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Blogging 101: Plug In to Social Networks

Today’s assignment: if you’re active on a social network, set up Publicize or highlight your profile in a widget or menu item. If you’re not, explore your social options to see whether one might be helpful.

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While there’s no exact science to building a readership, social networks — Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest — can play a big role. No blog is an island. Clicking Publish is one step of blogging; getting your work out and attracting readers other than your mother or best friend is just as important.

Today’s assignment: if you’re active on a social network, set up Publicize to link the account to your blog or add a widget highlighting your profile. If you’re not, explore your social options to see whether one might be helpful.

Why do this?

  • Networks like Facebook and Twitter are full of new readers waiting to find you.
  • Social networks can act as an extension of your blog, giving readers another place to connect and you a place to share other thoughts and links.

Tip: if you’re not sure you want to wade into social networks just yet, no worries — after all, you’re already using WordPress.com, which is a network of its own. Take today to strengthen your presence here: go back over any assignments you still want to work on, leave some comments, or write that post you’ve been mulling over.

If you’re a photographer, try Instagram. A food or style blogger? Pinterest waits for you. Hoping to building a business? LinkedIn. A generalist, or not quite sure where your audience is? Twitter and Facebook. Think about how to use the platform, too. Simply sharing your posts isn’t enough — that’s no different from following your blog. You’ll want to engage with other members, share other content (like links you love), and use it as a place to extend conversations that start on your blog.

We’ve covered the most popular networks: if you’re still exploring the social landscape, take a few minutes read about PinterestTwitterFacebookLinkedIn, or Instagram to see which one is most appealing and feels best for your blog.

If you use Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Tumblr, Twitter, or Path, connecting your account to your WordPress.com blog is easy — head over to Settings → Sharing in your dashboard, pick a service, click “Connect,” and follow the prompts:

publicize

(Here’re the detailed step-by-steps for FacebookGoogle+, and Twitter.)

Now, before you publish a post, you’ll have the option to share it automatically — confirm the box is checked next to your account in the Publicize box at the top right of your Edit Post screen. Uncheck the box if you’d rather not share. You can also customize the message (or tweet) that appears with your post (the default is your post title).

If you don’t want to add more content to the sidebar (or don’t have a sidebar), you can add a link to you profiles on your “About” page or your menu.

You can also highlight social networks in your sidebar — there are widgets for Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and you can use text and image widgets to create your own custom links and graphics.This can be a great way to bring attention to your profile and reinforce your blog’s look and feel.

Have a social profile to share, or interested in how others use social networks? Discuss in The Commons.

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