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5 Tips to Grow Your Twitter Presence in 2012

Twitter has a stronghold on the blogosphere, yet sometimes, it’s hard to be heard. If you’re struggling to grow your Twitter following, you’re not alone.

I have more than 160,000 followers now, and quite a few readers have asked how I’ve grown my following. Here are my tips.

1. Leverage your other “engagement media” profiles

Do you have an existing online profile somewhere outside of Twitter (big or small)? Use it to springboard into Twitter. If it’s a blog, mention that you’re using Twitter in a post, add Twitter sharing buttons to your home page and individual posts, and link to it from your profile and contact pages.

Tweet button

My posts all display a Tweet button

If you’re on Facebook, use one of the numerous tools or apps available to republish your tweets to Facebook. If you promote your blog on Google+, share your Tweets there. Using Pinterest? Cross-pollinate between those followers and your Twitter followers to maximize the return on the time you’re investing in social media.

It goes without saying that you should add Twitter, along with your other social media account details, to your email signature, business card, and so on. The same applies with any online (or even offline) presence that you have—link to your Twitter page and link to it often.

2. Tweet often—but leave space for engagement

The more active you are on Twitter, the more likely you are to have others find and follow you. However, tweet too frequently and you run the risk of losing followers. I try to stick to one topic at a time and create pauses between them to let others interact.

Striking the right balance takes time and experimentation. Watch who retweets your updates—and which updates they’re sharing—to get a sense of your strongest advocates.

And be sure to engage with those who share your updates and those who respond to you. Thank them, answer their questions, and ask them why they likes that tweet or this post. Consider this engagement part of your ongoing market research for your blog, and your social media strategy.

3. Get talking

The secret to building your follower list is interaction. I get most new followers on those days when I interact with other Twitter users_and over time, that’s grown to a massive number of people.

We call them @ replies but you can, of course, also use the @_name functionality to engage with people you don’t know or follow—and who don’t know or follow you.

Asking questions is perhaps the best way to get conversational on Twitter. Get ten people to answer a question you’ve tweeted and if even just one person retweets one of those ten replies (or your original question), you’ll have gained exposure to whole new rafts of potential followers.

Just as important is to participate in other people’s conversations. Reply to their questions and ideas as much as possible.

The key with Twitter really is shared interests. people will share your tweets with their followers if they think you share a common interest with them, and your tweet is relevant. So, be conversational about topics that will interest others. Be conversational in a way that encourages your followers to reach out to their own networks.

Sharable tweets

Make your tweets resonate with a broad audience

Finally, you might find your first few engagements on Twitter easiest if you’re not talking about yourself—I find I do better when I’m not talking about me! No one likes to hang around with people who just talk about themselves, so get the balance right between talking about yourself and talking about others and other topics of interest.

4. Provide optimal value

Tweeting on a personal level is fun and for many that’s as far as it goes, but if you’re interested in growing your Twitter influence, you need to provide your followers, and potential followers, with value.

It’s the same principle as growing a blog—if you help enhance people’s lives in some way they are more likely to want to track with you, read more of what you have to say, and share your ideas with others.

Make your conversations matter on some level. Sure you can throw in personal tweets and have some fun, but unless you’re providing something useful to people (information, entertainment, news, education, etc.) they probably won’t follow you for long, or share your content with their own networks.

5. Tweet in peak times

Last week I tracked when I had new Twitter followers add me, and found (as I expected) that the frequency of follows where made during business hours in the USA.

Tweeting at the times when your followers are online only increases the chances of their finding and adding you to their lists, and sharing your tweets—timing certainly affects sharing on Facebook, and if you look at your retweet stats, you’ll find it does on this network, too.

My being situated in Australia can have some positives and negatives, but one of the things I don’t enjoy about it is that I miss out on a lot of interaction with my followers who are on the other side of the world. While many social media management apps will let you schedule status updates and tweets, there’s no substitute for in-person, real-time interaction on Twitter.

Bonus tip: tweet from the heart

Don’t worry too much about how you “come across” on Twitter. Just be yourself and tweet form the heart. Don’t stress too much about the numbers—instead, use the platform to connect genuinely with the Twitter followers you already have, and let the rest take care of itself!

Top Twitter Blog Marketing Tips has more Twitter tips.

Oh, and if you’re feeling overwhelmed by the burden of social networks, read my post on how to beat the social media beast!

It Takes a Gathering to Build a Crowd

In this guest post Steven Snell (who writes about social media at Traffikd) examines the topic of generating readership for your blog through social media.

gathering-crowd.jpg
Image by shoothead

If you spend much time on social media websites, I’m sure you’ve noticed that you tend to see many of the same websites and blogs on the front page receiving the most exposure. A few months ago I wrote a post at Daily Blog Tips that posed the question Do Small Bloggers Have a Chance with Digg? Through my observations and through the comments from many readers, it’s clear that large websites and blogs have a distinct advantage over smaller blogs when it comes to social media. Obviously, this can be frustrating to new bloggers who are looking to get some much-needed exposure from social media, as it seems to be the rich just getting richer.

One question that needs to be addressed is, what is the most significant factor that leads to the success of these large websites with social media? Is their content just that much better than smaller blogs? In my opinion, many times this isn’t the case. Is it because they have a larger existing audience? I’d say this is often a bigger factor than the quality issue. Very popular blogs tend to do well with social media, and with their incredibly large subscriber bases, they have a distinct advantage.

Take for example the front page of Delicious. Typically it takes about 100 bookmarks within 24 hours or so to get to the front page. It seems like almost every day there is a post from Smashing Magazine or Zen Habits on the front page. With over 60,000 and 50,000 readers respectively, a small percentage of subscribers can easily put these posts on the front page with a bookmark. On the other hand, a smaller blog with only 100 subscribers would need one bookmark per subscriber to make the front page.

So how does this affect smaller bloggers who want to get better results from social media? Essentially it shows that great content alone is usually not enough. It takes a gathering to build a crowd. Meaning, your gathering of existing readers and your network of friends can help to result in a bigger crowd that comes from social media sites.

New bloggers that are targeting social media, or those who have just been disappointed with their results to this point need to focus on building the gathering before the crowd will come. Networking is probably the most significant activity for bloggers in terms of gaining social media traffic. A blogger’s network includes readers and subscribers as well as friends and contacts who are bloggers themselves. Members of your network will be much more likely to vote for you on social media sites, plus you can openly ask for their help when you need it the most.

There are several different ways to get social media votes:

1 – Visitors of social media sites can see your link at the social media site and vote there (example, a Digg user visits the upcoming page, clicks through to your link, returns to Digg and votes for your post).

2 – Visitors of your blog can vote by using a button, widget, or link on your blog.

3 – Visitors can use a toolbar to vote (examples, StumbleUpon and Delicious toolbars).

4 – Social media users can share your post with their friends (example, the shout feature at Digg).

5 – Bloggers can email (or IM) others in their network to request a vote.

The only one of these that is not affected by the existing “crowd” of a blog is #1. Getting votes from the upcoming page is not really affected by how many readers you have at your blog, rather it is affected by how many people see the item on the upcoming page, the quality of the title (in terms of attracting clicks), the quality of the content once people click-through, etc. Certainly there are some small blogs that have success this way without a network, but this seems to be the minority.

All of the other four are affected by how many people are seeing the page and how many people are in the blogger’s network. Let’s quickly look at each one. For #2, the more visitors a page has (which is impacted by the number of subscribers), the more opportunities it has to get votes through a button. If a post only gets 5 visitors, the most votes it can possibly get through a “Digg This” button is five. On the other hand, if the post gets 5,000 visitors, its potential for votes just multiplied by 1,000. The situation in #3, visitors voting using a toolbar, is exactly the same scenario.

Item numbers 4 and 5 are both impacted by the blogger’s network of friends and contacts. If you have a large existing network and you’re willing to ask them for some help occasionally, you can get some quick and easy votes. Whether you’re using a share feature at a social media site or simply sending a private email, your success will depend on the quality and quantity of connections you have made in addition to the quality of the content itself.

I Don’t Have a Crowd. What Can I Do?

Understanding how all of this works is good, but if you’re a new blogger with a limited network and a small base of subscribers it doesn’t help you very much, yet. If you’re looking to improve your results with social media, do what you can to get one step closer to blogs that have a bigger reach than you. Work on building your network and send as much traffic as possible to your posts.

Here are a few tips:
1 – Still focus on content

In order to build your crowd you’ll need to give them a reason to consistently read your blog. Publishing high-quality content is the best way to do this. Although I said earlier that the existing audience is often more important than the content itself for social media success, the content still needs to be of a certain standard of quality.

2 – Dedicate time to networking

Most bloggers network casually whenever it happens. This is fine, but you can step up your network by making it a priority. Use social media sites and other blogs as opportunities to connect with other bloggers and get to know others who share some of your interests. Be active on blogs in your niche and make an effort to get to know those bloggers. Don’t limit your involvement with just A-list bloggers. Make an effort to get to know other bloggers who are at the same stage in the blogging lifecycle as you. In this case you’ll be able to help each other as you both grow your blogs.

3 – Funnel traffic

Most bloggers create posts from time-to-time that they expect to draw some attention from social media. When you have a post that you want to get some exposure, don’t just focus on getting Diggs or Stumbles. You can use smaller social media sites and niche social media sites to funnel traffic to the post. As visitors come from other social media sites they may also Digg or Stumble your post. If you have some other way to get traffic to these posts, such as getting a link from a friend or from a community website, do so. The more visitors you can get to the page, the better your chances will be of getting some votes.

4 – Don’t be afraid to ask for a vote

Some bloggers and social media users don’t like to ask others for a vote. While there is nothing wrong with this approach, I’ve found that other social media users who are legitimately your friends (not just someone you added as a friend at Digg) will be happy to give you a vote if your content is worthy, and you can return the favor for them as well. I get a decent number of requests each week, and as long as it’s from someone I know and not just a spam request, I’m happy to at least consider the vote.

After The Gathering is Built

Once you have built a gathering of subscribers and those in your network, drawing the crowd from social media will be incredibly more realistic. Not only will it be more realistic, but it will happen more frequently, as you can observe from the larger blogs mentioned at the beginning of this post.

What’s Your Approach?

How do you go about getting votes for social media? Is your success with social media impacted by your network?

Steven Snell covers a variety of topics related to social media and blog promotion at Traffikd. You can subscribe to his feed for more on these topics.

Tips For Social Media Toddlers

Tips for Social Media ToddlersI don’t do many guest posts on other people’s blogs these days but this week I was asked to do one that I couldn’t resist. Kristen from Social Media Mom asked me to write something on Social Media and being a Dad.

My first thought was that it was all too hard – but I decided to take the challenge and the post that emerged was one of the favorite things I’ve written of late. It’s called:

4 Tips for Social Media Toddlers

The post takes a look at 4 lessons that I’ve learned from my son (that’s he and I pictured left) and what they teach me about social media (Twitter particularly). I hope you enjoy it!

Why I Love Twitter

Two days ago I asked my followers on Twitter why they loved Twitter.

There were over 100 responses within 2 hours and some of them were really good – I wasn’t sure what to do with them all but just yesterday I’d seen a video with a whole lot of screen caps of Tweets at Rocketboom. The idea was still fresh in my mind so I decided to make my own with the responses from readers.

The above video is a compilation of the responses from followers. I hope I got them all!

You can see a full sized version of it on it’s YouTube page or a slightly better quality one at Revver.

How to Target the Right Social Media Sites

This is a guest post on targeting Social Media Sites is from Steven Snell. Steven writes about social media marketing at Traffikd.

Social-Media.jpgMost bloggers recognize the incredible potential that exists with social media marketing. Many want to maximize the traffic they receive from social media, so they add a Digg button to their posts or sign up for an account at StumbleUpon. What too many bloggers overlook is that Digg and StumbleUpon are just two of the hundreds of available options, and they may not be the best fit for every blogger.

In order to get the most out of social media traffic you’ll need to put some thought into choosing the social media sites that are the most appropriate for your blog and your audience. Unfortunately, none of us have the time to be an active member on more than just a few social media sites, and trying to target too many of them by adding countless buttons and widgets to your blog will only make it cluttered and ineffective.

Among social media sites there is a huge variety of audiences, types of content that is popular, amount of traffic that is sent to popular links, etc. I think most of us would agree that quality traffic is more important than quantity of traffic. The quality of traffic that you receive from social media will be largely dependent upon finding the right fit for your blog. You’ve probably read that social media traffic is very low quality. From my experience, this is not always the case. Traffic from poorly-targeted social media sites will be low quality.

When you are evaluating social media sites pay attention to these factors. Find 2 or 3 that are a good fit for you and get the most you can out of them.

What type of audience? General or niche?

With so many different social media sites out there, the audience will vary greatly from one to another. Obviously, there are a number of general news sites, like Digg, but there are a growing number of excellent sites that focus on a specific niche. These sites typically will not send as much traffic as the major players, but the traffic will generally be of much higher quality and greater networking opportunities may be possible. If you’re looking for niche social media sites in your industry, check the categorized list of social media sites that I compiled.

What type of content does well?

One of the main things you’re going to want to study is the results of different types of content. Visit the front page every day for several days and look for patterns or habits that you can identify. Most social media sites will have an audience that generally prefers a few specific types of content. Learn whatever you can from the popular items, and try to create your own content that will have some of the same appeal to users. For example, if you see resource lists constantly on the front page, you may want to create your own resource list. Or, if you see controversial articles covering current news topics, try to go that route. Of course, whatever content you create should also appeal to your regular readers and subscribers.

What type of content does not do well?

At the same time you are looking for types of content that routinely draw results, also pay attention to what types of content you are not seeing on the front page, or what is drawing a negative response from readers. Just like each audience has its own likes, each will also have its own dislikes. Trying to promote the wrong type of content at a specific social media site is a waste of time.

Do users submit their own content?

If you are planning to target a specific social media site you will definitely want to know if there are any written or unwritten rules about submitting your own content. If so, you’ll need to rely on your readers to submit it, or ask friends to do so.

How many votes does it take to be popular?

Some sites, like Digg, can take over 100 votes (and more in recent months) to make it to the front page, whereas smaller social media sites may only require a few votes. Obviously, the larger sites also tend to have more users, so in some ways it can be easier to get votes. Still, this is something that you should consider. For my primary blog I target Design Float, a niche site for designers. One of the great things about promoting content at Design Float is that it only takes about 3 votes to get to the front page. Although it takes just 3 votes, popular submissions can easily receive a few hundred visitors in a day.

Are there tools/widgets that you can use on your site

I’m sure you’re familiar with voting buttons and widgets. The Digg button is very popular, and several others are also common. There are some widgets and plugins that allow users to vote at just about any site they want, and there are others that are specific to a particular site. If available, consider whether or not you should use voting buttons on your site. My opinion is that voting buttons can be very effective if you don’t use too many of them and if you choose social media sites that a decent number of your regular readers use themselves.

How much traffic do popular submissions typically receive?

Of course, you will want to have an idea of what type of traffic you can expect if your content becomes popular. There are so many social media sites out there that many of them send next to no traffic at all. Don’t necessarily write off a particular site because it doesn’t send thousands of visitors, but you also don’t want to waste your time chasing after 10 visitors.

Is the profile of the submitter important?

Some social media sites, especially Digg, will be impacted by who submits the link. Certain “power users” have hundreds or thousands of friends that follow their submissions and vote them up. On other sites the profile of the submitter has very little or no impact. This is important for a few reasons. First, if the profile of the submitter does play a large role in the success of the submission, you’ll need to either find influential users to submit your content or build a strong profile yourself to submit your own content (which can be frowned upon). Second, sites that don’t favor particular users will place more value on the quality of the content rather than the network of the user.

What are the demographics of the users?

Ideally, you’ll want to find a social media site that has similar demographics to your target audience. For obvious reasons this will improve the quality of traffic that you receive. Some social media sites tend to have users that are in a particular age bracket, a specific sex, or from a specific geographical location. To determine these items you may have to spend some time on the site and visit the profiles of a lot of users. See what you can find out about them.

What views prevail?

The audience of different social media sites tend to have varying views on different issues, and some audiences can be very passionate about certain things. This can either help or hurt you. Cater your content to fit in with popular opinions and you could see impressive results. Write a post that goes against the majority view and you could see some backlash, depending on the site. This really can apply to just about any topic. For example, Apple vs. Microsoft, or conservative vs. liberal views.

What formats are accepted?

Many of the major social media sites are accepting pictures and video in addition to just standard links. Some social media sites even have specific sections or categories for different types of content (Mixx does this very well). As video continues to become more and more common, more social media sites will add specific elements to accommodate video submissions. For now, you’ll want to take this into consideration to determine if your content would be a good fit for a specific site.

How can you network with other users?

One of the basic elements of social media is networking with other users. Regardless of what site you are targeting, having a strong network of other active users will be extremely valuable. Not only will it improve your chances of getting traffic, but you can also make some great connections and help others along the way. Some social media sites offer much better networking opportunities than others. StumbleUpon is one of my favorites for networking. Being able to send messages, share links, and review other users all right from the toolbar make the networking on StumbleUpon hard to beat. If one of your goals is to improve your network through social media, make sure that you spend your time on sites that will make networking easy.

Are there specific sub-groups?

Social media sites that allow you to start your own group can improve your ability to meet others that share your interests. Again, this is something that Mixx does very well. Users can start a group or join and existing one, and group members can invite other users to join. If you’re looking to do some networking with others that fit into a specific niche, this may be something to consider.

Are the users connected to other social media sites?

Almost all social media users are active at more than just one social media site. If you can identify the relationships between various social media sites you may be able to use this to your advantage. For example, many popular submissions at Digg wind up on the front page of Delicious after a bunch of Digg users have bookmarked the page. Maybe you would like to target Delicious, but only a small percentage of your readers use Delicious. If it’s easier for you to get to the Digg front page, you may be able to create something worth bookmarking and transfer that Digg traffic into a spot on the Delicious front page.

Another effective approach is to use smaller, niche sites to send a smaller rush of traffic and try to convert that traffic into Diggs, Stumbles or Delicious bookmarks. Making the front page of a niche site is typically easier than hitting the front page of the major sites. Maybe you can take a small step towards a popular submission at a niche site that will allow you to take a bigger step towards success at a major social media site. Several months ago I wrote a more detailed explanation of this approach, How to Set Up a Domino Effect of Traffic.

How long does the traffic last?

Social media sites are notorious for sending a quick rush of traffic, and then nothing at all. With most social media sites, popularity doesn’t last long. StumbleUpon is one of the few exceptions. With SU you can still be getting trickles of traffic for several months or longer. You should consider whether or not sustained traffic to your submissions is important to you. In order to get a consistently high level of traffic from most social media sites you’ll need to be hitting the front page every couple of days, which in most cases isn’t realistic.

How many links can be generated?

Link building is a priority for many social media marketers. If you fall into this category, take some time to research how many links popular items are getting from different social media sites. You can do this by going back through items that were popular a few days ago and do a Technorati search for the specific URL of the page. This will allow you to see all of the links that Technorati is tracking to that page. One thing to remember here is that not all of the links you see will have been a result of popularity on a specific social media site. If an item was popular in one place, chances are it was popular somewhere else too. Still, if you check several different items you can get a good idea of the link building power this way.

Is there a feature/option to share submissions with friends?

If you have an established network of friends, you may want to ocassionally share some of your links with them. Each social media site has its own way of allowing this. StumbleUpon’s can be done straight from the toolbar without ever leaving the page. Digg uses the shout system to send email notifications, and many other sites have their own versions. If you want to be able to share your links and ask your friends for votes, this is important to consider. If you don’t want to share your links and you don’t want to be bothered by other users sharing links with you, these features may be more of a negative (although you can turn them off on many networks).

Is having friends important?

Social networking obviously involves being social. Most social media sites have a system that allows you to add other users as your friends, and for other users to add you as a friend. At some social media sites this is more critical than at others. The number and quality of friends can sometimes have a significant effect on the traffic that you receive. This is important to know before targeting a specific site, because it may mean that you’ll need to spend a lot of time networking and gaining friends.

Conclusion:

My opinion is that the ideal strategy will involve targeting 2 or 3 different social media sites. That is enough to get some results, but not too many to spread yourself thin. If possible, be an active user of at least one major social media site and at least one niche site, although not every niche will have an effective social media site. If you have other things that you look for, please leave a comment.

Using Social Media to Grow Your Blog’s Readership

Blog-Promotion - Social MediaThis week we’re looking at five different methods that I’d use to find readership if I were starting a new blog. So far we’ve explored guest posting, advertising and networking – but today I want to turn our attention to the explosive and dynamic area of social media.

Social media sites have exploded onto the online publishing scene over the last couple of years and can generally be divided into two types of site:

  • Social Networking Sites – where the primary activity of the site is ‘connecting’ with others. Two of the most prominent sites in this space are Facebook and MySpace.
  • Social Bookmarking – where the primary activity is the finding and sharing of web content through different systems of ‘voting’ on sites. Two examples of this type of site are Digg and StumbleUpon.

The above two classifications of social media sites are fairly broad – in reality there are many different sites appearing every week, many of which have elements of both of the above as well as other features.

The point of this post is not to define social media but rather to look of it as an opportunity to find new readers for your blog. The reason that I include it in this series is that over the last year or two I’ve seen numerous blogs virtually launch themselves via social media sites.

The reason for their success is that social media sites are among the largest sites on the web at present (the volume of traffic that they do is mind boggling) but that by their very nature they are about helping people to discover new parts of the web (particularly social bookmarking sites) – and as a result they are used by people actively seeking web content.

As a result I would argue that social media sites are a logical place to position yourself as a blogger. Let me say it again:

Social media sites have a lot of traffic and they are used by people to find content – why wouldn’t you position yourself on them?

Qualification: let me qualify that last statement before going any further by saying that social media is not THE answer to finding readers for your blog. It is not enough just to promote your content on social sites – but it is one element that can help you find a lot of new readers.

9 Keys to Using Social Media to Find New Readers for Your Blog

Much has been written about using specific social media sites to drive traffic to a blog. I’ll include a few links to things I’ve written about specific sites below – however in this post I’d like to speak in a more general sense and share some principles of using social media to drive traffic.

1. Be an Active Participant - it is important to see these sites for what they are – they’re social sites which are designed for regular use and interactions between readers. They are not designed for people to come to to spam their own links and leave – they’re designed for ongoing, genuine and helpful interactions between people. As a result those who spend time using these sites are the ones who generally are rewarded for doing so over the long haul. While there is a temptation to only use these sites on occasion when it benefits yourself you’ll find them more fruitful paces to visit when you regularly participate and genuinely interact with others.

2. Learn the Rules and Culture – different social media sites have different rules, standards, cultures and acceptable behavior. This covers things like how you interact with others, the language you can use and importantly for this article – linking and promoting your own content. Some sites allow (and even encourage) you self promoting – others do not. Some might allow it officially but will have users who don’t like it and who will ‘bury’ your efforts if you do. The key is to participate, observe and learn from your experiences.

3. Find Key Players – one of the best ways to learn about social media is to find and get to know key players on the different sites. Who is using them well? What are they doing? What might they be able to teach you? How might you work with them for mutual benefit? Many social media sites make it easy to find these key players by producing lists of ‘top users’ – these can be strategic relationships to have.

4. Make Friends – extending upon this is the principle of be-friending others on social sites. This is a key part of what they are all about and many of these sites make you more powerful based upon the number of your connections. So get out there – make friends and interact with your network. From this can come many fruitful interactions. It’s also a great branding exercise to ‘connect’ with people in these ways.

I should say at this point that I see people using their ‘networks’ on social sites in two main ways either as natural influencers or in more concerted and coordinated ways. The first (influencers) is about building a network that you naturally interact with and who will take notice of what you do. This makes you a powerful user and both by the social site taking more note of you but also as others will do so also. The second is what some users have been doing for a while now – joining together to vote up each other’s content. DoshDosh has some great tips on making and interacting with friends in social sites (particularly Digg).

5. Don’t Be Self Centered – I’ve mentioned this already but it’s worth a point of it’s own. If your primary activities on social media sites is self centered then you’ll limit your own fruit from it. I know a number of top Digg users and in each case they are some of the most generous and ‘other serving’ people you’ll ever meet. They go out of their way to help others achieve their dreams. In doing so of course they themselves benefit – but it’s others first.

6. Find what Works Best for Your Blog – a regular comment on posts where I write about the power of using social media is people saying that they’ve ‘tried it’ and it doesn’t work. When I unpack these comments with people I often find that what they mean is that they tried one social media site once or twice – and it didn’t have much impact. The mistakes with this kind of thinking are numerous (ie it takes time to get to know a social media site, get to know people etc) – but one main thing that I’d say is that not all social media sites work for every topic of blog. For example I find that StumbleUpon works really well here at ProBlogger – but that Digg works on some more technically focused sites that I have worked with. The other thing that I’d say is that sometimes the biggest social sites are not always the best ones to use – but rather smaller and more focused ones can have bigger benefits. Every week new social bookmarking sites appear around different niches – search them out and focus on them too.

7. Social Media as a Branding Exercise – while social media sites can send you a lot of traffic very very quickly they can also be excellent places to do branding. Every time a reader or potential reader comes across you on a social media site the more you reinforce your brand. Get active on a site like stumbleupon and promote the content that others publish and you could actually get on their radar and end up benefiting yourself in many ways.

8. Convert to Loyal Readers - one thing that many bloggers fail to do when they succeed in driving traffic to their blogs from social media sites is to convert them into loyal readers. Getting readers to your blog is just half of the challenge – getting them to return tomorrow and every day afterwards is the other half – it can be the difference between a one off traffic event and a blog with an ongoing growth in readership. I’ve written more on converting one off visitors into regular readers here (and also here).

9. It’s all about the Content – one factor that exponentially increases (or decreases) the impact of your efforts in social media is your actual content. Without content that engages social media users you are wasting your time as it will rarely capture their imaginations and inspire them to promote it. Writing great content is the focus of tomorrow’s last post in this series on growing blog readership – so I’ll say more then.

Further Reading at ProBlogger on using Social Media to Build Traffic to Your Blog:

4 Social Media Marketing Tips for Bloggers


My good friend Aaron Brazell from Technosailor asked me if I’d record a short video for a presentation he was giving on the topic of Social Media. He asked me to speak about marketing with Social Media sites. I thought I’d publish the video here also.

To summarize – I share 4 simple tips on marketing your blog with social media sites.

  1. Be an Active Participant
  2. Have a Consistent Presence on Different Social Media Sites
  3. Add Value to the Wider Community
  4. Let Others Sell You

Delicious Popular Page Posts Analyzed

Today I spent a little time looking at the popular page on delicious. Here’s a few of my scribbled notes looking at the headings (click to enlarge a little).

Delicious-Popular-Analysis

I find doing this type of analysis quite inspiring as I think about the type of posts and construction of titles that I might do in coming days.

How to Write Posts That Set StumbleUpon on Fire

Skellie is a regular writer for ProBlogger. Check out her new blog Anywired if you’re interested in earning an income online.

Since yesterday, StumbleUpon has sent me around 20,000 page views. It’s the single biggest referrer for both my blogs, despite one of them having been on the Digg front page three times! You could say that StumbleUpon traffic (and lots of it) is one of the main reasons I’ve been lucky enough to become a pro blogger.

In this post, I want to share all the trade secrets I’ve learned about how to craft posts that set StumbleUpon on fire. These are tips and ideas I use on a daily basis to get anywhere between a few hundred and a few thousand (or more) StumbleUpon visitors every day.

I should note before we start that, while StumbleUpon use is heavier in some niches than others, these principles should help you to tap into SU traffic regardless of whether you’re blogging about blogging or Mexican walking fish. SU is arguably the most powerful promotional tool niche bloggers can use.

Learn the new rules

Your efforts will be hampered if you try to write posts to appeal to social media ‘in general’. Each service likes certain types of content and dislikes others. Digg likes mass appeal. Del.icio.us likes anything its users like, but an item won’t go popular unless the source page gets thousands of hits.

If you’re in a niche without mass appeal, SU can help you where the other services won’t. Digg’s categories are deliberately broad to avoid diluting its power to send waves of traffic. StumbleUpon’s categories can be much more specific. While the traffic is not always as targeted as you’d like, it’s still much more targeted than Digg’s.

This also fundamentally changes the way you approach ‘writing for social media’ when you’re writing for StumbleUpon. You no longer have to worry about pleasing everyone. In fact, sticking within the confines of your niche — even if it’s a small one — can mean the difference between badly targeted traffic vs. highly targeted traffic.

My first piece of advice on writing SU optimized content is to write posts for your target market, not for the many. This increases the chances that your post will be submitted to a more specific category yielding better targeted traffic.

Stumble no-go zones

Before I discuss the types of content that tend to do well on StumbleUpon, it’s worth outlining a few types of posts that rarely go popular on the service. I’m not suggesting that you cut out these content types, but it might be worth thinking about how you can make them more attractive to StumbleUpon.

  • Weekly link round-ups. One solution is to change your link round up to a weekly themed resource list.
  • News. Time-sensitive content is favored by Digg and Reddit, but StumbleUpon will generally only pick up timeless content. If it’s not going to be relevant in a month, it’s probably not going to get Stumbled much.
  • Posts that don’t make sense out of context. If your post doesn’t make sense without context it probably won’t get picked up by SU. Potential voters know that the visitors they send won’t ‘get’ your post.
  • Short, breezy posts. A short, value-packed post can do well on StumbleUpon, but breezy content without pithy tips is usually bypassed.
  • Posts that don’t sell themselves properly. New visitors don’t have much patience. If your mind-bending, life-changing post takes 500 words to really get going, your loyal readers will probably love it, but StumbleUpon will yawn. The value inside your post should be made clear as soon as possible.
  • Overly personal posts. Sorry personal bloggers, but this one is tough. If you’ve ever re-told a story about a friend to someone who doesn’t know them, you’ve probably noticed that the story doesn’t entertain them nearly as much as it entertained you. Highly personal content can be met with a fanatical response from readers who know you, but your average SU visitor won’t know why they should care.

Each of these content types may have a home on your blog and not everything can be optimized for StumbleUpon. The main reason I want to share these no-go zones is so you don’t pour unnecessary effort into one of these post types, only to find that it doesn’t send the traffic and potential readers you’d hoped.

StumbleUpon traffic.
Photo by swruler9284

Stumble-friendly post types

Just as there are certain content types that rarely sizzle with SU traffic, there are certain types of content that seem to be particularly well-loved by SU users.

  • Posts that look as if they took a long time to craft. SU users respect carefully crafted content. If your post is chock full of detail, examples, images, links or otherwise looks as if it took some time to put together, they’ll generally reward your efforts.
  • Unique how-to guides and advice posts. Certain topics have been done to death, but if you can tap into something people want to learn how to do but haven’t yet been told, SU will probably reward you.
  • Unique, novel and useful resource lists.
  • Pithy posts with poignant take-home points. If you can find the right words to say something important, or think of an apt metaphor, your post is likely to be popular even if it’s quite short.
  • Visually interesting posts. Captivating images can be a lot more gripping than a wall of text. I start each post I write on my blogs with an interesting image from Flickr and this always appears in the above-the-fold area of the screen. I think this might have a big part to play in my success with SU traffic. A gripping headline and a gripping image help to draw SU visitors into each post.
  • Treasure-trove content. Posts containing cool rarities and free stuff are usually highly popular.

There are other types of content that do well, but the above represents the most common formats for blog posts that fare well on StumbleUpon.

SUO: StumbleUpon Optimization

There are a few things you can do to optimize any post for StumbleUpon.

1. The Value/Curiosity headline formula. The two most effective ways to encourage someone to read your posts is to a) promise value that will make the time-investment worthwhile or b) make them curious. For option A, pick a headline that makes your post sound unmissable. For B, pick a headline that begs an explanation. For example: What’s the scariest fish in the Amazon? Hint: It’s not the Piranha. It’s far, far worse (source). Another simple hack is to make your headlines really big and eye-catching, so they gather more attention.

2. Start with an image. Our eyes are drawn to interesting images. Once you can bring a StumbleUpon visitor’s eyes down into your post, it’s a tiny step for them to make the move into your text.

3. Sell each post. Dedicate the first paragraph of each post to making it sound like something worth reading. Tell readers what they stand to get in return for their time investment.

Strategic tips

Having a core base of active SU users who read your blog is all you need to tap into a steady stream of SU traffic. If you haven’t yet developed this core base yet, here’s what you should do:

  1. Start using StumbleUpon and voting up content from other blogs and websites in your niche.
  2. Friend those who Stumble your articles and thank them. This will start a dialog that could turn them into a loyal reader of your blog.
  3. Write about SU and encourage readers to add you as a friend.
  4. Swap Stumbles with other bloggers.
  5. Link to your SU profile on your About page.
  6. Befriend active StumbleUpon users and stumble and review some of their content if they have a blog or website. Active users command more traffic and they’re more likely to repay the favor because they’re Stumbling all the time anyway!
  7. Add a Stumble button/link under each of your posts.
  8. Add a Stumble link to your Feedflare (find it in your Feedburner control panel).

Points to review

  • When writing for StumbleUpon, focus on writing value-packed posts for your target audience. Don’t try to accommodate everyone.
  • Be mindful of the post types that tend to receive little interest on SU.
  • Remember the post types that SU loves best.
  • Practice SUO.
  • Work hard at turning active SU users into loyal readers of your blog.