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Remember me? It’s been a whole week since I harped about the need for good pictures and gave you lots of photography tips. If you’re late to the party (this is the 6th blogging tips post I’ve done so far), you can check out the rest of my Blogging Success Series here.
So today I’m addressing social media. Social media being platforms like Facebook and Pinterest. Those are my two biggies. I do a little bit on YouTube, I haven’t taken to Twitter or Instagram yet, and I don’t waste my time with Google+.
Needless to say, today’s culture is muchly wrapped up in social media. Therefore, it behooves the blogger to tap into this wide resource. As of this past month 69% of my traffic came from social media platforms. That’s a lot.
I’m going to talk about the social media platforms that I use (mainly Facebook and Pinterest), but there are others out there that can be advantageous. I haven’t joined Twitter or Instagram mostly just because I don’t have time and don’t want to get too complicated. I’d like to do Instagram because I think it would be fun, but when you have a dumb phone (instead of a smart phone), it’s kind of unwieldy to take a picture with a camera and upload it to a laptop in order to post something.
Here are a few general tips regarding using social media advantageously:
- Use the same name and profile picture on all your social media platforms for a cohesive, easy-to-remember look.
- Definitely create Facebook and Pinterest accounts for your website. I recommend that these be separate from your personal social media accounts for several reasons: a) privacy for you, b) a more professional feel, and c) so that people can get what they come for and don’t have to put up with all your personal interests if they don’t want to. There is definitely a place to share some of your personal life with your readers to keep their interest and let them see the face behind the blog, but doing this should be at your own discretion in limited doses so as to keep a professional look. Besides, if you’re like me, you want a little privacy.
- If you’re a food blog, submit your recipes to Foodgawker.com. It’s like a classy Pinterest for professional foodies. When your pictures get accepted, you get a little extra traffic plus (and perhaps more importantly) exposure in the greater blogging community. If people know you exist, they can ask permission to use your recipes in roundups and the like. Foodgawker is a good networking tool. Check out other people’s recipes and go comment to make your name known. Also, some bigger companies use Foodgawker as a way to connect with bloggers who would be good fits for their products or services.
- When you comment on people’s blogs, make sure to add your blog name with your own name when you sign in so people know where to find you. I sign in as “Briana Thomas (briana-thomas.com)”. Always put your website address in the “website” blank so people get directed to your site when they click on your name.
- Make sure you have a Gravatar (Gravatar.com). Gravatars are basically profile pictures that are associated with a certain email address. Most comment sections on blogs will pull a Gravatar photo associated with your email address if there is one. This just helps put you out there and catches people’s eyes. Again, use the same profile picture that you use with all your platforms for a continuous look.
- Make sure you have easy-to-see buttons to your social media pages in your posts and sidebar so people can follow you.
- Be aware of the best times to post on social media. This could vary according to what groups you’re a part of and what your audience is, but as a general rule, I’ve found that evenings are the best time of day to post. Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays have been good times for me. Mondays often aren’t quite as good, Friday nights can be surprisingly dead at times (I guess people are busy doing other things), and I give myself a break on Sundays so I’m really not sure how active things are then. Of course this all varies, and a good post that resonates with the audience will often take off no matter what day it is. Holidays are usually dead.
- Be trendy, and post things before it’s time for them. Holiday traffic is some of the best there is because everyone is just looking for new holiday recipes to try. If you’re in the healthy food world, this time can be especially good for you because you’re there to provide healthy alternatives to all the old favorites. It’s good to post holiday recipes weeks in advance, while people are in preparation mode. Don’t post a recipe on the day of (or even a day or two before) and expect it to take off. Most people have already done their shopping and preparation before Christmas Day. Be aware of what kinds of recipes people are interested in. Scroll Foodgawker and Pinterest to see what’s trending. Warning: pumpkin recipes coming September 1st. Always happens. Always early. Everyone is pumpkined out long before Thanksgiving, but that’s OK because the Christmas recipes start rolling early too. To be honest, you need to be prepping Thanksgiving recipes now if you don’t want to miss the eight ball.
- See who’s talking about you. I share a lot of my recipes to different Facebook groups, and I use the search feature quite often to type my name in (because my name also happens to be in my website address, so if someone shared a link from my site, I’ll see the post) and see who’s talking about me. This way I can answer questions and just generally keep tabs on which of my recipes are trending and why.
- Be considerate in Facebook groups and don’t just show up to share your recipes. Interact a little so people can get to know you. Be interested in them, not just in promoting your stuff.
- Provide pinnable images and links to pins in your posts. This is huge, because Pinterest is a huge source of traffic. I’ve started making long images to pin for each post. They are much more attention-grabbing on Pinterest than regular-sized images. I currently make an image sized 740 x 1611 pixels to serve as an image for Pinterest (check out any of my recent recipe posts to see an example). I put it in my post and size it down to 375 pixels across so it doesn’t take up the whole screen. I then go ahead and pin this image to one of my Pinterest boards and put the link to my pin both in a text link as well as make the pinnable image itself a clickable link to the pin. This is handy for people who don’t know how to create pins themselves. I have a handy plugin called “Pinterest Pin It Button For Images” that places a “Pin it” button on all the images in a post when someone hovers over them. This is another good tool to promote Pinterest traffic.
- Networking. This is a huge part of social media: interacting with other bloggers in your sphere so you can help each other out. I’ll be sharing a post on this topic before too long because it’s really important.
- Have a list (either on paper, your computer, or in your head) of places to share each post. Taking an organized approach to social media sharing helps ensure a) you don’t miss sharing a post to any important venues, and b) you can share things efficiently. Once I post a recipe post, it probably takes me 10-15 minutes to add it to my recipe index page, upload it to Foodgawker, pin it to one of my Pinterest boards, add the pin link to the post, pin the recipe to several community boards I’m a part of, share the post link and pin to my Facebook page, and share the link to several groups on Facebook. I try to spread out the Facebook sharing a little (i.e. not upload a post to all my groups at once), but I try to get most of the other stuff done all at once so I don’t have to worry about it later.
I could write a very long time on what I’ve learned through using social media to promote my blogging work, but this post is long enough. A lot of this is a learned art; you’ll learn how to use social media advantageously through practice and a little deduction.
There are 3-4 more posts coming up in my Blogging Success Series, including posts on blogging etiquette and networking, how to make money blogging, and a post full of random blogging tips that didn’t really fit into any of my other posts. I hope you’ve been enjoying reading these posts as much as I’ve enjoyed writing them!