Blogging and Social Media

By Joe Cunningham, Internet Marketing Manager

If you haven’t read the first blog in the two-punch series, I recommend checking it out: on “Blogging and SEO.”  Last time we talked about how to modify your blog post itself to optimize for search engine traffic: that’s only half the battle.  This time we will talk about how blogging interacts with social media as the most fundamental means of transportation to get people to your blog.

Link Bait

This is an SEO term meaning “free stuff web guys make to get people to want to link to them.”  (Urban SEO Dictionary)  Web videos, eBooks, infographics, reports (like Cowley’s “Freebies”, and memes are all examples of popular link bait.  (Think fishing, not that hard.)

FishingBlogs are also primary examples of link bait.  Think about it.  Who wants to write a discourse when all you have to do is post a link from someone who already did and did a better job?  We live in the “Information Age” where social media is the primary medium people use online to share stuff.  I never read paragraphs on Facebook and Twitter doesn’t even allow more than 140 characters.  So if you want to make a detailed point: you link to a blog.

Why Social Media?

In case you didn’t get that point, social media is, in my opinion, the easiest way to promote your blog and get people to read it.  SEO is better (people searching and finding you for that topic on a regular basis) but it takes a while and a lot of things to get ranking traction.  And social media is an extremely important factor in good SEO: it tells Google real people verify that you (or your organization or blog) is legit.

There’s always emailing your blog to everyone you know (did that for a while), but then there are those awkward conversations and stares at family gatherings that go something like, “Dude will you stop emailing me that s[tuff]?”  Trust me; social media works better all around.

Social Media Tips for Bloggers

Here are some tips for how to use social media to increase the effectiveness of your blog.  You’re looking to get more traffic to your website via blog readers.  This positive activity is also going to increase your SEO.  And whether or not you’re a business looking to get new biz, you can monetize your site to get cash from ad views.  Google that because that’s another blog for another time.

(Author’s note: in order to follow the “brevity” rule, I’m giving you more of the “what” to do here.  For the “how” use Google.)

Crazy FansPromote Your Blog Posts via Your Fan Pages and Platforms

This is “Blogging and Social Media” 101.  If you are a business or organization (like Cowley) you already (should) have a Facebook fan page, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, or whatever you can handle (start with Facebook and Twitter also if you can).  If you are a blogger, social networks encourage you also to have a fan page!  Follow the guidelines on each social media to set that up correctly but do it!  Then you will reach people who you wouldn't otherwise "friend."

Once you have one, build your audience by inviting friends and contacts to “like” or “follow.”  Then, whenever you write a new blog, post the link there.  You fans get it in their feed and voila, hopefully click, read, like, and share.

Using Groups and Online Forums

The tool I use most in this regard is LinkedIn.  Love it!  There are a myriad of types of groups for every professional niche.  I’m in about five different “social media clubs” myself which actually helps keep me up on what’s going on and allows me to share blogs like this as open forums.  And people do “forum” them (read, and then ask me questions or make comments).  Enough said.

Use Blog Share Sites

I confess to not being an expert here but am a very amateur “Reddit man."  There’s also StumbleUpon, Digg, and a host of others that allow you to post links to your blogs for the blog-reading community to view and interact with.  Same idea applies.  I manage an SEO team that does a lot of that.  Worth looking into for the average Joe too.

Use Hash Tags Effectively

This is kind of self-explanatory.  Facebook just launched theirs and LinkedIn not long before.  You’d be surprised how many bloggers omit a hash tag, making it harder (okay, like that, organically impossible) for their post to get picked up in a trend search in that medium.  One poignant tag will at least set you up to get searched.

Use a Link Shortener

Bitly is my favorite but there are many.  Posting www.idontknowhowtodothis/ireallydont/hahahaha/blognumber1/okayjoking.html is not at all attractive on social media.  So shorten it before you post it.

PinterestUse Pinterest

That’s right, I gave it its own point.  Pinterest is really a marvel.  Every good blog post should have at least one picture to capture reader attention; pictures can be pinned on Pinterest (read all about it [insert link]) – “No, really?”; and if you pin something it links to where you pinned it from.  Use the description box well to convince people to click through and read the blog the picture or graph came from.  Yet another great idea I have great success with because pictures go viral so fast on Pinterest.  Which means your link went viral.

Social Share Buttons

This is more of an on-site thing, but I’m sure you’ve seen most blogs have those boxes and buttons at the bottom or side that let you share the blog via email or social media immediately.  If you want someone to dig, give them a shovel, so to speak.  Just a simple, widely-practiced, good idea.

CommunityInteract with the Community

This may be my most important piece of advice.  When I took a course on blogging in college, my teacher would add a new dimension each week.  One week he said to find a blog similar to mine (I was currently writing movie reviews) and then create my own blog as an answer to a discussion another film blog was having and then post to that conversation a link to my own blog.  I will never forget how effective that was.

There are many social media “communities” out there on most every platform.  Try it: create a blog response.  That’s a comment that won’t be deleted because of irrelevancy.  There’s nothing like an annoying blogger that post his car sales tips blog randomly on a mortician forum.  You get the idea.  I’m sure you’ve gotten an email that says, “Excuse me, we met in high school: go to right now and claim your prize.”

To illustrate interacting with the community, I will end with this example.  Many of you have run into Cowley’s relatively new mascot, Poe the Gnome.  If you read the last blog, you will remember he started out as just a blog reminder/paperweight on associates’ desks.  Well, push came to shove and we started taking him around and making him a mini-social media celebrity and connector downtown: taking pictures of him with local businesses such as Café Kubal (@CafeKubal), The Landmark Theatre (@SyrLandmark), and more.  However, that wasn’t enough.  We were getting more fans on social media but wanted to harness the buzz more towards the website itself to get people there.  So we blogged about Poe’s adventures and then shared those blogs and pictures on our platforms!  (Genius!)  And not only that, but the fact that we had showcased a local biz for free made them link to us all over their social media and even websites!  (An SEO grand slam!)

Poe's Cappuccino at KubalSince employing this strategy, the number of retweets and shares for our Poe blogs have increased exponentially and we’ve attracted more than double the number of fans across most every platform.  People love mascots and we’re doing it for a good cause: promoting local which is our own lifeblood as well.

In Short

A blogger can’t not be social to get the word out.  That’s all ye need to know from this blog, all there is to know.  To coin a phrase.

Share your “Blogging and Social Media” best practices in the comments below.

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