You might think that once you’ve set up your blog and started posting your brilliant thoughts and diatribes that people will flock to your writing and become your adoring fans almost instantly.
You’re terribly wrong if you think that. There are millions of blogs, and every minute hundreds more are created. Everyone and their mother has a blog, and nobody has time to look through them in search of brilliance. In order to be heard over the millions of voices clamouring for attention on the world wide web, you need to make yourself visible in different arenas, particularly in the world of social media.
Remember that in the blogging game content is always king. Without clear, interesting and useful information, your blog will wither and die, read by no one but your mother–and maybe not even her, if her Google Reader’s too full. You can use social media to bring your blog in front of thousands, but if they don’t find the content useful, they’ll leave as soon as they’ve arrived.
But what if I’ve already prepared great content, you ask, and I still can’t get anyone to visit my blog?
Well, my friends, that’s what social media’s for.
Social media not only allows free, instant contact between you and your friends no matter where in the world they are, but it allows you to find your fans and potential customers just as quickly. It also allows you to communicate with them more efficiently, finding out what they’re hoping for from your blog and your brand.
There are dozens of social media sites. Some are broad and accept anyone; others are more focused on a specific niche. Each site gives you access to a slightly different crowd and is tailored to a slightly different form of communication. The three most commonly used social media sites for blogs are Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin.
Facebook is the most popular social media site and the one you’re most likely to already have an account on. I personally spend very little time on Facebook, but no discussion of online marketing would be complete without it.
There are a few things you can do on Facebook to increase your blog’s visibility. Certain applications will allow you to hook your blog’s RSS feed directly up to your Facebook profile, ensuring that your friends will always see your new blog posts. You can–and, I’m told, should–also create a Facebook Fan Page for your blog, which can be used to share new blog posts and other information and to gather fans.
The best Facebook Fan Pages are a mix of personal information, business information, and links to other helpful sites within your niche. It’s important to respond to fans when they comment on your page. Today’s consumers like nothing more than to feel like part of a community–think of your Facebook Fan Page as an extension of your blog community.
Twitter is only slightly less popular and is my personal favourite social media site. Each status or shared link may be only 140 characters long. It limits rambling without limiting communication or the number of ‘followers’ you can acquire. Filling your Twitter feed with professionals in your industry is a great way to stay up to date and to find inspiration for posts–I can’t tell you how many blog posts here were inspired by a comment on Twitter.
The best way to use Twitter is by sharing 60% other people’s stuff and 40% your own links and products. It’s important to use your Twitter feed every day in order to stay relevant. The use of hashtags, such as #amwriting, at the end of your posts will help other people find them. Putting hashtags into your 140-character bio also makes it easier for professionals in your industry to find you.
It’s important to communicate with your Twitter followers too. The biggest thing people are looking for is, once again, community. Each day when you log into Twitter, your first stop should be the @Connect tab. The interactions page will tell you if anyone’s been trying to talk to you–and give you a chance to respond.
LinkedIn is a more selective, more career-focused social media site. When you join LinkedIn the very first thing you should do is fill in your profile–which looks a lot like a resume. Only mention positions you’ve worked that are relevant to your blog, and don’t forget to make your blog link prominent. I made my blog link more prominent by making my current position Owner/Writer at Dianna’s Writing Den.
LinkedIn is where you’ll do a lot of connecting with other professionals. You can connect it to your Twitter so that they update together, but it’s important to sometimes update LinkedIn on its own so people know you’re invested in the community there. There are also hundreds of groups designed to help connect you to like-minded people and LinkedIn features a job board.
It’s a good idea to set up your LinkedIn now, import your contacts from your email, and when you’ve got your blog all set up and ready to go, to send out a mass message to all your connections on LinkedIn telling them your blog’s just begun. Most of the messages I get through LinkedIn are review requests and links to shiny new author websites, to give you an idea of what LinkedIn’s useful for.
A coherent marketing strategy involves all three of these websites. Depending on what you’re going to blog about, you might want to check out more niche-based social media sites like Goodreads for writers. Aim to devote ten-fifteen minutes a day to each social media site, and you’ll be able to watch your followers/fans/connections grow along with your blog traffic.
Right now what you should do is set up an account with each of these social media sites and go exploring. Figure out what people in your niche are saying on these sites–and make sure what you’re going to say is just different enough to stand out from the crowd.