Today’s task in the 31 Days to Building a Better Blog Project (this is the 2nd last day) is to explore a social media site (whether it be a networking site or a bookmarking one) that you might not have seen or explored previously. I’m not going to tell you which one to choose to explore (because you’ll all have had different experiences of different ones) but will leave that choice up to you (I’ve got a suggested list below of some you might like to choose from).
Social media sites are increasingly popular types of sites and are full of wonderful potential for bloggers wanting to improve their blogs.
Why Should Bloggers Take Notice of Social Media Sites?
Traffic – The most obvious attraction to many of these social sites is the massive number of people that many of these sites have and the potential for them to drive deluges of traffic in your blog’s direction.
However, while I’ve written numerous times on getting and leveraging traffic from social media sites (I’ll include some links at the end of this post) I have increasingly begun to see numerous other benefits of being an active participant in these spaces.
Let me briefly explore a few:
Branding – I wrote a post a month ago on Building Your Personal Brand One ‘Straw’ at a Time which highlighted the power of being involved in a variety of different activities online. In that post I shared an email from a reader telling me how he’d stumbled across me in six different ways before subscribing to my blog – two of these instances were social sites (Facebook and Digg). I’m amazed how many people have told me similar things having come across some of my different pages on social sites.
Reinforcing Relationships – A lot has been written about the nature of ‘friends’ in sites like MySpace where you can rack up thousands of ‘friends’ in a day or two yet ‘know’ none of them. While ‘friendships’ and relationships in these types of sites is usually of a different kind to what happens in ‘real life’ (although there are exceptions) I’ve still found that the interactions that I have on social media sites can reinforce the relationships that I have with readers on my blog. There are a number of readers that I interact with regularly on sites like StumbleUpon and LinkedIn that have led to closer interactions on my blog also.
Learning – I learn a lot about building successful blogs when I participate in social media sites. Spend half an hour stumbling through sites on StumbleUpon and you will learn a lot about how to design sites that immediately capture attention in just second or two (which is all you really have to make an impression on SU), analyze the popular posts at a site like delicious and you’ll see the importance of good headlines (and pick up some tips on how to write them), take some time to go surfing on MySpace and Bebo and you’ll see and learn about all kinds of subcultures that you might not have known much about previously, explore a site like Twitter and you’ll learn the power of conensing a message down into just a handful of words….
How to Use Social Media Sites?
I’m sure that many of you will share other things that a blogger will benefit from as a result of social media sites – but lets take a few moments to share a few tips on HOW to interact on social media sites. The following tips will be fairly general as each site is different – but there are a few principles that remain the same:
Don’t Spam – the temptation with many of these sites is to rush in and plaster links back to your blog all over these sites. However this could lead to you damaging your blog more than it’ll benefit from it. There is a time and place to submit your own blog to many of these sites – however do it as a genuine participant rather than just someone in it for self promotion.
Be an Active Observer – each social bookmarking and networking site that you’ll discover will have it’s own rhythms, language and etiquette. The culture at one site will be quite different to another – so it’s important to take your time in getting to know it and to spend time familiarizing yourself with it. Watch how it operates, analyze what type of people use it, get a feel for how people interact with one another and the content, see what people respond to and make note of how other people are using the site in productive ways. Out of these observations you’ll be in a much better position to see opportunities to participate in fruitful ways.
Be a Genuine and Generous Participant - once you’ve got a feel for the site create a profile and begin to participate. Building on my tip ‘don’t spam’ – I’d encourage you to spend as much time as possible using the site in a completely non self serving way. If it’s a bookmarking site – bookmark other sites (ones you have a genuine interest in), if it’s a networking site – interact with people in a real and friendly manner. While you should find ways to build your own profile, brand and authority – these things generally come in time as you naturally participate rather than by always pushing the boundaries and manipulating the system.
Look for Tour Guides – every social media site has it’s key and central participants who can help you to understand and know how to use these sites most effectively. Look for these ‘tour guides’, watch how they operate, emulate them, befriend them, help them achieve their goals and in time build a relationship with them. In doing so you’ll learn a lot, begin to understand the language and culture of the site and will grow in your own influence in it.
If you have more tips on how to use these sites best – feel free to give tips below.
Social Media Sites to Explore:
There are hundreds and hundreds of these types of sites popping up and I can’t possibly mention them all. Let me suggest a few (with links to my own profile where I use them more actively so we can become ‘friends’):
- StumbleUpon – mine
- MySpace – mine
- Facebook – mine
- LinkedIn – mine
- MyBlogLog – mine
- Blue Dot
Of course there are literally hundreds of others – many now appearing on specific smaller niches. Feel free to suggest the ones that you’re experimenting with in comments below.
Further on Social Media Sites from our Archives
- How to Draw StumbleUpon Users Into Your Blog
- Why StumbleUpon Sends More Traffic than Digg
- Digg Traffic vs Referral Traffic – which is best?
- Using Digg to Improve Your Content
- Ten Tips for Becoming a Top Digg User
- How to Build a Digg Culture on Your Blog
- 7 Ways to Guarantee Getting to the Top of the Delicious Popular Page
- Using Social Bookmarking Sites to Find Out What Your Readers Like
- How to Surf Blog Traffic Tsunamis