Everyone wants to know how to succeed online. That's the big question. "How do we get people to pay attention to us?"

So-called social media consultants will say things like, "You have to use photography and video. That's the future."

OK, that's like asking "How do I cook something people will like" and being told to use food.

Obviously.

The truth is, it's not really about the format of the content as much as it is the quality it provides people. If "high-end photography" is the key, then how is it that low-budget meme-factory Instagram pages have three million followers? If video is the key, how come there are YouTube channels with content being posted weekly that barely scratch 1,000 subscribers?

Too often, brands (and individuals) think the actions themselves determine success. And while there is absolutely something to be said for good habits--posting every day, including photos, etc.--those things guarantee nothing. Just because you're posting on Facebook every day doesn't mean you're sharing anything of value. Just because you're putting images on Instagram doesn't mean they're any good.

It's not about just doing.

It's about doing with purpose.

So, here are some things to think about as you continue building your brand online--and why people might not be paying attention to you in the first place.

1. Your content is the same as that of everyone else in your niche.

This is why competitive analysis is so important. If you're doing the same thing as everyone else, how do you expect to stand out? Or worse, why should anyone follow you if they're already following the other people?

2. You have no real message.

Posting motivational quotes as vague and cliché as dialogue from a romantic comedy is not "great content." You need to know what your unique voice is--and what you can share that will reinforce it.

3. You don't follow best practices.

Sharing your Instagram post from Instagram to Facebook, hashtags and all, is not a best practice. Come on. These are quick wins. If you can't get these things right, how are you going to work on the tough stuff?

4. You never collaborate.

This is the fastest path to growth. If you think people are just going to "find you," you're wrong. You need to collaborate and spend more time getting your content seen elsewhere, rather than just posting into the wind.

5. You don't understand your audience.

There is a difference between thinking you know what your audience wants, and actually paying attention to what they engage with. Watch your content. See what gets the most engagement. And then pivot and get rid of the things nobody is Liking, Commenting on, or Sharing. It's that easy.

6. You aren't consistent.

It is mind blowing how many people think they can just start up a social account and "go viral." Or, worse, they have a few hundred followers and think, "I have 362 people looking at me on Twitter! That's a lot!" No, it's really not. And nobody is going to pay any attention to you unless you are consistent, day after day after day.

7. You make today what you made yesterday.

Every single day, you should be looking to create content that was better than what you shared yesterday. That's what people follow for: the progression. They want to grow with you. They want to see you improve. They want to know they are following someone or something that is headed in the "right direction."

8. You don't provide enough value.

This is the big one. If your social pages aren't the best resource on the internet for your particular niche or market, you're not trying hard enough. Go find the person whom you follow, whom you love, who is owning your market. Now try to do what they do, better. That's your competition.

9. You don't teach people anything.

Finally, it's the education part people most often forget. Posting isn't enough. You want people to come back again and again because you are helping enrich their lives with information. If you aren't teaching them something new every day, they have no reason to pay attention to you. And that's the truth.

Published on: Nov 17, 2016