I’ve coached dozens and dozens of beginning bloggers. No, that’s not true. Most of the people who come to me for help are actually the ones fed up with spinning their wheels. They wonder why their blog won’t grow? They are veteran wheel spinners.

Most of them made a few bucks, get a bit of traffic, and have some social media traction. But all of them feel like they are getting nowhere. Even though they play the right games (SEO, Facebook shares, guest blogging), they don’t see success in sight.

 

The Big Lie

Just yesterday I was speaking with a poor blogger who had been at it for over 3 years. She had tons of content, put in thousands of hours of work, but still felt she had little to show for it. “I’m doing all the Facebook and twitter stuff, but I don’t get any engagement or growth. What’s wrong?”

The answer is simple, but overlooked: she was confusing a sign of engagement with what causes engagement.

Social media is not a tool to create interest in your brand! It is simply an easy way for communicate and share that interest.

Don’t get me wrong, it is possible for someone to stumble upon something interesting on Facebook and then become engaged, but that’s not how the platform works… because that’s not how people work.

Growth only comes from two sources:

 

Creating Growth

First, people find you because they hear about you from someone else.

It really is simple: someone has to talk about you.

Social media is just a place where we can do that easily, quickly, and sometimes virally. The question you have to ask yourself is “why would anyone want to talk about this?” And the answer to that question has to be compelling. For example, I think people will share the these ideas because they can totally transform their website and they can really start to be successful.

I worked with a client that had a social media guru sharing “inspirational” quotes with an image every couple days in order to grow their Facebook presence. I had to give them the bad news that this was a total waste of money. Sure, they would get a few “likes” every post and the guru would spin numbers to show how successful this approach was, but at the end of the day this produced zero additional interest in their product and just as many sales. There was nothing in that strategy that compelled people to talk about the company or its product.

The solution is simple: only create something that matters to someone.

Stop playing the social media game and really give them something to talk about instead.

 

Sustaining Growth

Second, growth happens when people come back.

They have to remember you and they have to care. How many times have you searched for an answer to something on Google, went to the site, and then left as soon as you got the answer? We all do it. “Who was the actor who played that guy in the thing? What is the right temperature to cook pork? How many people live in Florida? Etc…” Or, you see something interesting someone shared on social media, you click, read a bit, and then go back to mindless scrolling through your feed.

But, what about that rare moment? You get to the site; you read a bit; and you say, “wow, this is great!” You feel compelled to learn more about this site, who is behind it, or what other goodies it might offer. That is the experience to create.

So, the question to ask yourself is, “why will people want to come back?

And again, the answer has to be compelling. It also has to be clear. I use IMDB all the time, because what they offer if super easy to use and often hard to find anywhere else. (“Oh, random extra looks so familiar… who is he???”)

It’s also possible to create a process that helps people remember you and return. For example, building your email list is one of the most important ways. We all live busy lives. At any given moment, we may have a dozen thoughts or concerns all battling for a bit of our attention. If I return to a site it’s only for one of two reasons. One, I remember the site when I need what it offers. Two, I was so interested I told them they could bother me again (in my email or on social media).

 

Next Steps

1. Stop trying to play the game.

2. Ask yourself these questions for everything you create: why would someone talk about this and why would they come back?

3. If you need help figuring it out, let me know.