people to visit your website.

Use some of the keywords you discovered in the section above for your profile, but keep it interesting as well.

Pinterest now has a feature where an image of your pins goes diagonally across your profile page. Take advantage of this.

pinterest header

If you don’t have a board that has just pins from your website, create one now. You’re going to use this board to display your pins on your profile.

Click the little edit button on the image of your pins that go across the top of your profile. This will allow you to select which board is used for this image. Select the one that has only your pins. Save your changes.

change pinterest header

That’s all it takes. Now you don’t have to worry about which pins show up there. You’ve chosen to make it all yours.

Optimize Your Pinterest Boards

It may not be immediately obvious when you create a board that you can give it a category and description. You can, and it’s helpful to do so. This will give visitors to that board an idea as to what you pin there.

Go to your board and click the edit board button. This will give you a little popup to change the settings.

You can give the board a description. Make sure that you use some of the keywords you researched. This may help it appear in board searches.

You can also give it a category and a board cover. The board cover is a pin that will show as a larger image on the page that shows all of your boards.

If you want a consistent look to your profile page, you need to create board covers for all of your boards. Many bloggers like to create board covers that are consistent with their branding elsewhere. This is not something I have done so far personally, but many recommend it.

You can upload a custom board cover as a pin and link it to a relevant section of your website. You can create one that is at least 600×600 pixels. Board covers are square, but you can use a rectangular image if you want. Just consider which section will show up.

The idea behind branded board covers is that it gives your profile a more cohesive feel.

Finally, decide what you’re going to do with boards that aren’t relevant to your brand. You can delete them or make them into secret boards if you like. If not, at least make sure that they are beneath your business boards. You can drag and drop your boards on your profile to arrange them the way you would like them. Think about what will work best for your visitors.

Optimize Your Pins

Applying for Rich Pins is only the first step to optimizing your pins. There are a few other things you should do.

Start out by knowing the currently preferred image sizes. These change occasionally. As of this writing, Pinterest recommends pin images be no more than 600 pixels wide and will cut off pins longer than 2.1 times the width, which is to say longer than 1260 pixels long. Their preferred size is 600×900, but there are plenty of times when a longer image makes sense.

Longer pins will still show the full length when clicked. Many bloggers find that they perform better than other pins.

Create great descriptions for your pins. These will help them be found in searches. Remember to research your Pinterest keywords when creating your descriptions, and keep them accurate to the post they’re linked to. Don’t mislead your visitors – people hate that.

You can even have your preferred description show up when visitors to your site pin that image. In your blog post, use the Text editor tab rather than the Visual tab.

In this tab, the code for your image will be something along the lines of:

<img class=”aligncenter” src=”yourimageurl” alt=”alt tags for your image” width=”500″ height=”765″ />

You want to add a Pinterest description. This is done by adding data-pin-description=”your description here” so that it looks like

<img class=”aligncenter” src=”yourimageurl” alt=”alt tags for your image” width=”500″ height=”765″ data-pin-description=”Your pin description here.” />

Once you’ve done this, the description you put in the data-pin-description section will show up if someone clicks the image to pin it.

This won’t guarantee that your description will be used by everyone, as visitors can change the text as they like, but many will leave it as is.

You can go further by using data-pin-url=”URL you want the pin to lead to. Usually the URL of your post” data-pin-media=”URL of a different image you want pinned rather than the visible one. Very useful if you want smaller images in your post” and data-pin-id=”ID number of the post on Pinterest after you have pinned it.” These give you still more control over your pins. You can also control which images in your posts can be pinned to Pinterest.

Should You Brand Your Pins?

Many people strongly recommend keeping your images similar, so that they are all clearly a part of your brand. This makes it easier for people to recognize one of your pins when they come across them.

This can be as simple as using the same colors or fonts on all of your pins. Some people use very similar images on all of their pins as well.

The problem is that this gets very repetitive. Your pins are easily identified, but are they easy to tell apart?

This is where it becomes a good idea to make multiple pins for each post. You can have your strongly branded pins and have your pins that stand out.

It’s also easier to test pin styles when you have multiple pins for each post. You can compare and see which performs the best. If you find a new style performs better, you might even decide to change your branding to be closer to that style.

Pin And Pin And Pin Some More

If you aren’t pinning a lot, and pinning regularly, your pins aren’t likely to be discovered.

This also means you should pin content from other sites. You will see all kinds of advice – people telling you that the best results come from pinning 80% your own content and 20% of others, 50/50 yours vs others, or even 20% yours and 80% others. You’ll also hear that you should post 20 pins a day, 30-50 a day, or even over 100 pins a day. The advice varies widely.

I’ve never stressed about numbers. I pin a lot of my own, but also share pins from the various group boards I belong to. Most group boards require that you repin at least one other pin when you pin something of yours to the board. That ensures that I have a mix.

Group boards are a huge help in getting your pins out there. Request to join as many relevant ones as you can find, so long as they have a good number of followers. You won’t get much exposure if the board only has 100 followers, after all.

As much as possible, pin to relevant boards. Your pins will rank better if they are regularly pinned to relevant boards, rather than to general boards.

You will find a number of group boards that accept all niches. Some of these have excellent followings. You may find it worthwhile to try a few general boards, but don’t pin to many of them. Keep that focus so that Pinterest knows what your pins are about.

Manual Pins Or Scheduled Pins?

I’ve seen a lot of debate over whether manual pinning or scheduled pinning works better. There are some great tools out there. Tailwind is the most popular, I think, followed by Board Booster. Their features are slightly different, but each one allows you to schedule your pins, which can be a huge time saver.

Many people say they have seen huge traffic boosts from using these tools. At the very least, they make it much easier to be consistent with your pinning.

However, some people think you get more traffic if you pin manually. This is the method I currently use. It is often difficult to be consistent, but I keep working at it.

I track my pins using a spreadsheet. My boards are grouped by category, one sheet per category of board. This allows me to date when I do each pin. I mark when I’m using more than one image per blog post, as I don’t want to pin the same post on a board too close together, even if the images are different.

pinterest spreadsheet

I indicate group boards by putting their names in bold. This way I know which require repinning, and how many. Most only require a single repin, but some expect two or three for each pin placed on their boards. I always do at least a single repin – the more active the board is, the more attention pins on it will get.

Take a Pinterest Marketing Course

You may want to learn a lot more about pinning than I’ve shared here. A Pinterest marketing course can help you learn more than the basics. They’ll all start with the basics, to make sure that you aren’t missing obvious things, but go into more advanced techniques from there.

I recommend this Pinterest marketing course on Udemy. It’s well rated and has been updated recently. Read the reviews to see if it’s the course for you. You will learn a lot more about how to use Pinterest to market your blog if you take a good course.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

Last Updated April 11th, 2018

15 Common Social Media Mistakes Home Business Owners Make

15 Common Social Media Mistakes Home Business Owners Make

Social media can be hugely beneficial to your home business, but you can also make huge mistakes with it. Mistakes won’t always be serious, but some may spread farther and stick around far longer than you’d like. Offend the wrong person, and your offense may be spread to many other people, and you can’t count on a net benefit from getting your name out there. As much as you can, you should avoid making serious social media mistakes.

I don’t mean little mistakes such as not posting often enough. Most people won’t notice that much if you rarely post – you just won’t get the benefits of posting regularly. I mean mistakes that get the wrong kind of attention or waste your precious time. Knowing which social media mistakes are common can help you to make a better social media plan.

Mistake #1: Friending or Following EVERYONE

A big list of friends or followers looks nice on your social media accounts, especially if they return the favor. The problem is when you aren’t focused on following the right people. If you just find a list and start following, you’ll probably follow a lot of junk accounts. They might follow you back, but they won’t become customers and will probably just clutter your feed.

Be picky. Follow people who are relevant to your business or are just plain interesting. Your list of followers won’t increase as quickly, but they’ll be higher quality and more fun to deal with.

If you’re looking for people to follow, look at who follows your competition. They might be interested in what you have to offer as well.

Mistake #2: Failing to Admit Mistakes

We all make mistakes, but if you make a mistake on social media, apologize or correct it the same way. It might be as simple as an incorrect link, or something more serious such as sharing inaccurate information. Take just a moment to correct yourself so that you aren’t just leaving the mistake out there unfixed. Admitting you’re wrong can sting, but it also can help to build trust.

Deleting your mistakes is always a possibility, but people do notice and may not approve of how you handled things if you delete something with no explanation. This is especially true if you insulted or angered people. If the mistake was merely funny, most people won’t be too upset with you.

Be willing to learn from your mistakes. We all make them.

Mistake #3: Being Rude

It’s easy to be rude online, even unintentionally. If you read much online you’ve probably seen it. There’s no tone to the written word, so a poor word choice can deeply offend someone else.

Then there’s the all too common deliberate rudeness. I don’t just mean the sort trolls use. I mean the rude way some people disagree with each other online. Name calling really isn’t necessary in an argument. You’re better off using facts and relevant opinions about the subject at hand, not harsh and possibly unsubstantiated statements about the person you disagree with.

If someone sees a social media post you’ve made as rude, don’t argue with them. You’ll do far better if you apologize and explain what you meant, being more careful in your word choice. Some people won’t accept the apology or explanation, but others will.

Mistake #4: Fail to Build Relationships

Social media is about building relationships, not pure marketing. Let your human side show at least some of the time. Reply to people. Participate in conversations. Be real.

As someone who is both shy and an introvert, this has always been a challenge for me, even on social media. It’s not always easy to join in the conversations. Do the best you can. You may find that it works for you.

Mistake #5: Ignoring Customers

If you want to look like a responsive business, you have to respond. This is really helpful in social media, which many people favor as a way to contact a business or comment about them. Keep an eye out for posts about your business name, and especially for any directed at you. Respond when you can, the sooner the better. This is doubly important when someone has a problem with your business.

Mistake #6: Using Too Many Abbreviations

Abbreviations are sometimes necessary in social media, especially on sites such as Twitter where you have a limited number of characters per post (although they now allow more characters than they used to). Unnecessary abbreviations can be annoying, KWIM? They can also obscure your meaning for those readers who don’t understand a particular abbreviation.

Mistake #7: Poor Grammar and Spelling

Most of us use poor grammar and spelling some of the time. It’s all too easy to make mistakes, especially if you have autocorrect on. Read your posts before you send them out to make sure that you’re saying what you meant to say and that it can be easily understood.

That said, don’t stress when you make mistakes in spelling or grammar. We all do it. Some people delight in calling such mistakes out, but they rarely contribute significantly to the conversation otherwise.

Mistake #8: Sharing Other People’s Posts as Your Own

People say and share some really neat things on social media, and being the originator of something interesting can get you some good attention. That doesn’t make it right to take someone else’s idea and pretending you started it.

Many social media sites make it easy to share where you got a particular item from. There’s the retweet button for Twitter, or the RT abbreviation if you want to do it your own way. There’s the share button on Facebook that shows where you got a post from. Pinterest allows you to repin interesting items. All these give credit to the source.

Most will also allow you to add your own comments when you share someone else’s post.  This way you can give credit while sharing your own thoughts.

Of course, you can share similar ideas that you’ve seen elsewhere, just make sure that the idea is better and uniquely served in your own words. You can build a great reputation online by sharing the work of other people if you do it honestly.

Mistake #9: Failing to be Relevant

This mistake happens most often either when you’re in a conversation or when there’s something big going on. Perhaps you’re participating in a social media event and you break in with something completely off topic. People aren’t going to appreciate that.

It’s also a risk of automating your social media posting. To a degree, this isn’t a terrible thing, but if it leads to inappropriate posts, you may have a problem. Think about what you’re posting if people are talking about major tragedies or other major events. If you share something online completely irrelevant to it, or worse, disrespectful to those involved, how will that make your business look? Pay attention to what’s going on before you post, and consider pausing automated posts if they might be inappropriate at a particular time.

Mistake #10: Overposting

You may only have so much time each day in which to do your social media marketing, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to share all your posts at once. You can use Hootsuite or other services to schedule your posts for later, and check on responses briefly as necessary. A flood of posts from your account doesn’t look as good as you might hope.

The right number of posts per day varies tremendously from platform to platform. Facebook Pages generally perform best if you post only a time or two per day on your page. Twitter and Pinterest can handle quite a few more posts every day.

Mistake #11: Being Overly Promotional

When you’re using social media to promote your business, of course, you have to be promotional. Just remember that the point of social media is to be social too. Not everything you post needs to be a way to earn money for yourself. Sometimes you should post just to be a person or a good resource.

Have a little fun. If getting personal is appropriate to your business style, get personal. A look behind the scenes of your business can be a great way to bring in an appropriate amount of personality to your social media. Discuss your work routine. Share a picture of your home office. You can even share a little about your family or pets if that suits your business personality.

Mistake #12: Getting Too Personal

The personal touch is a good thing for many businesses, especially when you’re the only person running it, but there should be limits. Keep your personal and business profiles separate. This allows you to share things with family and friends that you don’t need to be associated with your business. You can still share appropriate personal things on your business accounts, depending on the kind of personality you want to show.

This is especially helpful on sites like Facebook where you’re more limited in the number of friends you can have on your personal page. It’s better to have people interested in your business follow your business page.

It can be difficult balancing the personal side of your social media sometimes. Remember that you aren’t besties with your social media followers, at least not most of them. They do not want to read about all the details of your personal life. Occasional anecdotes are fine.

Mistake #13: Expecting Too Much

Social media most likely won’t be the making of your home business. It can help build traffic, it can help build your reputation, but it’s just one factor in your business, not a miracle.

It takes time to build a loyal social media following. It’s a lot of work, and then the platform changes the rules and your posts may not reach your followers as well as they used to. I’m looking at you, Facebook, but you aren’t the only one!

Keep working on your preferred social media platforms if you want to see results. Despite what some people say, we won’t all see amazing results in just a few months. You will need to test different things to figure out what works best for your home business.

 

Mistake #14: Failing to Make it Easy to Share Your Content

Make sure it’s easy to share the content you have on your website. People will tweet, like, pin and otherwise share interesting content without buttons to make it easier, but more people will do so if it’s easy. Social sites usually provide code to make this easy, and there are plugins for WordPress if you have a blog, such as Shareaholic. Most will keep count of how many times your content has been shared, a wonderful social proof for your website.

Make it easy on yourself too. Use social media tools such as HootSuite, IFTTT, and the WP to Twitter plugin to automate parts of your social media marketing efforts. You still need to get in there and interact with others, but these will help you handle the routine side of things.

Mistake #15: Using Too Many Social Media Websites

There are a lot of social media websites out there. You can’t participate on all of them, and you really shouldn’t try to. It will take too much time and too many resources to do so.

Instead, focus on the bigger ones and any specific to your niche. Have a social media strategy. See where you get the most return for your efforts. If one site isn’t working for you, another may work better. Be picky. You only have so much time you should be spending on your social media efforts. Use it wisely.

Don’t let your social media mistakes keep you from using social media to market your blog or business. Making mistakes is a part of the learning process. As you figure out what works for you on each platform, you will get better results that will make it worthwhile.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

Last Updated February 6th, 2018

Powerful Ways To Improve Your Social Media Strategy

Powerful Ways To Improve Your Social Media Strategy

Having a social media strategy is a huge help in building your social media presence. The better job you do thinking out your plans, the better you’re likely to do when you take action. If your social media isn’t doing much for your blog, you need to look at ways to improve your social media strategy.

Plan Your Social Media Strategy

A really solid social media strategy requires planning. This helps you know how often to post on each social media platform.

Different social media platforms do well with different numbers of posts per day. Many people say that you should post no more than 1-2 times a day on Instagram, for example, but some accounts do very well posting quite a bit more than that. Pinterest and Twitter, on the other hand, generally need quite a few more posts per day.

Do not treat each platform as though it’s the same. Not only do the best posting times vary quite a bit, so do the best image sizes, writing style, and the best post length.

LinkedIn, for example, is a very professional site, and your posts should reflect that. Facebook, on the other hand, can have a much more personal feel to it. Instagram requires an excellent visual presentation for a post to succeed, and what you write there will only get attention if the visuals are good enough.

Make Your Content Shareable

Whatever else you do, be sure your content is easily shared. If people share your content on their social media, they’re doing some of your social media marketing for you. You want that.

There are several plugins available to make this easier, both free and paid. I use Shareaholic, which has lots of really useful free options. The paid options can be useful as well, but you don’t have to use them to have a good experience.

Shareable content is also right for the social media platform you’re sharing it on. Pinterest, for example, does better with tall images. Instagram prefers squares. Other platforms prefer images that are wider than they are tall.

This means you may need to make several versions of your images to use on social media. Use the right tools to make images for your social media, and this won’t be terribly difficult.

Build Your Social Media Reputation

Your reputation on social media means a lot to your success. People need to know what to expect from your business.

For most, this means avoiding controversial subjects, unless that’s what your blog is about. Getting controversial for most blogs is a way to alienate potential readers.

Beyond that, you also need a reputation of providing great information in your niche, even if you didn’t create it yourself. Share posts by other blogs and websites in your niche that people will find useful.

Don’t just stick to your own posts. Sure, you work hard on your blog, but other sites have great things to offer your followers as well. Take advantage of that fact. It will make you look better too.

Choose Your Social Media Platforms Wisely

You do not need a presence on every social media platform out there. Trying to use every site out there is a very poor social media strategy. It spreads your efforts out too thin.

Start out with the social media platforms your target market uses most. This may take some research. Also take into consideration which platforms you will feel the most comfortable using, especially when you’re just getting started. You may not feel ready to do live video on Facebook when you first start out, for example, but later on, you might choose to try it.

Pay Attention To Analytics

Social media analytics can be extremely helpful to your social media strategy. They’ll help you learn what’s working and what isn’t.

Each platform gives you information in its own way. In most cases, you’re best off signing up for a business account. That will give you the best analytics that platform has to offer.

You can also see where your traffic is coming from by using Google Analytics. Sign up and add it to your blog if you haven’t already. A good social following is nice, after all, but it doesn’t mean anything without traffic and income.

You can add campaign tracking to your links easily. This makes it easier to know at a glance where your traffic is coming from. The Google Analytics URL Builder makes this a painless process. If you really want to know how your traffic is converting from different sources, you need to do this.

It’s not necessary to look at your analytics daily, but you should look at them at least once or twice a month. Keep track so that you can see how interactions, number of followers, likes, shares and so forth go over a long period.

Make Sure Your Content Is Mobile Friendly

You may know by now that mobile is huge. It’s a major source of traffic for most websites.

If your blog theme isn’t responsive, it’s time to change to one that is. I know enough CSS and HTML to do it myself, but most people are better off finding a theme that does this for them.

If you want a fast solution, there are WordPress plugins that will make a mobile version of your WordPress blog. I don’t consider it an ideal solution (the results can be on the ugly side in my opinion), but it’s better than not being responsive at all.

If you want a really nice job done, pay a developer to design a responsive template for your site. The money spent will be worth it if it increases traffic to your website.

Be Responsive

Just as your blog needs to respond to the screen size it’s being viewed on, you need to respond to the people who visit your site or follow your social media.

If someone asks you a question, take some time and answer it. Some of my favorite blog posts have come from questions people have emailed me.

Making a blog post out of common questions makes being responsive to your followers easier. You can refer them to the answer you’ve already posted.

These answers can also be great social media posts. If someone is taking the time to ask you a question, odds are good that others have the same question.

You can also respond to other people’s social media posts. Ask questions. Give compliments. Add a little information of your own. Remember the social part of social media.

Try New Things

Don’t keep doing the same thing over and over again all of the time. Try new things. It’s the only way to learn what really works.

Change the style of your images occasionally to see if a new style does better. Different fonts, different font colors, and new kinds of images may result in very different responses. If it’s better than your old style, make a change. If not, go back to your old style.

Also, try posting at different times, test new hashtags, post more, post less, and so forth. There’s a lot of advice out there for the best posting times on different social media platforms, but that doesn’t mean those will be the best time for you. Test to be sure.

Use The Right Tools

You don’t want social media to take up your entire workday. For much of your social media use, scheduling tools such as Hootsuite are worth the cost. They’ll let you schedule out the basic posting side of things in large chunks, so that part of the job can be taken care of once a week or so.

Don’t schedule everything. You can’t automate direct interactions on social media. You have to see what’s going on to respond appropriately.

Hootsuite allows you to see responses to your posts on several different platforms, such as Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. You can handle much of your posting and interaction through Hootsuite, which is faster than going to the various platforms.

Remember That Social Media Shouldn’t Be Your Only Marketing Strategy

Social media is a wonderful marketing tool, and it can be an extremely effective strategy to use it. But you should do more than that. Try guest posting, blog syndication, commenting on other blogs, answering questions on HARO, and so forth.

A broad marketing strategy gives you more protection from problems than a narrow one. Make time to do different things so that you get results from many places. You’ll improve your chance of success if you do so.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

Last Updated January 8th, 2018

How To Control Which Images Are Pinned To Pinterest

How To Control Which Images Are Pinned To Pinterest

How often do you wish that you didn’t have to make every image on your site look like it was made for Pinterest? Pinterest can be a great traffic source for a blog, but sometimes you want a little control over which images from your blog are pinned there. This way you can be certain that when someone pins from your site, they pin an acceptable image there. You have a few options to control which images are pinned to Pinterest from your website.

For most of these, you will need to use the text editor in WordPress, not the visual editor.

data-pin-nopin="true"

If you have a particular image on your blog that you do not want pinned, nopin is a piece of code you want added to it. It should look like

<img src="image.png" data-pin-nopin="true" alt="image description" />

There are many reasons why you might want an image to be unpinnable. The big reason is if it isn’t yours. If you have permission to use an image from someone else’s site for a post (linked back to their post, I hope), it’s not ideal to have that image used on Pinterest to link back to your site.

You can use nopin to keep people from using header images or other images that are used across your site on Pinterest. They aren’t the best representation of your site, after all. They may be better than nothing if a page has no images, but that’s something you will have to decide for yourself. I use this on my header images here.

Sometimes there will be an image in a blog post that is perfectly acceptable in most ways for pinning, but for whatever reason, you don’t want it pinned. Maybe you used an image of your kids in a post and don’t want others pinning it, for example. Maybe you posted about organizing your home office, and only want the “after” image pinned, not the “before.”

You can even block individual pages or your entire site from being pinned on Pinterest. There are few cases where this is a good idea, but you can do it. The code goes in the header and is

<meta name="pinterest" content="nopin" />

There are WordPress plugins that will allow you to do this for individual pages, which is more likely to be useful. However, the ones I found have not been updated in two years, so I can’t say if they’re still compatible.

Pin A Different Image Than Shown

Sometimes you want to pin a different image than the one shown. There are good reasons to do this.

One reason is so that you can show one image in your blog post, one that you feel is sized to best suit the look of your blog. Maybe it’s in a horizontal orientation rather than the vertical orientation that is so strongly recommended for use on Pinterest. Those long images can get annoying on blogs sometimes.

I’ve used this trick on the title image of this post. If you try to pin it, a longer image will show up. However, any other pinnable image you try to use will show up as expected if you try to pin it.

The code is put into the HTML used to display the image. It should look like

<img src="image.png" data-pin-media="image-you-want-pinned.png" alt="image description" />

If you’re tired of having huge graphics at the top of your blog posts, this lets you cut them down to size while still taking care of Pinterest.

You may want to consider several other additions to your images as well.

data-pin-description="description you want on your pinned post"

Data-pin-description allows you to choose the description you want to show when someone pins that image. They can change it if they want, but many people will just leave it be.

data-pin-url="url of your blog post"

Data-pin-url allows you to tell Pinterest what URL to use when the image is pinned. This is useful if you find people are pinning a lot from your blog homepage, and therefore not getting your individual posts pinned. It’s also handy if you have a multi-page post and want people coming from Pinterest to start at the beginning. You must use the full URL of the post; a relative URL won’t work.

data-pin-id="ID of your original pin"

Data-pin-id is a bit harder to use. You have to pin the image yourself and then view it to get the ID number of the pin from there. From there, it ensures that future pins of that image are linked to your original pin. These count as repins of that image, and may help with social proof. The ID number is the number you see in the URL of your pin.

You can use any combination of the data-pin options on your images. All together they would look like

<img src="image.png" data-pin-media="image-you-want-pinned.png" data-pin-description="description you want on your pinned post" data-pin-url="url of your blog post" data-pin-id="ID of your original pin" alt="image description" />

Hide An Image

You can also hide an image in your post, but have it show up as an option when someone clicks the Pinterest button on the page. These won’t show up if someone clicks a specific image; they appear only with the Pinterest buttons you should have on your site.

Add the images you want to hide to your post. These are probably larger than your other images, so you will want them at the bottom of your post. Then add the following code to the image HTML:

<div style="display: none;">

After the images, add:

</div>

So that the rest of your blog displays as normal. The whole thing should look like:

<div style="display: none;"><img src="image.png" alt="image description" /></div>

Featured Image

You can also add a Featured Image to your blog posts. There are some WordPress themes that will show these, but if yours doesn’t, you can use it to add an image that will only show when someone clicks your Pinterest button. It’s effectively a hidden image, but you don’t have to muck about with your HTML.

If your theme shows the Featured Image in your blog posts, this may be more of a pain than a useful thing. This can be a bigger problem if your theme restricts the size of the image you can feature. But in most cases, it’s a good idea to use the Featured Image.

Always Use Alt Tags

While this won’t determine which image visitors pin to Pinterest from your site, alt tags on each and every image in your post will help ensure that they have accurate descriptions on Pinterest. Without alt tags, the information shown on Pinterest can be too vague to attract repins or traffic to your site.

Taking advantage of the fact that you can control which images are pinned to Pinterest allows you to make the most of what appears there from your site. Your site can look the way you want it to, rather than have every displayed image look Pinterest-perfect. Play around, and you’ll see that I have an example of everything except hiding the whole page from Pinterest on this post. The butterflies are set as the featured image, and the cats are the hidden image. My logo at the top of the blog has the nopin tag.

How To Control Which Images Are Pinned To Pinterest

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

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Disclosure: Home with the Kids is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. I also review or mention products for which I may receive compensation from other sources. All opinions are my own.