Now that we’ve talked about the simplest way to drive readership back to your blog with social media in past, let’s look at the methods used more frequently today than in the past – social media.
This is the age of social media and while there are probably plenty of people who subscribe to your feed and read it that way, a lot more people wait for updates on your Facebook Page or Twitter feed where they can read it on their phones or tablets or computers or (depending on what year you’re reading this) some other high tech device that probably straps to the side of their head.
Tools like Facebook and Twitter are not replacements for, nor are they necessary for a blog to be successful. They are, however, immensely powerful when used properly in conjunction with a blog and can both grow readership and maintain it.
First, let’s look at what grows readership on a site like Facebook. Let’s say you automatically post each of your blog posts to your Facebook Page where your followers can see it on their walls instantly each day. On any given day, someone can click that link, read your post and then click “Like” and share it with their several hundred friends.
Even if you only have 10 or 20 people following you on Facebook, each of them could have a reach of 100 or more people who have never seen your blog. That’s 1,000 or 2,000 people potentially seeing any one of your blog posts, even with just 10 or 20 followers. The number grows rapidly from there as your Like count increases.
So, how do you use social media effectively to grow these numbers and how do you avoid getting stuck in that classic trap of too much Facebook and not enough blogging? Here are some strategies for each of what I consider to be the big three in social media.
We’re going to take a few short detours in this section because social media is most powerful when you use it in its entirety. This goes double for Facebook because, I’ll be honest here, I hear way too often how Facebook isn’t powerful enough for what people want it to do – namely, sell things.
But, Facebook is not an advertising platform. In fact, it’s even less of an ad platform than your blog (which is admittedly, not built for marketing either). If you plan on using Facebook as a supplement to your blog, to build your brand, I highly recommend that you spend some time better understanding what it is for and how it is meant to be used.
I’ll paraphrase a bit from a book I read recently that kind of blew my mind (in a good way):
Social media works when you stop thinking of it as an advertising platform. There is no outline, road map or blueprint for success with Facebook. Just talk to people, get to know them, build relationships and the trust will come with it.
Good stuff and spot on true
The reason companies like Chevrolet are backing out of social media is because they don’t get it. At the same time, the people who do get it, don’t really get it either. Just like the big companies that screw up their Facebook Pages, the agencies and social media gurus think it is a cure all for web marketing needs.
Hint: it’s not as you think.
Facebook is a social network. It is designed to help people connect with other people. So, when brands enter the fray, things get a little messy. You can be successful, but only if you think of yourself and your blog as a person, not as a brand trying to sell a product (your content) to the readers.
You have to overload people with valuable content, talk about all sorts of random stuff possibly unrelated to your blog and, whatever you do, don’t try and convince people every day to go to your blog and read it, preferably clicking on something in the process. Social media works best when you step back from the precipice and use it as it is meant to be used, as a networking tool.
So, how do you do this with Facebook, the world’s largest social media platform?
Personally, I don’t invest a lot of time into Facebook or the other networks listed below. When I do use them, I automate the process as much as possible and I take advantage of mobile technology to keep up with those I follow and to ensure everything is processed and uploaded on time and all comments are replied to.
Here are a few things you should do, however, when building out your Facebook Page.
Create a Page
Even if your blog will be branded with your name, create a Page to supplement your Profile. Profiles are for personal connections and friends and they are limited to 5,000 total friends. Pages have no such limits and allow you much greater freedom in contacting large volumes of people. Here’s a look at my Page:
Blog Posts – Share every post you write with a link on your timeline. Do more than just share the link though. Add a short blurb with it that people can see in their newsfeed and encourage comments, like this:
Reply to Everything – You won’t find many comments on your Page. Get the Pages app for your phone (separate from the core Facebook app) and it will send notifications whenever someone posts something on your Page. You can then reply immediately, from your phone and it will only take a minute.
Share Fun Stuff – If you find something interesting or fun that doesn’t fit in a full length blog post or that you don’t think fits the theme of your site, share it on Facebook. Images you find online, tips someone else posts or links are all good options.
Promote – Don’t be afraid to promote things like your freebie. Nobody will complain you about it. You can drop the squeeze pages code directly into Facebook as a custom app if you wish to.
Interact – Set a quota each day or each week to reach out to some of the people who follow you and talk with them about their businesses, their needs, their readership. Look for questions they post and respond to them in a way that shows you are engaged with your Likes.
Facebook is an immensely powerful tool, but only when used properly and only when supplemented with real experience and authentic regard for your readers.
Twitter follows the same rules as Facebook, but fortunately for you, Twitter is a whole lot simpler. If you haven’t used Twitter before (which I find unlikely), here is the gist.
- Create an account
- Add people you want to follow
- Write 140 character tweets about what you’re doing
- Talk to the people you follow
That’s about it – Twitter is both a broadcast and interaction channel. Large businesses use it as a means to share information with people (something Facebook is not as good for), and smaller businesses use it to create relationships and maintain a public image of helpfulness. You can even drive direct clicks to your site through Twitter fairly easy (again, something Facebook stinks at).
If you look at my Twitter account, about half of my posts are direct responses to other people. I have a number of active conversations going with followers and people I follow (which is a very small number you will note). I also post all of my blog posts here, as I did on Facebook and I go out and try to find people to interact with at least once a day.
I don’t spend a lot of time on Twitter – again, the mobile apps are immensely helpful with this – but I do make sure I have content on there every single day. Content is what I do and I know the value of consistency in producing it.
YouTube is a strange site for a few reasons. I (along with plenty of other people) batch it together with social media, but it’s not quite the same. In fact, when YouTube was created, it wasn’t much of a social network at all. It was a repository for videos and people could leave simple comments. It was a lot more like a tumblog site (like tumblr or blogger).
Today, YouTube has been overhauled a fair number of times by Google to turn it into more of a social site and that means many of the same rules of social interaction apply, but not all of them.
Think about how YouTube works.
- You have a profile: http://www.youtube.com/user/xxxxx
- You upload content to a channel: http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx&feature=xxxx
- You tag and distribute that content
- People can subscribe or follow you and leave comments
So, it’s a content distribution platform with a social network baked in, meaning you could easily just focus on one of those two aspects and get it wrong. But you shouldn’t do that. To be successful with YouTube, you must integrate the social and the content distribution and then you’ll start getting a lot more views.
At the same time, you need to integrate the fact that YouTube exists with your other content. In my case, I generally just point people to my site where they can watch these videos. The content takes care of itself from there.That’s all.