Getting Social on Social Media

Today we continue the blogging tips series. Last week we discussed blog commenting etiquette. This week we focus on getting social on social media.

Since this is something that I am still working at trying to fit into my routine, we’re lucky to have a guest contributing her advice. I’m sure a lot of you will be familiar with her and know how well she does with this kind of thing.

Putting the “Social” in Social Media

This is a guest post from Andrea Whitmer, a 29 year-old web designer and single mom.
Visit So Over This to read about her journey out of financial chaos, or view her web design portfolio at Nuts and Bolts Media.

Andrea Whitmer - Social Media Pro

All bloggers know that social media is an essential part of what they do. There is simply no better way to promote content, interact with readers and fellow bloggers, and gain recognition from larger media outlets. That said, many bloggers (new and old) struggle with the multitude of available social media options and how to use them.

In the personal finance niche, the most popular social media sites are Twitter and Facebook, with Google Plus a distant (but gaining!) third. Twitter and Facebook make it easy for people to connect with the blogs they enjoy reading, since so many people have accounts on those platforms. While this is common knowledge, some PF bloggers fail to take advantage of these accounts for the benefit of their blogs.

Tips for Facebook

1. Set up a fan page, not a personal profile. There are tons of instructions online for setting up a Facebook page for your blog. This allows readers to become “fans” of your page instead of adding you as a friend, and allows you to post as the blog page instead of your personal profile.

2. Include images when you link to your blog posts. People are much more likely to click a link on Facebook when it includes a picture. Most automated services will choose the featured image on your post if you’ve set one; otherwise you can choose a thumbnail if you link to your posts manually.

3. Post more than just links! It can be difficult to get readers to engage on Facebook, but it helps to post a more personal status every now and then, or (better yet) a question that allows them to share their opinions. If your Facebook fans feel like they know a little bit about you as a person, they’re more likely to be interested in what you have to say.

4. Interact! When someone becomes a fan, post on their wall or send them a message (never automated) thanking them. Ask a question or two about something they’ve posted. And if another page “likes” your page, like theirs back! It’s no fun when the conversation is one-sided.

Tips for Twitter

1. Follow the people you want to follow. Don’t feel pressured to “follow back” just because someone follows you (though it can’t hurt if it’s a blogger in your niche!) Use Twitter as a way to learn from the people you find interesting.

2. Interact with new followers. Never ever send auto-tweets or auto DMs. When someone new follows you (especially when you’re just starting out), take a minute to look at their profile and send a tweet. It can be as simple as, “Thanks for the follow! I see you’re a fan of The Rolling Stones – me too!”

3. Tweet more than just links! Are you sensing a pattern here? Of course you want to use Twitter to promote your blog posts, but if that’s all you do, your followers will grow tired of it quickly. If they just want the posts, they’ll subscribe to your RSS feed. They’re following you because they want to interact! Speaking of which….

4. TALK to people. Twitter is like a high school cafeteria. There are tons of conversations happening, many of which you can listen in on without even trying. It’s up to you to decide whether to jump in or sit at a table by yourself. Most of the time, when you ask someone a relevant question or respond to one of their tweets, they’ll reply to you. Starting conversations is easy; you just have to do it!

But social media is HARD. Why should I bother?

Sometimes bloggers start social media accounts because they feel like that’s what they’re “supposed” to do, then don’t really make time to use them. A few bloggers have told me, “I don’t want to talk about books and movies and random stuff. I just want people to visit my blog.” Unfortunately, that attitude is the antithesis of social.

The world gravitates toward social media platforms because they want to interact. They’ve read your blog, and now they want to get to know another side of you. Bloggers who successfully use social media develop huge followings of devoted fans, and I’m here to tell you, they don’t do it by posting nothing but links. You cannot reap the benefits of social media without using it in the way it was intended.

My favorite personal example of the power of social media comes from my own PF blog. Last fall, an editor from MSN Money read one of my posts as a result of a tweet. She contacted me about reposting it, and of course I agreed. From there, an editor from Reader’s Digest saw it and contacted me. The post was published in the February 2012 issue of the magazine, which was an amazing dream come true for me.

Now, all of that came about because someone tweeted a link to my post. However, other bloggers wouldn’t take the time to do that if I didn’t interact with them. Because they know me personally, they don’t mind to help promote my content (and I enjoy doing the same for them). If I didn’t spend time talking to them via social media – sometimes about PF, sometimes not – that opportunity never would have come about.

The Bottom Line

Your comfort level in using social media can depend on a lot of factors, but fear shouldn’t be one of them. It is very easy to socialize and connect with others on platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, and you never know who might be reading or watching. I have never heard anyone say they regretted the impact of social media on their blog, but I’ve heard plenty of people regret not using social media sooner.

Are you putting the “social” in your social media accounts, or do you have some room for improvement? If you’re using social media actively, what benefits have you noticed?

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