We all agree that social media networks offer a number of benefits to bloggers. We can build a following on these sites, make new friends and connections, and share, collaborate, and interact in real time.This is great—and there’s no doubting that sites like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, YouTube, and SoundCloud offer us a real opportunity to connect.
Yet in terms of traffic, many of us struggle.
Getting traffic through social media might seem like it’s about getting users to share your content. But that challenge in itself raises all kinds of issues:
- titles, images, calls to action, and presentation
- how you respond to social network visitors
- what social search could, to should, mean to you
- your involvement and presence on these networks.
- social currency systems
- social media advertising
- social media contests and competitions
- social media events.
We’ve discussed many of these issues in detail on the blog, so today I’m interested in going a bit deeper with the discussion and looking at social media at a more fundamental level.
Where will you share?
We all know about shiny object syndrome, and have felt the temptation to join the latest social network simply because everyone else seems to be getting on board. This is definitely a case of reactionary blogging—simply doing something because we don’t want to be left behind the mainstream. It’s usually not the best way to go.
Thinking about your audiences—that is, your current audience and your desired audience—and where they hang out online is the best way to choose the social networks where you’ll have a presence. But that’s not the only thing to look at.
We also need to consider where we can best dedicate our time and how much we can take on. It’s all too easy to be overwhelmed, but I know that the more I focus my efforts, the better off I am.
So before you launch yourself onto the nest social media platform, consider whether you’ll reach your target audiences in that space. If not, it might be best to hold off until you feel it’s worth your while.
What will you share?
This seems like a fairly basic question. What will you share? Well, your content, right?
That might be fine in most cases, but if you find your audience on a particular network represents a particular subsegment of your desires readership, perhaps you’ll shape your updates—and the content you share—specifically to them.
The idea of a social network being a mass communication medium through which we update our followers on everything we blog may change as the shape of social networking changes from mass networks to niche networks.
So perhaps we should be prepared—by experimenting and trialling this for ourselves, starting now—to shape the information you share specifically to your following on a given network.
This will likely affect the traffic our social media updates generate in and of themselves, as well as the traffic they generate through resharing.
How will you share it?
There’s good old, tried and tested, low-budget organic social sharing: creating an update (text, images, and/or video) and sharing it through the social networks of your choice.
But now we’re seeing a bounty of other sharing options flood onto the market:
These tactics can of course be used individually, but if you have a strong following and presence on a particular network, you might look at using them together, in a sort of campaign-style approach to gaining traffic.
In any case, it’s safe to say that you no longer have to slog it out updating your status with lonely links: there are plenty of tools that can help you get more bang for your buck when it comes to sharing—and gain more traffic and, ultimately, build your audience as a result.
That said, since they began, social networks have been important points of connection—so sharing all the time, rather than balancing those efforts with other forms of engagement (like responding to the work of others, curating broader information for your followers, making genuine connections and helping others out, and so on), is a fast track to failure.
In this way, social media really does mirror real life. While social networks are great places to share, if your sharing is to be effective, it must be tempered by true engagement and a genuine interest in others.
How will you manage the traffic?
So, let’s say your social media efforts have been successful and your latest update is sending masses of traffic to your site. This is great news! If, that is, you’re prepared.
Momekh recently pointed out the benefits that can be gained by building targeted landing pages for your social network visitors. He did this through the his network bio, but if you target your content—and share it—to certain specific networks (rather than blanketing all networks with the same update), you can take his advice a step further.
This can be a great way to build upon the engagement you’ve established through your persona on a given network, and use that to make people feel at home on your blog. Why not create an article targeted right at your Pinterest followers—something that speaks to them directly, and includes a call to action for them to join or subscribe to your site? Then, share it on that network, with a targeted, specifically Pinterest-y update, and see what happens.
The results of this kind of targeted communication might just surprise you.
Of course, there are other techniques you can try. As you may have seen, sometimes I’ll include hashtags in posts and their titles, to encourage and frame a discussion about them on Twitter. I’ve found this a really great way to help readers to connect off the site, in a different forum.
If those posts are shared, they can also help people who are new to ProBlogger get a feel for our community in a forum with which they’re familiar and comfortable. And once they start to feel an affinity with my brand, they’re probably more likely to at least follow the ProBlogger Twitter account, if not bookmark the blog or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Do you track the results of your social media efforts? I’m intrigued to hear how you’re handling the task of generating traffic through social media—and what you do with it once it gets to your blog. Share your expertise with us below.