Another way to reach the broadest possible audience is to leverage social media. After my first four months of blogging, social media accounted for slightly over 40% of the referrals to my blog. Of those referrals, Facebook has been responsible for nearly 75%.
Constructing a Social Media Distribution Strategy
The diversity of various social media tools provides bloggers with many different ways to reach potential readers. In constructing your social media distribution strategy, one way to leverage these tools is to tailor them to your various audience. To reach the broadest number of people, use Twitter. For more personal posts, use Facebook. And for more professional-related posts, LinkedIn is the best option.
Twitter: Electronic Promiscuity
Twitter is a micro blog. It allows users to tweet messages that contain no more than 140 characters. I could never quite understand the appeal of Twitter until I learned that you can use it to push out content from WordPress.
WordPress allows you to generate tweets automatically that are pushed out to Twitter after you publish an article. Because there is a 140-character limit, WordPress also automatically shortens the post’s URL. Twitter is also very useful for referring your Twitter followers back to your site via your Twitter profile, which you should ensure always has a link to your blog.
Another important advantage of Twitter is that it helps optimize your search for readers who are more likely to consume the content you produce. Twitter allows you to follow others who have similar interests. In turn, Twitter allows people who have similar interests to follow you. In essence, Twitter is a great way to build a future audience for a book you might sell in the future. Since my book will cover the convergence of conservative energy policy, clean tech, and geopolitics, I follow people who cover these areas. In turn, people who follow me also often have interests in one or more of these areas.
Unlike Facebook, Twitter is also a much more “promiscuous” medium. Facebook’s more intimate environment puts a limit on the number of people you will friend, because most folks do not want complete strangers to see pictures of their children. In contrast, unless your blog is also very personal, Twitter allows you to follow complete strangers and the more people who follow you, the more people will receive your content.
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Lastly, according to Spark Media, using a hash tag (i.e., the “#” symbol) and following the tag with an interesting topic can help you garner more hits on Twitter. You can also maximize your exposure by tweeting during certain periods of the day. Finally, if you use the terms, “please retweet”, people are more likely to share your tweets with friends. Some day, I plan to experiment with this Twitter in this manner to see how well these suggestions work.
Facebook: Facing Friends
Think of Facebook as your core support network. While your family and friends may not be interested in your area of interest, they are still interested in you. As such, they will periodically check your Facebook profile to see what you are currently doing. WordPress again makes it very easy for you to automatically push out your posts to Facebook.
At first, I was worried about spamming my friends with my posts. However, the beauty of Facebook is that it is a passive medium. When you include a link to an article on your blog, it does not clog anyone’s email account. It simply shows up in their Facebook feed, which is constantly changing. Of course, it may annoy someone, but it is easy enough for them to simply “hide” that feed. In fact, it has been the single most effective medium among social media tools for getting my message out thus far.
LinkedIn: Entertaining Employers
LinkedIn is foremost a forum for working professionals. You can also use LinkedIn to push out WordPress posts by linking your LinkedIn account to Twitter and then enabling Twitter to publish your posts.
The risk with LinkedIn is that potential employers might not want to hire you because they may disagree with your posts. I worried about this risk for some time. However, my view is that if someone will not hire you because of your views, you do not want to work for that person anyway.
You are who you are. If a potential employer cannot accept that, then that particular position would likely not be a good fit anyway.
StumbleUpon: Sharing Sites
StumbleUpon “takes you to web pages, photos, and videos handpicked by your friends and like-minded people.” Like Twitter, it allows you to define the topics that interest you. Once you choose your topics, the site has a randomly generates sites in your interest areas. Stumblers can then rate these sites or recommend others. Like Twitter, you can follow other Stumblers and Stumblers can follow you.
Quora: Engaging Experts
Quora is a “continually improving collection of questions and answers created, edited, and organized by everyone who uses it.”
Quora leverages the “crowdsourcing” trends that are popular now in social media. Crowdsourcing takes advantage of the “wisdom of crowds” phenomenon, in which crowds of people more often provide the correct factual answer to a question than does a single non-expert. Think of it as Who Wants to Be a Millionaire‘s “ask the audience” combined with its”phone-a-friend” options on steroids.
Quora is a quick way to establish your credentials by answering questions in a particular category. The more questions you answer, the more people will trust your judgement and hopefully come to your site.
As you can see from my results, Quora has not been particularly effective for me in driving traffic to my site. That said, the reason for this result has more to do with the fact that I do not spend nearly enough time on Quora rather than Quora itself.
And Now For the Shameless Plug
In light of all this information about leveraging social media tools, please follow me on Twitter, Quora, and StumbleUpon.