If you are a blogger looking to make a name and work with bigger brands, but your Google Analytics is not where you want it to be, a large social media following can help you. Experts in social media will tell you that engagement is critical, naturally, but the trend now is to move into more “live” engagement. While automated tools do have their place, getting “into” the medium is your best use of time. You should not automate all the time, but you probably shouldn’t automate content 50% of the time either.
With so many tools and so little time, how can you tackle a successful social media campaign?
Step 1: Pick Your Top Tools
The first thing I advise is working on one tool at a time, getting it to a place that you’re comfortable with, moving on to the next tool you want to use, and then rotating back to improve the first one – and so on. You do not want to use every single tool available, but pick about 5 to regularly use and at least one or two to master. Work on mastering the tools you are already getting traction on in terms of followers or Google Analytics or, if you’re not getting any traction, pick theone you are on the most.
Step 2: Segregate Your Social Media
Use your social media channels in different ways and for different target audiences. This is an ideal practice for a lifestyle blogger since they cover several niches, but it works for a niched blogger too. For example, the blogger who writes recipes can share those on Facebook, can talk nutrition on Google+, can tweet about food-related giveaway, pin other people’s recipes (and a few of their own) and Instagram eating out.
Here’s how I diversity my channels as a lifestyle blogger:
Facebook Fan Page (outlook: serious, professional; focus: controversial)
Because it’s so hard to engage on Facebook, I keep it all business on this page – no humor but plenty of hot news and controversy, food activism and toxins in the news.
Facebook Personal Page (outlook: fun, light; focus: personal)
On my personal page, I engage with friends and bloggers mostly but also sharing relevant work. I take more of a “lifestyle” approach here. I might post or repost humor, crazy things that happen in my day or alternative health posts that I feel are not serious enough for my fan page.
Google+ (outlook: friendly, optimistic; mainfocus: green living, family, food)
I’m currently repositioning to mostly focus on green living and real food but here I avoid controversy and share a more inspiring look at the issues in my niches.
Pinterest (outlook: casual; main focus: food, environment) I do a lot of different boards, but my gluten free board is most successful so I spend the majority of my time pinning there, although my “Fun for Kids” board is doing well too. Essentially, I focus on food, family, crafts and toys.
Twitter (outlook: everyday, personal, light; focus: anything that interests me) I use this for everything: entering contests, sharing causes, marketing for clients, retweeting posts that fit my blog, sharing things I enjoy that are not discussed on my blog (like live tweeting elections or “The Walking Dead”). I like to say “I’m me on Twitter.” (I will be covering Twitter engagement in depth in my next post.)
Instagram (outlook:casual; focus: family) This is strictly for family photo shares. Most of the bloggers I follow do the same. Personally, I’d rather see those kinds of images rather than advertising or marketing, which feels out of place – like all those “body wraps” Instagrammers.
Now, go through your feeds and choose an outlook and focus for each of them. Dedicate one or 2 channels to your personal life and keep the rest professional or dedicated to your blog. You can still share parts of your blog on your personal channels even if you keep it private – but making it public will help get your name out there.
Step 3: Understand Your Followers
Next, you must understand how your audience uses each channel. Before deciding how to split them out, look at what the people you are following in your niche are using it and adapt to that. You need to really keep track of what they are reacting and overreacting to. Follow their hashtags and stop by the online parties or events they are attending. Go back to their sites to get an overview of their blogs. Share about controversial figures in your realm and gage the reactions.
Here is an example of how this works for me: I blog about food activism, but I’m also a brand ambassador for Silk. While the both may seem to be linked, the audience for one can be opposed to the other. So I keep most of my posts for Silk on my personal Facebook page, Pinterest and G+, and share them in my regular blogger comment groups, while keeping them away from my activist comment groups. This sort of segmenting allows you to diversify into more topics, even under the same niche.
I’m happy to say that Facebook engagement has picked up for me and I’ve moved up in the rank of how often my posts get seen – the more important part. My weekly post reach went from a handful a week to roughly 1000 per week, which is about 20% engagement, up from 1% or less– a good number for brands at this point. Here is what I have done, in combination with giveaways, to get more Facebook traction:
Very Frequent Posting:
This is my top tip and it has worked wonders with getting my posts seen. I post as much as humanly possible. The more I post, the more my stream is seen – and the days I don’t post much, much less gets seen.
Posting Earlier in the Day: The earlier I posted, the better a post did – even before I got to my desk, which is interesting since I’m on the East Coast in the US so that’s pretty early! Check out your Insights to see what times work best for you – it will also tell what kind of updates do best. You can automate your early post the night before, then engage live in comments the next day.
Posting from Experts: Again, it’s not just what I posted, it’s whose data I shared. When I share an item with hashtags and my own comments from someone important, say Robyn O’Brien of “Unhealthy Truth”, I great better engagement. I’m posting about 70% relevant data from experts in my area, and 25% of my own posts with just a few from friends.
Comment on Posts and Shares:
I try to engage here by posting something controversial and asking readers what they think or how they react, or how this has affected me.
Use Visuals Properly:
The post that has the most organic engagement for me had a video attached to it, so I recommend sharing videos in your topic. Also, create the properly sized images. In fact, you can upload an image with a different size if your blog photo is not right See Louise Myer’s Essential Facebook Photo Dimensions 2014 for exact sizes.
Boost a Post:
There’s so much controversy over this, but if you want to invest $5 to boost a post and see what happens, I say go for it at least once. Make sure it’s a really valuable post! The last one I boosted was a giveaway and I got 1,000 visits from that one-day investment. It’s not something you can do on a regular basis unless you have a big budget, but if your curiosity has the best of you, boost content that you really want to get out there, like expert tips or a free eBook you’ve written. It is definitely worth a shot. Take care to follow their guidelines for images and make sure your boost is worth it. $5 for 1000 views is a great bargain, but for 130 views – not so great.
I honestly don’t do it quite as much as I should but it’s worked well when I knew the person and she was an expert or had a large following. If you don’t know the person, you may run the risk of getting blocked from that user.
Use Facebook Targeting:
Now Facebook also gives you the option to target your audience, rather than sending your posts to everyone. You can select a target based on Gender, Relationship or Educational Status, Interested in (men or women), Age, Location and Language. For example, if I have a post about an alternative health event or giveaway, you can target your location to a certain, Country, Region or State, or City. That is extremely useful for promoting events and giveaways with a local focus.
Bloggers still have mixed feelings on whether or not to use Google+. and how much time to dedicate to it. G+ is one of those tools that you truly need to personally engage. On Google+, there are more people and groups sharing information than companies who are using it as a marketing tool. Because G+ is valuable for search engine positioning, it’s worth it to invest the time.
Here are some beginner steps:
Get on G+ and engage with bloggers in the niche you want and create a circle of them. Do this by finding them in other forms of social media.
Use G+ like your blog excerpt page. Post your own content properly by writing an excerpt about your content ending in a question, lining up relevant hashtags below, tagging key players, and adding a fabulous image.
Start by giving members +1’s and comments within that circle. Respond with meaningful discussion and not just “cool!”
Tag them individually with helpful posts. Please don’t limit it to your own posts, but items that will truly be of value or curiosity to them.
Target your shares. The advantage is that you can target more finely as opposed to Facebook. Your first step is creating and joining circles and tagging people into the right circles, knowing who the key players are and socializing with them. \ If I had a local event, I could just share with my Philly Social Moms Circle. When I have a gluten free recipe, I share that my gluten and allergy free bloggers. This is an excellent way to sort and target posts for people who have multiple niches.
Check out your analytics in pins. This will help a lot! It’ll show you what boards are working and which are not, so you can focus your energy on the more popular boards.
Get invited to group boards – or create your own. Pinning with a team on a common topic is great idea. Note that right now, holiday and seasonal boards are hot. The best way to accomplish this is to be part of a blogger group and finding people with common interests.
Request an invitation for Ahalogy. This is a great scheduling tool for Pinterest, but it also allows for engagement and lets you know when it’s time to repin a pin. It also provides additional stats and more advanced tools as you use it.
Check your Google Analytics – you should be getting traffic from Pinterest as well. If not, make sure you are taking these tips. (I assume you have set up your website to be linked to your Pinterest page.)
Embed your board in relevant blog post to invite people to follow.
It’s SO easy: take a great photo and share it – or take a crummy photo, filter it, then share it! First you need to start following people.
If you can find a blogger share group, follow and have people follow back. The key is to see what the people you are following are sharing and imitate it. Top tips:
Hashtag a lot. I recently a photo of my daughter’s Halloween costume, hashtagged it “#frozen” and the official Frozen account liked my image. If Frozen or Disney were my focus, I would follow them and start tagging frozen items as much as possible.
Like other photos, even ones you find in explore.
Commenting! Like Pinterest, this is not used as much as on other mediums, so it gets you noticed. Again, start a meaningful conversation and be flattering.
Use Iconosquare. In addition to in-depth statistics, you get tools plugins, and more. In fact, they have a plugin so you can install your feed on your website. It takes no more than 5 minutes!
Take a look at those recommendations and start going through your own social media channels to create your own plan and start generating more social media followers now!
Article by Gina Badalaty
Gina Badalaty is the owner of Embracing Imperfect, a blog devoted to encouraging and assisting moms of children with special needs and restricted diets. Gina has been blogging about parenting, raising children with disabilities, and allergy-free living for over 12 years. She’s blogs at Mamavation.com, and has blogged for major brands like Silk and Glutino. She also works as a copywriter and brand ambassador. She loves engaging on social media, travel and cooking gluten-free.