This post is based on episode 73 of the ProBlogger podcast.
For the past month or so I’ve been talking a lot about email lists – how to grow them, incentives you can use to grow them, and even how to take advantage of them through autoresponders.
But this week I want to talk about social media, and how you can use it to get even more traffic and engagement on your blog.
The power of social media
As I keep saying, email is still the best way to connect with your readers. But if you’ve set up your email list and are sending out newsletters regularly, it’s worth turning your attention to social media. It’s a great secondary point of connection, and can help you drive traffic to your blog and connect with your readers even more. (It also helps you connect with those readers who aren’t interested in email.)
But the social media space is constantly changing – not just in the platforms available but also in the way they work. I’m sure Facebook changes its algorithms whenever the wind changes direction. And unless you’re getting results, taking the time to create and publish social media can feel like a complete waste of time.
So it’s worth taking a look at how you’re using social and what you might need to change. Even if your results don’t change, you might find a way to create and publish your posts more quickly. And as we all know, time is one of most precious resources.
A change in direction
Back in 2014 I looked at how I was using social media and realized I needed to make some changes, particularly with my ProBlogger accounts.
For a start, they were quite boring to look at. Back then the bulk of my tweets were about new jobs on our job board and the latest posts on the site. And I didn’t include visuals with any of them.
Another other problem was that I really wasn’t offering much to my followers. Most of my posts were focused on selling. There were no links to evergreen content. I wasn’t promoting my new content very well either, and I was posting quite sporadically.
A big reason for all of this is that I was spending a lot of time managing the social media accounts for Digital Photography School (my main blog). I didn’t have any systems or routines in place to feed any of my accounts, and so it came down to how much time I had and where I spent it.
And even if I could spend 10 or 15 minutes creating a visual to go with my post, it seemed like a waste of time. In a matter of minutes my post would disappear, never to be seen again.
But by the following year I’d completely changed my approach to social media. And based on the feedback I started getting from my readers and followers, I was getting the results I was hoping for. People would come up to me at conferences and say, “Hey, I’ve noticed something’s different about ProBlogger. It seems more professional. It seems like you’re doing more stuff.”
So what changed? Well, a lot. But rather than list everything I did in that 12 months, I’m going to give you four questions that I want you answer.
Why? Because answering these questions will give you a framework for auditing your social media – no matter what platform you’re using.
1. Where are my readers?
Do any of your readers hang out on social media? If so, where do they hang out?
There’s no point in hanging out on Twitter if all your readers prefer using Facebook. Yes, you might be able to attract new readers there. But you won’t be able to provide your current readers with any real value, because none of them will see your posts.
So find out what social media platforms they use, and whether they prefer one over the others.
How? By asking.
Whenever you chat with a reader, ask what social media platforms they use. Add the question to your newsletter. Include a question like “What social networks are you using?” in your next survey. You could even ask other bloggers in your niche what social media platforms they tend to focus on.
For platforms such as Facebook and LinkedIn, you might want to go a little deeper. Are there any particular groups they like hanging out in? And how do they feel about live streaming? Some of your readers might prefer to sit back and listen rather than having to read.
Which brings me to my next question…
2. What type of content do my readers respond to?
Take a look at the posts that got lots or shares, retweets, comments, etc. Do they have anything in common – images, video, quotes, links – that your readers seem to prefer?
When I analyzed my ProBlogger, I found my readers responded very positively to visual content. On our Twitter account, any tweet with a nice graphic or image got retweeted and shared five times as much as text-only content. And it was the same on our Facebook page.
Live content also seemed to have a big impact on our readers. While those Twitter chats, Facebook Lives and webinars weren’t shared a lot, the readers who joined me in those interactions became incredibly engaged. So much so that they became advocates for the blog.
On Twitter, I found that any posts where I shared the slides from a talk I was giving did really well. These scored on two fronts – they were visual, and included good information.
So take a look at the kind of content you (and others in your niche) get good responses from, and use it to help you decide what to post in future.
3. How often (and at what times) do I want to post?
To answer this question you’ll need to take a few things into account:
- the platforms you use
- how many social media accounts you have on each one
- how much time you can spend engaging on them
- how much content your readers want.
With these in mind, create a calendar and start mapping out when you want to share content on each platform. Do you want to tweet five times a day? Ten? Fifty? It’s totally up to you. And while you may not need (or even want) to post on Facebook 50 times a day, you should come up with a number that you’re happy with.
Once you’ve decided how many times you’ll post each week, and slotted the times into your calendar, it’s time to think about what you’ll be posting. And this is where your answers to the second question will come in handy, because you can start slotting the types of content that readers like. You might decide to post a quote each morning to get people thinking, and perhaps something funny on Friday afternoons to get them ready for the weekend. On Sundays you might share links to longer content so they read it while sipping a cup of coffee.
Of course, the more content you want to post, the more work it’s going to take. Which is why you need to ask yourself one more question.
4. What’s the most efficient way to post my content?
If you’re just starting out on social media, you might be able to get by with creating all your posts manually. But as your blog becomes more popular, and your readership grows, you may find it more and more difficult to find the time.
So what can you do?
One option is to outsource the work to someone else. Tell them what you want to post, and the content you want to link to, and have them create and publish the posts. This can be a great option if you know what visuals you want, but don’t have the skills to create them yourself.
However, you may need to do a trial run before handing your social media posts over to someone else. If your is heavily tied to you (as ProBlogger is to me), then you need someone who can write posts in the same voice you use for everything else.
Another option is to take advantage of some of the tools that are available. We use CoSchedule – an editorial calendar that has some amazing tools for scheduling social media posts. Whenever we publish a new post on ProBlogger we also schedule five Twitter posts and four Facebook posts to go out at various times over four weeks.
Before I wrap up this week’s post, I need to remind you that the changes I’ve talked about in this post took me a year to make. Auditing your social media platforms and making the changes isn’t something you can achieve overnight.
And it’s not something you can do once and then forget about either. As I said, these platforms are constantly changing, and what worked a year ago might not be working as well now. You need to keep doing it, though how often is something you’ll need to work out for yourself.
So are you ready to optimize your social media? Let us know in the comments.
Photo by Carlos Alberto Gómez Iñiguez on Unsplash