How to Become a Social Media Superstar and Grow Your Blog Beyond Your Wildest Dreamsby Rachel Adnyana
When it comes to traffic generation, bloggers generally tend to side with one of two camps:
- The SEO bloggers, who optimize their blog content for search engines, tweak the structure of their site with SEO plugins and build links to their site wherever they can.
- The social media bloggers who build their audience mainly by engaging with readers through sites like Facebook and Twitter, encouraging people to share their posts and creating content strategically in the hopes it goes viral.
Of course the best overall strategy is to combine these two methods, but today we’re going to cover the basics of social media marketing.
What is Social Media and Why Should You Care About it?
You’d have to have been living under a rock for the last 10 years not to have been exposed to social media and have a vague idea of how it can impact your website.
Facebook has grown from a small site to help college students to stay in touch, into one of the biggest websites in the world; Twitter has over 600 million users, including many famous figures such as Justin Bieber, Barack Obama and Oprah Winfrey; Instagram was sold to Facebook for $1 billion in 2012, despite the fact that it wasn’t (and still isn’t) making any money. Social media is now the no.1 web activity, particularly with the 18-24 year old age group.
It’s obvious that social media is the current big thing and its rate of growth shows no sign of slowing any time soon.
Accounts on social media sites act as kind of outposts to your main site. Most people don’t run their businesses or make a living purely by posting on Facebook (although this is indeed possible). Rather, the social media accounts are there to notify readers that you’ve published a new blog post, add value by posting other related links that you wouldn’t necessarily put on your blog, and encourage discussion and interaction around your site.
It’s incredibly rare that you’ll find a business these days without a single social media account and if you do, it’s probably because they’re not a very successful business. However it’s equally misguided to sign up for an account on every single network – it’s impossible to keep up and you’ll spread yourself too thin. To market successfully on social media, it’s important to plan your strategy in advance.
Which Social Networks Should You Focus On?
Unless you have a large team working on your behalf, you probably won’t be able to manage posting on more than two or three networks on a regular basis. There’s no hard and fast rule about which sites to pick – it depends very much on the subject of your blog, your audience and your personal preferences. Studying the demographics of different social networks can help guide you:
- Facebook is almost a must as so many people use it (71% of all internet users in 2013) and its use is fairly evenly distributed across all age groups and income levels.
- Twitter is particularly popular with younger people – over 30% of its users are under 30.
- Google+ has a mostly male use-base and its importance is predicted to increase in 2014 as Google shift their ranking algorithms more towards social signals.
- Instagram is a pure image-based social network, very popular with the younger age bracket.
- Pinterest is also image-based and is very effective at driving traffic to blogs that use eye-catching photography and graphics. It’s mostly used by affluent females, making it a marketers dream for blogs that target women.
- LinkedIn is great for blogs that focus on the business community and anyone wishing to engage in a spot of networking to build up useful contacts. Its usage is skewed towards the over-30 crowd.
- YouTube should also not be overlooked as video marketing is another way to reach people, with over 800 million users visiting the site every week.
Don’t assume that any of these social networks will be here for good – while you don’t want to pick too many, concentrating on just one is also probably not a sensible strategy. Remember how quickly Myspace fell from grace?
Planning Your Social Media Strategy
Once you’ve decided which networks to focus on, you’ll need to set up accounts (use your brand name or the same name as your blog if possible) and start producing some content.
It’s important to be consistent with how frequently you post on social networks. A tweeting spree followed by a three month silence won’t do much good. You may think the more you post the better, but spamming the networks is never appreciated and can cause people to unfollow you.
There are tools available for scheduling updates on social networks. These can be very useful as it means you can just queue up content in advance and forget about it, rather than trying to remember to keep posting throughout the day.
Timing is also important as you should aim to post the majority of your content while your audience is online. The type of content you post is also relevant – for example, funny stories and highly shareable articles like the type of thing you find on BuzzFeed does well on Friday afternoons when workers are killing time before the weekend starts.
Think about the type of content you’re going to be posting to each network and aim for a balance of different kinds of content. Don’t just post links to your own articles – if you share the link love by sending traffic to some other useful articles on related sites, they’ll probably return the favor.
Remember to think about your readers and post information that will be helpful to them. Think about what you’d like to read if you followed another blogger in your niche.
Opening up a discussion can also be a good strategy once you’ve amassed a good following. Asking your readers for advice, opinion or ideas can inspire conversation and show that you’re interested in what they have to say.
Competitions can also be a good way to give back to your followers as well as attracting more traffic. Facebook is probably the most popular network to run competitions on and it’s very easy to do so.
How to Get More Followers on Social Networks
While achieving a large following on your social accounts is important, don’t forget that the main focus should be on your blog. An email subscriber is worth way more than a twitter follower who might never even check their account. So don’t spend too much time worrying about your social traffic – if you regularly post useful content, it will grow naturally.
There are, however, a few strategies you can employ to encourage the growth of your following.
Twitter is probably the easiest network to attain a large following as many people will follow you back if you follow them. The simplest thing to do is follow a handful of new people every day and watch your stats grow. You can use a tool like Manage Flitter to unfollow people who don’t follow you back within a week or so.
The same principle can work for Instagram and Pinterest but it’s important to have good content on your own account first. Focus on building up a great collection of images before you start following other accounts.
Commenting can be a good strategy for many social networks and works particularly well for Facebook and Google+. Try following some influential people in your industry and commenting on their social media updates. If what you post is relevant and useful, you’ll attract a few new followers.
Maybe the most important thing is to make it easy for people to follow you and your posts to be shared on social media. Make sure the buttons are clear and preferably at the bottom of every post as well as in your sidebar. Adding buttons to your post makes it 7 times more likely that your content will be shared.
Whatever method you’re using to grow your blog, the focus always comes back to producing great content. There are hundreds of tricks you can use to get people to follow you but unless you’re producing content they want to read, you’ll lose them again just as quickly.
Going viral is the holy grail for any blogger as a viral blog post can explode your following by thousands overnight. There’s no guaranteed method for creating viral content – it’s a mixture of good luck combined with clever copywriting and understanding of psychology. If you want your content to go viral, consider the following for a starting point:
- Learn how to write engaging headlines (study the headlines of viral sites Upworthy and Viral Nova to see how they entice people onto their sites).
- Write long form blog posts – long posts are more likely to go viral than short posts.
- Focus on content that is funny, controversial, shocking or inspiring. Basically content that resonates with people and invokes emotions is more likely to be shared.
- Write useful content. If you solve someone’s problem, they’re likely to share it with others.
- Write list posts. List posts or “listicles” are shared more than other types of written content.
Social Media is Here to Stay
Whether you’re a social butterfly or more of a technically minded SEO-geek, it’s hard not to be impressed by the impact that social media continues to have on the world of blogging.
It’s easy for social media to take up a lot of time and the focus should definitely be on your own blog rather than updating your Facebook, but even 10 minutes a day spent on your social media strategy could grow your blog readers by an impressive amount.
If you have any more tips for working with social media, please feel free to share them in the comments.
Image Courtesy: http://mkhmarketing.wordpress.com/