Happy Thursday everyone! We’re almost to the weekend. For the past four days I’ve been talking about ways to perk up your blog and grow your audience this year; so far I’ve been covering ways to make over the blog itself, including redesigning your homepage and layout, fixing your “about” and PR info, sharpening up your content and taking or finding great photos for your posts. Over the next three days I’m going to shift focus onto ways to share the awesome-sauce blog that you’re working so hard on, via social media, networking, giveaways and other outlets. If you’re new to blogging then making that jump into the world of social media link-ups can be a little daunting, so today in particular I want to share a few tips on how to get the most out of your social media channels, without losing valuable writing time to the inevitable time-suck of the social media universe!
Decide whether to merge or separate
The decision to hold personal and blog-related accounts separately or to merge them is one you have to make for yourself, based on your personal circumstances. Some people like to keep their personal and “professional” social networks separate but honestly, I feel like this is time-consuming (all of that signing in and out!) and kind of tricky (what happens if you accidentally log into the wrong account?). In the end it really boils down to the question of public recognition: if you link your personal accounts to your blog, much like using your full name, anyone in the world will be able to easily track you down and associate you with that blog, including employers, in-laws and old classmates.
Personally, I have no problem with anyone knowing that I blog. I feel like I get a better experience out of merged accounts, since I spend more time being personable and chatty instead of worrying about whether what I’m posting should go into account A or account B. Remember, followers like to connect with bloggers who are personable and “real”. However, there are times when you might want to maintain separate accounts–for example, if you want to keep a private account for friends and family and a public one for your blog ramblings. There’s no right or wrong answer; it’s up to you.
Make sure they’re linked to your blog
Take a few minutes to add that pro bio and photo I mentioned on day two to each of your networks, and make sure they all link to your blog homepage. You might even link them to each other; I occasionally blog about books, so my Goodreads account is linked to Twitter and automatically Tweets out new reviews each time I rate a book.
Follow just a few
Lots of people will tell you that you should follow as many users as possible in order to really get the maximum social media experience and find new networking contacts. I’m going to say, take that advice with a grain of salt; while following lots of different users can certainly expose you to bloggers and brands that you might never have discovered otherwise, it can also clog up your feeds until they’re unusable.
For example, on Twitter, I try to only follow users whose feeds I actually find really interesting; otherwise my feed clogs up with updates I don’t care to see, and I find myself endlessly scrolling searching for the handful of updates I actually find useful. Trimming your list doesn’t just improve the quality of your feed, it also lets you spend more time interacting with like-minded bloggers and social media users, meaning you’ve got a better chance of making friends and developing contacts.
Chat with other bloggers, and have fun
Friending or following like-minded bloggers and your favorite brands on social media is basically soft networking; it’s a way to start growing your exposure and contacts in a casual setting. Beyond that, though, it’s a good way to start making friends in the blogging community, and it’s just fun! Don’t be shy about leaving “likes” and comments and sharing posts. You might find new blogs you love or even gain a few new readers of your own. It’s okay to not treat the social media branch of blogging as a 24/7 job; part of the appeal of sites like Instagram is the fun factor, so remember to enjoy yourself! If social media starts to feel like a chore, it’s time to reconsider.
I know several bloggers who have quit Facebook because the work of updating and maintaining a separate blog page became too much of a drag. While they were initially worried that this move might lose them a few followers, in the end they were much happier because they didn’t have to face the chore of sustaining that branch of their network. If something doesn’t work for you, cut it off; you don’t have to be hyper-connected to be a good blogger.
Allot your time wisely
In theory, you could open up multiple tabs on multiple devices to stay hyperconnected to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and more while trying to work on your blog. But you won’t get much done that way; not only is the constant updating a distraction, those timelines have a tendency to pull you into a leisurely scroll that eats up minutes before you know it. After I publish a post, I usually post the link to each of my social networks and I’ll give myself a few minutes then to scroll through other users’ updates, comment, share, and so forth. Then it’s back to work, and time to close out those tabs–if I don’t, my productivity goes down the drain.
Instead, I like to schedule ten minute breaks to “check in” on my feeds. This lets me play around without getting lost in space (which happens way too easily when I’m on Pinterest!) and also gives me a mini respite from writing or whatever else I’m doing at the time. Obviously, I spend a lot of time at my desk, but if you don’t and you only have, say, an hour at the end of the day to squeeze in your blogging and related tasks, then time management is even more critical. Finish your posting, editing and other major tasks, and save the Tweeting and chatting for the last five or ten minutes so they don’t take over your writing time.
Obviously, the more you’re posting, the more you’ll show up in your followers’ feeds. It can be discouraging at first to post throughout the day when you only have a handful of followers, but building a timeline of frequent, fun and informative posts builds appeal for potential new followers. It also shows brands that you work to engage with your audience on a regular basis–crucial to landing sponsored gigs, since brands want to work with bloggers who can promote their products outside of a regular blog post. This infographic shows you some peak times to post on different social networks based on their traffic flow.
Take advantage of features
Beyond the basic posting and following, take a little time to explore other features available to you. For example, on Twitter, you can jump into hashtags to follow topics that interest you and participate in chats or Twitter parties. This is a great way to find new blogs and bloggers to follow. Use hashtags and tag other users in your posts on Twitter, Instagram and other networks, particularly if you want to mention a brand; you’ll often get shares from those tagged, which increases your exposure.
Don’t spam your followers
No one likes an account that screams “look at me!” so don’t just flood your timeline with links to your latest blog posts. Comment on (and possibly share) posts from other users. Chat with other users and your followers. Share pictures, links to blog posts or articles that you like, or even updates from your other networks (like Tweets about interesting Pinterest finds).
Be a tease
Sure, you could simply post up links to new blog posts as they go live…or you could post photos and updates that give your followers a “sneak peek” of upcoming content. If you’ve got a new product that you’re excited to review, post some photos and let your followers know that a full review is coming soon; you might also talk a little about the product as you use it. Again, use hashtags and tag any brands mentioned so they’ll see your posts.
I hope you found these tips helpful! Tomorrow I’ll be talking about networking in a broader sense, so be sure to come back for that!