The growth of social media services such as Facebook, Twitter and Reddit; has fundamentally changed the way we share content on the internet. Before social media exploded, it was more common for people to share content by email, or by sharing websites and pages they like on their blogroll.
Even if you do not use social media services frequently yourself, it is vital that you take advantage of social media and use it to drive traffic to your blog.
In this article, I would like to speak about how you can leverage social media to drive traffic to your blog.
Before we begin, it is important to decide which social media services to be active on. This can be a little daunting to new bloggers as there are so many social media services to choose from.
Being active on social media can be time-consuming. There is also little point in promoting a social media service that you are not active on as it can do more damage to your profile and/or brand. For example, if you linked to your Google+ profile but never actually used the service, any questions from your readers via Google+ would go unanswered. This is frustrating to followers.
It is therefore better to only promote services that you actively check. At the moment, the most popular services in most countries are Facebook and Twitter. You may also want to consider other services such as Google+, YouTube, LinkedIn, and any other services that are popular in your region (such as Qzone in China or Orkut in India and Brazil).
Promote Your Social Media Profiles
If you do not inform readers about your social media accounts, no one will know they exist. It is therefore important to promote them on your website.
The most common way of doing this is to prominently display social media follow buttons on your blog header or sidebar. This makes it clear to visitors that they can stay in contact with you and your blog through those services.
Another good technique is to include a call to action in your content to subscribe. For example, at the end of a blog post you could tell readers to follow you on Facebook to get updates of your latest articles. Large follow banners and widgets, such as the Facebook like box, also convert well.
Share Your Latest Blog Posts With Your Followers
Social media is the perfect medium to let people know that you have just published a new blog post. Many bloggers do this manually to allow them to customer the message that is published on each service.
A more efficient way of sharing posts is to update your social media accounts automatically by using a plugin such as Social Networks Auto-Poster or the Publicize module of Jetpack. Updating social media accounts manually only takes a few minutes, however when you consider that some bloggers post multiple times per day, you can understand why so many people prefer to automate blog post updates to social media services.
Add Social Media Sharing Buttons to Your Content Area
Visitors who enjoy reading one of your blog posts may choose to share it with their own followers and friends. They can do this manually by copying your page URL and sharing the URL through their favorite social media service.
Your content will be shared more frequently if you make the process of sharing easier. That is why just about every content website on the internet has sharing buttons integrated into the content area.
It is common to place sharing buttons at the bottom of an article as that is where the reader’s eyes will be after they have finished reading your article. Many websites also display sharing buttons at the top of an article.
Floating social media sharing buttons have grown in popularity over the last few years as they remain visible at all times. This allows the reader to share your article at any point. This is a good option if you publish long articles.
Allow Visitors to Leave Comments Using Their Social Media Profiles
People who use social media services tend to stay logged-in when they browse the web. You can save visitors the hassle of having to enter their details in your comment form by allowing them to publish a comment using their chosen social media service. All they have to do is authorise your commenting application.
Many external comment systems, such as LiveFyre, have this functionality built-in. There are dozens of WordPress plugins available that will also add this functionality to your blog. Social by MailChimp is a good option if you only want to offer support for Facebook and Twitter.
Build Up a Following
If you have more people following you, you have more people who will receive updates about your latest blog posts and news. Services such as Facebook and Twitter allow you to advertise your page to people have similar interests.
Another way to build up a following away from your blog is to interact with like minded people. This can be easily done through Twitter. All you have to do is search for keywords and phrases that are closely related to your niche. By helping people who have questions, you can build up yourself as an authority on the subject. Even those who disagree with your viewpoint may interact with you and follow you in return.
Engage With Your Followers
Of course, a large social media following means nothing if no one is listening. While more followers can increase your reach and generate more shares, the real statistic you should be looking at is engagement. It pays to interact with your readers and followers on a regular basis.
There are a number of ways you can interact with your followers. You can ask them questions, share good content you find on the internet with them, and reply to those who ask you questions. You could also help out followers by following them in return and retweeting and sharing their articles.
Publish Your Articles at the Right Time
As you would imagine, the traffic that your blog receives varies throughout the day. By publishing (and sharing) your articles in peak times, you will expose the announcement of your blog post to more people. This should generate more traffic to your blog.
Your blog will naturally receive more traffic after you publish a post, particularly if you have set up your blog to update your social media accounts automatically. To get a better idea of when your peak times are, publish your posts at random times and days for a set period of time. This will give you a better understanding of when people are reading your blog. Once you know the time and days people are visiting, you can adjust your publishing schedule accordingly.
If your blog targets a specific region (e.g. the USA or UK), you will probably see a reduced level of traffic every night. If your blog traffic comes from all over the world, this is not an issue. After all, when it is night time in one country, it is the afternoon in another.
To understand your visitors better, check out their geographical location. Take this information and the peak hours of traffic into consideration when deciding on your optimum posting schedule.
Lover it or hate it, social media is here to stay.
For the vast majority of blogs, social media is the largest source of traffic after search engines. Even if you do not use social media actively yourself, it is important to give visitors a way of receiving blog post updates through their favorite social media service. You should also encourage people to share your content.
What is your number one tip of leveraging social media for your blog? Please leave a comment below and let us know 🙂