Today’s assignment: create a 30-day plan for how you’ll grow your presence (and your blog) on the social network you selected yesterday.
Integrating your blog with social networks is essential to growing an audience — if you want to attract people outside WordPress, you need to go to where the people are.
Social networks don’t have to be an “extra.” They can be the ideal platform for growing a community, with your blog at the center. And using them means a lot more than just publicizing your posts; if that’s all you’re doing, you’re not really using them at all.
Today’s assignment: create a 30-day plan for how you’ll grow your presence (and your blog) on the social network you selected yesterday. If applicable, create a profile on the network just for your blog.
Why do this?
- Because if you’re serious about growth, blogging is about building a community of like-minded people, and other social networks have ready-made communities.
- Because using social networks effectively creates a funnel of new ideas and inspiration that will make your blog better.
- Because social networks are a great place to continue conversations that are tangential to your blog, or to experiment with content you’re not sure about.
If you need a profile on whatever network you’re going to focus on, let’s take care of that first.
If you liked analyzing your stats, Facebook may be right up your alley. Fan pages offer analytics (Facebook calls them “insights”) that let you see which posts are most viewed and shared, along with basic demographic data about your fans.
To create a page on Facebook, log in to your personal account, go to Create a Page and, well, create a page! You’ll want to create a “Brand or Product page” and select “Website” under “Category.” You’ll administer this page through your personal account, but there won’t be any visible link between the two. (Visit our tutorial for more detail.)
With Pinterest, you have two choices: if you don’t yet have an account, you can create a new one for your blog. If you already use it, you can also create a board just for your blog. (Either way, you can use the Pinterest Site Verification tool to connect your blog to your Pinterest account.)
Okay, so you have your page/profile/board set up. Now what?
The main thing to remember is that social networks are not just about promoting your blog, but creating a sense of community with your readers — yesterday’s assignment was just the preamble. Don’t just use your Facebook page to Publicize your blog posts: share other interested, related content, and engage with your audience. Tweet about more than just your latest post, and re-tweet other good stuff. Participate in Twitter chats or Facebook discussions. Try sharing a few of these:
Tip: If you have a particularly witty tweet you want to share with your readers embed it right into a post. It directs readers to your Twitter feed and adds visual interest. Since readers can retweet directly from your blog post, you can see your reach expand exponentially.
- Other bloggers’ posts — there’s nothing like sharing the love, and promoting others’ good work ultimately brings people to you, too.
- Random funny, interesting, or provocative links. Your fan page becomes valuable when you curate, helping fans weed through the swampland of the internet to find the goodies. Links and posts with great images are especially shareable.
- Questions. If there’s one thing people enjoy doing on on the internet, it’s sharing opinions. You might not want to run a poll on your blog, but asking questions on Facebook or Twitter is a good way to get people to engage and to get feedback on what your readers are interested in.
- Status updates. Are you on round three of the DIY project you’re planning to blog next week? Are you headed to the movies to see the next film you’ll review? Did you just spend 15 minutes trying to remember the word “conundrum”? Keep fans up to date and share blog-related glimpses into your life to build a personal connection.
The same goes for Pinterest. Adding beautiful images to your posts makes them highly pinnable, and re-pins can spread like wildfire. Then, you’ll want to branch out beyond your own posts and start pinning (and re-pinning) other content. As you develop collections, you not only create a handy catalogue for yourself, you become a resource for your blog’s readers and for other Pinterest users who admire your excellent taste… some of whom will find their way to your blog.
Tip: Check the rights before pinning possibly copyrighted content. Lots of people don’t mind having their photos shared, but some do — check the license for images you pin before pinning them. If the photographer reserves all the rights, or you’re otherwise unsure, ask before pinning.
It’s especially useful for supplemental content that you wouldn’t necessarily put on your blog, but still want to collect and share. If you’re a book blogger, your site might feature reviews or affiliate links for your absolute faves, but your Pinterest boards are a place to park all the other titles that catch your eye.
Now, create a plan for how you’ll use your main social network over the next 30 days. You don’t need an hour-by-hour schedule of tweets, just some goals: I’ll Publicize all my posts. I’ll update two times a day. I’ll share other bloggers’ posts three times a week. I’ll upload one photo every week. Sketch out the ways you’ll use this tool, and you’ll be more likely to do it.
If you have any questions, go to The Commons — you may be able to pick up some followers for your blog’s new profile or some tips from folks who are already social butterflies.