In one of my most popular posts, The Blogging Process, I compiled a list of things I do to keep kikolani.com running, including prep work for posts, social media promotion, bookmarking, interacting with readers, and other technical updates. This article focuses specifically on using social networking for blog promotion. Unless your blog is purely personal in nature and only meant to be shared with family and close friends, chances are you want to bring in more readers. Because what is the point of putting your thoughts online if you have no audience? And if your motives for blogging are fiscally driven to create a secondary source of income, or at least to cover the costs domain renewals and hosting services, then it is going to take a lot of traffic to bring in the revenue.
Here are 9 ways I use social networking to promote my blog, in order of the networks that bring in the most amount of traffic for this site.
StumbleUpon is my top source of incoming traffic. When I publish a new article, poem, or photo that I want to share with others, I use the StumbleUpon toolbar in Firefox to share that post with all my friends and fans using the Send To option.
Also, there are groups on StumbleUpon. If your blog is about Gmail, then join the that group and get your link posted as a related site, or add a Gmail-related article to the discussion pages.
BlogCatalog, a network for bloggers, has several ways to promote your blog and articles.
Once you have a profile setup and your blog added to their directory, you can send broadcasts to all of your friends each time you have a new post, or alternatively, you can send a “Weekly Digest” broadcast of recent posts. These Broadcasts are displayed in your friends’ Dashboards, and also are emailed to them, so be sure to use an appropriate subject (as opposed to “New Post” or “Blog Update”), since this is what will be the attention grabber for your broadcast.
Other ways to promote on BlogCatalog include finding related discussions (like Yahoo Answers) and including a short answer plus a link to your related post. Also, you can join related groups and post links to your articles within group discussions.
Twitter is probably the simplest network to use to promote your blog. Simply post a eye-catching, 140 character or less tweet with a link to your new article. Be sure to include the top keywords for that article, since not only your followers will see it, but people using Twitter search may come across it as well. An added bonus would be to check which queries are popular the day of your post, and use those keywords in your Tweet. For example, today’s popular topic is #oscars, and an always popular topic is #haiku.
Facebook offers a number of ways to promote your blog site and posts. For starters, you can create a Facebook Page for yourself or your blog. An unlimited number of fan will be sent updates whenever you update your page with new notes, articles, photos, etc, and you can also send everyone on your fans list direct Facebook messages.
Another promotion method is to build a Blog Network (now called NetowrkedBlogs). This creates a community for your blog followers, including a discussion wall and an updated RSS feed. A new feature for the NetworkedBlogs is broadcasting to all of your fans, but it is only available if you upgrade your account for $4.99, whereas if you create a Facebook Page you can message your fans for no cost.
To promote your new blog articles, you can post a link on your profile, which shows up in your friends’ News Feeds, and post a link into your status update. You can also join groups and post related links on the group’s discussion wall.
Myspace, although less business and feature-friendly compared to Facebook, still has a large community to reach. The best method to use is to create a profile with focus on including keywords, and a link to your blog in the beginning of the About Me section. The benefit here is Myspace profiles do show up in Google keyword searches. Plus friends will be updated every time you update your profile. So when you change your song, for example, friends will come check out your profile, and if you have a widget with an RSS feed to your site, they may continue onto your site as well. You can also post a new bulletin which will show up on your friend’s Bulletin Board.
*As a side note, I do not know how well Myspace works for newer users. I have been on the site for many years, and the traffic I generate from it is from people who have been longtime friends on that network. The groups that would be related to blogging or other serious topics are not highly trafficked, and the status updates do not include hyperlinking with URLs.
Plurk is another network similar to Twitter in the sense that you have to communicate your message via short, 140 character phrases. The difference? You can also share Youtube videos and images that will show up in your plurks (instead of just links).
Digg allows members to share sites via voting, or Digging, them. The best method of sharing links via this site is not to do self-submissions, but to add a Digg submission button or badge to each article and let your readers submit your story.
Going a bit against the grain on this topic, I typically submit my own posts to Digg. I do this primarily because I have my anal-retentive streak about making sure the post ends up in the proper category with an appropriate title & description, as those things cannot be changed later. Plus, people are more likely to add a vote for a story than take the time to submit it. I like my site’s social bookmarking to be as simple as possible for readers.
The amount of traffic you get depends on your activity and number of friends on those networks. Other networks I offer for use of blog promotion via the icons at the bottom of each post include Mixx & Reddit (both similar to Digg in the sense that they allow voting/rating for articles), Magnolia & Delicious (bookmarking sites), and Technorati. Also, there is SocialBrowse that allows you to bookmark pages via a Firefox plugin, and BloggerUnited that will post your most recent blog entry to their homepage when you login to the network. Although I belong to all of these networks (Delicious being my favorite for bookmarking), I do not notice a high level of traffic coming from them. However, since everyone has a preference to network, I like to have the options for them to share on the networks they choose.
In addition to sharing posts directly through the networks mentioned above, there are also numerous groups on Facebook, BlogCatalog, Yahoo Groups, Tweetworks, and so forth for traffic & RSS subscription exchanges. While I do not think you should bookmark, promote or subscribed to just anything to get the exchange, there are good bloggers in these groups with great articles. Find ones you truly like, and then reply that you have Reddit/Dugg/Stumbled/subscribed to their article or site, and send your featured post or RSS link for the exchange. Also note the format that people send their links – if they send just the article link, or if they send their article link directed to the method they want you to promote (such as digg.com/their-post-url or feeds2.feedburner.com/kikolani). The easier you make it, the more likely more people will return the promotional favor.
Also, I know there are those that think this is not a legit way to promote your site. I have heard traffic exchanges referred to as cheating, cheap, and other negative connotations. But what is the difference between traffic exchanges and creating a contest to gain more rss subscribers? I think that if whomever I am exchanging with, I would have helped out without the exchange offer, what harm is there in that?
Explain Social Bookmarking to your users. Not everyone who crosses your blog will be familiar to the benefits of Web 2.0 features on your website.
Consider the time you do your promotions. Try during peak hours, which is generally business hours Monday through Friday. Considering some people have thousands of friends, a status update when the most people are active is best, because a status update Sunday evening will be lost once everything on Monday comes in.
Build a large community on each network you join, because without any fans/friends/followers, there will be no one to promote to. When I started my blog, the place I found had the best leads to other bloggers on social networks was ProBlogger’s Social Media Love-In.
Be active, because more people notice someone whose name pops up on a daily basis in their interactions.
Help others, which goes along with being active, but specifically, be sure to provide some sort of benefit to your online friends, as opposed to just tooting your own horn. Helping can be as large as sending tips on how to re-design a website, or as small as sending a little “get well soon” comment when someone’s status update shows they feeling under the weather.
Now, I pose this question for my readers: What networks work best for you, and do you have any additional tips you have on how to use those networks for blog promotion?
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