Social networking is a key part of growing your blog's community and readership. But are you being social or are you merely shouting to be heard? Here's 5 tips to make sure you're engaging and networking on social media.
In the age of digital content seeping into every aspect of our lives, getting your latest blog post noticed is no easy task! Social media has long given us an outlet to share what we're writing, photographing or thinking while connecting with others who share our passions.
But in the last two years something happened.
The "social" in social media started to disappear.
Remember the early days of twitter where you could have actual conversations with people you would never dream of approaching in real life? You would reach out, they would respond and you'd chat! It was, in a word, awesome.
How about when it was considered extremely poor form to pin your own content to Pinterest? Instead, you pinned others content that inspired you or interested you, sharing it with your friends.
When did we all suddenly start worrying about our follower to following ratios? How did we become too cool to answer when a reader or supporter left a comment or asked a question?
How about this...
When was the last time you simply scheduled a tweet, FB update or pin of your latest blog post without even hopping on to any of those platforms?
When was the last time you ventured on to a social media platform looking to actively engage with somebody without posting something of your own?
How about this one: when was the last time you simply scrolled through Google + hitting the +1 button without clicking on a single link (or facebook's like button... or instagram's heart button...) or leaving a single comment because you didn't actually read the status update, you just saw a kinda nice photo and were moving too fast to actually stop and see what was happening?
Come on... don't be shy... let's have a good old confession of our social media sins!
We've Turned Social Media Into a Scrolling Billboard
It's easy to complain that Facebook isn't worth it anymore because they "just want you to pay for your posts to be seen" or that you don't have time to respond to people who tweet at you.
But unfortunately, what we've done is turned social media into giant scrolling billboard full of ads for our content.
Simply shouting a link to your latest blog post on FB, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterst, G+ etc is lazy social media. And it's not very social at all.
Just remember the golden rule of social media: it's not about you and what others can do for you. It's about what you can provide to others. Inspire, share, engage, converse - those are all two way streets that require interaction, not shouting out blog ads!
5 Ways to Bring the Social Back to Social Media
1. Set Aside Time Each Day to Browse Your Social Channels
We're all busy and social media can be a time suck. But we also all complain loudly when nobody engages with our content or we blame things like FB throttling what content appears in our readers' feeds. But to get engagement we have to engage.
Set aside 15 minutes 3x a day to scroll through your social channels looking strictly for content or conversations that intrigue you and then interact without worrying about getting your content out there.
Liking and plus one-ing is lazy and isn't really engaging. That's part of why Facebook ranks likes lower on their engagement scale than comments or shares.
Leave a comment when you can - especially if somebody is asking a question in their latest update. People LOVE comments - think about how much you love it when you get a comment on your updates or your blog posts - it's just like getting a real letter in the mail! And it encourages others to comment or check you out and from that you can create conversations. And conversations create communities.
3. Return the love
How about all those group boards you pin to on Pinterest? When was the last time you scrolled through them and pinned the content of others? Pinterest used to be about finding other people's content and sharing it. It's still a wonderful place to find inspiration. Try to practice the 10% rule. 90% of your pins should come from other's content while 10% should be yours.
Reply to comments or questions on your various social media platforms. Your readers love to feel acknowledged and valued. It may take time but as anyone who's worked retail will tell you, it's a lot less of an investment to make existing customers feel valued than it is to actively seek out new customers. Make your readers feel valued and appreciated and they will sing your praises from the rooftops to their friends - and that's the best kind of social media there is.
4. Share, share share
Sharing somebody else's content is the ultimate social media stamp of approval. And I think all of us have benefited at some point in time from another blogger who has generously shared a link with their network. A share can be a powerful thing and it's the first step to going viral. (FYI... viral does not happen when it's you that's constantly shouting your own content... it's when others shout it for you!)
Some of our FBC Members who have the most success with social media for their own content also happen to be the ones who are the most generous with sharing, commenting on and liking other people's content. And that ain't a coincidence!
5. Social Networks Have Unique Personalities
Simply copying and pasting the same social media update and using it on all platforms is not good enough. All social networks have their own personalities.
- Twitter: The stream moves fast. Keep it short and sweet - and a little wit goes a long way.
- Facebook: You can be a bit more wordy and ask questions of your readers when you post - photos are key here
- Pinterest: It's all about looks. Share eye catching images - yours and others and get involved with group boards. And, pin from the source!
- Instagram: A picture says 1000 words but a little description never hurt. Show behind the scenes snapshots of the work going into a blog post - it's a great way to tease your followers!
- Google+: Get your links up high in the description so it's seen and attach a photo so it's eye catching (or use a short link to trigger google+'s full column width link image)
One thing all networks have in common that can help you be more social are tagging other users (where appropriate) and hashtagging (in moderation please).
Make your updates unique and appropriate to the platform you're using.
A Word About Scheduling
Social media can be a time suck and scheduling can help avoid that but, it also disconnects you from your audience and what's happening on the platform.
On a network like twitter where news happens very quickly you don't want your tweet to get lost amidst a breaking news story.
Also realize that many of your readers are not bloggers and don't realize that you can do things like schedule updates. For many of them, if they see a tweet or status update from you, they assume that's because you're currently on the platform and available to chat with. It can be disheartening for them to reach out to you and not get a reply for 24 or 48 hours because you were never really there to begin with!
Follow some of these tips and you'll be right back in there being social and networking. And amazing things can come out of that. Don't believe us? Well, FBC was born out of three people meeting through casual food conversation on twitter!
Just remember the golden rule of social media: it's not about YOU and what others can do for you. It's about what you can provide to OTHERS. Inspire, share, engage, converse - those are all two way streets that require interaction, not shouting out blog ads!
5 Tips For Putting the "Social" Back in Social Media was written by FBC co-founder and Managing Director of editorial, Melissa Hartfiel. By day, Melissa wrangles content for Food Bloggers of Canada while also working as a freelance web designer, writer and photographer at her own studio, Fine Lime Designs. By night she writes Eyes Bigger Than My Stomach, her very niche food photography blog. She hangs out in Vancouver with chocolate and her dog, Sam.