How to survive social media is almost a bigger headache for bloggers than coming up with awesome quality content each week. But it wasn’t always so. And neither need it be.
Back in 2004 when I first started to blog, a blogger’s life was easy. We could hit publish and be damned! Google was still a quirkily named newcomer we were trying to suss out and no one in my blogosphere had heard of SEO.
Now though, we bloggers have a whole eco system of social media attached to our blogs. And we can’t even hope to have our posts get decent traffic let alone go viral – that Holy Grail of bloggers – without social media working to promote our content.
We add all the buttons to our blogs – YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and perhaps Google + and LinkedIn. We do this willy-nilly because we know that these often turn up higher up in Google organic search than our homepage. But what of our relationship with social and the quality of what we feed our feeds?
Social Media – the honest truth
I think I am not alone among bloggers in conducting an on-off, love-hate relationship with social media. I bet reading this right now, you’re nodding in agreement. I also bet that at the very least there are only one or two social media you truly feel at home on?
- We loathe the time spent posting on and checking in on the various social media feeds two or three times a day.
- We hate re-purposing post images for the annoyingly different and ever-changing image sizes required for each feed.
- We don’t really understand the algorithm changes that Facebook and now Instagram sneak in.
- We hate being ‘social’ on a good many of those social platforms.
- We worry that one day a platform will remove our posts or go under.
- And know that we’ll be downgraded unless we pay to be seen by X hundred when once upon a time we could guarantee the majority of our followers would see us.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg of what we have to cope with to survive social media.
Get Socially Savvy
New bloggers with the right social savvy can draw the crowds faster than a long-term blogger with no strategic social awareness. So, if you’re aiming to up the level of your blog to monetize it, my tips below can help you manage and lever your chosen social media more strategically and less stressfully. That way, you’re freed up to do more of what you love and know will give you some cash – feeding your blog and being creative on those e-services and products.
How many social buttons do you have on your blog? How many social platforms are you active on, posting say two or more times a day and feeling good about hanging out on? There’s no point in pretending to be social on platforms you dislike. It’s so easy to be distracted by the lastest ‘fastest-growing platform’ or be lured away from one social medium having read a post or two saying that Instagram [Pinterest, or whatever] is the one to be on these days since Facebook is only for delivering for those paying for ads.
What not to do
Swaying in the wind, hedging your bets by being on all, or vacillating from one to another month by month just spreads your blogging thin. If you try to be social in places you just don’t feel ‘you’ or feel good about, you’ll come across all wrong. Your posts and voice will jar with what the community on that platform is drawn to. And, at the very least, you’ll be stressing about not putting up posts in your feed as often as required.
To spread your social media time thin is worse that not being there at all. You won’t reap the benefits of social media you’re simply not in to. Time wasted, ‘punto e basta’, as the Italians say. I recommend a two-pronged strategy to deciding which social channels to put your energies into.
I advise reviewing your social media channels in your Google Analytics to see which is actually driving your most traffic. Then, spend a month at a time working the most viable channels in turn to see which you can both love and learn the ins and outs of effectively. Of course, the one you’re most visible right now on should comes tops but don’t ignore the other channels, as I’ll explain below.
You’ll find social channels broken down under Acquisition>All Traffic>Channels>Social
In the case above, Facebook is driving the most traffic, but that’s partly because it’s the place that site has been loudest on for years and has grown a faithful community on. However, I know I need to work Pinterest too, and will give that a try for a couple of months as Maltainsideout doesn’t have an active presence there despite the blog having very visual content that would lend itself well to the platform. Facebook has been important for the blog as so many visitors wish to ask questions about holidaying or living in Malta and the community over on Facebook chips in well to help. Pinterest as a search engine in its own right, rather than a social platform, would be the place to drive a lot of new traffic though that we’re missing right now.
How to interpret the Social Analytics
Juggle a bit with you what your analytics tell you. Clearly, if Twitter is totally not your thing, don’t worry about giving it a try. But, if you have two slightly dormant social channels that have potential – like Pinterest does in the case above – then, spend a good month working each channel hard, building up content, and reading up on how to use it best. Then, see what’s going on in your Google Analytics and see if your efforts are developing a trend, and one that you feel happy sustaining.
Just as a side note here, I find that on Creatista, Twitter is (surprisingly) for now giving me most traffic and sign ups to my Blogger Bootcamp Optin. I don’t actually post as much on Twitter as on Instagram, but the analytics show that IG brings me few email optin conversions. So, I’ll be working harder on Twitter, which is doing well.
2. DIY Design or Buy Templates for Social Media Images
A picture may say 1000 words but in social media it needs words as well if it’s going to be repinned, shouted out and retweeted. It needs those words too if it’s going to prompt click-throughs and entice subscriber sign ups.
You need to have a self-explanatory headline in a clear and large font, perhaps a short tagline or subhead and most definitely your blog or website’s url or your social handle. Take the image up top on this post as an example. It’s automatically the optimum size for Pinterest and says it all on the photo as a hook to the full post.
Now, while the post image lends itself well to going straight into Pinterest, it fairs less well to go seamlessly into Instagram or a Twitter feed. I’ll need to re-size it, tweaking the text, to create a neat 1080 x 1080px for Instagram and a horizontal for Twitter. Time, time, time ebbs away as you fiddle around doing that. I recommend the following tools, kit and possibly purchases to ensure you’ve the optimal image on all the social feeds your actively posting on.
This is superb as it had set-piece templates for all social media feeds. No need to invent the wheel on Photoshop! Wonderfully, it has enough template options to ensure you aren’t dishing out the same look and feel as everyone else. What’s more, you can of course change fonts, text positioning and colours to suit your blog’s branding. I find I can create Pinterest, Twitter and IG images relatively fast in Canva and as it’s a cloud service, I use it on the move easily. Canva has free templates and photos, and also premium ones but at a mere $1 per purchase, I find the investment in a few credits minimal given stock photo prices. And Canva’s are less used than those of free stock sites like Pexels.
For around $12-20, Creative Market has plenty of options to speed up your social media management. There are two types of bundles to look out for:
(1) stock photo bundles ensure you aren’t using overworked ones from the free stock sites; and
(2) template bundles that you can customise in Photoshop to add your own text, changes colours and background images.
Many of both types of bundles are aimed at fashion, food and lifestyle bloggers and come virtually as you need them. Time saved big time for the sake of a single purchase. Just find the look and feel for your brand, and you’ve ready-made templates to tweak quickly for each blog post and social image.
Create your own templates in Photoshop
Or Picmonkey or Canva for free! Whichever route you chose, just make sure you keep the same palette of colours, fonts and overall look and feel from post image to post image, and also across your various social channels.
3. Batch create your Social Media Posts
My mother used to batch bake every other Saturday morning so she’d have cakes and bread ready to hand every day for two weeks, thanks to the freezer. While that lifestyle may belong to another era, the principle of going all out and setting aside one day to do all your posts for a week (or more) ahead is best practice.
There’s no getting away from the fact that creating awesome, quality content does take time. If you write one blog post conveniently sub-divided into several standalone nuggets, as I detail in my post here, you can save time by having ready content to drip feed into social channels all week. The work falls all up front, on a day you schedule as being your best time to concentrate on writing, image creation and identifying and adding hash-tags. I tend to use Tuesday as my batch content creation day as Monday sees too many bitty emails to deal with.
You’ll feel so pro and full of confidence having knocked out 20 social posts in a day. The longer term overview of both your blog and your social media content has spin-off benefits too. You’ll see how to create consistency in your blog and how to lead visitors on from one post to another. This in turn will improve your blog’s stickiness and reduce your bounce rate (Google Analytics jargon for the number of people leave your blog after landing on and exiting from a single page only). Consistency in look and feel is of huge importance in social feeds like Instagram and Pinterest if you’re to be seen to be pro and draw eyeballs and clickthroughs. A single day focusing on social posts can give you the harmony you need on visual social channels that ad-hoc posting – trying to think up something each day – just can’t do.
Importantly, your social posts should draw from both old and new blog posts to guide eyeballs to older content and to highlight different aspects of your current free optins or paid-for courses. All social posts need to link back to your site to help you for example grow your subscribers or sell your services or products via a landing page.
Surviving social media is really about managing systems and routines that work for you. And using the tools to enable those. Which brings me to the next tip – scheduling.
4. Schedule & Automate
Once you’ve batch created all those social posts, you’ll want to forget about them! The next stage then is to schedule those posts so they automatically get posted without you clicking a mouse. Then, all you’ll need to do is monitor comments and reply and enjoy seeing the rise in your subscriber numbers. Your social media outlay on that one day every week or two will pay off in traffic and subscribers for sure – remember, you’re now feeding those social channels consistent, regular, coordinated and coherent content.
Action is all about finding the tools – free and paid for – that give your awesome posts a push at the right time to the right people. Below are my favourite for tools for scheduling.
General Scheduling Tools:
CoSchedule, Buffer, Hootsuite and Meet Edgar are all designed to schedule your posts to a variety of social media. All have free trials and Buffer and Hootsuite are pretty capable scheduling tools even on their permanently free, basic versions.
I suggest you play around with them all, using those free trials and then upgrade later if you feel they are for your way of working. I continue to use Hootsuite for free for some blogs and have paid for Meet Edgar for this one. It’s not totally cheap however Meet Edgar does have a great feature which enables me to tag posts in a library. I then set a calendar for the reposting of library items at set intervals like once a month or two. That way, older posts get more traction and it all happens automatically. Bliss!
There are fewer options here as IG won’t allow anything other than ‘instant’ posting! But, there’s a workaround tool called Later (formerly Latergramme). It won’t actually post for you but it does allow you to set up a schedule and it alerts you with a reminder that post x is ready to go live. You manually approve that, but all the same, it means you aren’t content creating instantly, just pressing ‘publish’.
Automate your Pinterest pins
Try Boardbooster, which does what it’s name says. Instead of a free trial, you get your first 100 Pins free. After that it’s around $5 a month for the basic option. Boardbooster is an all-round Pin management system that does things like rotates pins and re-issue them at your command – ie. boost them from the bottom of a board to pole position up top. It can be set to delete pins with no repins and boost your best pins in all manner of ways. It’s totally awesome and if you’re aiming to power Pin, it’s a must.
Take a tool or two at a time, get to know it and then decide if it’s a fit with your preferred social channels. I have Boardbooster and use Hootsuite and Meet Edgar. I review them all on a Monday, and let them run leaving me time to focus on business.
5. Learn from the Pros
The world is choc ful with so-called social media ‘experts’. And I don’t intend to add that epithet to my name. I have a solid user and practitioner’s viewpoint. As this post hopefully shows, I can guide and suggest based on my own experience. This final tip then is about swotting up on your chosen fave social channels with some A-lister names who’ve nailed their flags to various social masts. I pick up a tonne from various ebooks, free webinars and from subscribing to their their emails. You should too.
What’s interesting is that they’ve become household social media names by building up huge followings via one particular social channel. This shows that my first point about focusing is valid. Not to say these guys aren’t on all channels, but they’ve made their mark knowing one from A to Z. If you aren’t already familiar with them, check out the following for starters:
Social Media Names to follow
Sue B. Zimmerman – Instagram: the doyenne of IG and hard to beat. Follow her blog for amazing value and download her free e-books. Sue offers paid-for ecourses and coaching sessions.
Amy Porterfield – Facebook & FB Ads (and webinar marketing): This savvy lady once worked for Tony Robbins and is now a diva of most social media, but I follow her particularly for Facebook training and for her free webinars on creating webinars.
Caitlin Bacher – Instagram: this girl knows her stuff and has insightful blog posts galore as well as a mid-priced IG course. With IG’s algorithm changes, ace, honed, strategic content is even more important. Caitlin guides you on how to stand out and make cash from IG.
Marc Guberti – Twitter: at just 18, having started his blog at 14, Marc Guberti is the Wunderkind of Twitter. Grab his free books ’27 Ways to get more Retweets on Twitter’.
Donna Moritz – Visually Sorted: this lady kicks butt on visuals across all social channels. She’s the biz when it comes to getting the know-how to up your visual creativity and optimize it for social media ROI.
Melyssa Griffin – Pinterest: this lady has Pinterest wrapped and offers great quality freebies in wonderful easy-going vids. As well as good value paid-for courses that teach you incredible detail on how to grow not just subs but your biz via Pinterest.
A Final Word
If you’ve got this far, you’ve digested a lot! As you can see, sorting your social is mind over matter as you do have to knuckle down and do the content. But, that done, it’s also about finding the right place to hang out and the right tools so you don’t feel overwhelmed and can make your posts work hard all by themselves while you go anti social for a while! Do your homework and stay true to your instincts and you’ll find your own style on the channel that’s right for you.