5 Big Mistakes Creatives Are Making on Social Media (and How to Fix Them)

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Twitter, Instagram, Facebook...they make the creative world go round. Well, sort of. They can also be the world's greatest distractors when it comes to doing creative things.

In any case, these platforms are vital if you're trying to get the word out about your work, build an audience, or connect with like-minded people. If you're focusing on growing your brand's presence, you've probably started thinking about how to boost your social media accounts.

Watching people attempt to grow their brands this past year, I feel like I've seen it all enough to know for sure what not to do. It's hard getting up in the social media world, and you don't want easy to fix mistakes being what stunts your growth.

We know that tweet decks, buying followers, and adding people to your subscriber list without permission are so 2017, but what else could you be doing that's actually causing more harm than good? I've identified 5 major mistakes that keep being made around social media. Some are the type that turn people away from your brand (you're being annoying, rude, or unprofessional). Other mistakes are just not taking advantage of a particular platform's qualities. Quiz yourself and see how you do. We're all guilty of social media blunders from time to time, so don't worry if you find yourself doing a couple of these things. I've also provided some alternatives to these mistakes so we can grow!

1. Using Twitter to only tweet promotional content

This is mostly directed at bloggers or content creators that have a website they're posting to. Twitter is the best platform to engage with your community and gain the trust and friendship of your audience. Take advantage of this. Most people don't want to read your long blog posts, listen to your music, or watch your videos until they like you as a person. If your blog is centered around something like lifestyle and isn't providing material that's useful to them in a more straightforward way, you're going to need to persuade people a little more to head to your website. People can get the chance to learn about you and your personality in small doses, and this will make them want to hear more about what you have to say. If you follow me on Twitter and I see your whole feed is just scheduled tweets that link to your blog or Soundcloud or Youtube, what's going to make me click on them? You just look robotic.

Do this instead:

Make your personal brand work for your content. Use this opportunity to show more dimension to yourself that isn't always apparent in your actual content. Sprinkle in some of your thoughts on relevant topics, engage in or start a conversation, and share things like behind-the-scenes insight into your creative process. You can also use Twitter as a sounding board for finding out what your audience wants to hear about. Then, integrate your promotional content. Tweeting when you have a new post out (even multiple times a day) is perfectly fine, just make sure you're balancing it out with other interesting stuff.

2. Coming on to my page solely to advertise your work

This happens all the time on Instagram and blogs. People leave comments with vague compliments that don't even apply to what you just posted and then a "check out my new pic" or a link to their websites. How would you feel if it was your wedding day and a guest staged a huge proposal that interrupts your ceremony? I know that sounds dramatic, but it's incredibly annoying for creators when we take our time developing content only for someone to bulldoze right over that and just talk about themselves. Be respectful of other people's spaces and realize that you're a guest in them. It's terrible PR for yourself and an ineffective system for growing a follower base. Who is going to like you and want to see what you're working on when the first thing you say to them is basically, "I and what I have to say is more important than what you've just shared"?

Do this instead:

Genuinely interact with people and leave nice comments. It doesn't have to be paragraphs gushing about what they just posted, but something that implies you spent more than 2 seconds looking at the picture or blog post. I always like to touch on at least one or two points/aspects of the content. Most people will look at your page if you leave a friendly comment–we're nosy and inclined to reciprocate support when it's given. Then, let your content work for you. If you believe you put out some great stuff, someone who comes across your blog or feed will notice and follow you.


3. Advertising your product, then having no clear pathways to purchase

Small, digital businesses are on the come-up, and social media is making it easier than ever to get noticed by potential customers who want to #SupportSmallBusinesses. However, creatives who are starting their small businesses often jump the gun and are accidentally blocking their blessings. You've got the products but forget to make sure the business side of things is locked down before you start promoting. Too many times, I've seen business owners tweet out about their new product–it looks amazing, they've sold me with great pictures and descriptions, and the post is racking up viral-level likes. Cool, now how the hell do we buy it? There's no link to the store in their bio. I have to scroll through a bunch of replies to see if someone has found the information. If there is a website, it's barely functional or looks sketchy and we can't take it seriously.

At that point, you've lost the coveted attention and support of tons of buyers. Millennials are a picky but impulsive consumer base. You only have a moment to win over a customer, especially through social media, and you must get them over to your store and purchasing your stuff while they're still willing. Otherwise, you will be buried under new notifications on their feeds and they will forget about you. Chances are, these new customers won't wait for you to get your sh*t together. That's a huge opportunity wasted right there.

Do this instead:

Because anyone can get lucky enough to go viral these days, you must go into your ventures prepared and expecting to blow up and be successful. If you're going to post out about your new product, why aren't you ready to sell it? You should have a functioning, professional website ready to go and linked very clearly in whatever promotional content you make. Make it as easy as possible for someone to purchase your products.

Shameless plug: I do brand auditing for young creatives for free! If you aren't sure if everything looks good and need a fresh set of eyes on your online store or website before you launch, please do not hesitate to send me an email. I have a meticulous eye and am very visually-oriented.

4. Trying to network up and not across

The most successful creatives understand the importance of community and networking across.

We have a tendency to network up, [when] it really is about networking across. Who's next to you, who's struggling, who's in the trenches with you, who's just as hungry as you are? And those are the people that you need to build with.

-Issa Rae

A lot of people are so focused on themselves or on how they can gain the recognition or following of someone much larger than them that they neglect to build relationships and pay attention to who is directly around them. If you do this, 1. the people you view as "competition" are going to pass you up and 2. you're missing out on the opportunity to build together. I personally have been guilty of not showing love to bloggers in my niche in the past. I was a snob to those who I thought I was doing better than, and I was also so focused on getting my work out, and doing research, and stalking famous bloggers, and blah blah excuses excuses that I've seen people who were right at my level (and who I could've built relationships with) experience more growth than I have. I realized I had no community of creators who I could turn to for connection or collaboration. My brand wasn't expanding the way it could have. I wasn't sharing my peers' work onto my timeline, so why would they do that for me?


Do this instead:

I've made it a point in 2018 to start developing relationships with people I can build with through social media. It's one of the best ways to do this. Follow people who are in the same lane as you with similar follower accounts or expertise. They are not your competition, they're your community. Dm them, start a friendly conversation "hellur I love what you're doing!"–it's that easy. Genuinely take a look at what people are doing and when you find something good, tweet about it and @ them. It takes nothing from you to hit that favorite button when someone releases new work. And it means everything to them to get support. Watch how karma will come through for you!! I'm going to write another post soon about how to build your creative network, especially across crafts.

5. Posting way too much

There are those who post two or three times a day to reach the peak times their audiences are on social media. This is a smart thing to do. And then, there are those who just never seem to shut up. They flood your feed with their content at all hours, but it's not like they're saying anything important. Posting an insane amount of times a day doesn't necessarily help you gain more followers. It just bugs the hell out of people who are already following you.

Do this instead:

If you're just a chatty person, explore other avenues of getting a lot of content out without being aggressive or intrusive. Make use of Instagram stories/snapchat, going live, or Twitter threads. You want to make it so that the audience that really wants to see more can voluntarily find it. Otherwise, be picky with what you post directly onto people's feeds.

If you're trying to grow your following, really focus on quality over quantity and balance regular posting with actually going out and engaging with a community. Similar to my advice on number 2, you gain exposure by thoughtfully commenting and liking people's posts. After you post something on Instagram with all the right hashtags, go into each of those hashtags and engage with the recent posts there. You can now follow hashtags so it makes it even easier to stay connected with the latest posters.

Some of these solutions seem like a lot of work, but that's because social media is a lot of work. Anyone who has grown a huge amount of followers from the ground up will tell you there's no quick and dirty way to get there. You just have to dig your feet in and commit to putting in the effort if that's what you really want to focus on.

What's one of your biggest pet peeves about the way creatives/content creators use social media? Let's start a conversation in the comments and help one another create better strategies this year.