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Theme Week: How to Socialize Your Posts for Maximum Effect

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Image via Flickr User Kris Olin.

Today as part of our exploration of things to do after you’ve hit publish on blog posts, I want us to take a look at the topic of ‘socializing’ our content.

Most bloggers have at least some kind of strategy in place when it comes to sharing our blog posts on social media, but it is an area that most of us also know we could improve upon.

I for one know that even after 12 months of a real concerted effort with developing a social media strategy for Digital Photography School, that there are areas I could drastically improve upon!

So today I challenge you (and me) to spend a little time doing a critical review of your approach to sharing content on social media and to choose 1-2 areas that you could improve.

Note: this post will not present a complete social strategy. Social media is useful for many things (including engaging readers, building profile, networking with others in your niche), but today we’re just focusing upon the topic of sharing/promoting the new blog posts we write.

The two main areas that I would suggest you review when it comes to thinking about socialising of your blog’s content are:

  • which social networks?
  • developing a rhythm of sharing

Which Social Networks?

The choice before us as bloggers as to which social networks to engage in can feel a little overwhelming. As a result I see bloggers falling into numerous traps.

Some feel so overwhelmed that they opt out altogether and don’t engage in any social media.

Others feel the need to engage in every social network and end up either burning themselves out or engaging so much on social that their blogging suffers.

Others still engage widely on lots of social media sites but spread themselves so thin that they don’t do it very well.

There’s no blueprint or formula for choosing which social media to engage in but a few questions come to mind to help you make this decision:

1. How much Time do you Have?

If you’re time-poor, choose one network to focus on primarily, but secure accounts for other networks so that if/when you do want to engage on them you’re ready to go.

If you do choose one network to engage on primarily you might also want to consider more automated sharing of your content on the other networks. For example if you choose Facebook as your primary social network, you could set up an RSS to Twitter tool that automatically tweets links to new posts on your Twitter account any time you publish.

While these automated tools don’t help you build relationships with Twitter followers, they at least get your content out there and you will find some followers appreciate them.

Example: Seth Godin’s Twitter Account is perhaps the best example of this. He follows nobody and every tweet he does is simply an update from his blog. While not engaging, every update is retweeted many times and his account is followed by over 376,000 people. Seth’s Facebook page does the same thing.

This is exactly what I did on the dPS Twitter account for more than two years before I started using that Twitter account in a more strategic way. While I knew I could use the account better, by doing the automated Tweets I did drive traffic and actually saw our Twitter numbers increase so that when I stated to use the account more intentionally, we already had a network.

If you have more time on your hands, you can of course choose to engage in more social networks. Just don’t overcommit and end up spreading yourself too thin!

2. What Social Networks are Relevant to Your Readers?

Get 10 successful bloggers from different niches in a room and ask them which social networks are best for driving traffic to their blogs, and you’ll get a different answer from each one as to where their readers hang out in greatest numbers.

My own two blogs are quite different. For ProBlogger I find most of my readers are engaging most on Twitter. Facebook would be second, followed by Google+ and then LinkedIn.

On Digital Photography School, Facebook is king. Twitter and Google+ would be numbers two and three, and Pinterest would also be close.

This of course changes over time as new networks emerge, so keep assessing it and find ways to find out where your readers hang out (I run annual surveys on my blogs to get this data).

3. What Social Networks are Relevant to Your Content

In addition to assessing where your readers hang out, think about the type of content you produce because it may be more suited to one network than others.

For example, on Digital Photography School our content is very visual. While most social networks these days allow you to share visual content, each network is slightly different in how you can present it.

For example, Twitter limits how much you can write (140 characters), Facebook lets you write more and present multiple images in an update, Google+ allows you to write as much as you want and embeds video and images nicely. Pinterest is obviously great for visual content.

4. Where are Your Competitors?

I’m not a big fan of looking at other bloggers as ‘competitors’ (learning to see other bloggers as potential allies is a powerful thing) but doing some analysis of what others are doing is useful in making decisions.

Firstly it can help you work out where your potential readers are if you see all other bloggers in your niche doing well in one particular network) but also you might find a gap where no other bloggers are doing anything which could present an opportunity.

While a lack of presence in a network by other bloggers might be a signal of it being a place where there’s no traction you might find doing some experiments with the network worthwhile too!

Other Factors?

Lots more could be said about choosing which network to engage in. I’d love to hear how you made the decision below.

Here’s a cool little info graphic from Leverage Media with a good breakdown of some of the main different networks and their advantages:

NewImage

Develop a Rhythm of Sharing

Once you’ve done some analysis on which networks to build a presence on, the question becomes HOW to share content on those networks.

One of the things that I’d highly recommend you ponder when it comes to this is to think about developing a rhythm to your sharing.

Let me illustrate the power of rhythm with a snippet from an email from one of my readers at dPS that I received a few weeks back. The email came in on a day I’d been sick and had missed scheduling a couple of status updates to Facebook.

“Dear dPS team. I just wanted to check if everything was ok with you? I noticed that your 6am and 11am Facebook updates didn’t go out today. I miss them! – Susan”

That email made me so happy and illustrated to me the power of developing a rhythm to social media updates. Not only had Susan noticed I’d not made a couple of updates, she’d actually noticed that I published updates at the same time every day – something I thought only I’d noticed!

Over the last year I’ve slowly developed a rhythm of posting to the dPS Facebook page (I wrote a little about it here). I usually post five times a day to our page and have assigned times to when I want each post to go live. The reason I came up with the times was to help me space out my posts during the times that most of my readers are online – but also to help me be more disciplined with posting.

I’d never have guessed that my readers would begin to notice when we updated – and that some would even be looking out for those updates at those times!

While I’m sure most of our readers don’t notice the exact timing of our updates they do notice if we go missing for a day or if we post too much in a 24-hour period. Regularity and rhythm are a powerful thing.

So what rhythm will you develop to your social media sharing of your content?

For me it is quite different from social media network to network. While Facebook is five times a day, I try to hit a higher rate of sharing on the dPS Twitter account (I’m aiming for 10-15 posts a day there). On our Pinterest account, Jade (our Pinterest magician) aims for around 12-15 pins per day – scattered through the day.

Of course not all of our Pins, tweets and updates are sharing of our new content – we ask questions, share other people’s posts as well as resharing some of the content in our archives – but developing a rhythm is important.

Of course the other thing to consider within this rhythm is how often you’ll share the same piece of content?

Different bloggers have quite different approaches to this.

I recently shared this Kissmetrics graphic that suggests a starting point for social sharing of the same piece of content.

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My own approach is less aggressive than this as I rarely reshare anything on social more than once within even a week or so – unless it is a post that is going very well for some reason. Having said this, at dPS we publish 14 posts per week, so there’s always something fresh to share and with over 4500 posts in the archives there is no shortage of good evergreen content to share on any given day alongside our new stuff.

There is no right or wrong answer to how often you can share content on social media but do keep in mind these two factors:

  1. each social network is different – for example on Twitter you can probably get away with sharing the same content more times as tweets don’t have as long a life as on other networks.
  2. pay attention to the reaction of your audience to your updates – there does come a point where those who follow you will begin to disengage with you if you share the same stuff over and over. Sometimes they’ll tell you if you’re sharing too much but most times I suspect they simply stop following you or at least become a little blind to your updates. Tread carefully!

If you do decide to share the same piece of content multiple times try to mix up the messaging of your sharing.

Again from the same Kissmetrics post mentioned above comes this great graphic to illustrate 5 different ways of sharing the same content on Twitter:

NewImage

I’d add to that list that sometimes sharing a visual from a post can be a good way to share a post too. Here’s one I did recently which incorporates a question and visual:

Dan Zarella has found that tweets with images are 60% more likely to be retweeted (we definitely see this on dPS, in fact last time I looked it was 100-200% more likely). The same is true on other social networks – images are powerful!

Of course the other thing to do when you’re resharing the same piece of content is to mix up the timings of your updates. If you first tweet a piece of content at 9am – at least wait a few hours to reshare it so that others in different parts of the world are likely to be online. The same thing applies to other networks (although I’d wait longer than a few hours to reshare on networks like Facebook or Google+).

Also consider avoiding sharing during those times of the day that are particularly ‘noisy’. Sometimes sharing during times that you’d think your audience isn’t online is actually best. Dan Zarrella calls this ‘contra-competitive timing’ and has some great data on the topic here.

There are so many factors to consider when writing posts, but hitting “publish” shouldn’t signal the time to stop thinking about them. Where can they go, and how can you promote them for maximum results? I hope these tips and the ones we will introduce across the week will help you shape the best social strategy for your situation.

How to Identify Social Media Demographics & Target Viewer Interests for Better Social Reach

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Image via flickr user Jason Howie

This is a guest contribution from Larry Alton.

There are social media demographics in general, and then there are your social media demographics for your business. You need to know the details of both in order to garner this platform for optimal gain. For instance, knowing that the majority of your followers are women in a certain age group means you can write your posts accordingly. Knowing that the majority of your fans live in a certain region means you can connect with them on a local level.

When it comes to identifying social media demographics, it’s all about using that data to hone your online presence. It doesn’t matter the platform; there are nuggets of gold in this data that can seriously boost your business. Start with considering the basic facts about social media in general. For example, the most popular platform is Facebook, followed by Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube and Google+ in a constant neck and neck race.

Back to basics

Facebook leans young, but there’s been a 45 percent spike in those ages 45 to 54 joining the site sine 2012. In total 73% of people who make over $75,000 per year are on Facebook, as opposed to just 17% on Twitter. However, a shocking 86% of FB users aren’t based in the US, making this prime pickings for businesses looking to go global.

With Instagram, now a part of Facebook, 68% of users are women. Twitter draws a young crowd with 27% of people in the US aged 18 to 29 using it, but only 16% of people who are in their 30s-40s tweet. If you’re looking to market to a younger crowd, your efforts might be better spent on Twitter rather than Facebook.

Juicy tidbits

LinkedIn is largely male but has a global appeal. Of course, it’s a more professional network, so you might want to steer clear of it if you’re trying to monetize a Paleo blog or other similar pursuit. However, for the more traditional startup or business, having a LinkedIn profile is nearly a necessity. Google+ takes the cake for male domination with 70% of users.

Pinterest is the social media platform of choice for tablet users, with 84% of users being women. Tumblr is another strong contender for teens, so it’s no surprise that only eight per cent of users have incomes over $75,000. What can you do with all this data? Manage it, analyze it and use it to craft your social media presence.

Know your users

There are analysis programs for certain platforms, including many provided (free) by the platforms themselves, which give you valuable information. For example, you can easily see which posts are most popular and which were most widely seen. You may also be able to get reports on the most active users in your network or other basic information on them.

Some of the most reputable social media analytic tools include Brandwatch, Google Analytics (a freebie), Local Response, and Moz Analytics. If you’re on a tight budget, Google isn’t fancy but it works, and the big social media platforms offer a variety of free analysis tools such as the free Facebook Competitive Analysis Report, Free Twitter Customer Service Analysis, or the Free Instagram User Report. Money can often play a role, but consider what information you need, not just the bottom line, to choose the right reporting tools.

Larry Alton is an independent business consultant specializing in social media trends, business, and entrepreneurship. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

 

Optimize Blog Content for Social Media with These 4 Effective Tactics

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Photo Credit: ePublicist via Flickr

This is a guest contribution from freelance blogger and writer Alicia Rades.

When you get a notification that someone tweeted or liked your latest blog post, you get excited. You can’t help but crack a smile and do a little fist pump because someone shared your content.

If you feel like the king (or queen) of the world and you do a little dance every time someone shares your blog post, get it out of your system now. Today you’re going to learn how to optimize your blog posts for social media, and when your notifications are ringing off the hook, you’re simply not going to have the energy to do a little dance every time someone shares your blog post.

Why do social shares matter? Well there’s the obvious. Social shares help spread the word of your content and brand, which helps drive more traffic. But what you should really care about is the fact that Google cares about social shares, so the more shares you can get, the better your pages will rank in search engines, which drives even more traffic to your site.

Check out these four effective tactics to help you optimize your blog content for social media to better promote your business.

1. Craft Your Headlines Wisely

Your headlines are perhaps the most important part of your social media strategy. Since your post title is the first thing your followers read on social media, you have to hook them so they’ll move on to read and share the post.

You can learn all about crafting powerful headlines for social media on Social Media Today. As this post mentions, it’s important to use emotion to grip your readers, but let’s dig deeper into optimizing your titles for social media.

First, let your readers know what the post is about so you can better connect with their interests. Someone who sees this title on Twitter isn’t likely to click on the link because they don’t know what to expect:

Trial and Error: How to Know When You’ve Got it Right

Okay: what exactly are you going to be talking about? This article could easily cover a range of topics, from learning how to parent and trying different recipes to discovering what works for you on social media. Instead, incorporate keywords that will connect with people’s interests. Some alternative titles include:

  • Trial and Error: How to Tell if Your Parenting Methods are Effective
  • How Using Trial and Error Can Help You Create Tastier Recipes
  • Discover Which Social Media Tactics Work for You with Trial and Error

Another important headline tactic is to keep it short. Most bloggers try to keep their headlines under 70 characters. Why do bloggers do this? Because any longer than that and your entire headline might not show up alongside your links. This means readers could lose valuable information that’s meant to hook them.

2. Use a Photo with Your Content

Social media websites like Facebook and Google+ usually feature a picture when you share a link to your content. But when you don’t set a photo for your post, your link doesn’t look as appealing.

Don’t think it matters that much? According to MDG Advertising, blog posts with compelling images receive a whopping 94 percent more views than those without. [Tweet That Stat!]

To make the most out of this, you have to consider a few things.

First, where can you find compelling photos? Glad you asked. You have several options:

  1. Take your own photos or hire a photographer to take photos for you.
  2. Find free photos on sites like CreativeCommons.org or Compfight.com. (Most of the time you have to attribute the image within your post.)
  3. Purchase photos on stock image sites like CanStockPhoto.com (photos starting at $2.50) or Getty Images (images starting at $25).

Once you’ve found an awesome image, you have to make sure it will show up properly when you share it on social media. In some cases, the social network won’t associate the image with your link if you simply insert the photo into your post. If you’re using WordPress, you can set a featured image, and Facebook and Google+ will usually use that photo alongside your link. To make sure, consider downloading the Facebook Open Graph Meta Tags for WordPress plugin, where you can choose which photo will show up with your link on social media.

3. Create Meaningful, Strong Quotes within the Content

When you have something interesting or meaningful to say, you can make it easy for your readers to share the quote by offering a “click to tweet” link. Since this tactic doesn’t require a lot of work for your audience and it easily draws attention to the sharing option, people are more likely to tweet your post.

A few ways to do this include:

  1. Head to ClicktoTweet.com and create your tweet. Generate and copy your link to incorporate it into your content. Easy peasy!
  2. Install the Click to Tweet by Todaymade plugin onto your WordPress site. In the CMS, click on the Twitter icon in your edit bar. Input the text you want people to tweet, and the plugin will create a box with your text in it and a “Click to Tweet” link.

Creating meaningful quotes isn’t only helpful for getting people to tweet your content. You can also use these quotes as a marketing tool to capture readers’ attention. Simply include the quote in your updates when you share the post on Facebook, Google+, and LinkedIn to draw readers into your words.

4. Include a Call-to-Action

If your main purpose is to increase exposure on social media, ask people to share your content.

But it’s not always effective to simply say, “Please share my post!”. You sound desperate.

Instead, connect with your readers and make them want to share the content by focusing on how they feel or have felt reading your piece. Don’t just tell them to share your post, either. Tell them exactly what to do by mentioning which social media platform to share on so you don’t leave them with too many options.

Here are some examples of good calls-to-action:

  1. Loved these ideas? Let everyone know by liking this post on Facebook.
  2. Do you share these same views? Tell the world by sharing this post on Facebook.
  3. Rise to the challenge and help spread the word by tweeting this post.

Make it easy for readers to share your content by offering easy-to-find sharing buttons (because let’s face it, no one wants to waste time copying and pasting). A few excellent plugins that offer easy-to-find buttons include:

Let’s put some of these strategies to the test. Enjoyed these tips? Do your friends a favor and let them in on these blog writing tactics by Tweeting this post with the share buttons above.

Alicia Rades is a freelance blogger and writer. She manages a blog called The Writing Realm and offers blog writing services on her website at AliciaRadesWriter.com.

Not on Instagram? Your Blog Could be Missing Out

This post is from ProBlogger Team member Stacey Roberts.

You could be forgiven for thinking Instagram is just for celebrity selfies and sharing pictures of what you ate for lunch. And while that’s exactly what Instagram is, it’s also so much more. For a start, it’s a network of totally engaged online creatures – exactly the kind of people who love to read blogs, and probably would love yours too, if you let them know you have one.

So many of us are visual creatures, and we love pretty pictures. In the last few years, Instagram has been the place to be for that – many of my blogging friends now call it their favourite form of social media. It is invaluable for interacting with readers (especially ones who don’t have a blog), and for finding new ones that aren’t coming to you through the usual channels.

It takes two seconds to upload a snippet of your day and check in with what’s happening. Instagram routinely gets plenty of interaction and engagement from fellow users, and while a tweet can sit in the ether feeling sorry for itself, an image is far more evocative. It also doesn’t take much for your followers to “like” your image, and you’re always in their feed as it’s not based on algorithms only Einstein could understand.

Instagram doesn’t take much brainpower to engage with – it’s not a tweet to be read, it’s not a Facebook status to understand – so people check in on it much more than they do other forms of social media. You can flick through while waiting in the doctor’s office, in the car at school pick-up, before a meeting, or even while waiting at the checkout. So the more you pop up in people’s feeds, the more your name and brand begin to get familiar. And because it takes one tap to engage – people are more likely to.

Folks love to share, and are often found snapping a picture of their freshly-made bed, a beautiful blue sky, or even their kids who painted their face instead of their paper. And they don’t just share and run, often they scroll through for a bit as well to see what everyone else is up to. Then they check back to see if anyone has chatted to them, which results in more scrolling. It would be silly not to capitalize on this, and be where the people are.

If you’re looking for 150 million monthly active users globally, you can’t go past Instagram. The 65 million photos uploaded by users every day result in a billion likes – and some of those could be on your content. Instagram says users spend three times as long on Instagram as they do on Pinterest and twice as long as on Twitter.

You don’t have to be funny or clever, you can just snap a picture of something intriguing and share that. There is always the lure of the “behind the scenes” images, so if you’re a business, upload some shots of what you all get up to in a day’s work. You might think it’s just for the young, but you’ll be surprised how useful it is to find new readers of any age, and how easy it is do do.

Less effort for more readers? You’d be crazy not to do it.

Stacey Roberts is the content ninja at ProBlogger.net, and the blogger behind Veggie Mama. Can be found making play-dough, reading The Cat in the Hat for the eleventh time, and avoiding the laundry. See evidence on Instagram here, on Facebook here, and twitter @veggie_mama.

2014 Reboot: Shake Up Your Social Media – Work Smarter, Not Harder

We are mining ProBlogger content this week for super-useful information to kick-start your blogging year with gusto. Today we encourage you to take stock of your social media habits – are they working for you? What can you do better? How can you harness this amazing technology to drive more quality traffic to your blog? Darren shows us the ropes.

This post “What Content Works Where? Smarter Traffic (and Revenue) Building Through Social Media” first appeared in January 2013.

Every time we publish a post on social media here at ProBlogger, readers comment that social media takes so much time—how can they get smarter about it? Girl using computer Today I wanted to give you a quick way to get a better handle on your social media activities, in about five minutes, using nothing more than your site stats (I’m using Google Analytics). You don’t need to get any software or be using a certain tool to share your content. This is just a short, quick technique that anyone can use—social media newbie or superstar.

Is your social media “working”?

First, let’s look at the question we’re trying to answer here. Most of us want to know that we’re getting some return on investment on social media, but we also want to improve our work within each network, so that our communications are more targeted, and our returns keep improving. So the broad question, “Is social media really working for me?” or “Is it worth my time?” are probably better refined to:

  • How much traffic am I getting from social media?
  • What’s that doing for my bottom line?
  • How can I improve on those figures?

That first question is very easily answered; any stats package will tell you how many unique visitors and pageveiws your blog is getting through social channels. It’ll also tell you what percentage of your traffic overall comes from those sources. You can easily extrapolate that to an actual (if approximate) ROI provided you have an idea of the value you get from, say, each ad impression on your blog. Divide that by the number of hours you spend each month or week on social media and you’ll know exactly how much money you’re making for your time right now. It’ll be harder to track the ongoing, growing value of that time expenditure in less tangible terms, like what it’s doing for authority-building within your niche. But this is a start. Similarly, if you have a special promotion you’ve been plugging through social media, you should be able to track how much traffic it’s sending to your landing page. And if it’s a dedicated landing page for social media traffic, you’ll be able to clearly see how well that traffic’s converting. But what about the last question: How can I improve those figures? The answer lies in looking a little more closely at what, specifically, is pulling the traffic through from each network.

An analysis

If you’re not sure how your social networks are performing when it comes to generating traffic, you might be surprised to look at your stats. Here are the most popular URLs on ProBlogger for the last month, for Twitter:

  1. 40 Cool Things to Do with Your Posts After You Hit Publish
  2. Ramit Sethi Exposed: How He Earns Millions Blogging
  3. Neil Patel’s Guide to Writing Popular Blog Posts
  4. Grow Your Blog Business: The Earn Millions in Your Flip-flops Framework [Case Study]
  5. How to Make $30,000 a Year Blogging.

And here are the most popular for Facebook:

  1. 15 Bloggers to Watch in 2013
  2. 40 Cool Things to Do with Your Posts After You Hit Publish
  3. Are You Wasting Time Guest Posting?
  4. Can You REALLY Make Money Blogging? 7 Things I Know About Making Money from Blogging
  5. 20 Linkbaiting Techniques.

What stands out to me here, above all else, is the potential for older content (like that last post in the Facebook list, which was from 2006!) to get traffic through reshares. Obviously, with all your stats at your fingertips, you can go much further than the top five, but this snapshot gives a fairly clear picture of the differences between the content that appeals to the users of different networks. Even at a glance, we might make some hypotheses based on these results:

  • Twitter users in this space prefer case studies and personal advice that comes with a sense of authority.
  • Facebook users in this space like list posts.
  • The most popular topics on Twitter seem to be about making money blogging.
  • The most popular topics on Facebook are about blog promotion techniques.

So of course, the next step is to test those hypotheses. I could go back into the stats archive to see if those statements are true over, say, the last six months. And I could test those statements using articles I have queued up for the next week or month. There seems to be a bit of a dichotomy between headlines that work well on each network, so I could try different headlines on different types of posts and see how that goes. But it’s also important to remember that reshares aren’t just about headlines—they’re also about content. So rather than just coming up with some great direct, list-style headlines for list posts in an effort to boost traffic from Facebook, I could see try other types of headlines on some list posts, and see how they perform on that network. In this way I can narrow down how important the headline is on each social network, as well as which types of content are likely to do well.

What next?

As I mentioned, this kind of analysis doesn’t take long—a five-minute review once a week (or, more likely for me, once a month!) will give me the information I need. This information can help me shape my content to attract more users from each network, but it can also help me to devise information products or offers that best suit each network’s users. This can, again, help me optimize clickthroughs and conversions from those sources. The more I get to know the data over time, the more effectively I can communicate to users of each network about things that interest them, and in ways that impact them. This can help me to build broad rapport but also to do market research, make valuable relationships, and more. Not bad for a five-minute review! Of course, there’s a lot more you can do around social media tracking and assessment. But as I explained at the outset of this post, I wanted to show all those bloggers who think social media takes too much time that getting quantitative answers about the return on that investment isn’t hard or time-consuming. And neither is making use of that information to make your social networking even more productive. What sorts of social media traffic and revenue tracking do you do? Let us know in the comments.

How to Generate Post Ideas, Understand Your Readership and Build Community On Your Blog

This week was a busy one for me in the lead up to our big Christmas promotion over at Digital Photography School, that we will kick off later in the week.

But in the middle of it all, I did something on the spur of the moment that I will definitely be doing again.

I created a quick Facebook post asking readers if they had questions that they’d like to see us write about on dPS.

You can see the thread here.

Questions facebook dps

I didn’t really know how the invitation to submit questions would go – but as you can see, it had a great response.

There were a few benefits from doing it:

  1. it gave us some great ideas for upcoming posts for the blog
  2. it gave us insight into our readership’s needs, but also the level they are at with their photography
  3. it gave our readers a chance to engage with us on a different level (and with each other)
  4. it showed our readers that we are genuinely interested in helping them improve their photography, and that we base our posts on their needs
  5. it highlighted some of the old posts in our archives (you’ll see that where we’d already covered a topic I linked to the older posts). This drove a little traffic.

The response was great both in the Facebook thread itself, but also in a couple of private messages of thanks that I received from readers afterward.

One recurring theme from these responses was that readers felt like we’d gone to the effort of giving them some individual attention.

This is really important – with a growing blog, it is easy for readers to feel a bit lost in the crowd. It is also easy as a blogger to let your ‘readership’ become a ‘thing’ and it was a good reminder to me this week that our readership is actually a group of very diverse individuals.

PS: I also asked a similar question on the ProBlogger Facebook Page this week. If you’ve got a question you’d like addressed in an upcoming post on ProBlogger – please feel free to ask it.

Good News for Publishers: Facebook Continues to Reward High Quality Content

Earlier this week Facebook published a FYI update about more updates that they’ve been making (and are about to make) to what will show in users news feeds (thanks to Jen at FBAdslab for the tipoff).

The information is particularly relevant to those of us with Facebook pages who are sharing links in the hope of driving traffic back to our blogs.

High Quality Content Will Appear More

The ultimate goal of the latest updates to News Feed rankings is to show more relevant news to Facebook users, and Facebook states that they’re continuing to focus their attention upon showing ‘high quality content’ to users.

It seems that they’re going to start giving links to articles a higher ranking than they have been previously – particularly to users using Facebook on mobile devices.

This is great to know as a Facebook Page owner. I’d previously spent more time sharing photos with links in the descriptions of the images but have always put a few direct links into my updates as well – of late I’ve noticed these links doing quite well and now we know why.

Also in Facebook’s FYI update this week is an indication that they’re also focusing their attention upon distinguishing between high quality content vs ‘meme photos’.

This focus upon delivering high quality content to your Facebook page rather than going for cheap comments or engagement talked about a few weeks ago – but it’s only going to become more important (and this is yet another signal from Facebook that you need to pay attention).

Facebook to Start Showing ‘Related Articles’

The next part of Facebook’s update this week is pretty interesting for us as publishers. If someone clicks a link that you share on your Facebook page they will then see up to three related articles directly below in the newsfeed. Here’s how they show it as looking:

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THIS is pretty cool and has potential to drive some decent traffic to publishers creating high quality content.

Keeping the Conversation Live Longer

Lastly, Facebook indicates that they are going to be bringing back older posts that people comment on in their new feed to lengthen the life of those conversations, which is pretty good if you’re using Facebook as a community engagement tool.

Read the full article on these recent changes over at the Facebook Newsroom and let us know what you think in comments below.

Blogging, and Twitter, and Readers…Oh My!

This is a guest contribution from Courtney Gordner.

If you want to maximise the potential of your blog, it’s essential that you interact with your followers. And if you want to interact with your followers, you need to know where to find them.

When they’re online and not reading through your latest post, odds are, they’re engaging with social media.  This is exactly why if you have a blog, you should be interacting with your readers on Twitter.

But hang on just a second.  Before you jump right into linking your blog with Twitter, you should take some time to make your blog “Twitter friendly.”  Here’s how this is done:

Creating a Twitter-Friendly Blog

Be Familiar with Your Target Audience and What Interests Them

It’s tempting to think that your blog should be all about your interests, but in reality, if you want to accrue a consistent readership, it’s essential that you write for your audience.

With this in mind, you should develop a marketing persona to understand the needs and priorities of your audience and a social media persona to know where they gather and interact on social media.

Use a Featured Image

Pictures, infographics, and visual aids draw readers in and grab their interest. Pictures should be properly formatted and appropriate for your content. Also, images of people are especially effective, so they should be used whenever possible.

Twitter Tools to Use with Your Blog

Use the Sidebar

Ask visitors to follow you on Twitter in your sidebar. Maximise the value of your blog by getting readers to interact with you on other social media sites.

It’s likely that visitors are already spending a lot of time on these platforms, and if you want to attract more readers, you need to go where the people go.

Incorporate Social Sharing Icons Above and Below Every Post

This is especially effective with your readers who are visually oriented.

Linking Twitter and Your Blog

Develop a Blog Profile

In your blog profile, you should give information about your blog, along with providing its URL, a current description, and gravatar.  The name you use on Twitter should be consistent with your blog.

Make Your Blog’s Brand Part of Your Twitter Image and Background

Since you’re using social media to enhance your blog’s brand, you should make sure that your Twitter profile uses brand elements that identify with your blog.

Enlist the Help of Your Friends

Share posts from your friends on your Twitter page, and have them return the favor by sharing your posts on theirs.

Keep Your Eye on the Competition

Use your personal account to follow and interact with your competition on Twitter.  The benefits of this are twofold:  first, it allows you to develop relationships with people who may be interested in your content; secondly, it gives you ideas for other topics to address on your blog.

Optimizing Your Blog’s Potential with Twitter

Tweet Each Blog Post Multiple Times 

Since people on social media live across the country in different time zones, this helps to ensure that your posts get noticed.

Condense Blog Posts into “Tweetable” Chunks

For more lengthy posts, roundups, and lists, make the most of your content by creating a set of tweets to be posted over an extended period of time.

For Reader Accessiblity, Pre-Format Tweets

This works especially well with quotes and data roundups.  To promote tweeting, use Clicktotweet.

Extend Your Blog’s Reach with Optimal Hashtags

Keep your audience in mind as you evaluate the relevance of the content for your hashtags.  You should use a maximum of three hashtags and keep them separate from the body of your message.

Publish Your Tweets With a Scheduling Tool

Scheduling tools allow you to set the time you want your tweets to appear.

Express Gratitude Towards People Who Share Your Blog Posts

They will appreciate the recognition, and by thanking people, you can develop and strengthen your social media relationships.

Join Pertinent Twitter Chats

Joining chats on Twitter is another great way to build social media relationships.  Consider joining #BlogChat on Sunday evenings to learn ways to optimise your blog and interact with other bloggers.

Interacting with your blog readers on Twitter shows readers that you care about them and value their input.  It helps you maintain your current readership and even allows you to draw in new readers.

So, if you want a widely followed blog that can’t be beat, the answer is clear:  you better start to tweet.

Courtney Gordner is a blogger with a passion for all things internet, social media and SEO. She learned her skills while working for an internet marketing company.

Disillusioned with Facebook: Here’s a Way Forward

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Are you disillusioned or frustrated with Facebook?

I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve heard bloggers say that they are unhappy with the changes Facebook have made to their algorithm in the last 12 months – changes that make it harder for those who ‘like’ your page to actually see your updates.

I admit to this frustration too.

12 months ago on a webinar I declared I was considering switching most of my social media efforts away from Facebook to other social networks because I was so frustrated. I’d put years of effort into building my Facebook following only to see the company make changes to show fewer and fewer of my updates to followers.

It hurt to see all that effort seemingly go to waste.

However it wasn’t wasted and rather than giving up I decided to try to understand and work within the changes Facebook had made.

Thankfully that approach has paid off.

As regular readers of ProBlogger know – of late I’ve been investing even more time into Facebook as a place to share the content published on dPS and to build community with our readers.

I wrote about this a few weeks ago in a post titled How I Increased Facebook Reach and Engagement by 200-300% this Week.

I’ve continued to experiment with and evolve the strategies mentioned in the above post on the dPS Facebook page but today wanted to point readers to Facebook’s own words on the changes they’ve made over the last few months – words that I think give some hints as to how a blogger should approach building their page on Facebook.

Towards the end of August Facebook published a post on their Business Blog titled News Feed FYI: Showing More High Quality Content which spoke of the changes that they’d made.

While it didn’t give specific information on exactly how their algorithm decides what updates to show it does give some good hints that I think are worth pondering as a Facebook page owner.

What to Focus Your Efforts On with Facebook

The post indicates there are thousands of factors that determine if someone who has liked your page will actually see your content but that really it boils down to a few main things. Here they are in the words of Facebook itslef:

  • Make your posts timely and relevant
  • Build credibility and trust with your audience
  • Ask yourself, “Would people share this with their friends or recommend it to others?”
  • Think about, “Would my audience want to see this in their News Feeds?”

The concepts here that stand out to me are that for a post to show up in news feeds it needs to be timely, relevant, trustworthy and shareable. Ultimately I think they’re talking about delivering high ‘value’ to those who like your page.

This is common sense on many levels and is similar to the advice I’ve given here on ProBlogger on building an audience of a blog.

High quality, high value content and building trust with your audience.

So what can you do to deliver this?

Ultimately it will different from niche to niche but what I’m attempting to do on the dPS Facebook page is this.

1. Understand My Readers Needs and Deliver Content that Meets Them – Relevancy

My followers want to improve their photography – so the bulk of what I share aims to help with this. Regular content that solves problems is what my main focus is – this is ‘relevancy’. I avoid fluffy and general questions to get cheap comments – but rather keep on topic and focus upon the topic I know those who’ve liked my page want to see.

2. Understand What My Readers Like to Share – Shareable

My followers love to share great images, cool and geeky tips and humorous content. As a result I try to make as many of the updates that I do as shareable as possible.

Posts that link back to my blog always have shareable images in them and I will often put together collages of great images because I know those also trigger shares with our audience.

3. Understand the ‘Rhythms’ of your Readers – Timely

My niche being photography I know that many of our followers are most active in taking photos on the weekend. So we’ve started doing ‘share your photo’ posts on our Facebook page at the end of the weekend (see the latest one here).

I’ve done these the last 3 weeks and already our readers are starting to look forward to them and anticipate us doing them. This ‘timely’ content seems to be driving some great engagement.

I suspect that doing different types of posts regularly would be a good way forward and I’d like to do more of this.

4. Produce Quality Content – Value and Trust

The quality of updates is paramount. Publishing low quality content could at the worst cause followers to react negatively (hiding your posts, marking you as spam etc) or simply make them ignore you (not commenting, liking sharing).

This not only impact whether that post might be seen but goes toward decreasing the trust and credibility of your page!

What to Avoid Doing on Facebook

Also in Facebook’s post there’s reference to negative factors that could harm a status update ranking well. Facebook recommends asking yourself these questions:

  • Is the content genuinely interesting to you or is it trying to game News Feed distribution? (e.g., asking for people to like the content)
  • Would you call this a low quality post or meme?
  • Would you complain about seeing this content in your News Feed?

These points are well worth considering. I see a lot of bloggers who seem to be posting ‘like my stuff’ type updates or sharing fluffy/cheap quotes and graphics that don’t have a lot of value in them.

If my reading of the Facebook advice is correct – it is this type of update that Facebook is focused upon removing from news feeds and that could impact the trust/credibility of your page.

Perhaps a good question to ask before publishing an update to Facebook is ‘does this update run the risk of annoying my followers?

If you are posting updates that primarily ask for likes or that are after cheap shares or comments (which also have a high annoyance factor) then you might want to rethink your strategy.

Not only will these posts go unseen – they’ll impact the overall trust and credibility of your page which will impact whether ALL of your updates are seen!

I suspect also that the frequency of your updates could come into play with ‘annoying’ readers (and causing people to ‘hide’ your content).

The hard part about all of this is that there is sometimes a fine line between creating updates that are liked/shared/commented upon and tipping into annoying your readers. Really I guess it comes down to monitoring how your readers are responding and tweaking your approach.

One More Tip: Variety is a Factor

A factor that I’m increasingly convinced is important to consider when thinking about your updates in Facebook is to mix up the types of posts that you do.

Here’s why:

A factor that Facebook seems to consider when determining if it should show your update to someone who has liked your page is whether it is the type of content that they’ve interacted with in the past.

For example: if a follower has a history of engaging with images and your update is an image, they’re more likely to see it.

On the other hand if the follower has a history with engaging more with ‘link’ updates on the pages that they follow and all you post is images – then they may not see many of them.

So mixing up the type of updates that you post will mean you are reaching a larger number of your followers.

Typically I try to post at least one image/s post per day, one link post per day and one discussion type post per day.

My hope is that by doing this I’ll be producing content that different types of followers are going to respond to – which increases their engagement and trust with the page (which can only have a positive flow on impact).

I also hope that by mixing up the type of content that readers will be less likely to become bored with the same approach and stay engaged.

Don’t Give Up – Evolve Your Approach

Let me finish with an encouragement to those of you who are disillusioned with Facebook.

I understand your frustration – really I do.

However when faced with any obstacle in life or business we have the choice in how to move forward. We can walk away – or attempt to hurdle it. I think this one is well worth attempting to hurdle and encourage you to spend some time thinking about how to evolve your approach to work with the changes Facebook has made.

While I know some are skeptical about Facebook’s changes and think they are more about trying to force pages to advertise (and there may be some truth in this) I do believe that for Facebook to continue to be sustainable and successful that they need to provide those who use the site with the best experience possible.

Facebook will only continue to be a viable proposition if they deliver value to those who use the social network.

As a result what I see them doing is making changes to their algorithm to ensure that those who use Facebook see high quality content.

This is an opportunity for bloggers who are producing great content!

With almost 1.2 billion active monthly users I think to ignore this opportunity would be crazy!