Bloggers/business owners/brands depend on social media to grow, expand and thrive.
Social media is an easy, instant way to connect with friends and potential readers/consumers.
When I joined twitter in 2010 as a new blogger and Mum, I felt a little lost and isolated, I was the first of my friends to have had a baby and was desperate to find others going through a similar time to me.
Twitter immediately enabled me to discover like-minded people, other parenting bloggers mostly whom understood how hard first-time motherhood was, they were supportive and fun and encouraged me to keep blogging. The conversations with those people made a huge difference to my life at a delicate time.
And that’s what social media is essentially- a conversation/ sometimes a visual one (instagram/pinterest)-otherwise verbal (twitter/facebook).
Now, as professional blogger, those relationships and connections still matter hugely to me, I discover new friends daily over and I’ve made long lasting friendships and colleagues thanks to social media but it’s also become crucial to my work, it helps me to promote my blog posts and I’m also paid to share content across my platforms by brands I work with.
In this post, I wanted to share what I’ve learnt so far; as with technology, it’s ever-changing so the learning never stops but for now, here are my top 5 tips to growing your social media-
1. Content is King
As with your blog posts, the quality of what you write, content is always king.
Ideally you want to engage readers on social media. Try and be yourself (like minded individuals with mutual interests gravitate towards one another) but do make sure you are offering value to those following you. Share useful information whether that’s blogging tips, recipes, family posts, advice and mix things up to reflect your own interests and personality. Write what you’d want to read, I say. Try and remain polite, stay away from drama, and be true to you.
Social media is a two way dialogue, I know it’s not easy with huge followings, but try and respond to all comments if you can. It doesn’t have to be immediately either. I don’t tweet much over the weekend so wake up on a Monday with literally hundreds of tweets, that’s OK. Reply when you can.
Some of the biggest, most time-short bloggers respond to every single comment they receive. That’s what makes them so successful.
Also ensure your gravatar is the same on every single social media platform you have so readers/followers can easily recognise and follow you everywhere. Try and keep that same image for at least 6 months too.
I have my blog header as my background on all social media and all my details are up to date with correct urls on each one. Check your links.
I try (it’s not always easy I know) to follow the 70/30 rule when it comes to SM, for 70% of the time, I share fun, relatable, engaging, real titbits of my life, the rest is promotional-urls to my posts (which are hopefully still of interest to my audience), my youtube videos, sponsored tweets etc.
On a similar note, when it comes to blogging, when I write a relevant sponsored post (I only accept commissions for brands I would use myself and fit my blog and readers) I go live soon after, with my own personal non sponsored post, unless the client has requested the paid for post must be the only post of the day, which is rare.
As I go live sometimes 3-4 times a day (a minimum of twice to fit my own blog and advertisers) and multiple posts is my house style as I run my blogs as magazines, 99% of the time, PR’s are happy with that.
Many allow me to post sponsored content on p2 of the blog too if I wish, so my homepage can remain as ad-free as possible.
It’s your blog, get negotiating on how you want it look.
2. Schedule Social Media
I use a combination of Social Oomph (which I pay for and love) and tweetdeck (free) for twitter and I also schedule facebook statuses and upload videos over on FB. It saves time, means I can meet my own clients’ schedules for sponsored material and offers me greater structure.
I do like to share funny things my kids do or say on a whim on FB but I mostly try to only post there twice a day, in the morning and after 8 at night as I’ve found those are the times my audience, mostly parents, are engaging with SM. More than twice can clog up people’s timelines.
I also use Crowdfire (paid account) to check who is unfollowing me on twitter and instagram and then I can decide if I still want to follow. PR’s tend to find the number between how many you follow and you is following you as the most valuable, bar a few A-listers etc, I try and ensure I’m mostly following those who follow me back.
The most important platform for SEO is Google +, a facebook style platform that really boosts your exposure in search engines. Make sure you sign up and plug every post and youtube video there.
3. Share Your Best Photos
Be it instagram or twitter, try and always share your best photos. That doesn’t have to mean professional photos either. Great if you have access of course- I personally take decent photos most of the time, and my husband’s are amazing which is always useful when growing followers, but many I personally follow simply snap on their phone. That’s what instagram was invented for.
Photos that are well lit (never shot facing direct sunlight), are pretty/bold to look at and tell a story are always best. Streams of the same shot or taken seconds after one another make for a boring feed. Mix things up. Share what you yourself would want to see. I only post once a day on Instagram usually and like to use #tagforlikes for ease of adding tags and gaining exposure as well as group tags like #cutekidsclub when sharing shots of my kids. There are millions out there.
On Pinterest, I only share my favourite photos from blog posts, not all, on various relevant boards and I make sure they are portrait not landscape shots as per Pinterest’s favoured format.
I have a share button to all social media on my posts and Pinterest buttons on all my images.
I personally don’t like to add my url on to photos I pin, every image links back to the blog it was pinned from anyway, and I don’t pin many photos with other’s details on the shot either. I like the shot clean bar Wise Words type stills.
It’s a personal thing though, most pinners/bloggers want to remind people of their link. When discussing this recently with social media experts, they said they don’t feel there’s a need to include this. However when it comes to Blogging Tips posts or How-to’s for example, there is titles are useful.
There’s no right or wrong way though, do what makes you feel comfortable.
On Pinterest, join popular, relevant collective boards, follow their rules and get exposure for your pins to bigger numbers. I have made a lot of my own boards shared too.
After a long hiatus, I returned to Pinterest, analysed pinners’ pages I loved and gave mine a revamp.
I left shared boards that were too similar to my own, chose new cover images for all my boards that collectively looked beautiful on the eye as a page, grouped similar boards together and ensured I was specific with board names to help SEO on that platform so ‘Easter Baking’ rather than just ‘Baking’, ‘Breton Stripes’’70’s Style’ as well as ‘Style’ taking into consideration what people search for on Pinterest.
Social media competitions can be a super-effective way for growing your social media following.
I have run competitions on my blog via Rafflecopter for a long time, requesting entries follow my platforms/ visit my FB page etc/ sign up to my newsletter. (You can’t ask followers to subscribe to YouTube or follow you on Google +).
Only in the last month have I started running competitions only on either Twitter and FB, I’m not sure why I didn’t before, because Follow & RT competitions on Twitter are a great way to bump up your following.
You can no longer ask entries on FB to like your page and share due to their change in rules but you can ask entries to like your status and comment.
Blogger and Social Media Expert Jacqui of Mummy’s Little Monkey advises using, ‘the word ‘follow’ rather than ‘like’ writing something like, ‘Don’t forget to follow my page not to miss out on future competitions’ as a way round this.
Jacqui says, ‘ FB don’t like soliciting for Likes at all – their algorithms are designed to pick up the word ‘Like’ and may still penalise your page by not letting as many people see it’.
Many of my clients give me secondary or third giveaway bundles or hampers for my own social media alongside my paid blog competitions, sometimes to benefit them on twitter, other times simply to help me on FB because I have such a good relationship with them.
I also raffle off my own vouchers as part of my blog’s PR and marketing budget. Remember you don’t need hugely expensive items to get a big response. Low value but quality items can offer great results.
5. Boost your Posts with Paid Ads
I haven’t personally paid for twitter ads but brands I’ve been hired by or those I offer consultancy for, have seen great results with targeted advertising.
I do pay to boost posts on FB and advertise my page there, and I always advise clients to use boosters on FB for the best results.
Not everyone wants to or can afford to, but on posts I want to get the maximum exposure for, or to give posts a bigger push, along with getting the most life out of competition posts, boosting nearer the end of the giveaway, has proven fruitful in growing my numbers there.
I’ve not spent a lot either, a small amount goes a long way. A giveaway for £100 Cath Kidston card I offered reached 250,000 people in 2 days with only a £2 boost.
So there are my top 5 tips.
Oh and don’t be shy at promoting your social media on your posts/sites/business cards and anywhere else.