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What Content Works Where? Smarter Traffic (and Revenue) Building Through Social Media

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

Image courtesy pictureYouth, licensed under Creative Commons

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 Embedded Social News Grew My Content, Traffic, and Engagement, and Saves Me Time [Case Study]

This guest post is by Brian Lippey of Guitar Shop TV.

Every blogger wants to offer the best content to his or her audience.

With Guitar Shop TV (GSTV), I set out to create an online community for passionate guitar fans and music lovers around the world.  My goal was to offer the best guitar-related content to my audience.

To achieve this, the GSTV team has filmed over 200 hours of original online TV content. We update our blog regularly—with everything from live performances and backstage interviews, to commentary on upcoming album releases and the latest guitar gear. We tweet. We post on Facebook. We even have an on-site guitar shop.

But audiences today have a large appetite for content! With over 100 million guitarists and countless guitar music fans in the world, it’s important that our content’s fresh, entertaining and timely. Guitar news happens fast, making it difficult to churn out blog posts on everything out there.

Our audience is also very vocal about guitar-related content, as is evident on our Facebook page.

As creator of GSTV, I was looking for a social news platform that could deliver top guitar content from across the Web directly to our blog and allow users to participate on a social level. We want to engage music enthusiasts, not talk at them.

Our research led us to new social platform, ROCKZi.

A social news platform

ROCKZi is a social news platform that helps us deliver a fun community experience and share relevant content with our users. Unlike other social platforms that draw your readers to their networks, with this one, the traffic is directed to my blog, which gave me increased opportunities to attract more music fans and expand our community.

The platform lets you customize the content so that it really speaks to your blog’s audience. It let us pick a news category that was relevant specifically to our blog. For most websites, a category probably already exists, but if not, you can create one yourself.

Easy to install

We literally embedded the platform on our News page in three easy steps.

I was relived I didn’t need a developer to completely redesign our website—we had it up and running on our blog in about five minutes. The platform allowed us to alter the appearance of the content, so it fit nicely on our news page and matched our web design.

The platform in action

Since embedding the platform in August, we have seen traffic to the site increase by 25%. The average time spent on the page has also increased by four minutes.

Our readers started to come back to our site more often to educate themselves on guitar-related news that had been shared by otehrs in our community. And when they are on our site scanning the headlines, they do more than just read.

The platform comes pre-loaded with social tools that let readers post comments on stories, vote the best stories to the top, or submit their own stories they’ve discovered on the Web about the latest musicians or guitar gear.

So you can see what I mean when I say that this tool gives our site more than just good content.

It’s adding a social experience to the site that is bringing readers back more often to engage with other readers around content our audience cares most about.

We’re getting more traffic than Sturgis in August! And readers can pin, post, Facebook or tweet stories right from the page on our site, allowing them to feel more like a part of the community.

All the interactions between your users and the content that’s shared on your site (votes, shares, comments, etc.) will generate direct links through their social networks that will point directly back to your blog.

Do you use a social news tool on your blog? Have you tried ROCKZi? Share your experiences with us in the comments.

Founder Brian Lippey has a background that combines music and business. In Guitar Shop TV, Brian combines his passion for and knowledge of guitars with his strong business acumen.

The 3 Step Guide to Creating Pinterest-friendly Graphics for Your Blog

It´s well established that Pinterest can be a strong driver of traffic. We´ve been having a lot of success at our Digital Photography School account and have seen other blogs, like Hair Romance, experiencing similar success.

In my experience, most bloggers focus on curating boards to build their expertise and drive traffic back to their blogs. They regularly include their blog posts among the images they pin. This is great for attracting new visitors.

There is, however, an easier way.

You can save time and test whether your content will be shared on Pinterest by creating specific graphics for your blog posts. This simple method allows you to know if your blog and images resonate with users.

The most basic form is a title and a graphic. In this post, I´ll walk you through my three-step process for creating images that are Pinterest-bait. Also, I´ll be doing a follow-up post highlighting bloggers using Pinterest successfully, so let me know if you have any suggestions for that in the comments.

Step 1. Choose the size of your graphic

Sizing is an important issue. You want the graphic to be clear when it’s viewed as a small image. Additionally, you want the graphic to match the design of your blog. From a visual perspective, I prefer it when the graphic is the same width as the blog post. A great example is the image at the end of this post on Expert Photography.

The best shape is either a square or tall image. Dan Zarella´s research shows that taller images get repinned more often. I agree with this, but mostly because you can fit more text in a longer graphic. The size of the graphic will depend on a lot of variables such as your blog design and how much attention you want to give to branding or calls to action.

I recommend that you look at relevant images and take note of the sizes that appeal to you. Visit the original blog posts and see whether the graphics fit with the theme. Here are some example images on the original blog posts:

Tip: List posts and series do really well on Pinterest.

Step 2. Choose the design elements and fonts

The best graphics are ones that have a similar template. I can look at pins from Elizabeth Halford and instantly know when one is from her blog.

You want this kind of recognition and consistency. It means that people are more likely to trust you and repin the image without reading the associated article.

I love it when the image matches contains similar elements from the blog design. Examples include:

  • colours
  • font
  • logo
  • background

The goal is for you, or a designer, to create a template that you can use for all of your graphics. You want to be able to make minor tweaks and get a new, pinnable image in just a couple of minutes.

Additionally, you need to consider the following:

  • Do you want to use photos in your pin? This often increases the likelihood of the image getting repinned.
  • Will you incude a call to action asking for people to repin the image? This will take up extra room and can clash with your branding.
  • How long are your post titles? Will you have to change them for the Pinterest graphic?

This is the hardest part of creating Pinterest-friendly graphics.

Step 3. Add images and title

This is the easiest step, and the one that you will be repeating every time you write a new blog post. You simply have to add the title and, if necessary, an additional image in Photoshop.

If all of this sounds too complex, I recommend reading How To Create Pinterest Friendly Images. It contains a simply tutorial to create basic images.

Extra ideas

Create graphics for your Resources page

A Resources page is an easy way for many bloggers to highlight their curation skills and potentially increase their affiliate income. You can attract new readers to this page by creating a graphic specifically targeted towards Pinterest browsers.

To really excel at this, the page needs to have a title that is more catchy than Recommended or Resources. Look at what Bree, from Blog Stylist, has done. She created a graphic for her page titled A-Z of blogging resources. This title is much more likely to be shared.

Posts that have numbers in them—especially list posts—do extremely well. However, that approach may not work if you are regularly updating you Resources page.

Add pinnable graphics to older posts

This is an idea that isn´t used by many bloggers. People will create graphics for their newer posts but will rarely revisit their archives. There is a lot of potential for Pinterest traffic here. Tutorials are extremely popular.

Check out this example from BlogcastFM. It´s really simple—just a couple of nice fonts over a photo. It takes a good eye to get the elements working together like this but it is something that anybody could achieve with a bit of practice.

Do you have any pillar content sitting in your achives? Revisit it and check to see if it has already been pinned. Also check to see if people have pinned similar articles from other blogs. This will let you know whether the topic will resonate with Pinterest users.

I´d focus on creating graphics for the posts that have the most demand. This will give users the tools they need to share the post, and image, further.

Use quotes

People love pinning motivational quotes and images. This is also one of the easiest ways to find material for graphics.

Go through your previous posts—especially the more popular, thought-provoking posts. Look for feedback on the sentences and phrases that people resonated with. Some people have even identified these and highlighted them so that people can tweet them easily.

Colin Wright, from Exile, has created a page featuring images of his most popular quotes. He added an extra income stream by making these images available on T-shirts.

Create infographics based on blog posts

An infographic is a graphic, eye-catching visual representation of information, data or knowledge. Consider investing in having an infographic designed to provide information useful to your core audience—it makes for a highly “repinnable” image.—Donna Moritz via Amy Porterfield

Occasionally, you will have a post that would be perfect for an infographic. This if often a list post. It can take a bit of work to create the infographic, and for many bloggers, it may be beyond their budget or technical expertise. It does, however, give the post a chance to go incredibly viral.

Check out the post that I referred to in that quote.  The 10 Commandments of Using Pinterest for Business went viral on many networks because it was a comprehensive, well-written post. It went absolutely crazy on Pinterest: it felt like that graphic was haunting me for weeks! That´s how powerful it can be.

Over to you

Are you thinking about using any of these techniques? Do you know of any bloggers who are doing this to builds their visibility on Pinterest? Let me know in the comments.

15 Social Media Mistakes that are Strangling Your Success

While it’s not new, I’m often surprised by the way bloggers use—and mis-use—social media.

Each of us has our own blogging journey, and we use different tools in our own unique ways. Yet there are still quite a few very common errors that I continue to see bloggers making as they work with social media.

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Image by stock.xchng user

These mistakes have the potential to make your social media experience a struggle—if not put you off it completely. But if you persist with them over time, they have the potential to do significant harm to your brand and your blog.

Think about it: social media is a very public space, perhaps even more public than your blog. Although we might not be conscious of it, every time we make a status update on a social network, we have the potential to reach a huge audience of people we don’t know through others sharing our messages.

That can happen whether the messages are good or bad, for better or for worse.

Take a look at these 15 mistakes, which definitely send the wrong message. Then, let me know in the comments if you’re making any of these errors.

1. Using social media as broadcast media

We all know that social media is an engagement tool, but how many of us treat it that way?

What’s your ratio of “broadcast” updates to direct, personal updates that address other users individually? And who are those direct updates to—friends and family and people you feel “safe” with, or are you reaching out to new contacts, readers, and others in your niche?

2. Not responding to contacts

While you may not want to connect with everyone on every social network, the blogger looking to build an online presence should focus on responding to contacts from others on social media.

Avoiding one-word responses is ideal—look for ways to connect naturally and easily with every person who approaches you, and you’ll see real benefits from social media.

3. Not joining your readers on the networks they use

Where are your users congregating online? Which networks do they use? Are you on those networks, or are you holding off because you think you don’t have enough time or energy to tackle a new network?

Not long ago, I started developing the dPS presence on Pinterest, and I’ve never looked back. While there’s no perfect time for anything, leaving yourself out of a social network where your audience is active could mean you’re leaving money on the tqble—or readers out of the loop!

4. Not offering follow and share buttons on your content

On your post pages, do you offer readers the option to share the post on social networks and the opportunity to follow you on those networks?

Offering one or the other is better than nothing, but it’s important to offer both. Of course, your follow buttons might appear in a location that’s globally available throughout your blog—like in the header or sidebar. But do make sure users have both options.

5. Not following or friending your readers

If a reader contacts you on social media, do you follow them?

While following massive numbers of people can be overwhelming, if you’re just starting out on a new network, connecting with those who contact you is a great way to make the most of the medium and get a feel for what your readers are doing on that network.

6. Not following or friending industry contacts

Connecting with people from your broader niche is an excellent way to stay abreast of news and get on the radars of others you haven’t met, but whose work you admire.

Who knows? They might follow you back—and share your updates with their followers. But even if they don’t, you have the potential to get a sound perspective of the players in your niche, and their work, on social media.

7. Not presenting your brand consistently on a network

Every blogger and blog brand has a range of facets, but these need to be carefully managed—even curated—if you want to give your followers a clear idea of who you are and what you’re about.

Chop and change in the way you approach a given network or your followers, or present your brand, and you might do more harm than good.

8. Not presenting your brand consistently across different networks

Following on from the previous point, you will have readers who follow you on multiple networks, so it’s important to present yourself and behave consistently in all your dealings, whatever the network.

Your blog’s Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn and Pinterest accounts should share brand characteristics, even if you target the information you share with each network individually.

9. Only doing the basics on each network

Social networks have come a long way since they were first launched. Even the more recent arrivals to this industry are evolving new features all the time. Yet many of us ignore these developments, and just keep posting the same stuff, day in, day out.

Are you aware of the features of each of the networks you’re using? Are you up-to-date with what each network offers your blog? If you’re not, you could be missing valuable opportunities to promote your blog, to meet potential readers, and eventually, to make sales.

10. Not tracking social media traffic

At the most basic level, it’s worth knowing what portion of your blog’s traffic comes from social media, and from which networks.

This knowledge can help you focus your efforts, prioritize your work, and manage your time to best effect. It can also help you to respond to one-off traffic events arising from particular networks.

11. Not tracking how much your content is shared

On the other side of the coin, it’s also important to keep an eye on how much your content is shared. I’ve found this particularly useful when I’ve joined a new network, as it helps me to understand what works in that space and what doesn’t.

Looking at what’s shared—in terms of blog content and my own social media updates—is an essential step in making the most of a social network.

12. Not listening to discussions about your brand and niche

Similarly, it’s important to track not just what people on a given social network are saying about your blog and brand, but also about your niche itself. Social listening is the answer.

This can give you post ideas, opportunities to connect with readers on topical issues that they care about—even ideas for updating your blog’s layout or post categorisation. Social media listening is a great way to get to know what your audience is thinking and feeling.

13. Not listening to your main competitors

The listening doesn’t stop there, though. you can also set up searches for social media discussions of your main competitors, or key players in your niche, and find out what the audience has to say about them.

This can help you find gaps in your market for information and commentary, give you prodict ideas, and a lot more.

14. Not posting at high-sharing, high-visibility times of day

This is a big one. Even if your social media followers are in your timezone, there are going to be better and worse times to share on social media.

If you’re listening to find out the way your niche works on social media, you should have an idea of when its players—organizations and audience members—are most active. By tying that information to the traffic and sharing tracking mentioned above, you should be able to piece together a picture of the best times to get traction from social media among your target readership.

15. Not realising that promotion doesn’t stop with social media

Social media has its place, but it’s only one way to reach the people you want to read your blog. It’s one piece in a big promotional puzzle, and it’s one that’s actually independent of a digital presence that you own.

That presence is on your blog itself. But if you only ever use social media to try to get people to your site, you’ll soon kill off any goodwill you’d established. This is why social media really should be used as part of a broader promotional toolkit that lets you attract some of the other kinds of readers we mentioned late last week.

Are you making any of these 15 mistakes? They could be slowly strangling your blog’s authority, brand, and ability to attract new readers! Share your thoughts—and tips for social media success—with us in the comments.

Stop Socializing! Auto-Share Social Media Updates and Get Back to Blogging

This guest post is by Fred Perrotta of Tortuga Backpacks.

As a blogger, you should be spending at least 80% of your time creating killer content.

The problem is that that leaves just 20% of your time to split between time-intensive (but important) activities like social networking, ad sales, new product creation, and marketing.

In this post, you’ll learn how to automatically share your blog posts to your social networks.

You’ll set up your system once and then never worry about manually sharing your posts again.

Now you can spend your time connecting with likeminded bloggers, responding to comments, and making money instead of copying and pasting the same update all over the web.

Your new best friend: IFTTT

Your auto-sharing system will use online connections service IFTTT (If This, Then That).

You may have heard of IFTTT from previous stories on Problogger, which showed how to use it for content curation and posting to WordPress by email.

IFTTT (pronounced like “lift” without the “l”) is a service that creates connections between your social networks, RSS feeds, and even email.

With IFTTT, you connect a “trigger” (like a new post in your RSS feed) with an “action” (like posting to Twitter) to create a “recipe”. IFTTT feed trigger

Read on to learn how to use existing IFTTT recipes to automate your social sharing.

Automatically share on Twitter

Use this RSS to Twitter recipe to automatically tweet new blog posts.

Note that you’ll need to customize this template to use your RSS feed.

You can also customize the tweet itself using plain text and “ingredients” like the post title and URL.

IFTT action tweet

Automatically share on Tumblr

IFTTT is even customizable enough to handle Tumblr’s multiple post types.

Use this feed to Tumblr link recipe to share a link to your latest blog post on Tumblr.

Sharing a link, rather than the full post, is good for your SEO and will prevent duplicate content issues.

Run an image-heavy photo blog? Use this RSS to Tumblr photo recipe to create a photo post.

Using the templates linked above, you’ll be able to customize the body of your Tumblr post, the source URL, and the tags. Even though you’re not posting directly from Tumblr, you can still utilize all of its functionality.

Automatically share on LinkedIn

LinkedIn sharing works much the same way as Twitter and Tumblr.

Use this RSS to LinkedIn recipe to share your next blog post on your LinkedIn profile.

Sharing on LinkedIn is highly recommended for B2B bloggers.

Why you can’t auto-share on Google+ or Pinterest (yet)

Unfortunately, neither Google+ nor Pinterest have a public write API, so IFTTT doesn’t have recipes for posting to either site.

For now, you can post updates manually or skip them altogether. Make your own decision based on the importance of these networks to your business and the relevance of their audiences to your blog.

The problem with Facebook…

Facebook is the hardest network to automate because its EdgeRank algorithm demotes posts made from third-party sites like IFTTT.

That’s right: if you’re not creating your posts on Facebook, your fans probably aren’t seeing them.

Even when you’re posting on Facebook, only 16% of fans see a given post. Don’t let this number slip even lower!

For Facebook, you have two options:

  1. Use Facebook’s new WordPress plugin to create a Facebook link post from within WordPress. You can even tag people and pages from within the widget, which is shown in your sidebar when you’re writing a new post. Since this is an official Facebook plugin, you don’t have to worry about your posts being penalized.
  2. Post to Facebook manually. Yes, this seems to go against the point of this post, but you can set up the rest of your sharing so that this is the only manual post you’ll have to make.

If Facebook drives a significant amount of traffic to your blog, manual posting is worthwhile.

The other advantage is that you can post a picture (with a link in the text) rather than just a link. Pictures are prioritized over links (which the plugin above would create), so more of your fans will see a picture post than a link post.

Darren himself had 18x better results from posting a picture rather than just a link.

Problogger Facebook image post

Have you automated your social sharing yet?

Using the strategies in this post, you can free up most of the time you used to spend sharing every post you published. Even for low-volume blogs, this is huge.

Have you automated your social sharing yet? If so, how are you spending your new free time?

Fred Perrotta is the co-founder of Tortuga Backpacks and a freelance marketing consultant.

How to Build a Dominant Google+ Presence

This guest post is by Ryan Howard of Complete Web Resources.

Google+ is the hottest game in town when it comes search engine placement gains—at least for the time being.

We’ve run multiple tests and so have a few other agencies we know, almost with unanimous consent that preferring Google+ for the hours you dedicate to social media offers the greatest ranking benefit.

In this post we’ll discuss the top 5 ways to make Google+ work for you.

When we talk about Google+ (Google Plus) there are a few different areas we need to address. That is to say, there are a few different ways that you can eke out some positive signals to aid in your search engine optimization promotion program, build your trust with Google, and move you up in SERPs. They are:

  1. Google+ shares
  2. Google +1 counter
  3. Google Circles ads
  4. Google+ company page
  5. Google authorship.

Google+ shares

This is the best way to get Google’s attention. At least, we’ve seen the greatest gains from this effort in particular.

A share means that someone shares your link on their Google+ profile by posting to their wall. Good quality content that you post to your Google circles or on your blog will do the trick.

One thing that we’ve been doing lately is to host funny images on our site and then share them on Google+. When people +1 the posts, or reshare them, we get credit, since the image is hosted on our site. In addition, if people navigate to the image itself, we’ll get more site visits.

Here’s a video I made to show exactly how to host images on your site to get traffic.

Google+ counter

This is the little widget that you add to your site so that visitors can +1 your content when they are there.

Adding this widget will let people vote your site up with +1s. When they do so, Google will give them the option to post their vote on their individual Google+ profiles, which gets you a link on their profile and also exposes your site to all of their followers. Plus 1 votes are also a ranking factor in Google’s search algorithm.

The addition of the +1 counter widget is very simple and excellent documentation on it can be found at the Google Developers site. You can alter how the button looks, change its width and annotation, and try some advanced options as well.

Pro tip: Under the Advanced options dropdown, be sure to enter your website’s URL in the “URL to +1″ box. This will make doubly sure Google properly counts all of you +1s.

Once you have the +1 tag and script written into your code, the counter widget will display on your site wherever you decide to place it. It’ll look like this:

Google plus counter

It shouldn’t be too difficult to get your friends to help you get started with +1′s. Don’t overdo it, though. Going from 0 to 100 in a day will surely send up a red flag in the Google Search algorithm.

Google circles adds

In addition to shares and +1s, you also want your personal profile to link to your website, and having a more powerful profile gives you more clout (or Klout).

You’ll want to add excellent content to your profile to keep people engaged and interested, commenting on your posts, and so on. But you’ll also need an audience to reach. Here’s how to get started.

First, add all of your gmail contacts to your circles—hopefully they’ll follow you back. That’s a great start.

After that, we want to add more shared circles, which will cause people to add you back. Here are a few recommended searches to help you find more shared circles:

  1. +CircleCount
  2. Public Shared Circles
  3. In the Google+ search bar, type “shared a circle with you” (leave the quotes) which will bring up circle that have already been shared publicly.

Having a built-out profile with a good profile image will help you get more people to add you back. No one wants to add a profile that looks empty or spammy.

Google+ company page

As a Google+ user, you can also create and manage a company page tied to your site.

From your profile, click your small profile image at top-right. The dropdown that appears will allow you to add a page. Otherwise, you’ll see the link to “View all of my pages”. Click that to go to the Page add screen.

Here are a couple screenshots of the initial setup process:

Google plus company page

Google plus company page 2

Setting up a Google+ page is very similar to setting up a personal profile. You’ll want to be sure to include your URL so that the page links back to your site. Also, you’ll want to add an icon on your website that links back to the Google+ page.

The main difference between a page and a personal profile is that you can’t follow individuals as a page unless they follow you first. You can, however, follow other pages. This will make getting page followers a bit more difficult, but the solution is quality content and regular posts. Keep the content that you post relevant to your business. We like to add snippets from our website blog, funny internet-related images, and so on.

Google authorship

Google authorship ties all of these elements together and really connects your Google profile with your website. Search results that have an individual’s image next to their blog, post, or website are all utilizing Google authorship. Google even lets you sort results by only selecting things from that author.

The technical integration of Google authorship requires an entire post of its own, and the best and most easily followed guide we’ve found is How to Set Up Rel=author.

Are you making the most of Google+?

That concludes our survey of the ways Google+ can help your site earn additional trust signals in the eyes of Google’s search algorithm, and improve your site’s visibility. We covered the following methods for promoting your Google+ presence.

  1. Google+ shares
  2. Google +1 counter
  3. Google Circles ads
  4. Google+ company page
  5. Google authorship.

These really are the top five. You should have each of them working for your Google profile, and linked to your website where possible. Following these steps will not only increase your reach into additional markets, it will also give your website a nice boost in the SERPs.

Ryan Howard is Head of Search for Complete Web Resources a WordPress digital refinery and search strategy firm.

Why People Share … and How You Can Get Them to Share Your Work

This guest post is by Jonathan Goodman of www.viralnomics.com.

It’s Friday night. You just pulled your new shirt over your head and sprayed on some cologne. One look in the mirror is enough to remind you how awesome you look. Time to roll out.

The party doesn’t disappoint. 50 of your closest friends are here and you see the object of your affection in the corner. She’s a natural beauty, brunette and curvy with a smile that lights up the room. Feeling a little sub conscious and emotionally unstable you grab the box next to you and step on top of it. Taking in a deep gulp of air you yell, “Everbody! Stop what you’re doing. Tell me how good I look. Like me and tell your friends how good I look.”

Sounds silly doesn’t it? But this is what happens every day online.

In this post, I’m going to use research to explain this phenomenon of selective self-representation. Once you understand it, I’ll show you how to take advantage and make people want to share your blog posts material as a way of boasting.

Facebook narcissism

Research from Jonah Berger at the Wharton School of Business showed that that people with low emotional stability update their Facebook statuses more. [Reference - Eva Buechel, Jonah Berger (Under Review), Facebook Therapy? Why Do People Share Self-Relevant Content Online?] As a result, they are over-represented online. The status updates act as a form of therapy and both Likes and “atta boy” comments are medicine.

If you go back to my party example above, a person’s social network online is their trust circle. The user’s perception of how their trust circle views them is immensely important to their well-being. In fact, perceived social support has been shown to be more effective than actual received social support. [Reference – Wethington, E. and Kessler, C. (1986), “Perceived Support, Received Support, and Adjustment to Stressful Life Events,” Journal of Health and Social Behavior. 27 (March) 78-89.]

It boils down to four things. Everybody wants to show off to their network that they are intelligent, intellectual, attractive, and funny. Communication channels online are asynchronous. This means that the user has time to think both about what they are going to say and how that will make them look.

Therefore they selectively self-represent using status updates, and choosing material that will make them look intelligent, intellectual, attractive, and funny.

So how do we use this information?

No matter what your industry is, you’re here because you want to learn how to promote yourself using social media. It’s up to you which of the four traits you want to help your users self-represent with. What’s important is to appeal to the already converted, and to avoid being profound.

People who are already having success using your product or service will want to show it off. Those who haven’t discovered you yet aren’t interested in your product or service, so there’s no point in trying to get them to share it.

Instead, appeal to those who will share it—they are the ones who want to show off that they are intelligent for having already found it.

Perhaps the biggest blogging mistake I see is people trying to be profound. Unless you’re a leading researcher what you are writing about on your blog is nothing new. It has already been said a thousand times by others online, and for free, and will be said a thousand times more.

Because of this, phrasing becomes important. You must give people that are in the know a reason to share your materials. Make them feel special that they already know the subject of the article, and they will share it as an extension of their own thoughts. They do this because your article shows to their audience that they’re intelligent or intellectual (or funny or attractive).

Don’t believe me? Look at the wording people used when they shared an article from Darren Rowse’s Facebook page called “How to Get Overwhelming Things Done”. In his brief article Darren advocates setting aside 15 minutes a day on what you want to achieve. Good advice but nothing new. So what did people preface the article with when they shared it?

“Great advice for new bloggers and freelancers”

And

“Anyone has the time to blog. Very good tips from Darren Rowse”

Within the article itself some of the comments read as follows:

“You could not have said it better, I have taken this attitude and I do get things done. Great advice.”

And

“I agree … I think the biggest accomplishments we achieve in life depend on what we focus on each and every day on the journey towards it. Great advice… “

People are rarely interested in adding to the conversation

It’s a nice idea to think that people are going to want to read your blog and interact intelligently. It’s an even nicer idea to think that people will go to your blog to learn.

I consider myself much more realistic than that.

The goal of a blog or social media is to attract an audience to buy your high-value materials. This might be information or it could be a related product. Either way, your sole purpose is to create your message in a way that it spreads. A blog post is a tool, not your end game.

The way to do that is to allow your reader to take ownership of the material. If you write it in such a way that allows for them to self-represent, they will share. Everybody wants to be perceived as intelligent, intellectual, attractive, or funny. We all have our own version of a beautiful brunette that we want to impress.

Jonathan Goodman is a 2X author. His second book recently reached the #1 spot on Amazon in both the marketing and web marketing categories. Aside from consulting, he is currently writing Viralnomics: How to Create Directed Viral Marketing. The sections are being published for free online as they are produced. You can get up to date at http://www.viralnomics.com.

14 Ways to Promote Your Latest YouTube Video

This guest post is by Jenny Dean of Floppycats.

If you’re like me, you put a lot of time, effort, and thought into your YouTube videos.  Even if you don’t, since YouTube is the second most searched engine in the world (and owned by the #1—Google), there is good reason to make the most of each upload.

Here are the 14 tasks bloggers should do whenever you upload a YouTube video to your YouTube channel.

  1. Add an SEO-optimized title: Your YouTube video title is essential in helping your video be found, so use appropriate keywords.
  2. Add an SEO description: Include a description that isn’t keyword stuffed, but does include your main keywords.
  3. Add your website link to the description: If you have a website or blog, be sure to provide a link back to that.  You can also include links to all of your social media channels.  When posting links, be sure to include the “http” or the “https,” as that’s the only way YouTube can automatically hyperlink it.

    Adding your URL

    Also, be sure that your main link is visible above “the fold”—in other words, above where the Show More section. Most people will not click on Show More, but will click on your main link.

  4. Maximize your tags: so many people do not maximize the number of tags that they can have. Tags are your keywords, and they are critically important to being found. Include any relevant tags. Then, check back in a month or two to see how that particular video is being found—and change out some of the tags that are insignificant. For your long-tail keywords, be sure to include them within quotes, like “Business Blog Writers,” so that they’re searched as single phrases, rather than three separate words.
  5. Post on Pinterest: In August, Krizia taught us How to Add Your YouTube Videos to Pinterest. Note that Krizia also suggests branding every video that you have on your channel because Pinterest allows people to watch the video directly on Pinterest. Unless they have motivation or reason to find out more, most viewers will not click through to your YouTube channel.
  6. Like your video: The number of likes on your video helps it gain popularity, so by liking it, you’re just helping it get the attention of the audience you’re trying to target.
  7. Share it on Facebook: Whether you have a Facebook page dedicated to your blog or website, or whether you just use your personal Facebook profile, you will want to share your video there for people to see.  You never know who they will share it with—this is how many videos have gone viral. If you are posting a video that involves a company, take the time to tag them in the post with the video link.
    Share it on Facebook
  8. Share It on Twitter: As usual, you want to shoot a link to your video out to all your Twitter followers. Be sure to include relevant hash tags and, if your video features a company and its product, then you definitely want to include their Twitter handle in the tweet too. For example, when I upload a product review for Floppycats, I then send out a Tweet like this, “Ragdoll Cats Chow Down on Eden Foods Bonito Tuna Flakes—Floppycats http://ow.ly/cU6Gp @edenfoods #cat #cats”.
  9. Share it on Google+: YouTube is owned by Google and so is Google+. They like each other, so make sure they like your videos too.
  10. Share it on LinkedIn (if appropriate): If your video is business-related and will help your efforts to grow your business, then you certainly want to share it on LinkedIn.
  11. Schedule it to post on HootSuite monthly, for the next year: I like to come up with a Tweet or a Facebook posting for each new video, and reschedule them for release once a month for a year. As a blogger, it shows companies you’re promoting that you are looking to maintain your relationships with them, and also helps an old video enjoy new life every month.
  12. Create a video response: Search for a video that is similar to yours, and rather than writing a comment about it, create a video response that will attract the audience you want.
  13. Write a blog post and embed the video: More than likely you are trying to get Google to love your website and want to put it at the top of their search engine results. So make them love it more by embedding your YouTube videos into your blog posts.
  14. Add it to a playlist: Whether you have already established playlists, or need a new one for this video, add it to a playlist using a relevant keyword from the video.

They’re the essential 14 steps, but are other things to do when you post a video, like adding annotations, asking people to subscribe, and adding transcripts, as Deepak covered in SEO Your YouTube Videos in 10 Steps.

What are some of the things that you do when you upload a video to YouTube?  What would you add to this list?

Jenny Dean is the Editor over at Business Blog Writers, online SEO content writers.  She also runs her own blogs and each of them has a YouTube channel:  Floppycats, Antioxidant-fruits and Guide to Couponing.  Business Blog Writers offers a YouTube enhancement service to help you execute these 14 things to do!

My Two-step Social Media Starter Plan

This guest post is by Eric Binnion of Art of Blog.

You can’t deny the power of social media. But, if you’re anything like me, then you also realize that effectively running social media accounts can take up tons of your time.

That is, if you let it. I’d like to show you my streamlined, two-step process of curating great content, posting throughout the day, and keeping in touch with the different accounts I manage.

Step 1. Who else wants to know where to find great content?

After I took over several Twitter accounts earlier this year, I quickly realized that to get interaction on Twitter I needed to do one of two things:

  1. Be interesting.
  2. Share great/interesting content (this is called curating).

For me, I knew that it would be easier to find and share great content than it would be to stay entertaining. Being interesting is a lot of work!

When I first decided to go this route, I followed a lot of people on Twitter and then reposted the same links they had (usually without giving them a mention or anything). Yes, horrible I know. But I wanted to make myself look like the authority, right? And I’m sure I’m not the only one of us here who ever did that…

This seemed very inauthentic to me, though. So, I was very excited when I heard of a tool called Prismatic. Prismatic is a free service that will deliver content to you based on the interests that you select. Below is a screenshot of the interest selection process in Prismatic.

prismatic-interests

Pretty simple, right? After you go through the interest selection process, you are presented with a feed that has tons of content in it! Your Prismatic homepage feed will reflect a mixture of all of your interests. But, if you’re like me, and you post on several blogs with different topics, you may want to narrow down to different topics. You can do that by clicking the More link by Home in the sidebar, as you can see in this image.

prismatic-feed

Once you’ve got your feed all set up, you just need to find a good way to automate the posting.

Step 2. One social posting tool to rule them all

Okay, so that headline is a bit ambitious. But I truly love Buffer, a web app that allows you to drip-feed content to your social accounts over time. With this tool, I am able to go through my Prismatic feed, find great content, click one button in Chrome or Firefox, and then it’s scheduled to go out to my social media followers!

Buffer also includes analytics that let you see how many times a link of yours was clicked, the estimated reach, and the number of mentions and retweets it got. These are fairly simple analytics, but they allow you go back through your tweets and see what resonates with your audience.

buffer-stats

Buffer also helps you build relationships on Twitter by prompting you to follow and/or thank those that retweet your tweets.

Social media made simple

This may not be the best way to manage social media. As my professors say about our programs, “there are always 1,000,000 solutions. Find the best one for you.” This is a good method to use for those that do not have much time to devote to their social media.

Combining Prismatic with Buffer will allow you to curate great content and build relationships with those who follow you. As you build up your reputation for recommending great content, you can then more successfully promote your own content.

Which tools do use to manage and build your social media presence? Share them with us in the comments.

This guest post is written by Eric Binnion of Art of Blog. He loves blogging, programming, and playing with his crazy son.