Generic social media advice you should never listen to

(Let alone act upon)

location marketing

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It goes without saying that if you don’t have a plan then you have a plan to fail. In this post I’m going to share with you a few of the generic pieces of  advice that I see people sharing on social media and why you should not listen to such advice.

You Don’t need THE PLAN.

For some, success in social media marketing campaigns means putting to use the many options available. I thought as other marketers advocated using every single social media site on the planet that I had to as well. I was caught up in the shiny new platform syndrome, the thrill of being an early adopter surging through my veins… yet I always returned to my blog.

I should have had a plan instead I had generic advice – put your business on every single social site available…. A structured document showing me where my target audience interacted  how I could get their attention and what to do once I had it would have been better. Instead I flew by the seat of my pants and was reasonably successful. Why? because I listened to the generic advice and acted upon it.

It took until 2009 to get a “plan” and implement it. Once I had that, social media marketing became much easier and I became more successful. In short I stopped following the generic advice and started to invest in my ongoing education.

Being bothered about the “competition”.

One of the things I read quite often is using your competition for inspiration.  I don’t do that. I don’t subscribe to any blog in my niche. I prefer to see what other niches are doing and adapt the ideas to my audience. I’ve learned a tremendous amount by observing various fitness bloggers for the #blogfit challenge. Reading about muscles and strengthening them is not my usual blog reading but it does stop you thinking and following the herd.

  • Check out the pages of those in your industry who are most highly sought after to obtain an idea of why they are popular.
  • Check out their updates.
  • What sort of page layout do they use?

Take what you learn from the competition and then repurpose it uniquely for your own brand? Nope, forget that. Think so far out of the box that you would struggle to get in it. Only in doing that will you create content that isn’t generic but actionable, because you’ve tried it.

You will have results overnight, if not sooner

It takes some time in order to come up with a solid strategy for social media marketing. Building a responsive audience on Facebook, Twitter and other social media networks will not happen overnight. Your social media marketing campaigns have to overlap and in truth your aim is not to connect with every single person you know on every single site but to connect with their friends and their audience. In doing that, the amount of friends, fans and followers becomes irrelevant and you get the exposure to the right people.

Set-up a social media blog and brag about friends you have.

This makes me cringe. You really don’t have to brag about your friends and your connections. You are worthy enough on your own. I’ve been blessed to be heard on the radio countless times, guest blogged on hundred of sites and have been a guest and interviewed in lots of other places. This is social proof and yes you need it.

You need it when you doubt your abilities, you need it when you are not confident in what you do, you need it when you have no proposition and no unique identity – you need it when you feel the overwhelming desire to conform.

Why do I have two bits of social proof in the side bar? Because I was testing how people reacted to it. They are mostly oblivious to it. I have very little social proof on this site yet I still have a waiting list for clients, I still have people get in touch wanting to book my services and I rarely send out prospecting emails – why is that? Because I have a solid reputation for getting results.

Yep, people are social-proof blind because they see so much of it. Just as soon as I have some nice shiny graphics to replace them with, the social proof will be gone. It really isn’t that important to your readers.

Only write when you have something to say.

If you only write when you have something to say how will your writing improve?  There are so many people who advocate writing quality posts but don’t tell you to write quality posts you need to do 2 things

  • >Write often
  • Read quality

When you practise something you get better at it. My 7 year old daughter took up pool at Christmas. She cried when she couldn’t hold the cue straight. She sobbed when the cue ripped the baize and she gave up more times than you would think possible. 5 months later she’s a pool demon, she pots all kinds of shots. She plays better than me (well that isn’t hard, but I’ve played for a lifetime). She plays for 20 minutes every single day. 20 minutes a day for 5 months has transformed her ability and boosted her confidence. How good would she be if she only played once a month? How good is your content if you only write once a month?

When you read quality you write quality – simply because you are shaping your mind and showing it the way forward.

You should take your time writing and proofreading your content to ensure that it’s both informative and engaging. You can’t write formative and engaging if you don’t read it. Ever read Single Dad Laughing? No? Daddy blogging not your thing? Shame because it’s incredibly engaging as well as being informative. And now you know why I look wide outside my niche for information :)

Sometimes you can forget quality and write straight from the heart. Sometimes you can’t. Only experience will make you better and able to know these situations. You get experience by doing.

Make sure that it is simple for readers to subscribe to any blogs you have.

Do you want your readers to subscribe via a reader or via email? Which option is more manageable by you? Which do you prefer? When you’ve decided promote that option over all others. I want you to subscribe by email. I don’t want to be at the mercy of the likes of Feedburner (which I loved with all my heart). Remember that plan we mentioned at the beginning, things like this should be in it.

You must have a video and use it often on your blog.

Youtube has become a great way to promote your product or service but only if you can create a good video. If you can’t write a cohesive post then video is not going to save your content marketing ass. No one wants videos about your products and services, they couldn’t care less. But if you blend an iPad or a pair of Nikes then you can sell a blender…

What I got from that video? A Galaxy S3 will last longer than an iphone 5. Guess what my new phone will be.

When it comes to making your voice heard on social networking sites, brief, to-the-point messages are generally the most effective.

No, no they are not. You want effective, ask questions. A question evokes a reaction – avoidance or response. Response = engagement and makes you memorable. the right questions make you powerful – powerful enough to help and support your ideal readers and prospects. It comes with you leading by example. Brief and to the point? Screw that, context is everything and sometimes that isn’t brief.

Ensure that you do not post too much.

If you want to be at the top of someone’s mind you have to make an effort to be seen. That may mean sharing a post every 15 minutes. It may be asking a question, it could be sharing a cute kitty pic. It’s what works for you and your audience and you will not know until you test it. I had 5,000 Twitter followers for 4 years. In the last year I ramped up my sharing I now have 10,000. If I’d ensure not to post too often there are 5,000 people on Twitter I wouldn’t have connected with.

Add social icons to your site so everyone can follow you

Why? Seriously if your goal is email subscribers why are you sending people to follow you on Twitter? If Twitter is your thing why send people to your Facebook fan page? If you don’t engage and and ask questions, what’s the point of a fan page at all? You do not need icons all over the place if they are not part of your goals and mentioned on THE PLAN.

Keep at your social media marketing and don’t give up.

Do not, do not ever throw enough money at something so that it sticks. Sure, social media marketing takes time like anything else does but if it’s not working for you use something that will. Analyzing your results after a month is good you can see if you are sticking to THE Plan, wait a year to determine your overall progress. If it’s not working look at who you are getting your advice from, is it too generic? And if it is what are you going to do about it?


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Sarah Arrow

Blogging an issue for you? Social media not quite working how it should be?That's okay I understand. I started blogging back in 2006 and grew into a kick-ass blog coach as well as creator of Birds on the Blog (listed 3 times by Forbes as a top 100 website for women), I'm frequently listed as both a top content marketing expert and as an influential marketer.
You want your blog to make a difference, so subscribe hereand stay in touch, my updates will help you achieve content marketing success.


  1. You have made some interesting observations here, Sarah. I must test some of these things on my own blog and then get back to you. I do know that more posts actually help my traffic. I haven’t had very good results with doing email newsletters. I used to be all Twitter, but my audience was more active on Facebook so I started focusing more on Facebook. I am beginning to question the social media advice I’ve received in the past as well.

    • Hi DeAnna, thanks for your comment. I think we are only too willing at times to hand over our business success to another person without actually looking below the surface.
      What works for me, may not work for you and vise versa. We have to steer clear of the generalists and look to the specialists.

  2. Wow Sarah This is an Awesome Post! I have learned a lot here today and I have been looking beyond my niche and searching for answers out there. Social Media is tough but there are millions of people out there who are searching for answers and this is what these platforms are about.

    I am going to go back and read this post again as well as share HEHE Got Ya! You will keep your share buttons Right? Thanks for sharing your idea’s and strategies with us, now it is time to implement them.. Chery :)

    • I might keep the share button Chery ;) hehehehehe.

  3. Great advice as always Sarah … just a different perspective on following blogs in your genre. Maybe the niche matters, I don’t know, but what I do know is that by following the top ranked blogs in my niche I’ve been able to spot trends that allowed me to jump ahead of what everyone else was doing. Also, sometimes it’s actually funny how so many bloggers decide to write about the same subject at the same time! How will readers know? Well of course not all of them will, but a lot of us are listed in directories like Alltop, so there you have us all listed on a page under our niche and it’s going to be REALLY obvious (and boring) when everyone is writing about the same thing.

  4. Some great points there. I see a lot of people who tell me they are on social media but nothing is really happening for them.

    Perhaps they take the easy road (do anything and without a plan) because it is quite tricky to really pare down and get to nub of who it is that we actually want to attract. Anytime the answer is “Everyone” there is a problem.

    Thanks I’ll be sharing this.


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