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10 ways to use social media to build your blog audience

Many bloggers make the mistake of believing that simply writing blog posts is enough to engage their audience. Without promoting them to a captive audience on social media, however, you are missing out on a world of opportunity.

In this post, I’m going to show you 10 easy ways that you can utilise various social media platforms in order to drive traffic to your blog and grow the size of your audience.

1. Learn which social media platform works best for you

Different audiences hang out on different social media platforms. A mature, B2B audience for example, is likely to spend time on LinkedIn, while teenagers are more likely to follow Instagram and Facebook.

Tip: Try sharing your posts on different platforms and measure engagement rates then double down on the platforms that are driving traffic and engagements.



2. Link social media pages directly to your blog, and vice-versa

It might seem logical to link your social media pages to your main website, after all, this is what is most likely to drive leads and conversions. Linking to your blog, however, is a great way to drive people to content they are more likely to share and engage with. Similarly, it makes sense to ensure that people can find your social media pages from your blog.

Tip: Having links to social media right on your blog will allow visitors to find your social media pages easily, so that those already engaged on your blog can also follow you on other platforms.


3. Make content shareable

By making sure that people have the ability to quickly and easily post a link to your blog posts on their social media platforms, you will ensure that they get the maximum amount on traction.



Tip: Make sure that sharing links for all your social media sites are enabled on posts, there are several WordPress widgets for this.




4. Share multiple times

One of the biggest mistakes bloggers make is simply sharing posts on social media once. According to this post from Kiss Metrics, sharing posts several times is a great way to ensure that you get the maximum social value out of your blog content.

Tip: To avoid spamming, and losing followers as a result, ensure that each social media update has an entirely different message. You can also experiment with sharing at different times of the day and using Hashtags to appeal to different audiences.

5. Make content tailored to each social media platform

Your blog probably has its own style of content, but that style might not be suited to every social media platform. For example, if you want to promote your blog on Instagram you can only use pictures, for Twitter, only up to 140 characters and images to drive click through. Different platforms also just fit a different styles of content.

Tip: Take a snippet from some of the most compelling copy from your blog post and use this as the copy for Tweets and Facebook updates. Through monitoring click through rates you should be able to determine which types of updates are most likely to get a reaction from your audience.

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Sharing multiple times is the key to success

6. Automate updates

Finding the time to write blog posts is for most people difficult enough, without having to update a number of social media profiles as well. Don’t worry, because there are services such as Hootsuite and Buffer that can help you to queue up updates for sharing across platforms.

Tip: Test and learn by sharing updates at different times of the day, using different copy each time.

7. Mention influencers

If you have referenced a source in your blog post, be sure to mention them in your social media updates. This will both increase the credibility of your updates and if you are lucky, lead to them sharing with their followers so your post will gain extra traction.

Tip: Use Followerwonk to find influential Twitter accounts and include an @ mention to them in your updates.

8. See what people are sharing

By looking at the type of content people are already sharing on social media you can gain insights into what will work for you.

Obviously, simply copying other people’s content is unlikely to be successful, however, you can usually see patterns and trends in the words and phrases that have been used in titles and you can use this insight to shape your own content and guarantee the best possible chance of exposure.

Tip: Enter a keyword or competitor site info Buzzsumo to see the most shared content in your sector.


9. Use Hashtags

Hashtags are a great way to get your content noticed, so consider adding terms that are relevant to your content. This post, for example, might benefit from Hashtags such as #blogging #socialmediastrategy.

A word of caution, however, it can look unprofessional to overstuff posts with hashtags – and some sites, like Tumblr, only track the first five Hashtags anyway.

Tip: Check hashtags before you use them. The best thing to do is to look through each platform’s trending tags (Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram all have sections where you can find these), and then try to tailor a few posts to fit those tags.

10. Be consistent, and don’t give up!

The key to success with both blogging and social media is to consistently produce insightful and informative content. Success won’t happen overnight, it takes patience and dedication, but if you follow the tips above you should be off to a great start!

Tip: Put in place a content calendar to help you keep your content production and promotion organised.

Image courtesy of Sean MacEntee

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How to automate your social media marketing

If you’re anything like me, finding the time to post regular updates to social media can be a struggle. At the same time, not doing so means that you are missing out on potential brand exposure and engagement with your audience.

I have developed a simple and effective way of automating your social media updates and I’m going to share this with you in this post.

Step 1 – Gather your content

We primarily share 2 types of content – content on our own site, and content from other sites that links back to us.

Gathering your own content – Screaming Frog

The excellent Screaming Frog SEO Spider tool can help you to grab all of the URLs and associated data from your chosen site. Download it and enter the URL you would like to crawl.

Use Screaming Frog to Crawl your site
Use Screaming Frog to crawl your site’s pages

Gathering external content – Open Site Explorer

If you don’t have one, create a free Moz account to access the export functionality required to produce your updates. Once you have done this, go to opensiteexplorer.org and enter the URL of the page/domain that you would like to find links to. Once you have done this, click the option to ‘Export to CSV’. This will then produce a spreadsheet with amongst other things, the URL and title of all pages linking to your site.

Export links from OSE
Export links from OSE

Step 2 – Sort your content

Onsite content – Once Screaming Frog has completed its crawl, you can export the data and sort it using a spreadsheet.

Find the pages that you want to tweet by sorting them alphabetically. On our blog, for example, posts start with: /post/, so I can quickly find these and delete all of the other, irrelevant pages.

Next, delete any of the irrelevant data to leave you with the URLs and the Page Title/H1 tag. Depending on how your site is set up, you may be able to use either of these. If you are doing this correctly, the title of the page should be the most compelling and therefore the best to use for the content of your update.

External content – In your exported data from OSE, delete everything except the first two columns. Filter out any pages that you don’t want to include and if you have time, edit any page titles that you think could be improved.

Sort your data in a spreadsheet
Sort your data in a spreadsheet

Step 3 – Check and edit your updates

Once you have your data in the 2 columns, use the following formula in a third column to check that the character length will not exceed Twitter’s limit of 140 characters: =LEN(A1&B1)

If there are any that exceed this, edit the copy to ensure that they are under this limit, otherwise you will not be able to share on Twitter. If you have any spare characters, add a hashtag or two for even greater exposure. The more time you spend editing your updates to make them as compelling as possible, the better the end result of your sharing. Also, consider scheduling more than one update with a different message each time, and including any brands or individuals mentioned in your posts won’t harm your chances of those all-important likes and Retweets.

If your site is anything like ours, you will probably need to remove any pages that are not ‘evergreen’, For example, I have removed any blog posts mentioning Google Panda and Penguin updates as these are not relevant any more.

Step 4 – Schedule updates using Hootsuite

There are many tools which can help you automate your social media activity. My preference is Hootsuite, due to its CSV upload functionality, which works very well with the content gathering process in steps 1-3.

To implement the method we use, you will need a Hootsuite pro account, which is $9.99/Month with a 30 day free trial – well worth the money.

If you’ve not already got a Hootsuite account, create one, login and configure with your Twitter/Facebook/LinkedIn account details.

Next, in the left hand column of the dashboard go to: Publisher > Bulk message upload > Download Sample .csv

Once downloaded, you will find a 3 column sheet with following:

Column A – Date – in mm/dd/yyyy hh:mm or dd/mm/yyyy hh:mm format
Column B – Tweet Copy –  Page title or H1 tag
Column C – URL

Copy and paste the data from your sheets into columns B and C and then edit Column A to send this out at an appropriate time. You could trial, for example, sending out the same update on 3 different days at different times – or sending out a different update at the same time every day for a month.

NOTE – you can’t send the same message twice, so you will need to edit the text for each tweet.

When you are done, save as a .csv file and upload at the same dialogue box where you downloaded. A word of warning – Hootsuite can be picky about the type of files it accepts, taking a few minutes to read this before you upload could save you a lot of time!

Step 5 – Monitor and refine

Hootsuite can show you how well your tweets do in terms of engagement. Now that you have the raw data, it’s easy to tweak your messages and the time of day etc. when they go out for maximum impact.

 

Finished CSV file
Finished Hootsuite CSV file

What if I don’t have any content to share?

Don’t panic, there are plenty of opportunities to engage with your audience via content curation – sharing great content that has been produced by others. Klout is a fantastic tool for helping to find content that your audience will be interested in, and schedule this to be shared via your social profiles.

Enter some keywords which describe the subjects that you and your audience are interested in and it will throw up a feed with results that are relevant. You can then schedule these posts to go out at regular intervals.

Automate social media updates with Klout

What are your tips?

Do you automate the social media activity for your brand? If so, why not share your tips below…

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8 ways to increase traffic using social media

With so much content being shared online these days, cutting through all of the noise can feel like an uphill struggle. If you want to increase traffic using social media, read on to discover our top tips.

Make the most of profile links

Let’s start with a simple, but often overlooked means of driving traffic – ensure a link to your website is included on all of your profile pages. You should also link from any personal profiles to company accounts and vice-versa. Brittany Hurlburt from Login Radius highlights the example of Guy Kawasaki, who does this really well on his Twitter profile.

Make your blog content shareworthy

Companies are beginning to move away from simply churning out generic content stuffed with SEO keywords. Make sure every blog post you produce is valuable, with interesting, insightful information that is genuinely enjoyable to read and the reader can gain something from. As David Attard states: content needs to be original and thorough, well-thought out and well-researched, providing a solution to a reader’s problem.

This will not only encourage clicks, but will also bring the people who do click back to your site, along with others. Readers will be able to tell the difference between a rushed piece of content and one that’s been carefully crafted.

Use ‘conversion keywords’

Jawad Khan of Social Media Explorer discusses the effectiveness of using high conversion keywords within posts, and how it pays to know what the words with the highest conversion rates are for each site. On Facebook, for example, words such as ‘where’ and ‘when’ have been proven to convert, while on Twitter, ‘follow’ and ‘check out’ are likely to get clicks.

Use hashtags on all platforms

Hashtags shouldn’t be solely limited to Twitter. Khan says that using them on other sites such as Facebook, Instagram and Google+ will enable your post to reach new audiences. On Facebook, for example, using 1-2 hashtags per post can get you an average of 593 interactions.

Use hashtags on all social media platforms
Use hashtags on all social media platforms

Grab people’s attention

When sharing content, bear in mind that no one is going to click on it if it doesn’t grab their attention. Use an effective headline that addresses the reader, such as ‘You won’t believe what happened when…’, encouraging them to click through to your site to find the answer. Think about it from your reader’s point of view and as Attard states, ask these questions before publishing:

Would you be drawn to it? Would you want to read it? Would you find it interesting? Would it benefit you?

Make it visual

Posts featuring images and videos are more likely to be noticed than text on its own, which can get lost in among the thousands of other posts or tweets on timelines. According to Buffer, Facebook photos enjoy 39% more interaction than any other type of post on the social media platform. Whether it’s a beautiful, thought-provoking image or a funny video that makes the audience laugh, your content needs to be noticeable among the reams of other posts in your audience’s feeds. Remember that the best content elicits a reaction or feeling, and if the audience feel something, they’re more likely to return to your site because their engagement will be more memorable.



Post the same content more than once

According to research by Kissmetrics, if you add together the number of clicks accrued from the second and third shares of a piece of content they actually equal more than the entire number of clicks experienced with the first share. Also, multiple shares more than double the amount of clicks generated from just one share.

So make sure you schedule a series of updates for the same post using different keywords, hashtags and images. A word of caution, however, don’t spam your readers by sharing a link to the same content with exactly the same message more than once, this can have the opposite effect of encouraging engagement, causing people to ignore or even unfollow and unlike your profile.



Include a call to action

Including a call to action on a social media post such as ‘Like’, ‘Share’ or ‘Retweet’ will remind your audience to engage. If you offer an incentive, such as ‘Share our photo and be entered into our prize draw to win…’ this will attract more shares. Use this opportunity to create something, such as a compelling photo, that will make people take notice of your business.

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Workshop Gamestorming with Sunni Brown on June 6th 2013 in Amsterdam organized by Business Models Inc. More than 40 participants are experiencing visuals thinking games for strategy and innovation. Part of the Bootcamp Business Model Canvas the Game. www.businessmodelsinc.com

Bootcamp Business Model Canvas the Game, June 5-7 2013 in Amsterdam. 6 renowned game developer teams are working on the ultimate game for the Business Model Canvas: Ranj, Weirdbeard, Little Chicken, RageSquid, FirebrushStudios, Headcandy. www.canvasthegame.com

10 easy content marketing strategies for small businesses

Content marketing can be a challenge, even for businesses with big budgets and plenty of resources. For small businesses, it can seem like an impossible task. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try though, as a little planning, hard work and perseverance has the potential to deliver great results. With that in mind, try these 10 easy content marketing strategies to give your online presence a boost.

Update your blog regularly

In order for your content marketing to get maximum results, you need to create content regularly and consistently. You can start out slowly, perhaps one blog post every three days, or one tweet each day, and then gain momentum. Ideally, you should be aiming for at least 11 blog posts per month, as research by Hubspot shows that small companies posting this frequently receive almost three times more traffic than those posting around once a month, and twice as much traffic as those posting two to five times a month.

“Newsjacking” is an excellent way to help you post frequently. Keep your eye on the news (you can monitor hashtags related to your industry on Twitter) and if any stories break that are relevant to your business, write a piece about them. Don’t just directly rewrite the news story though, ensure you’re giving a new perspective on the story or providing additional information.

Answer questions

One simple way to get started with producing content is to answers questions that your customers frequently have. You could write blog posts with common questions as the title and make tutorial videos that provide the answer to questions related (whether directly or indirectly) to your product or service. People are always using Google to find answers to their questions, and you could provide them with the solution they’re looking for.

Automate

Make life easier by automating as much of your content marketing as possible. For example, you can use tools like Hootsuite and Buffer to post updates on a regular basis and at times your fans and followers are likely to see them. You could do the same with blog posts; if you’re using WordPress, it’s easy to schedule posts to go live on a certain date. To save even more time, there’s also CoSchedule, an excellent combined automation and content calendar tool.

Create a content calendar

Before producing and posting any content, you should make a content calendar. This will ensure you have a clear plan for what topics you will be covering, when, and the person responsible. Curata offers some excellent tips and a free template, and Hootsuite has a variety of useful social media calendar templates you can utilise.

 

Infographics are one of the best content marketing strategies for small businesses
Get visual with an infographic

Make it visual

Content marketing isn’t just about text; visual media, like photos, videos and infographics are highly effective. Research has shown that articles that include images get 94% more views and infographics have the power to double your traffic. It’s predicted that by 2017, video will make up almost 70% of online traffic. With stats like these, you’d be foolish not to include visuals in some form or other.

Do keyword research – and keep doing it

Before you start producing and publishing content, make sure you’ve identified the keywords you are looking to target. Use Google’s Keyword Planner to identify words that are relevant to your niche. It’s free to sign up for and simple to use, but you can use this guide if you’re stuck. You can also invest in a paid keyword tool like Moz’s Keyword Difficulty and SERP Analysis Tool, which offers extra features to make your research more effective.

Once you’ve identified the keywords you want to target, don’t just leave it there. Make sure you go back to your keywords every couple of months and do some more research. You might find that some keywords aren’t ranking or converting particularly well, or there are some new opportunities that you can work on.

Use data

Data-driven content will give your site more authority and increase traffic and shares, so if you have some stats that could be useful to others in your industry or customers, share them. You could make infographics (you can outsource this to a graphic designer for a reasonable fee) that present your business’s data or information in an interesting way. So if you own a bakery, for example, you could make an infographic showing the most popular cakes throughout the year or the amount of ingredients you use.

Utilise CTAs

In order to gain customers, you need to turn visitors into leads, and to do that, you need them to take action. Most of your content should contain a call to action (CTA) – a command like “contact us now” or “sign up for a free trial” that will usually lead to the exchange of information. Frequent blog posts will only be effective if visitors know how to get further information or have an incentive to stay on your site. Keep your CTAs succinct and clear, and offer something extra, for example a white paper, to encourage users to complete them.

Measure, track, tweak

There’s no point in investing in content marketing if you’re not monitoring its success. At the most basic level, you should be using Google Analytics to keep track of how all the content on your website and blog is doing. Look at metrics like number of users, bounce rate, pages per session and average session duration to see how well your site and individual pages are performing. And set up conversion goals so you can monitor your conversion rates for different actions and pages.

Don’t get overwhelmed

One final point: it’s crucial that you don’t let yourself get overwhelmed when you start working on content marketing. If you take on too much at once, you’ll quickly feel like you’re drowning in to-do lists and perhaps frustrated that you’re not seeing immediate results. It’s much better for you to take on the tasks you definitely have the time and resources to do – you can always outsource the other activities when you’re able to.

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