Wednesday, June 19, 2013

WotW: Boosting Your Blog's Reach Through Social Media

Wouldn't it be great if you wrote a blog post and thousands of people instantly knew about it, read it, commented on it and begged you for more? Of course it would, but for the vast majority of bloggers, that's not reality. After all, a blog is merely a website, and getting people to go to that website can be tricky. There's an entire industry dedicated to helping people find websites. Kind of crazy.

But, just because it doesn't happen automatically doesn't mean there aren't things you can do to help out your cause. After all, who knows your blog and your content better than you?

Some of the greatest tools for blog promotion is social media. Surely, this comes as no surprise. However, learning just how to maximize social media for blog promotion can be daunting, difficult and discouraging at times.

All major social networks have the potential to bring more attention to your blog, which means more traffic, more readership, potentially more comments and followers and the pathway to advertisers being interested in your blog: the holy grail for many a blogger. The key to making this a reality is knowing exactly how to use each type of social media to your advantage.

While I can't possibly cover all social media channels in one post (unless you want to sit here and read for the rest of the day), I can do one at a time, and to get started, I'd like to take a look at Facebook.

Why Facebook? For a number of reasons. First, it's the largest social network out there. It has a legacy, it's widely used, an insane number of hours are spent there each week by the average user and it has a number of tools that can help you promote your blog.

But wait, Facebook isn't my blog, so why bother? Facebook can serve as a type of store-front window to your blog. People can look inside and see little nuggets of awesomeness, which can prompt them to come inside and see more.

What follows is less of a How-To guide and more of an outline. A How-To guide would be impractical since every blog is different and every audience is different, but the principles should be fairly the same.


  • Create a page for your blog. Hopefully you've already done this. If not, it's very easy to do.
  • Flush out your Facebook page.
  • Add an engaging cover image.
  • Frequently rotate out your cover image. Once a month is a good guideline. Your cover image is prime real estate on your page. It's the first thing people see, it's large and there's so much you can do with it. Use it to really show off your blog.
  • Make sure you have completed the About information. I've seen far too many blogs who have a Facebook page, and no other information about their blog. Make sure your blog URL is front and center. Make sure your information is exciting and descriptive. You are showing off your writing skills and blogging style even here.
  • Invite your friends and family to join your blog's Facebook page. Facebook makes this easy with invites ready in your page dashboard.
  • Invite your friends and family to join again. You probably did this once when you first started your blog page, but after a few months, try another round.
  • Post daily. Yes, daily. Facebook pages that don't have frequent updates look neglected, and send a signal to the user that there's nothing important here and to move on.
  • Have a posting strategy.
    • Do NOT auto-post your latest blog post. Why not? Of course it's easy to set up, but it's also easy for a user to spot an auto-post. It sends a signal that the blogger is too busy to engage with their readership. It also says the blogger doesn't care enough to personalize the message to the Facebook audience. 
    • Believe it or not, your Facebook page audience behaves differently than your blog audience. You need to understand these differences and act on them. So, don't auto post. Take the time to personally link to your latest post each day. I used to be a journalist and one of the greatest tools in my toolbox was the hook – a line that would grab the reader's attention and draw them in. Write your posts with a hook and let the link be right there to satisfy the reader's now-intrigued curiosity.
    • Vary your content. Only doing Facebook page posts about your latest blog post gets boring really fast. After all, people come to your blog because you have interesting content. Add some of that content to your Facebook page. Share a photo from a project you've done. Share something funny. Share only a couple lines from your post. Share a quote you've heard. It's not as hard as you might think. Take a minute and think about the things you enjoy seeing on Facebook. Chances are your readers are interested in the same things. Use that to your advantage. If you're a follower of Housewife Eclectic on Facebook, you've probably noticed a regular post about my four-year-old daughter. What does that have to do with Housewife Eclectic? Truthfully, nothing. But it's funny, interesting and gets people coming back for more.
    • Not everything you post has to be focused on your blog. In fact, it's probably better that it's not. You need to find a balance between blog promotion and general fun posts. There's no hard and fast rule here. It takes trial and error.
    • Know the best time of day to post. This can be a bit of trial and error, but there are some general times better than others. First thing in the morning and at night after kids have gone to bed are great times. People are likely to check their Facebook pages at those times. Lunchtime is another good time. Try mixing up your posting times and see what gets the most engagement.
    • Be careful with the type of post you choose. Each posting type has pros and cons. You may find one works better for you than another. But don't just settle with one posting style. Mix it up.
    • Be aware of the difference between high engagement and high reach. They may not always be the same. At different times in your blogging experience, you may be after different things. If you're focused on high reach, you want your posts to reach as many people as possible. However, that doesn't necessarily translate into high engagement, or how much people engage with a post by liking, commenting or sharing.
      • Photo posts have a lower reach, but a higher potential for engagement because people like photos.
      • Videos have low reach and fair engagement, depending on the video. The problem with video is it requires a time commitment from users. If the video is longer than a couple minutes, the chance of someone finishing it is small.
      • Text-only posts have high reach, but potentially low engagement. The posts about my four-year-old have high reach and high engagement, but oftentimes this isn't the case.
      • Text posts with a link have higher engagement than those without a link, but lower reach.
      • When posting a link, Facebook auto-generates a preview pane. TIP: cancel that preview. For whatever reason, Facebook serves that post up to fewer people if you include the preview. They claim that's not the case, but months of observation have proved otherwise for me.
    • Examine your posts. Each month take some time to look through your page analytics. One of my favorite analytics is the post insights.This can be found in the Facebook page dashboard. It allows you to see all your posts in a running list, with the reach and engagement front and center. Because I do social media for a living, I actually add this information to a database that analyzes the data for me so I can easily spot trends. Yes, this can be time-consuming, but the rewards of knowing which posts were successful can help you do more of them in the future.
    • Interact with your fans. If they comment, comment back. Keep a discussion going.
    • Build blogger networks. Bloggers have always been known to be good at networking with other bloggers. But somehow that networking isn't always used to full advantage. If you have a network of blogger friends, work together to help each other out. Remember, blogging is not a competition, especially if you don't have similar blogs. Share posts by your fellow bloggers. Be sure to visit their Facebook pages and comment. Share their page content from your personal Facebook account as well. Imagine if you had just five blogger friends and you each shared three posts a week from each other's page. In the course of a week, your content will have been shared a minimum of 12 times. That furthers your reach, boosts your engagement and increases the potential for your posts to go viral. And what did it cost you? A little bit of time. But, it strengthens those blogger networks and gets your information (and theirs) out there.
There are plenty of other tips, but this post is already quite long. Give these tips a try. And be patient. Just like your blog didn't get a huge following overnight, your Facebook page probably won't either. Also, don't get overly consumed with worrying about Facebook likes as the most important statistic either. Your Facebook page is a conduit to your blog. It's main purpose is to get people to see your content, regularly interact with your stuff and style and be connected with you.
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