In the first part of A One Year Experiment in Blogging, I shared lessons I learned about producing content. In the second part, I shared lessons in making blogs readable and marketable. In the third part, I shared lessons in bringing in visitors from search engines. Today, I’ll tell you about social media. While bringing in visitors via search engines is important, an equally important task in building your reader base is attracting visitors via other people. Being social is the name of the game and the traffic you’ll be bringing in from social networking sites is more valuable than that from search engines.
Share if You Care
Although most of my traffic comes from search engines, I find that readers coming in from Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Google+ and other social sites are much more compelling. The reason for this is communication and engagement are strong with this kind of traffic. When people like your shared posts, you know that they’re interested in what you’re selling. In terms of my personal blog, I’m selling my thoughts and the silly things I have to say about comics and all forms of dickery. They are interested in similar shenanigans that I offer, hence the possibility that they will come back for more.
If people share your content with their own networks, you’re practically getting free advertisement. It also means that your content is compelling enough that other people want to share it with their friends, relatives and random Internet stalkers. This is why posting your blog updates to social networking sites is pretty much a must especially if you’re still building a following. Don’t overdo it, though, because sharing everything — even your less than stellar content — can be quite annoying. I know this because I get easily annoyed with people who overshare too.
Unleash the Buttons!
Taking advantage of social media goes well beyond just posting updates on your own social networking accounts. You also need to make sure that it will be easy for your visitors to share your content while they are on your blog. Luckily for all of us, social sharing buttons are easy to install thanks to plugins and easy-to-follow manual installation instructions (if you want to get your hands dirty and play with code).
There are literally dozens of sites out there where people can share your content and it would be inefficient if you put all of those buttons on your blog. This means you need to determine which social networking sites are already bringing in visitors and concentrate on those. Use the buttons for those sites plus maybe a couple of others that don’t do anything for you but are potential great sources of traffic.
Spread Content, Not Herpes
As mentioned in the first part of this series, creating great content is the starting point towards your blog’s success. However, great content does not always translate to great content for sharing. No matter how great you think your content is, it still falls upon your readers to determine which of your posts are super awesome and which are just amusing at best. Sometimes, you need to follow popular trends like writing lists and posting stupid photos of people planking. Personally, I don’t like writing lists. However, I learned that some of my most popular posts are lists of things. Some of the other popular posts that I’ve written are about love and relationships. And that makes me cringe. But hey, if it’s relevant to my readers’ interests, who am I to argue?
It’s way more satisfying to see a lot of visitors coming in from social networking sites than to watch hundreds of people coming in via search engines but don’t stay on your blog for long and don’t actually read your content. Providing an easy way for visitors to share your content to their own contacts is also a great way of putting more value to your blog posts. The more they are shared, the more people will realize that your blog posts are worth reading. Wouldn’t you prefer to read something recommended by a friend than to read something you found on Google that is probably bloated with keywords and not as relevant to your interests as you might think?
Who do you trust more, Google or your average derpy friend Rachel Derpy?
Putting all the lessons from all four parts of this series together, we can conclude that great content, readability, search engine optimization and going social is a potent mix for a blogger who is seeking loyal readers, steady traffic and relevance. Take note that these lessons are based on my experience during my one year experiment. What works for me may not work for you. Some experimentation on your part is definitely recommended if you want to establish your own set of beliefs and strategies in blogging.
And that’s the end of A One Year Experiment in Blogging. I hope you picked up a few pieces of valuable information about blogging. If you read all four parts, I’m proud of you. If you didn’t, I understand. But I’m judging you. HARD. Thanks for reading.