For many bloggers who are new to blogging, getting the word out about your new venture can seem like a pretty big obstacle. How do you build readership from scratch and get people to comment? Why is it that when you post a link to your blog on Facebook or Twitter, the only feedback you get is the sound of chirping crickets?
Here are a few tips for using social media to grow your blog:
1. Listen first: Throwing up a blog without first understanding your ideal audience is an exercise in frustration. You need to deeply understand your audience first. Take a look at what other successful bloggers are doing in your space. Technorati.com is a good place to look for top-performing blogs in your niche. Browse around and find one or two that appeal to you and study them. What kinds of posts get the post engagement? What topics? How are they addressed? What kind of comments do they get and from whom? What social platforms does the blogger use for sharing the content? Also try Google BlogSearch or Twitter Search to search for topics to see what people are talking about.
Doing this kind of digging can help, because it gives you more of a sense of your audience, what they're interested in and where they hang out on social channels. Write these characteristics down and use them to build your own ideal reader profile. This should include more than basic demographics. Are they young mothers? What kind of hobbies do they have? Where do they like to shop? What interests do they list on their social profiles? When you have a full reader profile in mind, you can better understand what drives that person so your topics will have a better chance of resonating with them.
2. Do some commenting on blogs yourself: A good way to start to develop an audience is to comment on more established blogs in your niche -- but only when you can add something meaningful to the conversation. Most blogging platforms will let you identify your website when you're commenting. If someone finds your comment of value, they will often click through to your site to find out more. The trick here is not to get promotional (such as adding a self-serving link to your articles in the comment) or saying something meaningless, such as "great post!" Look at it as a way to add value to the blogger's post without stepping on toes. Perhaps you could pose another question or offer a different spin on the topic. Make it a regular practice to seek out blogs to comment on. Reaching out to the blogger (if they're not a direct competitor) and offering to "guest blog" can be a way of getting in front of larger audiences as well.
3. Are you using the right social channels? After doing your due diligence with listening, you should be able to pinpoint where your audience hangs out in social circles. Don't waste your time on channels that don't appeal to your audience. For instance, if your audience is the C-suite executives, they might prefer to spend their time on LinkedIn rather than Facebook. If your target audience is foodies, Pinterest might be their preferred social platform. Concentrate your efforts where they will bear the most fruit. However, even if you have only one or two active social profiles, always provide a variety of social sharing options on your blog posts to make it super-easy for people to share your content.
4. Use an editorial calendar to plan your blog and social posts: Having a written editorial plan and plotting it to a calendar makes it easier to stay on track and measure your progress. It also helps you see at a glance the relationship between your blog content and your social platforms, so you can plan your posting strategy more efficiently.
5. People hate to be "sold" on social: Don't fall into the trap of endlessly talking about yourself and your product on social channels. Remember that people come to social channels to relax, have fun, hang with their friends, etc. Beginning a post or an update with "Read my Blog" or "New Blog Post" can be a turnoff. What is it about your post that would be intriguing to the reader? Talk about that idea instead, and mix in a good amount of sharing other people's content, too. Your ratio of self promotion to other types of posts should be low (not more than 10 to 20 percent).
6. Use social with an eye on building relationship: When people find you on social channels they'll naturally want to know more about you, so make links to your blog/website easy to find. Make it easy to know who you are, what your full name is, and personal things about you. Readers and followers will relate the most when they can easily access such information... and it will make you easily accessible to brands and potential partners.
Remember that social media isn't a blast medium -- it's a conversation medium. When planning your posting strategy, always be thinking of ways to help your reader get something done, make their life easier or just enjoy every moment. Be a good networker online. When people comment on a post, always "like" the comment and answer back promptly. Take a look at their profiles and tag them or use their name when you respond. Use it as an opportunity to extend the conversation by asking questions and being friendly -- just as you would in face-to-face networking situations.
Using social media can definitely help you get the word out about your blog if you use it correctly, and it all boils down to just three things: listening, planning and concentrating on relationships. Keep these things in mind, and you'll soon get better at writing blog posts that prompt response, encourage sharing on social channels and keep your audience coming back for more!