7 Social Media Mistakes That Can Keep Your Content from Going Viral

social media spread

Social media marketing may not be rocket science, but there is still a large science component to it. If you want your content to spread, you have to look at the numbers and stop making gut decisions.

Over the last five years, I’ve learned how to push content through social media so that it spreads virally. More importantly, I’ve learned what not to do.

So, if you want to ensure that your content spreads, avoid the following 7 mistakes:

Mistake #1: Timing doesn’t matter

You can’t write content, publish it in the middle of the night and expect it to spread virally. Social sites like Twitter and Facebook have peak usage times. If you can submit your content to those sites during the ideal days and times, it will be more likely to spread.

Fourty-eight percent of Twitter users are on Eastern Standard Time, and they are most likely to retweet on Wednesdays, around 5 PM. Links on Twitter tend to get clicked on the most within the first hour of them being posted.

So, if you want to share something on Twitter, tweet it on Wednesday at 5 PM EST.

If you want to share something on Facebook and get the most number of likes, don’t post more frequently than once every two days. Also, to get the most likes, post on Saturday at noon EST.

Mistake #2: All social buttons are the same

On Quick Sprout, I tested the placement of social media buttons at the top and bottom of my blog posts. Surprisingly, people have a tendency to share posts before they read them as the social media buttons at the top of the post got 117% more clicks than the ones at the bottom.

In addition to that, I tried using scrolling social buttons such as the Sharebar, which got 226% more clicks than the social media buttons at the top of the post.

When I tested the combination of the scrolling social buttons with social buttons at the top, it underperformed by 29% compared to scrolling buttons in combination with buttons at the bottom.

If you want to get the most social shares, consider placing social media buttons at the bottom of your blog post in combination with scrolling social buttons like the Sharebar.

Mistake #3: Shares matter, not traffic

Most bloggers and content marketers focus on how many likes their content gets on Facebook or how many tweets they get on Twitter. In theory, if you have more shares, you should get more traffic, but that isn’t always the case. If no one clicks through from Facebook or Twitter to your website, you won’t get any visitors.

Instead of just focusing on the pure number of social shares, you should also be looking at traffic. A good way to boost your traffic from these social sites is to analyze your click-through rate.

According to this blog post by Dan Zarrella, the optimum place to leave a link on Twitter is right at the 25% mark. So, not at the beginning, end or middle: make sure you add it right on the 25% mark if you want to boost your Twitter traffic.

Mistake #4: People read content during the same peak times they share it

There is a huge timing difference between when people prefer to read content and when they share it. From Mistake #1, you know people prefer Wednesday for Twitter and Saturday for Facebook.

People prefer to read blogs on Monday at 11 AM EST. They prefer commenting on blogs at 9 AM EST on Saturday.

If you are also targeting a female audience for your blog, never post during evening or night because women prefer to read blog posts before noon EST.

Mistake #5: Focusing on all social channels

I talked about placement of social media buttons earlier, but I didn’t talk about the number of social sites you should promote. On Quick Sprout, I tested placing buttons for 3, 4 and 5 different social media sites. No matter how many social media buttons I used, fewer than 9% of people clicked on more than one social button.

There was a huge difference, however, in how many people clicked on the social media buttons when there were 3 buttons versus 5. Although there were fewer options when I just placed 3 buttons, there was an increase in click-throughs by 11%. As for click-through percentage difference between 4 buttons and 3, there wasn’t statistical significance between the two.

People have a tendency to only share your content on one social site, so ideally you shouldn’t have more than 3 social media buttons. If you have over 50,000 monthly visitors, consider placing 4 social buttons.

Mistake #6: Tweeting your content once

Even if you tweet during optimal days and times, it doesn’t mean that everyone is going to see your tweet. Although 82% of Twitter users have less than 350 followers, 18% still have more than that. And just because that 18% number is small, you shouldn’t ignore it as Twitter has over 500 million users.

Out of all of your followers, the ones who also follow thousands of other people probably won’t see most of your tweets. And if they don’t see your tweets, they won’t be able to retweet them or click through over to your website.

According to a test Mark Suster ran, you should consider tweeting your blog posts at least twice. He got an extra 56% more visitors from Twitter by just tweeting a blog post again. You can also tweet your content 3 or even 4 times, but the more you tweet the same post, the less clicks each one will receive as many of your followers would have already seen it.

Mistake #7: Slow and steady wins the race

In the social media world, it is all about speed. The more shares your content gets within a short period of time, the better off you are… especially on Facebook.

Facebook takes momentum into account, so if your content is gaining a ton of likes at a quick pace, more people are going to see it within their feeds.

I did a quick test in which I bought 50 likes within the first 30 minutes to one content piece, and I bought 50 likes spread over 8 hours to the second content piece. Both of the content pieces were the same, but the one that got 50 likes within the first hour ended up with a total of 142 likes and 10 comments. The second variation ended up with 95 likes and 7 comments.

If you want your content to spread on the social web, you need to get a lot of shares within a very short period of time.

Conclusion

If you avoid the 7 social media mistakes above, your content will more likely flourish and spread. When you decide to leverage the above tips, however, don’t just assume they are going to work for you. Make sure you test them with your content. Depending on where most of your website visitors live and the demographics of your audience, the results may be different for you.

What other social media mistakes should you avoid?

If you want to break through to real profits online, you need some serious firepower. For a limited time I’m sharing some select tips and tricks Amazon, Microsoft, NBC & Hewlett Packard paid thousands of dollars per hour for, FREE.
  • The step by step guide to monster traffic generation
  • The how-to guide for increasing conversions on your website
  • 7 Cashflow killers your analytics tools are hiding from you
     
 
100% privacy, I will never spam you!

Trackbacks

Comments

  1. Hi Neil,

    When it comes to Social Media I’m always not sure what I’m supposed to do! It seems like many are like me.
    This post will definitely help me achieving great result … thanks!

    Now lets get back to work lol.

    From
    Rob Mayer

  2. My site on average gets over 100 shares and other social votes i think well i share only on those fb bloggers group that actually listen…. and with that recent update in read reciept i know where people are listening me and where i am talking to walls :)

  3. wow neil great tips here i didn’t know that but now i will tweet only on Wednesday at 5pm EST thats really a very ubercool tip :)

  4. well i prefer keeping 1 or 2 share buttons only…i don’t want to confuse people….like i have setup goals…what i want the reader to do…if i want him to subscribe i keep only subscribe box…and that works for me :)

  5. great tips neil…i used to share only once before….like tweet once and leave it on god.. that i will get readers or not…but now i will share them 4 times a week :)

  6. Great Post Neil!

    What about 7 tips that we SHOULD do to make your posts go viral? (aside from the tips pointed out in the above)

  7. Thank you for highlighting these mistakes we often make.

    I think timing is important and very good idea about tweeting or sharing more than once.

  8. Another mistake worth avoiding is not having a call to action. Unless you ask for the share some people are not going to do it. There was a study from HubSpot on the increase in retweets when there is a call to action proving it.

  9. Good point about multiple tweets, one thing I would add however is to try posting the additional tweets at different times of the day from the original. That way you can hit the different segments of your followers that check their account at different times.

  10. Just changed the number of buttons on my share rail because of your post. Thanks for the insight. Let’s see of my articles get more shares now!

  11. Great post Neil! I recently watched your Quicksprout Traffic System and really loved the John Chow interview.

  12. Great post – fabulously generous as usual. We’ve been implementing your easy to follow Facebook and Twitter marketing mixed up with some tips from Ed Dale (esp. how to use Buffer to schedule tweets) and it’s been revelatory. Thanks.

  13. Very clear post — will be passing on to my social media clients!
    Out of curiosity, I wasn’t sure what to make of this: “If you are also targeting a female audience for your blog, never post during the evening or night; women prefer to read blog posts before noon EST.”
    I’m a lady and blog reading is part of my nightly post-work routine — so I’m curious where this information came from. :)

  14. Neil,
    Once again this is very helpful post. We are slowly and steadily expanding our social media campaigns to promote our contents. Will definitely use these best practices.
    Interesting to know that specific timings make a difference in posting your posts. Do you have any specific advise for Ggoogle+ and Pinterest?
    Thank you
    Chris

  15. Wow! Great information. I will have to try posting at those times with each platform…

  16. Thanks Neil, I have tried tweeting a post twice as it seemed logical, but was concerned that it might be bad social media etiquette. In fact, how about some tips on that?

  17. can you give us anther tips for social network in anther posts ?

  18. I’m not sure about tweeting on Monday and Facebook liking on Saturday, because I don’t get much traffic on Saturdays but I like the idea to tweet the content twice.

  19. Another awesome post. Learned a lot and will be heading over to my blog to try the button placement tips.

  20. Awesome post Neil!

    Very interesting how some of this research was done. Who knew a link at the 25% mark of a tweet would be effective? It is also very interesting to hear the different peak times for the various outcomes a person could want.

    Definitely took some notes! Thanks Neil!

  21. Hey, Neil. Wonderful post—as usual. :) Guilty as charged for tweeting my posts only once. Thank you for the reminder to tweet a bit more often. The timing bit for posting tweets was also very enlightening. Thank you for that.

    Initially, I tried with five social buttons on my site: fb, twitter, dig, pinterest and stumble. It just didn’t seem to work out well so I removed some of the buttons and left only three. I also added a few words just before the buttons at the bottom of my posts to encouraging readers to share. Hey, now I am seeing a rise in the number of social shares on my posts.

    So, I guess adding some encouraging text just before the social buttons at the bottom of your post can have a positive impact. Thanks for putting everything in perspective in this post. :)

  22. Great information Neil! Try setting your MS Outlook or Google calendar reminders on these days and times to consistently post and tweet at the optimal periods!

  23. Hi Neil

    Where you mention EST one would then presume your stats only factor in US time zones… or are you saying – for instance – 9pm EST would mean I could consider 9pm GMT London for a similar response in the UK? I’d be interested to hear your thoughts…

  24. As always, a great post Neil! There are two more mistakes I would add:

    1. Not planning your content in advance. It’s great to jump on a trending topic and ride the wave, but the problem there is you have to scramble to get something together. Plus, you never really know when your big opportunity will come up. Instead why not look ahead at a calendar and make your own big opportunity. For example, I recently read a case study from Wordstream where they planned an article about Google’s ad revenue to come out a day after Google released their quarterly earnings. This got them a mention in the WSJ and tons of other national and even international press. It also went viral through social media channels.

    That brings me to my mistake number two…

    2. Not doing enough research. A “fluff” piece of 500 words with top 10 tips is not likely to really go viral. It’s great for daily blog content – and certainly top 10 tip posts are worthwhile to create. However, really well researched, longer content such as an Ultimate Guide or something of similar nature has more potential to go viral because it digs in deep and provides research that you won’t likely find in other posts. If you put in the time to create something high-quality and unique, you are likely to be rewarded.

  25. I also recently purchased likes for my fan page and my reach got boasted 500% times, so your advise of buying 50 likes within small span of time is correct

    • I don’t think Neil actually advises people to BUY likes, I think he bought them just for testing purposes. There is no actual way you can buy real likes (not counting Sponsored Stories). The ones that you get off of Fiverr or related services are from fake profiles which is against the TOS of Facebook and will most likely get your page in trouble eventually, especially if a large percentage of your likes are paid.

  26. Getting likes on facebook page is easy for me since the frequency of content and its quality brings the likes but getting likes on single post is A bit difficult. I will try these tips, lets see if it helps me in getting proper response from twitter and facebook.

    • You probably should adding more unique images to your blog post because image will be used as your post thumbnail and unique image (such as funny cat pictures) will increase CTR.

      And also, facebook hate it if you bring their traffic somewhere else, that’s why sharing your link to facebook will only get few visitor. The way to trick this is to update your status using images, and add your link as image description.

      Hope that helps.

  27. Hey Neil,

    Thank you again for sharing your so very valuable experiences.

    I had no idea people shared posts before they read them! I’m defenitely going to use the scrolling sidebar to get more shares.

    Also, I’ll be slowing down my Facebook posts and try to go for fewer posts with more likes. Thanks for takIng me off the wrong track.

    I’m really glad I read this post.

    Thank You :-)

  28. I totally agree with you there are some peak hours when you get lot of traffic in a day. I had experienced it, mostly in afternoon 12:30 to 2:00 than in evening from 8 pm till 11:30 than in week momentum for traffic increases from Wednesday evening till Sunday morning. and there is no need to join every social networking site just twitter, facebook and google plus is enough to get nice exposure for traffic.

  29. Another mistake:

    Assuming that because “48% of Twitter users are on Eastern Standard Time,” it should affect your timing. You have to think about where your customers live, not where Twitter’s audience lives.

    If you’re a local business, use the same hours suggested by Neil, but without adjusting them for the time zone.

  30. Great list, but here’s another key mistake to keep in mind:

    Not having relationships with others lined up BEFORE you begin promoting your content. Having Marketing Alliances in place prior to publishing will help you spread your content faster.

    This is because they’re more responsive, and reliable when it comes to your requests for re-shares and re-tweets.

    Great content will spread, but great content with a network of people (your marketing allies) helping you to promote it, will spread MUCH faster and reach a wider audience.

  31. Hi Neil,

    Personally – The first tip is one that stands out the most – As timing is a big issue and can mean the difference between having a post / content go viral or get left behind. Especially if you are in the news industry and using real-time social media engagement and marketing.

  32. Avinash Sharma :

    Hi Mr. Neil,

    You shared really useful information. One month ago, when i was searching SEO tips then i got your blog and i really impressed a lot and i took your free downloads and take paper print of your blog posts. I study your tips and also spread it in my office. I am from India. I really liked you and your blog posts…

    I have also read your blogs in seoMoz.

    Thanks for helping all of us.

    Avinash Sharma

  33. Hi Neil..

    Oh great tips for social media and you have pointed out all the mistakes that we normally do….
    i am going to follow your tips for making the content viral…

  34. Will certainly take your advice and tweet posts more than once. The timing of posts was also a very interesting point. Darren Moloney also raised an interesting question about timings in the UK but I guess if 48% of twitter users are on EST we need to be tweeting UK time at 10pm (5 hours ahead).

  35. We are working very hard on our new site which we believe really offers something fresh and exciting for visitors that no one has really done before, certainly not like this. A site with a real purpose for change and for good so your shared insight is so valuable to us. Thank you Neil.

  36. i’m glad you’ve focused your attention on social media in the last month since at this time i’m directing my attention and effords towards that section. i will avoid the mistakes above and try to see what actaully work for my Christian audience.

  37. Thanks for mentioning Sharebar (and providing the specific metrics about how many buttons to use). It looks like exactly the Plugin I’ve been wanting to find.

  38. Hey,

    I’m surprized you haven’t mentioned about g+… I think it will have a big impact in the future, as they have reached 250k million users….

  39. OVER DOING doesn’t help people dont like it. So keep the shares to a limit. However some people keep tweeting offers.

  40. Great post! You mention that you bought 50 likes on FB. Can you explain that further?

  41. Very interesting account of social media. Never knew that most tweeted is on Wednesday 5pm EST.

  42. Out of Tweet, in Share, FB, and G +1 buttons, which one will bring the most value to market your content or to drive more traffic to your website? Why?

    I noticed the G +1 button is 0 count. Is it because it’s place at the bottom like you mention in mistake #2?

    • It depends on your audience. For me it is Twitter, then Facebook, then Google Plus.

      Google Plus gets less love on this site because most of my readers don’t use Google Plus compared to Facebook and Twitter.

  43. hi, thanks for the tips!

    I guess the survey about pubblishing timing relate to Usa only.

    I’m courious about European – Italian – peak timing in the various channels: I am ready to bet they are quite different and eterogenus, due to the strong individualist attitude.

  44. Thanks for the tips. I will surely follow the idea of sharing and sending tweets on social medias more than once. I used to do it only once and leave it there without any follow ups but now I realized I need to re-tweet or share the post again to catch the audience attention.

  45. This is a really informative post. Thanks to what you shared with all of us, I can really streamline the process and shorten my learning curve. I understand that creating posts and videos that go viral is so important to getting massive amounts of traffic, so knowing that I am already going to avoid these 7 deadly rookie mistakes is a very comforting thing. Thanks again for the great article!

  46. Mike Calloway :

    Neil,

    Great post as always. Quick question, we love your two optin forms, on the sidebar and bottom of post. You used a plugin/widget or was it all fabricated from scratch?

    Looking forward to your response and thanks again for your engaging content.

  47. Great post! Lately I’ve been obsessing about what time of day to publish my Twitter and Facebook updates. Good to know that the time of day doesn’t really make much difference.

  48. I really like your idea of publishing content during peak times Neil and I’m really glad to know this 7 things to avoid when I really want to earn that traffic. Thanks for sharing this. I’m really learning a lot from you. :)

  49. This is great info. I need to tweak some stuff with my social media strategy on facebook and twitter this will go a long way to making that happen.

  50. I believe Social media traffic is temporary because it comes only when you share your fresh content but its very effective one. If someone has a good twitter followers and makes use of proper twitter tools to find out the timings to tweet about the content during the peak time, he will surely gain good traffic.

  51. Fantastic list! Allot of people get their social media so wrong! Great post!

  52. http://Www.scarletfire.co.ukrity of things like Sharebar is down to simple novelty. People may click more often because they’ve not seen that approach and it catches their eye. If everyone suddenly started using it, it would become invisible.
    The key thing therefore, might be the ability to keep abreast of new developments, always be an early adopter and never stop experimenting.

  53. Posting irrelevant content that is not related to your niche is another mistake that many users make on social media. Needless to say, this should be avoided at all costs. Frequency is important but not at the cost of relevance.

  54. I talked about placement of social media buttons earlier, but I didn’t talk about the number of social sites you should promote. On Quick Sprout I tested placing buttons for 3, 4 and 5 different social media sites. No matter how many social media buttons I used, less than 9% of people clicked on more than one social button.

  55. Great Post Neil!! Will definitely avoid these mistakes to improve social media traffic on my blog. Thanks!

  56. Thank you Neil for your suggestions reganding social media…I’ve already made some mistakes that you’ve described here!

  57. Neil, how do you customize the Sharebar? I added it to my site, but it does not have the particular fields that I would like it to.

  58. Companies have to be aware of the news when using social media sites such as twitter. They need to find the right balance when posting a tweet because one inappropriate tweet can spread very easily. All it takes is for a few retweets for the message to be seen by thousands, which can have potentially devastating consequences for the PR of a firm.

  59. Thanks for these tips and reminders Neil! One thing I’ve done for the floating sharebar is add the “AddThis” button as the 3rd option – that way there isn’t an overwhelming number of options, but there’s still the flexibility for readers to share on more than just the initial 2 (facebook & twitter). Have you ever tested this approach as well?

  60. Mistake #8
    To think that ‘one size fits all’ with social media. Telling someone that Wednesday 5 PM on Twitter is prime time is just wrong! Put it in context, please. Without explaining to people about strategic planning or without asking who their target audience is, you should not make statements like that: it’s very different for each industries. The same goes for Facebook! Each social media strategy should be tailored to each business becasue each business has a different audience. You could say use that as a starting point and then analyze and see what works for your industry!

  61. Great post Neil,

    Thanks for the tips and other great resources. This is very useful for social media marketing.

    (I hope your outbound links will open up in a new window- I usually follow them..just a suggestion-cheers)

  62. Hey Neil,

    You mentioned that “the social media buttons at the top of the post got 117% more clicks than the ones at the bottom.”

    Can I ask how do you track these stuff? I want to optimize my website for every click, and for stuff like:
    * How does the change affect the number of returning visitors
    * How does the change affect the time the user stays on my website
    * How does the change affect my earnings
    …etc

    How can I do that? Is there a specific tool that does that all? I find it really impossible to track these stuff manually

    Cheers:)

  63. Hi nEIL,
    I really like the point that we should not use more than 3 social channels on our post. This point is very interesting. Keep Sharing your views

  64. Wow, I never really put any thought into timing and when to release content. Very interesting stuff will definitely start putting this into practice!

  65. Great post! Those are all great things to remember with content! I am always trying to get my timing ‘right’. Interesting stats on it. Thanks for the post!

  66. i like this post very much. because most of the people are not familiar with the mistakes mention in this post. this will definitely help out every reader of this post including me.

    thank you.

  67. That’s Good Awesome article, very much interesting and good points you have shared thanks very much Neil

  68. hi Neil,

    I think timing is important and very good idea about tweeting or sharing more than once…and thanks for telling us our simple mistakes which we often do.
    thanks

  69. Everybody makes mistakes.

  70. Hi!,,,,
    Hello!,,,,,Thank you again for sharing your so very valuable experiences.

    I had no idea people shared posts before they read them! I’m defenitely going to use the scrolling sidebar to get more shares.

    Thank you so much!,,,,,,,

  71. Social Media is still on its early beginnings, thinking on a long term perspective, so even the specialists make a lot of mistakes and its a common thing. So there is room for a lot of future posts like this, and I think Neil is among those who can discover things and discuss them here. Good luck!

  72. Great article! Very usefull, especially the tips from mistakey #2.
    Thank You!

  73. These are really important, thanks Neil. In Zimbabwe where companies are really only just beginning to wake up to the power of social media, all the above mistakes are abundant. I’ve been advising businesses this side on how to be social more effectively – you’ve become one of my all time secret weapons for insights totally new to my market.

Speak Your Mind

*