I’ve been a participant in the social media scene, both as a reader and content producer, for a quite a while now. I’ve had several stories I’ve written become popular and I’ve had even more submissions make it. But no matter how many stories I read or submissions I see, I can’t get over the fact that people make the same mistakes over and over again when it comes to their social media stories. They dream of the exposure social media can deliver, work hard at creating viral content, and then they make one of these critical mistakes that kills their story before it even had a chance. If you have hopes of social media success, avoid these all too common mistakes and actually give your story a chance for a change.
Feeding the Trolls
We’ve all heard about how harsh Digg users can be when it comes to submissions. Even stories that hit the front page get comments like “what a horrible story” or “I can’t believe this made it to the front page!” While other social media sites have a less prickly reputation, you’ll see this on just about any site you visit. With a crowd as diverse as social media users you’re not ever going to please everyone. If you jump into an argument guns blazing at the first hint of a negative comment, you’ll not only be in for a long day, but you’ll also probably be killing off your story’s chances as well.
Look, no one is ever going to spell everything correctly 100% of the time. However, take the extra minute to double check the spelling of the title and description that you’re submitting to the social media site. You’ll also want to check the title of the story on your page but the submission is especially important. I’ve seen several great stories go up in flames because all the voters focused on was the typo in the submission headline.
It’s always nice to hear or read compliments but social media sites are not the place to go for help with your self esteem issues. Don’t have all your friends comment about what a great site you have, or how amazing your content is. If you’ve done a good job, there will be others to sing your praises. If not, no amount of fake comments is going to help. Users will see right through it and your story will suffer the consequences.
Misleading Title or Description
Just about every article you read about how to hit the front page of Digg, Reddit, StumbleUpon, etc. focuses on having an appealing title. The fact is, that advice is 100% accurate, but there is a very fine line between writing a compelling title and description for your submission, and becoming too sensationalist or misleading readers. If your submission says you found a way to cure cancer, you’d better make damn well sure you’ve got the cure for cancer in that article. If you disappoint readers, not only will they not vote for your story, but they’ll probably vote it down and leave a comment warning other potential readers.
This might sound a bit hypocritical coming from a blog that not only has ads on it but is all about making money. However, the fact is no matter how much work or planning you put into creating content that performs well socially, it won’t matter if visitors have to dig through 15 ad blocks to get to your content. Seriously, you could be the next Shakespeare and you’ll never stand a chance if your site has 3 Adsense units before you get to the content. Besides, you’re not going to make much off social media traffic anyway, the bulk of them have ad-blocking plugins and the rest are too savvy to click your ads.
There are definitely more mistakes that could go on this list but these are the ones I see most often. I’m also probably not the first to write these things but either people don’t listen or they don’t think these things apply to them because this still happens A LOT. I know you think you’re helping your story along but the truth is, you’re sabotaging your story, your site, and ultimately your own success.