How to Use Social Media to Market Your Blog
So here’s how content marketing and social media work. You create a website and a blog. You put together branded social profiles for your business on major social networks. And then, each time you publish a new blog post, you push those social sharing buttons at the bottom of the post, and now you’re using social media to market your blog, right?
Um, not so fast.
What Social Marketers can Learn About their Business From Pie
First, let’s be clear: social media is not there to market your blog. In fact, marketing your blog shouldn’t be a goal at all. Your marketing should be all about promoting your brand and using your platform to grow and educate your audience. Your blog, therefore, is part of your overall marketing strategy.
I know I talk a lot about blog promotion, but I don’t want you to misunderstand me and think that it’s all about marketing the blog. It isn’t. I’m using the blog, and the blog content, as a tool to market my business.
Of course, the obvious way to market and promote a blog post and the blog overall is through those initial social shares. But even then, just hitting all the buttons isn’t the way to go. Social media is not a broadcast channel for your business. It’s a way for you to connect with your audience and engage with them, which means you need to share your new content in a way that’s sociable and conversational.
— Mike Allton (@mike_allton) February 23, 2016
On Facebook and LinkedIn, you have an opportunity to introduce your latest post and explain to your audience why they should be interested in reading it. It only takes a few minutes for you to write a sentence or three, and the result will be a dramatic increase in engagement and referral traffic.
If you just spam your post to Facebook, you’re relying on your post title (and perhaps an image, if you set it up right) to entice a reader. And you’re giving them no reason to say anything on the share itself. On the other hand, if you talk about why you’ve written the article, and perhaps ask a direct question, people will be more likely to take an interest.
In this way, you’ll be delivering value and interest right from the start, which will help to further your relationship. Otherwise, you’re just asking your connections to do something for you, and you’ll soon spend whatever capital you might have earned.
Of course, the obvious question here is, how do you measure that? How do you know whether you’re seeing real ROI from your social media activity?
The Social Marketer’s Guide to Social Media ROI
Google Analytics will tell you referral traffic, and if you are able to set up Goals like online purchases, sign-ups, or contacts, you’ll be able to see that, too. Additionally, the major social platforms offer high-level insights on follower growth and engagement.
But if you want to get a better, clearer picture across multiple channels, you’re going to need to use a tool like Simply Measured. That’s how you’ll be able to track over time how your social campaigns and efforts are helping to build brand awareness, authority, and ultimately contribute to sales.
Now, let’s take a step back for a moment. Let’s think about all of the blog posts that you share to social media. Are they on topic? If they are, then over time, you should develop a reputation as being an authority on that topic.
For example, throughout 2013, I often blogged about Hootsuite. I wrote articles on how to use the tool, as well as updates on the latest changes and features.
Over time, I developed a reputation as being an expert on Hootsuite, so much so that Hootsuite asked to syndicate nine of my articles to their blog, and referred to me as being the most knowledgeable person on Hootsuite outside of Hootsuite.
And, within a year, I’d published my book on how to use Hootsuite.
By constantly sharing those articles about Hootsuite on social, I gave my budding reputation a jump start. But that’s not where the real authority-building took place.
That happened on other people’s posts and events.
Once again, remember that social media’s purpose isn’t to promote business or content: it’s to form relationships and develop them through conversations.
And today, that exists in two basic forms: comment exchanges and live video discussions.
You can go into Facebook Groups, LinkedIn Groups, and Google+ Communities to find other people talking about your industry and relevant topics. You’ll note that they’re raising points, sharing content of their own, and, most importantly, asking questions.
The most effective thing you can do with your blog content, and to promote your blog overall, is to notice someone asking a question that you’ve already answered in a blog post, and direct them to it:
Hey! That’s a great question. I went into depth on that topic in this post: [insert link] and I think you’ll find all of your answers there. Check it out and let me know if you have more questions.
To the person asking the question, that’s incredibly powerful. You just simultaneously demonstrated helpfulness and expertise, not to mention accessibility. That person is going to be very grateful to you and interested in what else you’ve written. They’re 100x more likely than a random visitor from Twitter to share your post and subscribe to your email list because of their gratitude and interest in what you shared.
(And don’t forget that your comment on a public post will be seen by others as well!)
Similarly, Google+ Hangouts On Air and Blab Events feature the opportunity for multiple people to participate in live video discussions on whatever topics they wish. The moment I started to appear on other people’s Hangouts and talk to their audiences about how to get more out of Hootsuite was the moment my reputation took off.
Each time, I would provide very specific examples that were derived from blog content I’d already written, and could share with audience members. In fact, I was always thrilled to find that when I’d mention a particular blog post and talk about a concept, the show host or even an audience member would go grab the link and share it in the comments for the other audience members to check out.
Now, let’s combine the social sharing approach we mentioned earlier and the authority-building approach to determine how we can spark some conversations of our own.
Those initial shares to your social profiles are great, and in fact, you should be re-sharing your content to those social profiles on a regular basis (since you’re always gaining new fans, and only a small fraction of your total fans would have seen the initial post).
But even if you were able to get your blog content in front of all of your followers, you’re still talking about a finite number of people.
When you participate in other people’s discussions or live video events, that’s certainly an opportunity to push out into larger groups of people who have never heard of you. But the limitation there is that you have to wait for someone to post the right question, or wait to be invited to be on someone’s show. And, quite frankly, those are opportunities that you simply cannot force or predict.
So that means you must spark some discussions of your own.
The first place to look is in those same Facebook Groups, LinkedIn Groups and Google+ Communities. You can also include Twitter Chats, Quora, and other online platforms where you’re able to start a conversation around a topic.
— Waldorf Astoria NY (@WaldorfNYC) February 10, 2016
Just as with the initial social sharing, we have to be clever and respectful when we go about this. These destinations are not simply places to broadcast our links. And in fact, many social groups do not permit links at all. So be mindful of whatever rules and requirements an individual group has installed.
(Note that most groups and communities will have a pinned post or group description where the basic rules are laid out. Just remember that, for the most part, the group just wants to make sure it’s not filled with spammed posts, and that the posts are created for real discussion and to benefit the group.)
The idea here is simple. Start a new discussion based around the topic you’ve blogged about. You might ask a question that relates to the post, or, better yet, take a position that is somewhat polarizing and watch how people flock to one side or the other.
For instance, among marketers, one of the most-hated Twitter features is the Auto Direct Message. Using any number of available tools, you can set it up so that any time someone new follows you on Twitter, the tool sends them a direct message automatically, saying whatever you want it to say. Which, of course, the spammers and ignorant have completely ruined.
But I wrote a blog post about how great the Auto DM could be, if used properly, and shared that post to a number of social media-related groups and communities.
— Mike Allton (@mike_allton) January 11, 2016
The introduction that I wrote was designed to spark those negative feelings toward Auto DMs and get people commenting on the posts.
And it worked like a charm.
There were plenty of people who remarked that they hated Auto DMs and obviously never bothered to read the article, yet there were also lots of people who read the article then came back to the group discussion to share their thoughts on the stance.
I’ve taken the time to identify and join all kinds of blogging and social media groups and communities on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+, so that every time I have a new blog post, it’s just a matter of finding the perfect communities and the perfect angle in which to get a conversation going that is related to the blog post I want to share.
This brings up a really important point: Don’t wait until you have a relevant blog post to join communities. Start now. Begin finding and joining communities that you think will be mutually beneficial, and begin participating in the conversations taking place. That way, when you’re ready share something of your own, you’re not a complete stranger to the group.
A somewhat similar slant involves the live video events that are going on constantly. At any time, you can see what Hangouts On Air or Blabs are live, and start watching any that are of interest to you.
— Jeff Bullas (@jeffbullas) February 19, 2016
While the technical formats are different, the basic tenets are the same. One or more people will be participating in a live discussion and broadcasting their video and audio from their computers, and an unlimited number of viewers can be watching the live feed and participating through the use of comments.
Audience members can chat with each other in the comments, mention that they liked something that was just said, or ask questions. Depending on the show format and participants, they can choose whether or not to answer questions live, or perhaps come back and address comments after the show (if it’s a more formal presentation).
Sometimes there will be questions that the show participants don’t have the perfect answer for, and that’s where you and your blog content come in.
As an audience member, you’re certainly free to share links to resources if appropriate. Of course, we don’t want to just spam links to our own blog posts, so be judicious. And, just as with social groups, make sure that the first comment you make isn’t a link to a blog post. You have to participate naturally, which means doing things like saying, “Hi,” asking questions of your own, and so on.
Better yet, if you are a regular attendee to some shows (many people use Hangouts or Blabs to broadcast a regularly scheduled show that you can attend week after week), and you add to the show by participating and providing useful information, you may be invited to jump into an open slot during a show, or perhaps be a featured guest in the future.
As I mentioned before, that’s what happened to me and Hootsuite, and it made a tremendous difference in my business and reputation.
Blab in particular is a great platform for this technique, as it’s easier to jump in and participate. As a result, the culture that’s formed around the platform has been one that’s far more open and eager to get other people involved in live video discussions.
This leads us to yet another way that bloggers or businesses with a blog can leverage social media, and live video in particular, and that is to teach a live audience about your topic.
On average, when speaking a presentation, you’ll deliver about 130 words per minute. That means a nice 1250-word blog post will work out to a perfect 10-minute presentation.
Now, simply reading a blog post on a video platform, like Periscope, probably isn’t going to be very interesting to your audience. But I bet you could summarize the post and hit all of the highlights in about three minutes.
The real beauty of doing video, whether you’re hosting a full show or a quick Periscope broadcast, is that the resulting video can be repurposed.
— Chase (@Chase) February 23, 2016
You can take a video from Blab or Periscope and upload it to YouTube and Facebook.
You can pin the videos to Pinterest.
You can embed them on the original blog post or other blog posts, particularly if there’s a short snippet that answers a specific question well.
You can pull out the audio from the video and use that for a podcast, further extending your reach into an untapped audience.
And while the point of this article is to help you find ways to market your blog posts, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the fact that sometimes, you might start by creating the content in a video interview, and turn that into a blog post.
This brings us to influencer marketing.
2015 Instagram Influencer Report
Regardless of what industry you’re in, there are likely other people in your industry who have a more-established reputation and audience. Maybe they have larger social followings, are published authors, or perhaps they’re a mainstream media celebrity.
A photo posted by Kara Goucher (@karagoucher) on
These are people you can learn from, and with whom it would be particularly valuable to have a relationship.
Of course, the obvious benefit of this relationship is when the influencer shares something you’ve written to their social following. But there are far more glorious and subtle benefits. The bottom line for me? Be open to opportunities. There are things we can do (which I’m about to list) that will help foster relationships with the influencers in your niche. Wait to see what develops. If you have a set agenda, or want things to happen on your personal timetable, you’re going to be disappointed and come off as disingenuous.
Now, you can’t expect that an influencer will share your latest blog post just because you wrote it. Not without a already having a relationship in place, one where they’ve come to recognize your expertise and look forward to seeing your new content just like your normal readers do.
Social Media can be a great equalizer, particularly on Twitter, where you can follow anyone you want. Simply find the influencers in your niche, follow them, and begin to engage with them naturally. You know, like a real human being who isn’t a stalker.
Reply or comment on the posts that interest you, and share the posts that you think your own audience would be interested in. If the influencer is blogging, become an active reader and engage with them on their blog with insightful comments and questions.
That will get you on their radar.
The next step is to begin to include them in your blog content. This could be in the form of quotes, links to their blog posts, or roundups where you actually ask their opinion on a topic and publish opinions from a bunch of influencers.
Or, do a live video interview.
Instead of being on someone else’s Blab or HOA, broadcast your own, and invite a key influencer to be your guest. It’s more work on your part to organize and promote, to be sure, but the result is a tremendous opportunity for content creation.
You can center the show’s topic around a blog post you’ve already written, creating more interest in that post, or pick an entirely new topic and turn the recorded video into a follow-up broadcast. Either way, the influencer that’s involved will likely help to share the event and materials.
I’ve done a series of such shows, and had guests like Guy Kawasaki and Rebekah Radice, and they’ve all been tremendously successful on a number of levels.
Dark Social Media
The one area we can’t measure is Dark Social Media. This refers to all of the ways that people can share our content with other people, without us being able to accurately record the shares or traffic. Examples include emails, text messages, direct social messages, and so on.
In each of these cases, people decided to share our content with one or more people, but they did so in a very direct and private manner.
While it’s unfortunate that we’re unable to measure the use and impact of dark social, that doesn’t mean we want to ignore it. In fact, we should make sure that we make it as easy as possible for those who want to share in this way to do so.
For instance, consider putting Email buttons on all your blog posts. Or, better yet, just make sure that your social sharing buttons include an Other that has email and WhatsApp and whatever other choices someone might want to take advantage of.
Within your email newsletters, include social sharing buttons, and an invitation to share the newsletter with other people via email. Then, include a note that says, “Did someone email you this newsletter? Make sure you don’t miss another by subscribing yourself.” Or something like that.
Of course, make sure that all of your blog posts have a strong call to action (CTA) to either read another post, head over to the landing page, or at least sign up for your email list, so that you can further capture some of those dark social readers.
Paid Social Media
Finally, you should strongly consider an element of paid social media in your marketing strategy. Every social platform now offers the ability to “promote” posts and get your posts seen by far more people that your existing follower base.
But be careful here. It’s easy to run up costs without seeing a real return on that investment. You need to make sure that you’re using the best platform for your business, targeting the right audience, and sending that targeted traffic to the best possible content.
So, let’s bring this back to your latest blog post. Whom are you targeting with that content? Is there a particular network where they’re more likely to be active?
Frankly, one of the least expensive platforms to advertise on is Facebook. It also has the best targeting, and sports the largest global user base. So that’s probably a good place to start. But do give Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Instagram due consideration.
I find that the best content to promote on Facebook is content that’s particularly strong for driving email signups. Perhaps it has a content upgrade or related eBook that readers can opt to download for free, creating targeted leads for your business.
A nice Facebook campaign, for just a few bucks a day, can send hundreds more readers and prospects to your blog post and business. So give that a try.
At the End of the Day
I know we’ve covered a lot of ground today, and that was deliberate. I wanted to make sure you had a complete picture of how social media can be used to market those new blog posts, but I don’t expect you to tackle all of these techniques tomorrow.
Instead, start with social sharing, and make sure you take the time to get that right. And then move on to authority building, and so on. As you progress through the various strategies, you’ll find that it naturally follows your progression as a blogger overall.
Someone who has just published their first blog post simply cannot skip down to Influencer Marketing. You have to have that consistent history of delivering quality content over time to establish authority and relationships.
So take your time, and move through the techniques as you feel comfortable. And in the meantime, keep reading blogs like this one, as there’s always more to learn and changes to keep up with. If you need more tips on your video strategy, download Simply Measured’s Social Video Cheat Sheets below.
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Mike is a Content Marketing Practitioner, Blogger and Author in St. Louis, and the Chief Marketing Officer at SiteSell. He has been working with websites and the Internet since the early '90's, and is active on all of the major social networks. Mike teaches a holistic approach to content marketing that leverages blog content, social media and SEO to drive traffic, generate leads, and convert those leads into sales. Mike is the author of, "The Unofficial Book On HootSuite" and "Blog Promotionology, The Art & Science of Blog Promotion."