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#1: They believe.

Successful people believe they are adding value to your day, on and off social media. My Forbes colleague David DiSalvo opened his very popular post: The 10 Reasons Why We Fail with a Yoda and Luke conversation:

Luke: I can’t believe it.

Yoda: That is why you fail.

If the Yoda reference doesn’t do it for you, then just watch the Jennifer Lawrence video. She believes — in herself and in her abilities to influence you with that unfortunate fall and more graceful rise.


#2: They share what they had for lunch.

Just kidding. The real #2 is: Successful social media people listen. Listening means they monitor, observe, and respond based on what they learn.  They engage. My colleague Kelly Clay shared on Twitter: They use that listening mode to share and promote others content.


Before I continue with the rest, this post is inspired by HubSpot. If you are a business owner or marketing executive, you have no doubt heard of this online marketing powerhouse that invented (at least from all I can remember) the term “Inbound Marketing” and then proceeded to completely own it. They offer all-in-one marketing software, but what makes them so remarkable is their dedication to providing truly useful content.


A couple of weeks ago they posted: 30 Terrible Pieces of Social Media Advice to Ignore. The post has been quite popular and I’ve flipped many of the entries to the positive (instead of “terrible”) and here are many of their pointers, based on research or experience.


#3: They don’t try to dominate every single social network.

Essentially, you find where your audience is and go there. Common sense, but not so easy to do it if you listen to the buzz instead of your customer. Most often, the top 3 can meet your need: Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. But you may find that Pinterest or FourSquare ring the bell. Pick a few and focus there.


#4: They don’t focus on one social media network.

HubSpot points out that no one network is the Holy Grail. You need to play in more than one sandbox


#5: Social media leaders still use email.

Sounds funny, but with the advent of social media, many so-called social media experts claimed that email is dead. Far from it. Email is part of what allows a deeper conversation.

#6: They still believe in SEO.

Social media allegedly does away with the need for search engine optimization (SEO), according to the pundits. Untrue says HubSpot as well as the entire SEO community. Their post points out: “It’s just another case of two marketing strategies working better when they’re together. Social media posts now show in search results, social media engagement influences search rankings, and SEO can drive more people to your social profiles and posts.”


#7: They are genuine.

Genuine results in not automating all your updates. You might automate some, but without real engagement, real connecting time, you miss out. Sure you can have 50,000 followers or fans, but will they know you if you call?


Tied to this is #8. They do not send auto DM to all their new followers.

HubSpot goes so far as to beg you not to do this: “Whether you want to thank them, tell them to visit your website, or anything else, please please please don’t send an auto direct message (DM) to every new follower you get. Auto DMs are incredibly impersonal and perceived as spam by most. Sending auto DMs not only seems inconsiderate, but it also makes you look like a complete newbie who doesn’t understand social media etiquette.”

#9: They use hashtags judiciously.

Hashtags can be useful for specific events, such as a tweetchat or live event, but people are not monitoring those tags as often as you think.

#10: Successful social media users (clearly) don’t believe the hype that prospects aren’t using social media.

You may have said it or heard it: My customers are not using social media. According to Pew Research Center, 69% of adults use social media. You have a very tiny niche market if you think none of your prospects are in that stat. Check out this HubSpot post to see how many people on each site actually fit into your target market.


#11: They publish more quality, not just quantity.

If you have read Brian Clark or Jon Morrow at CopyBlogger, you already know about content marketing. The bar is rising for content.

#12: They understand that one message does not fit all networks

This is related to automation, but specifically means you tailor each message to each network. Twitter lends itself to greater frequency, Facebook to longer updates and photos. Follow Mari Smith for Facebook advice that works. See the website resources at the end, one of which often has Mari’s advice in it.

#13: Social media leaders don’t let friends outsource.

After Tim Ferriss book, Four Hour Workweek, many jumped on the outsourcing bandwagon. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of having a team to help you, but you cannot outsource your voice, at least not very well. As Sahil Parikh from DeskAway shared with me on Twitter: “Be genuine!” HubSpot shared how AT&T had social media outsourcing (combined with automation, not less!) go terribly wrong. If you’re considering outsourcing your social media marketing, check out this post first.

#14: They hire interns, but they use them wisely.

I have to cite HubSpot directly on this one: “Who’s even less qualified to talk about your industry than an outsourced social media consultant? A college student with no real-world work experience. Now, that’s not to say that all interns are unqualified for such a job. The point we’re trying to make here is that social media is not just some throw-away marketing strategy; it’s a public face of the company. Would you let that same intern do an interview on behalf of your company for a TV spot?”


15: Success in social media demands that you get personal.

I find it laughable that CEOs join social networks only to post about their companies. There are , no doubt, some high profile CEOs that people follow regardless, but most knowledgeable executives understand you have to get personal. That above lighthearted joke about what you had for lunch is not what I mean. “People don’t fall in love with hex colors and logos — they fall in love with people” @RedHeadWriting

#16: They know that social media is not free, but earned.

Social media, like any marketing, takes time, which isn’t free. So to be effective in social media, you’ll need to invest in human resources. You need to invest in it, period.


#17: They measure social media.

A couple of years ago I did a project for Optify – which specializes in helping companies score and rank social media and web traffic in terms of prospect lead value. What I learned from them is that you need to track and monitor and measure.

#18: They know that fan/follower growth is secondary to getting paid.

Most business owners and executives get on social media to improve their sales and marketing. You can argue with me in the comments, of course, about how you are there to serve without selling at all. But at the end of the day, you have a reason, a goal, for being there. That’s why fan /follower counts don’t matter as much as figuring out how to get people engaged enough to buy. The number of fans/followers does matter, to be clear, just not as much as some egos would have you believe.


#19: They believe in their network and leverage it.

You are part of a community, if you’re doing this right. Some may argue that you cannot ask people to comment or follow or retweet you. There are no rules, folks. We’re making this up as we go. It can be done in an ethical and conscientious way – and it works. Ask for help. I’m just finishing a post for Yahoo! Small Business on the power of networking (no link yet, sorry), but I do plan to tell part of the story here later.

HubSpot studied that a simple call-to-action like “please retweet” can go a long way to generate more social activity. In fact, their research has shown that including “please retweet” actually leads to 4x more retweets! Start your social media day with more retweets and shares is what I advocate.



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