Every third person seems to call themselves a social media specialist these days. Trouble is, they sometimes push conflicting advice. So, who should you listen to when the ‘experts’ can’t agree?

NOT too long ago, I was one of the speakers at a business event and the presenter who took the stage just before me was there as an Instagram guru.

Now, though I’ve long considered myself a bit of a geek when it comes to all things social media, if I looked at the popular channels in terms of my nerdy knowhow, Insta wouldn’t be at the top of the pile.

Don’t get me wrong — I use Insta, I know *how* it works, but I just haven’t applied myself to the ‘science’ as much as I have for LinkedIn, Facebook, maybe even Twitter.

So, when this goddess of the social selfie world took to the stage, with her oodles of charm, confidence and thousands upon thousands of followers, I was like a sponge!

I LOVE learning. I see every day as a school day, and this lady was about to start talking about something that tickled my nerd switch.

I LOVE learning. I see every day as a school day, and this lady was about to start talking about something that tickled my nerd switch.

I walked away from that day with a whole heap of shiny, new knowledge, eager to start putting it to the test.

Warning! Warning!

But then, disaster struck!

Okay, maybe not disaster per se — I’m a former journo; the odd bit of hyperbole occasionally slips out — but something that tainted my new Insta confidence. You could say it created a bit of ‘Insta-bility’. Geddit?

I was speaking at yet another business event and, lo and behold, there was yet another social media superhero in the line up.

This speaker was more of a generalist, but she clearly knew her stuff.

When she moved into Insta territory, I was ready. I had all the answers. After all, I’d recently been tutored by one of the best.

Cue big, red, flashing lights and blaring sirens. Danger Will Robinson, Danger! My Insta knowhow was swiftly kicked in the unmentionables as this speaker gave advice that directly contradicted the first one.

Who to believe?

What to do? Who was right? Who was wrong? Who should I listen to? Should I dump my freshly-learned knowledge of hashtags, including the whats, how manys and how oftens, and switch my Insta game into a different gear, based on the latest speaker? I’d heard them a matter of weeks apart, so the algorithms couldn’t have changed that much, could they?

A cold sweat appeared. I went from puffing out my chest with pride to feeling about as tiny as an Ewok at a Wookiee reunion.

A cold sweat appeared. I went from puffing out my chest with pride to feeling about as tiny as an Ewok at a Wookiee reunion. And then, amidst all those conflicting emotions and thought streams, a single word entered my mind that restored all confidence and gave me the courage to trust my instincts.

BOLLOCKS.

Yep — that was the all-powerful word that plonked down in my psyche as if it had just taken control of the iron throne. Bollocks to the lot of ‘em.

Trial and error

If I wanted to really get to grips with a social platform, I decided I’d swot up as best I could, listen to those who really get it and have a solid following and understanding (and I’m talking the Gary Vees of the world, rather than that school leaver you met at a free networking event, who claims to know every social channel like the inside of his sock), then get out there and have a go.

Good, old-fashioned trial and error, combined with a healthy dose of realism and authenticity.

Take the advice that seems to be most current, and that people in the know are actually applying, and try it for yourself. Get really nerdy about it — track what works, and what doesn’t, with your own accounts, and do more of the good stuff.

That’s what I’ll continue to do. I know enough about algorithms to muddle through, and if it turns out that, for now, I’m getting far more hits on LinkedIn than Insta, or attracting more followers on Facebook than YouTube, that’s okay. It’s better to do some really, really well than to blindly follow every person who claims to be an expert and end up doing them all badly — or, worse, try so hard to emulate the self-proclaimed big guns that your social content stops feeling like ‘you’.

Everybody knows the algos. Not.

There’s loads of advice out there for every social channel you can think of. Algorithms are changing all the time, so nobody can be the absolute expert on every channel — people can just know what works for them, what the current advice is and what *should* work for you.

In all probability, nobody’s setting out to deceive you — it might just be that some have read a different industry blog, been at the coal face and noticed changes afoot, or it may be that they’re carrying on with the same methodology they’ve been using for the past five years and haven’t bothered to update themselves because it’s still working for them.

As an example, I’ve noticed that static images don’t work as well as video, or long-form content, on LinkedIn. Someone who’s had massive success with a flat image on that platform might argue the opposite. It’s up to you to try both, measure the results and see what works for you. The popular advice, which will be pretty much the same across the board, is to use LinkedIn regularly, engage with other users and don’t just post and run; if everyone’s agreed on that, you might want to go with it.

Don’t base everything you do on social on what the experts happen to be saying — particularly if there’s conflicting advice. Use your common sense.

Get it? Don’t base everything you do on social on what the experts happen to be saying — particularly if there’s conflicting advice. Use your common sense.

No one ‘expert’ will be 100% right 100% of the time, so just do your best. Keep your feeds real at all times, watch your results, be willing to tweak your content if you need to and be really, really clear about what you want to achieve.

It doesn’t all need to be about the numbers. In fact, I’d argue that it’s better to have 95 followers who are all genuinely interested in what you have to say than 9,500 followers who never bother to engage with you. There’ll probably be another expert somewhere who disagrees!

Until next time,

#UnleashYourAwesome,

Taz

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Taz Thornton is the author of Awesome Sauce — a free, weekly positive life and business round-up, with good news stories, positivity tips and visibility hacks for your brand. In a few minutes each week, you get a dose of optimism and some awesome advice to get seen and stay happy.

Taz is also a best-selling author, inspirational business speaker and consultant on confidence, personal brand and visibility, award-winning coach (UK’s Best Female Coach 2018 — Best Business Woman Awards), consultant and creator of the #UnleashYourAwesome and #BrandMastery personal and business development programmes, as well as #UNLEASHED — an affordable confidence, content and cashflow building programme for coaches, healers and therapists.

She has been featured on BBC, ITV, in HuffPost, Diva and countless other newspapers, magazines and podcasts. Taz is also a regular columnist for the America Out Loud talkshow network.

Find her on FacebookLinkedInTwitter and Insta.