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Blogging 201: Dig Deep into a Social Network

Focus on one social network to grow your blog. Connect it to your site, and think through how you’ll use strategically it over the next month.

Welcome to Blogging U! This course isn't currently active, but you can learn more about what we offer and register for upcoming courses on the BU home page.

You’ve been doing a great job branding your site, but we don’t live in isolation (and neither does your blog). Making use of social networks spreads your brand to  bigger circles of potential fans — but the internet is a vast playground, so you’ll want to choose where and how to focus your energies thoughtfully.

Today’s Assignment: pick one social network you’ll use to help grow your blog and connect it to your site. Then, outline a a 30-day plan for how you’ll use it.

Why do this?

  • Because 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.
  • Because social networks are a great place to continue conversations that are tangential to your blog, or to experiment with content.

Need to create a profile?

To create a Facebook page, log in to your account and head to Create a Page. Choose “Brand or Product page” and select the “Website” category. You’ll administer this page through your personal account, but there won’t be any visible link between them. (Visit our tutorial for more.)

To create a profile on Twitter, sign out of your personal profile, if you have one, and sign up for a new one — these will be 100% separate. The same goes for Instagram.

With Pinterest, you have two choices: if you don’t have an account, create a new one for your blog. If you already use Pinterest, you can also just create a board for your blog. (Either way, you can use Pinterest Site Verification to connect your blog to your account.)

Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest, oh My!

Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, Instagram, LinkedIn…where to start? A big brand might use every single one, but a big brand also has a social media department. You have the Department of You, so be selective.

Each network has different strengths. acebook and Instagram are good for parenting, lifestyle, and personal blogs. Twitter is more technically-inclined and useful for pop culture and current events/political blogs, while Pinterest is great for blogs lots of images, like food, fashion, and craft blogs. LinkedIn is ideal if you blog for business.

(That being said, there are no real rules. There’s a thriving food blog community on LinkedIn, and lots of writers using Pinterest who never use a photo.)

One way to start is by checking out blogs similar to yours (or that you admire). What networks do they use? What are they sharing there? What are their fans chatting about? There’s a bit of trial-and-error involved here, so do some investigation, pick a network that feels like a good fit, and give it a whirl.

Make the Connections

Once you’ve chosen a network, make it easy for you and your readers to share your stuff and find you there.

Sharing Buttons are an easy way to encourage readers to share your posts without being pushy. They’re just there at the bottom of a post, making themselves available but being cool about it. Here’s how they look on my personal blog:

sharing

Many themes, like FictiveGalleryStay, and Profile, have built-in graphics to link your blog to your social media profiles, too. Find them under Appearance → Theme Options.

To add them, visit Settings → Sharing and scroll down to Sharing Buttons. Drag in the services you’d like to have displayed, order them however you’d like, edit the heading, and presto! You can also choose from different button styles — I like the colorful round icons, presented in order of hue to satisfy my anal tendencies, but there are monochromatic and text versions as well. You’ll see a field for your Twitter handle if you’d like it to be included when a reader shares a post to Twitter.

Publicize automates the act of  sharing new posts. You’ll also find this on the  Settings → Sharing page. (If you have a self-hosted WordPress site, you can add Publicize with the Jetpack plugin.)

When you’re drafting a post, you’ll see your social networks listed by the Publish button. If you click “Edit,” you can control which networks you share to and the message you share. Tease readers about your post. Add a relevant hashtag or “@” mention. Ask a provocative question. The default is your post title, which is fine, but feels automated. Customizing the text lets you throw in a little more enticement.

Finally, sidebars are also a useful place to plug your social networking presence. WordPress.com has widgets for InstagramTwitter, Flickr, Goodreads, BandPage, and Facebook. (Self-hosted bloggers can find plug ins to add similar widgets.) We also love using custom image widgets — they’re great for branding, and easy to make with tools like PicMonkey.

Using Networks Wisely

Okay, so you have your page/profile/board set up. Now what?

Using networks well means a lot more than just publicizing your posts; if that’s all you’re doing, you’re not really using them at all.

Social networks are about creating a sense of community with your readers. Don’t just use your Facebook page to Publicize your blog posts: share other interesting, 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 networks become 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.

Most networks also give you useful information about your followers. Facebook 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. On Twitter, you can see what tweets are most often retweeted.

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.
  • I’ll ask one question a week.
  • I’ll participate in three other discussions.

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.

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Comments

  1. I did put on a tumblr page but it becomes neglected over time. It’s hard to log in and out when you have two accounts in a certain site. I did incorporate my personal instagram but it’s beginning to get hard keeping them in sync. Well it’s a good thing you take social networks into account. Hopefully this helps me keep it up to date more. =.=

    What’s the best social platform do you prefer?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I find all the other platforms sort of exhausting. I feel like I work on the writing and the photos, and mulling over the ideas, and then I’m sort of done. Even though I know I should do more, I only do Facebook, LinkedIn and Tumblr. But I haven’t really looked at Tumblr for a while. I don’t really get Twitter. I’ve no idea how I would put my stuff into a form for that platform – does anyone have further suggestions/

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This is fab!! thank you for all of your wonderful advice and tips!! I hope it works for my blog. If people could check out my blog in general and drop some tips – I’d love it! Thank you.
    Kirsty ox

    Like

  4. I have added the twitter widget since I am actively use it for publicising my post. But I don’t like the placement… Its at the bottom of the page and I want to put position it either on the left or right hand side of the page

    Like

  5. Thanks for the push! I had set one of my goals on day 1 as “create a Facebook page when I’ve reached 50 followers” because I wanted to blog more instead of working out administrative things like that. But it was so easy with step-by-step instructions, and I figured 35 followers (thanks to Blogging 201!) is close enough to 50. It’s pretty sparse at present. Would love some feedback on what people think about it. Should I add more in the “about” section on my Facebook page?
    Here’s the Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/TravellingOmnomnivore/timeline
    And here’s my About page on my blog: https://travellingomnomnivore.wordpress.com/about/

    Also, I’ve been happily Pinning away for some time now, so that’s never been a problem. But I’m somewhat puzzled over my Instagram account. It’s just the same thing as Pinterest, do you think?

    Like

  6. Very new to the twittersphere (@laidigsbroadway), and much though I don’t like the site, it is so much better than sharing posts on my personal facebook. It just felt weird before, and I eventually came to the conclusion that it also didn’t make any sense.

    Like

  7. This was great. I also have just started my blog (as of this weekend) and not sure where I’m really heading with it. I would appreciate some tips and feedback on my site and writings. My goal is to write about marketing in hopes of future employers seeing it.

    Any feedback can help, thanks!

    Like

  8. Thank you for the tips, Michelle. I think I will pass this assignment for now as I was getting the error message below and can’t seem to circumvent it. I will try and do it later.

    “WordPress will receive the following info: your public profile and friend list.
    This does not let the app post to Facebook.”

    Like

  9. Great tips!! I have a FB page set up for my blog but haven’t interacted much with it before today. I am going to see who else that I currently follow has FB pages linked up and follow them on FB as well. More interaction than just on our blogs. I love all this sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I have the following links associated with my blog site; Pinterest, Tumbler, Facebook, Linking, Google+, Bloglovin, and the newest site, Tremr.com. Checkout these sites as I have posted to all many different articles and I have linked several from my WordPress site to automatically post on some of the linked sites.

    I attended the Florida Writers conference over the weekend, along with a meeting of members who plan to participate in the National Novel Writing Month event scheduled for the month of November.

    http://nanowrimo.org/dashboard

    Give me some feed back on the set up and liked sites. Check them out!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. On my Twitter page that’s connected to my blog, isn’t updating my follower amount. I have 200 followers but WordPress is only counting 167. Do I have to re-connect my Twitter to my blog for it to update?

    Thanks,
    James

    Like

  12. Hi everyone, I’ve had the social network buttons installed on my blog for sometime now, and I think they’re great! Not only do they provide users with a place to show their appreciation for your work, but they also provide a great aesthetic to a blog; they make it look diverse, and exportable across all platforms.

    If you’d like to see my blog, ask some questions, or offer some suggestions, you can find it at http://www.jimbotimes.com.

    Thanks, and write on!

    </:D

    Like

  13. I use FB, Pinterest and Twitter to spread word about my blog. I just started Twitter a couple of weeks ago per a suggestion in an art magazine and have actually seen my blog stats double on post days. I tweet and re-tweet about other artist’s work I admire, or art business ideas that I think may help others. I honestly had no idea it would be such a fun and engaging endeavor. Twitter is worth a try if you want to grow your numbers.:)
    http://sbhansenart.com/
    https://twitter.com/SbhansenART

    Like

  14. So smart! Great Advice…Per your suggestion, I started a Page Larkin Pinterest Page…who knew I would be so consumed with the fun-of-it-all? Not convinced it is a great blogging conduit. Ask a question very day is brilliant – thanks for great insights! Cheers,

    Like

  15. Hi, I finished my 30-Day Calendar, but it may change as time permits. But I want to make sure that work is done. You may take a look: lorac888890.wordpress.com

    Like

  16. Ok, my blog is connected to both a personal and Author FB page, witter, google +, tumbler and Pinterest. Whenever I post it is automacially sent to these forums. I admit i have been negligent on doing more on my author page and twitter. My 30 day plan includes: Engaging at least daily on twitter, and revamping my author FB page. You can find me on twitter @cofcmom; Goggle + @ google.com/+SheilaGood2014cowpasturechronicles; Pinterest @ http://www.pinterest.com/cofcmom05; and my author FB Page
    @ facebook.com/SheilaMGood. Please check me out. Thanks

    Like