We are done with the Yuletide celebrations for another year so our attention now turns all the opportunities we are yet to discover this year. As business owners, bloggers and content creators we look to ways we can improve, build and grow, both personally and professionally. We read post after post about what trends and strategies there will be this year. What will be hot and what will be not. ‘Experts’ will profess their vast knowledge and probably tell us what we already know.
You see, unless the so-called ‘experts’ have magic crystal balls or some vast insightful knowledge about what developers have in store, then truthfully, they can’t predict any better than you or I. The only thing that is predictable is that there will be change. In what form, we can only guess based on what has gone before.
Some may have insight into new apps that are to be launched or developments that are to be made to existing apps. None will be game changers or revolutionary. If you use those words to describe anything then you seriously need to read my previous blog post about Buzzwords! But whatever insight anyone has, nobody can correctly predict a trend. Or for that matter predict the success of any app. Trends happen. You can market for them and take an educated guess about them, but many and most take us by surprise.
Social media will inevitably change yet again this year but how, when and why is best left to the people developing and creating the apps and social media platforms. Everything else is just guess work and hearsay from the rest of us.
ONWARDS AND UPWARDS
If you do want to grow your business or your blog in the next year, there are key factors you should pay attention to. Whatever happens within social media should not affect your overall strategy. Your strategy is figuratively the road you will take. The tools and the means you use can and will vary along the way. It’s a bit like taking a really long journey. You may not always use the same means of transport. You may take a slight detour along the way. But your path and end goal remain the same. This is the fundamentals that you should build your business on. Build your path forward on your strategies, not trends. And especially not social media trends as they are likely to change at the drop of a hat! Remember how Google+ just stopped being a thing and all the G+ ‘experts’ had to become Facebook/Twitter/Instagram/Snapchat experts overnight?
So, what are the strategies you need to be following this year? What tips can I give you that are going to be your golden ticket to success?
I know we’ve been saying this for a while now, but content really is still king. But what content? Trends are still going in the direction of video. And they are right to do so. But individual tastes all vary as does engagement factors of different demographics. A younger audience will prefer video content. An older audience will prefer written. Different products lend themselves more to visual content. Certain industries can capitalise more from live streaming. Therefore, rather than jumping on the bandwagon of whatever the latest passing trend is, it actually pays to know the type of content your target audience are more likely to engage with. But also, does that content then naturally lead itself to a clear call to action that your audience can follow?
I saw somebody tweet the other day that we should stop posting content to get clicks through to our websites. Yes, I did actually have to read it twice. And yes, it was an ill-informed social media guru type that said it. Click-baiting is still bad, so don’t even go there. But creating content that’s hosted on your own website and directing your social media traffic to your website is still absolutely essential to driving traffic and sales. Your own website should still be at the centre of all your content. Whether you’re a business or a blogger. You own your website, along with all its content and all its data. You do not own your social media pages and they can be wiped out in the blink of an eye so stop relying on them. This isn’t a trend. It’s essential.
Whatever content you chose to create make sure that it’s a high standard. That it represents you and your business in the best possible light and also that it has a purpose. Gone are the days of creating rubbish content just to have any old shit to throw out there and help with your SEO. People and Google have come to expect a much higher standard of content production. From more informative and well-written blog posts to higher quality videos. Personally, I have found that it really does pay to invest in some good editing tools and pay attention to SEO factors when presenting your work for public consumption. The system is getting harder to game so the nasty old blackhat techniques are no longer an option for the unethical SEO salespeople. Time and effort are required to create better quality content these days.
This notion that it’s better to get something done and get it out rather than getting it right isn’t something I overly agree with. Yes, it’s important to create your content and get it out there, but it’s also important to make sure it’s not actually damaging your reputation in the process. Content that is littered with spelling errors, poor grammar and ridiculous punctuation is not good content. It’s poor content and especially given that there is no excuse these days for it. Yes, we all make slip-ups and typos. But when your punctuation looks like a 5-year-old did it, you have to ask what picture that is painting to a potential client? If you are sloppy and poor with your own work, who’s to say you won’t be just as poor with a clients work?
ALWAYS QUALITY OVER QUANTITY
When creating content, make sure you create it based on what your audience want and not a bandwagon you’ve jumped on. Remember what I said about bandwagon jumping and FOMO? Yes, there are times when your audience can be educated to look at new versions of your content, but that’s baby steps and not suddenly swapping from written blogs to live streaming and expecting your audience to follow.
You may even introduce new content entirely. I’ve recently started to cross-post my lifestyle blog posts to my business audience social media and had good reactions. A lot of my business audience are females aged 30-40 so they can relate to my lifestyle posts. Granted I know some of the males read it too and appreciate it. But just because my audience is businesswomen, it doesn’t mean that is all they are interested in. So my cross-posting works for them.
The key is to make sure you are creating your own content. Find the method and platform that suits your audience and stick to creating amazing content for them right there (obviously making sure they go to your website). The competition for digital eyeballs is increasing constantly. You need to win those eyeballs over and you can’t do that by only playing on rented real estate (social media) using other people’s content (curation). Everyone, be it blogger or business owner, needs to be creating their own unique content as a means to stand out and be remembered.
It’s amazing that I still have to class consistency as a strategy, but it’s probably one of the best bits of advice anyone can give you. It’s also a key part of content creation. If you look at all the best bloggers one thing will always stand out. Most of them will have a content schedule, and they stick to it. Occasionally they may deviate, but whilst in the building process, sticking to the schedule is vital.
If you are a random blogger like me, for various reasons, that mostly amount to procrastination, then there is no point in setting yourself up a schedule of blogging every single day starting from January 1st. By the 5th you’ll hate the schedule and you’ll probably have only published one piece of content. Baby steps are what is needed. Start small. Commit to one blog a month. Then two. And then three. Then once a week. Then twice. The key is to only move on to the next step once you have mastered and perfected the current step and you are finding it easy.
Set the goal, practise it, adjust how you achieve the goal. So for example, if you are to blog once a week, figure out when in the week you will do it. Will you write, edit, do the SEO and images all in one day? Or will you assign a task to each day to break it down into smaller chunks? What if the system you create doesn’t work? Then you adjust it. Trial and error until you get it right. And then you perfect it until blogging once a week becomes easy.
Whatever you aim to do just be consistent with it. Consistency breeds loyalty. If you say there will be a new blog every Monday at 6pm, your audience knows to expect that so don’t let them down.
If your goal is to find 20 new leads per month then find a way to track and measure this. What is your hit ratio on finding new leads? Do you have to make 100 new contacts to narrow that down to 20 leads? If that is the case then break that down into smaller chunks and make 25 contacts every week. But be consistent about it. Don’t slack one week and think you can make it up the next. You won’t and your system will fail.
Create the goal. Create the system. Be consistent in following your system. Adjust if need be but remain consistent and you will achieve your goals. And go an get my goal setting guides to help you along with the setting part.
PRACTICE WHAT YOU PREACH
I am sincerely hoping that the days of those that do not follow their own advice when it comes to social media are coming to an end. I am sick to death of seeing the so-called experts and gurus telling people in an often-belittling manner how they should be using social media when they themselves haven’t got a clue what they are doing. They stumble through leaving many faux pas in their wake. Many either buy their followers or do that ridiculous follow/unfollow routine.
I saw one guy proudly celebrating hitting 100k followers on Twitter a few weeks back. What he failed to tell his audience, and all the other wannabe gurus that helped him celebrate was that he was following and unfollowing an average of 18k people per month! Using bots there much are you?
With all the advances in technology, it’s getting easier to spot the fakes. And that’s a good thing. From the travel bloggers living the life of luxury on fake likes to the social media gurus who still have FB links on Twitter (see my post on faux pas to know about that one). It’s time the not so well informed stepped back into the shadows and let the genuine folks that work hard on their content and engage with their real followers lead from the front.
Whatever industry you are in, if you are offering advice to others in any way shape or form, then for the sake of your own integrity, please practise what you preach.
Integrity has been missing for a while when it comes to some content creators. It really needs to be front and centre of everyone’s minds again. Without true integrity you have nothing.
IN CASE YOU MISSED YOUR STRATEGIES FOR THIS YEAR
So, I may have digressed a little there, but in case you missed it, your 3 strategies to stick to are;
- Content Creation
If you follow those and conduct yourself and your business based on the three principles I’ve laid out, you won’t go far wrong. It may be slower growth than if you used blackhat methods to rank in Google, bought your social media followers and ripped off content from others. But at least you won’t be running the risk of having the rug pulled from under you and being exposed as a fraud. Your business or blog will grow organically. It will be stronger and thrive. And you will be proud of it.
As for me, well I figure that consistency is the thing I really need to work on. So I’ll be following my own advice and trying really hard to stick to the plan I’ve created. Adjusting it if and when need be and hoping to create more great content my audience on this blog and my lifestyle blog enjoy.