All of your friends subscribe to your blog, right? What about your coworkers? Your family members? Your classmates or former classmates? People who don’t necessarily know you, but work in your field? People who don’t know you at all, but like to mock the same celebrities you do?
Chances are, your social network is larger than you think it is. Luckily, these days, there are more ways than ever to reach people who share your interests, your pet peeves, and your sense of humor. Done well, social networking is the single best way to make friends and influence people on the web.
So, how to make sure you’re making the most out of social media opportunities without overdoing it? First of all, I think it helps to have a solid understanding of the ways in which the various platforms differ, and what each one specifically is for. They aren’t all the same.
For example, this past summer, I attended BlogHer’s 2012 conference, and one of the speakers said that Facebook is for talking to your friends and family about your life, and Twitter is for showing off and approaching strangers. On Twitter, you can ‘at’ President Obama or Margaret Atwood or Taco Bell, and they just might answer you. On Facebook, you can beg your friends to petsit when you go out of town, or complain about your boring week. You can be more banal and more personal on Facebook, not to mention lengthier. On Twitter, you should strive to impress in an economical 140 characters.
Then there’s LinkedIn, which is for professional networking. Your witty Golden Globes jokes don’t belong on LinkedIn (those go on Twitter), nor do your horror stories about your blind date the other night (Facebook for that). Finally, there’s Tumblr. Many WordPress.com bloggers have a Tumblr in addition to their primary blog – either for sharing photos, or for a one-joke “meme” blog.
All of this is to say that it’s likely the people who follow you on each of these different services are interested in you for different reasons. Granted, you undoubtedly have friends and fans who follow you on all of them and subscribe to your blog as well. But you also likely have family members who follow you on Facebook and might check out your blog if you post pictures from holiday get-togethers. Maybe you have coworkers in your LinkedIn network who will check out any posts having to do with your industry, but aren’t so interested in your Twilight fan fic.
You’ll want to let these occasional readers know if you’ve posted something that they’d like. The easiest way to do that is to connect your blog to your social media services using Publicize. Publicize will automatically post to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and/or Tumblr every time you post, so you don’t have to worry about doing it manually. You can also control which services you share with on a per-post basis – for example, if you post an expletive-heavy rant you’d rather your grandmother not read, you can deselect Facebook before publishing it.
Remember, though, that for those true fans who do follow you on every service, seeing your blog updates in each place can be repetitive. Ideally, you should also create original content for each different service, so that all of your social media feeds are fresh, interesting, and entertaining. The funnier you are on Twitter, the more new followers will click those blog links to check out what you have to say at length.
And of course, make sure to use social media widgets on your blog itself, so that your subscribers know where else they can find you, as well as sharing buttons, so your readers can alert all their friends to your brilliant work.
Finally, the same principles we’ve previously discussed regarding blog commenting etiquette also apply to polite social media behavior: follow, like, friend, and message as you would want to be followed, liked, friended, and messaged. Seek out those whose content appeals to you, and make the first move. Don’t be mean (unless that’s your schtick). Don’t let trolls waste your time or clutter up your feed.
The more you extend yourself on social media, the bigger your network will grow, and the more blog readers you’ll gain!