In simple terms, social media is the online sharing of opinions, thoughts, and experiences through text, images, audio or video. Social media encompasses blogs, Internet forums, message boards, wikis, podcasts and social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook.
Don’t expect to jump into the social media pool and figure it all out right away. It takes a while to 1) figure out which social media sites work best for you; and 2) establish a presence there. Here are my top ten tips for using social media to grow your blog.
- Pick one or two communities and build your presence there. It can be tempting to sign up for a bunch of social media sites to spread the word far and wide about your blog. But it’s better to pick one or two sites, really focus on those, and keep them alive with fresh content all the time. Otherwise, you’ll spread yourself too thin and look like a slacker. For example, you wouldn’t want to create a Facebook page and let it stagnate. Like anything else, it’s good to have a plan. Start small. Grow from there.
- Don’t jump in and out of the sites you choose. Post and participate in those sites regularly. It takes time to build your voice and reputation. Remember that these sites are all about community, and you need to participate on a regular basis.
- Use your brand across all social media sites. Whether it’s your name, your blog name, or your book title, use that across all social media sites. It helps to establish and “brand” you, so that whenever someone sees that name, they’ll immediately think of you.
- Don’t spam. In short, that means don’t use social media sites JUST to draw attention to your own blog or product or book or whatever reason you’re there in the first place. Offer opinions, thoughts, advice, or news bits — and do it in a heartfelt way. Don’t forget that behind all the computers and cyberspace are real people. You can still post occasional links to your blog and include it in your profile and signature line, but if all of your comments on a social media site consist only of links back to your blog, that’s just not cool, dude. It’s a form of spam, and people don’t like it. Get your personality out there! Be fun, and be yourself!
- Be helpful and don’t argue. If you don’t like the direction of an online discussion, either be constructive or just walk away. If you’ve got nothing to say, then don’t say anything. And for the love of God, don’t insult people! You know how your mom always said to treat others how you want to be treated? That applies in social media, too. Again, there are real people out there in all that cyberspace.
- Be credible. You’re establishing yourself as an expert in your niche, so before you post something on a social media site, be sure you know what you’re talking about. Once it’s on the Web, it’s there forever. But don’t be afraid to show your stuff. If you’ve got the scoop on a hot news item or celeb gossip story, be the first one to get the word out!
- Get into a routine. Social media can be pretty overwhelming, and we’ve established that you need to pick one or two sites and post to them regularly. Figure out how that fits into your schedule and how you can do it logistically. Don’t get sucked into Twitter or Facebook for hours on end. Set a time limit for social networking, say 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes at night, and stick to it.
- Stay organized. A person could go insane trying to keep track of multiple sites with various user names, logins and passwords. I keep a spreadsheet filled with all of my info – not just social media sites, but also my blogs, image sites, writer’s sites, and press sites of all the TV networks, movie studios and publicists with whom I work. Get your computer to remember your login info, so you don’t have to type it in every time. Bookmark your sites so they’re only a click away. Streamline the process as much as possible, so it’s easy to participate in social media and make it work for you.
- Feed your blog into your social media sites. Not all sites have this option, but I love the ones that do: Simplaris Blogcast (Facebook) and TwitterFeed.com (Twitter) are great ways to feed your blog posts automatically into these sites. It’s a passive way to get the word out about your blog. Once it’s set up, you don’t even have to think about it; it just happens automatically.
- Use your email signature. Don’t forget to add your social media sites to your email signature. It’s a really easy way to get them in front of people, but in a non-invasive way.