Building a social presence for your blog can be a lot tougher than you think. Most businesses have the issue that they don't have enough content; whereas most blogs have content in abundance - surely this will make it easier?
The most common error that I see bloggers making is spreading themselves too thin. You don't need to have a Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, Google+, SlideShare and Tumblr account all at the same time to build a big following. In fact, you will often get much better results if you concentrate on a smaller number of channels that you put more time into. To be fair, the same applies to businesses.
The key here is to know where your audience hang out and how they like to consume content.
Choosing the Right Channels
Choosing the channels that you're going to pursue is one of the most important decisions that you'll make from a social point of view. You don't need to just copy your competitors, but it's good to get an overall idea of what they're doing.
The first thing that I do is to compile a list of relevant blogs to mine (using the search engines or a blog directory like Alltop.com). You can then go in and find all of their social media accounts manually, or if you have BuzzStream, simply get the tool to scrape through your list of websites and find social accounts related to them. Like this...
Once you've got a list of all the social media accounts that your competitors have, you can start tallying up the number of followers that they have (see my XPath tutorial on how to do this). You'll start to paint a picture of the different channels that your competitors are focusing on.
Alongside this, you need to focus on the type of users you're trying to target. If your content is very visual, for example, within a food or travel blog, you may want to explore social networks that are typically image-led. For example, Pinterest or Instagram. On the flip-side, if you're content tends to be geared more towards a professional, text-based article, a network like LinkedIn may be a better fit.
There's no real right or wrong answer here because I've seen some very unlikely success stories to happen - you just need to make sure that you have the capabilities to deliver the kind of content that the users within each social network expect. If you don't have a steady flow of original photography and images that you own, maybe an image-led network isn't for you.
Ensuring Your Content is Consumable
The majority of social activity surrounding blogs actually happens outside of the networks themselves. Many more people will share my blog posts within my blog than within Twitter or Facebook. With this in mind, you have to make it easy as possible for people to share your content. Just look at my guide to running online competitions, this is a perfect example.
As standard, you should have a social sharing bar that works across all devices. Just make sure that you're only including relevant social networks within it - you don't need a Delicious and a Myspace share button on every blog!
Alongside this, and something that worked really well across a ton of my posts in the past, is to incentivise people to share. Use a plugin like social locker for WordPress and you can offer your readers a PDF download of the blog or an extra resource in exchange for them sharing the post.
Alongside promoting the sharing of your content within your blog, you'll want to ensure that you're marking up all of your pages with rich social markup code like Facebook's Open Graph, Pinterest Rich Pins, Google+ Authorship and Twitter's Twitter Card meta data.
<!-- Update your html tag to include the itemscope and itemtype attributes. --> <html itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article"> <!-- Place this data between the <head> tags of your website --> <title>Page Title. Maximum length 60-70 characters</title> <meta name="description" content="Page description. No longer than 155 characters." /> <!-- Google Authorship and Publisher Markup --> <link rel="author" href="https://plus.google.com/[Google+_Profile]/posts"/> <link rel="publisher" href=”https://plus.google.com/[Google+_Page_Profile]"/> <!-- Schema.org markup for Google+ --> <meta itemprop="name" content="The Name or Title Here"> <meta itemprop="description" content="This is the page description"> <meta itemprop="image" content="http://www.example.com/image.jpg"> <!-- Twitter Card data --> <meta name="twitter:card" content="summary_large_image"> <meta name="twitter:site" content="@publisher_handle"> <meta name="twitter:title" content="Page Title"> <meta name="twitter:description" content="Page description less than 200 characters"> <meta name="twitter:creator" content="@author_handle"> <!-- Twitter summary card with large image must be at least 280x150px --> <meta name="twitter:image:src" content="http://www.example.com/image.html"> <!-- Open Graph data --> <meta property="og:title" content="Title Here" /> <meta property="og:type" content="article" /> <meta property="og:url" content="http://www.example.com/" /> <meta property="og:image" content="http://example.com/image.jpg" /> <meta property="og:description" content="Description Here" /> <meta property="og:site_name" content="Site Name, i.e. Moz" /> <meta property="article:published_time" content="2013-09-17T05:59:00+01:00" /> <meta property="article:modified_time" content="2013-09-16T19:08:47+01:00" /> <meta property="article:section" content="Article Section" /> <meta property="article:tag" content="Article Tag" /> <meta property="fb:admins" content="Facebook numberic ID" />
Alongside this, you may want to apply for Pinterest Rich Pins (especially if this is a social network that you're focusing on). There are a few plugins that you can get for WordPress that will do this for you and it will be particularly relevant within the likes of food blogs where you can add recipe cards. You can get all the details around setting up rich pins here.
It's really easy to get wrapped up in follower metrics and think that having a large following is the be-all and end-all of social success. The reality is that these aren't the things that you should be solely looking at.
A far greater metric to look at is your online reach and the level of engagement within your posts. One of the ways that I've been getting a lot of success is through remarketing to website visitors via Facebook ads. The big advantage here is that you're tapping into an audience that are already engaged with your blog/brand, therefore the CTR is much greater. Another method that you can utilise is remarketing to your mailing list through Facebook ads - as shown below:
Another nice trick that I've been using with Facebook ads is to bring through traffic from StumbleUpon Paid Discovery or Reddit Advertising (for really cheap) and then if any of the visitors bounce, I can see if they have an associated Facebook account to remarket to via Facebook ads. This is through simply installing a tracking pixel on your site.
The advantage here is that you know the interests and demographics of the users coming through StumbleUpon/Reddit and it gives you another channel to promote to them.
Similarly to Facebook, Twitter allows you to target users within their ad platform based on their email address, so it's a perfect starting point if you have acquired some mailing list subscribers in order to bring them through to your social channels.
Scheduling Across Your Accounts
Knowing what time to publish your posts is really important as well. To find this out, I use a number of different tools.
For Twitter, I use Followerwonk as it allows you to analyse the behaviour of your followers to find peak times of activity. What's more, it allows you to sync this up to your Buffer account in order to publish your posts at the prime moments of activity.
For Facebook, I use Sprout Social to get an idea of the levels of activity throughout the day and use this information to inform when I publish to Facebook. Along with Sprout Social, I look at Google Analytics to find the times when I'm getting a lot of social referrals from each channel and use this data to optimise my publishing times. Here's how you can quickly do that:
Don't Just Share a Link
One of the traps that many bloggers fall for is when they have finished slaving over a new article, they simple tweet/share the link to the new post via their social media channels.
Whenever I share out a new post across my social media channels, I try to create a custom image that I can tweet out along with the link, instead of just the link itself. Amit Agarwal wrote an interesting post around this that you may want to read.
Alongside this, there was a good article written by Mitt Ray on the Buffer blog - this focuses a little more on Twitter but is very interesting.
- Don't concentrate on too many channels at once and spread yourself too thin.
- Schedule your posts to go out at the optimal time to reach your audience.
- Install rich markup code across your blog so that your content appears correctly within social networks.
- Use remarketing within Facebook to grow engagement from people already exposed to your blog.