10 Reasons Why You’re Bombing in Social Media

Social media — is it getting you gigs? If not, let’s take a look at some possible reasons. Social media takes a pretty substantial time investment, so if you’re putting in the time, it darn well better bring you some real business. Or you should send direct-mail letters instead.

Social media is not rocket science. Once you know the basics, you can do this.

I’ve only had a serious focus on social media for a couple of  years, and it’s been delivering solid results all this year. I recently did an analysis of my social-media wins so far in 2010, which included connecting with editors on Twitter and LinkedIn who gave me lucrative assignments and a great guest-post blogging opportunity. Yesterday, another new editor cold-called me after viewing my LinkedIn profile, and I signed a new client who found me on a Google search for writers (in part because of the prominence of my social-media profile pages in search results).

So social media works, if you work it.

Where might you be going wrong in social media? Here are 10 common problems:

  1. You’re unknowable. When I scan daily through the dozens of email notices I get from new Twitter followers, I’m blown away by how many of them have no listed Web site, no photo, and an utterly blank bio. Really, how hard is it to fill that out?
  2. You’re uninteresting. You’re tweeting or updating your LinkedIn status to say you’re at the dentist’s, or going to sleep…or other random stuff that’s useful to no one. Your blog posts are dull and full of typos. Make your posts funny, informative, thought-provoking, or uplifting.
  3. You’re always selling. Every blog entry you write ends with, “So call us today!” Every tweet is about your company, or your clients. Zzzzzz…. Social media is just not about that.
  4. You’re not very social. Even at well-funded companies, I find blogs with no social-media buttons, and company Web sites with no social contacts on the home page. Make it easy for others to spread the word about you, and they will.
  5. You’re mysterious. Do your social-media profiles contain every key word a prospect might search on when they want to hire someone like you? If not, stop hiding from clients and go fix that right now. It might seem retarded to you to put “freelance writer, blogger, journalist, and copywriter,” but those are all different search terms a prospect might use to find me.
  6. You don’t visit. Drop by some of the busiest sites in your industry, and see what they’re writing about. Subscribe to their blogs so you know what’s happening. Now and again, leave a comment on one of their blogs or forums. It’s fairly easy to get known as an authority voice in your industry this way.
  7. You’re not helpful. People ask questions in social media, both across social-media sites and within specific forums and groups. Are you providing answers? It just takes a minute to share something you know, and people truly appreciate and remember it.
  8. You’re not questioning. Social media is a fantastic place to learn, especially about all things new-media and Web. Don’t be afraid of looking dumb. If you don’t know how to put images in blogs or which print-on-demand publisher has the lowest fees, ask and find out.
  9. You’re not a joiner. If you’re not participating in industry-specific groups in social media, you are missing the party. My main hangout is LinkedIn Editors & Writers for building my blog and ebook audience, but I have a half-dozen others as well. There are fewer people in each group than on the whole of LinkedIn, but they’re exactly the people you want to know. I’ve already made some great new friends in groups who I’ve talked to in the 3-D world.
  10. You’re invisible. A little in-person networking where you meet a few of those tweeps live really helps cement those connections and turn them into real relationships. If you can’t get to a big event like BlogWorld — which I can’t manage this year — at least get out locally and meet some of the people you’ve connected to on social media.

If you enjoyed this handy checklist of social-media mistakes, get the Make a Living Writing blog free via email. Don’t miss any tips for earning more from your writing.

Photo via Flickr user webtreats

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11 comments on “10 Reasons Why You’re Bombing in Social Media
  1. Megan Hill says:

    Carol, this is phenomenal advice! I’ve been extremely successful in getting strong leads and new clients through Twitter, and am branching out to other social media networks now that I’ve got that down. I think it can be overwhelming to try and master everything at once!

    I use social media heavily for my the nonprofit side of my business, but not as much to make contacts with writers and editors for the freelance journalism I also do. Reading about how you make it work definitely has me thinking of ways to work with all the tools out there!

    And it’s interesting to hear that editors are looking for writers through social media. I’ve always assumed they have so many queries coming in and so many established freelancers they’re working with, that they wouldn’t need to go out looking for folks. So thanks for showing me otherwise!

  2. Carol Tice says:

    Hi Megan —

    It wasn’t that I found editors looking for writers on Twitter. I approached editors on Twitter and asked if I could pitch them. I think about half the time I’ve tried this, I’ve gotten the go-ahead to pitch them.

    And I’d never assume editors have all the writer relationships they need. I think good editors are always looking to build their stable and meet new writers, because things change — writers get full-time gigs, go into PR, have babies, retire, etc.

    I think we’re at a unique moment where you seem savvy by trying them in a format like Twitter. It immediately conveys that you understand social media, for one. And it’s very fast, and non-threatening. If they’re not interested, they’re free to ignore it.

    I’ve also found sources on Twitter as well.

    Thanks for commenting! Glad you found the post useful. I wrote it because it just breaks my heart to see people spending all the time you do on social media, but they’re doing it in a way that guarantees they won’t get anything productive out of it. If you’re going to tweet three times a day…why not put your URL and a little about yourself up there, and see who finds you? Give it a chance to pay off!

  3. Megan Hill says:

    Ah, ok, thanks for the clarification re: Twitter. It seems like making a personal contact can help keep your pitch out of the slush pile. I’m going to try it!

    -Megan

  4. Megan Hill says:

    Would you recommend also approaching editors on LinkedIn the same way you would through Twitter?

  5. Carol Tice says:

    Well, that’d be harder because you can only send messages on LinkedIn to connections, so if the editor doesn’t accept your connection, you can’t send them a message.

    UNLESS…you go up to a paid level on LI. Then you can send X number of InMails a month to anyone on LinkedIn. I’ve never tried this out personally, but I gather it ROCKS for prospecting. LinkedIn says it has a 30% response rate. Which is AMAZING in the world of direct response — 3% is normally considered a great response. Seems like currently there’s a novelty factor to InMail that makes people respond.

    The thrill of Twitter is it’s wide open, you could always send a public message to a tweep even if you can’t DM them.

    My main LI technique has been working through their job ads.

  6. Linda Prior says:

    Ouch! You’re so right. Great post. I’ve only dipped my toe into the social media stream, but your points are valid. Thanks for an extremely helpful post, Carol!
    Linda

  7. Megan Hill says:

    Thanks again, Carol!

  8. Anita says:

    Thanks for the great reminders about using social media. I get so wrapped up in my work for clients that I don't do nearly enough marketing…no wonder I have dry spells, right? lol

  9. Carol Tice says:

    That would be why, Anita. In a way, marketing is power.

    If you're constantly marketing, you have more prospects, and it gives you more power to drop lower-paying clients. You end up earning more and having more enjoyable clients since you have a bigger field to choose from.

    I'd say persisting in social-media marketing is especially useful, too, because even when you're not doing it, you're still out there. Your profiles on LinkedIn and Twitter et all are still lurking about. I've gotten clients just from that, too. If you can keep updating, all the better, but even just having a presence can help you.

    That and some serious attention to Web site SEO. I just had my second Fortune 500 client find me from a Google search. Writers don't look at their sites enough to think about how what they have on there helps them get found.

  10. Optimizing your blogs is merely like optimizing a distinct site; the techniques practiced are all the same. There is another thing that you shouldn’t blank out. Your central website must be connected with your key-phrase or keyword. You can hike your page rank or PR by posting some absorbing blogs particularly for theme-based web sites.

  11. Great resources! Thanks for sharing this with us.

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