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There are so many different aspects to consider when you first start blogging. Social media can be one of the most overwhelming ones!
This is because not only is every social media quite different and requires a different strategy and skills, but there are so many of them! It’s hard to know where to start and what to do.
I am here to help. This tutorial is for newbies in the blogging (or niche site) world that are wondering how to get started. It’s a complete no-BS guide for people who don’t want to spend years trying to get traction on their social media.
You will learn...
- What social media accounts you need
- How to set up social media accounts
- How to get followers
- A basic posting strategy
- What you should do next
1. What social media accounts do you need?
Probably the most overwhelming part about social media is how many different platforms there are. Here’s some:
Don’t worry, you don’t need them all. Unless you have a whole team of people working for you, you are never going to conquer them all and there is no need to.
The best plan is to:
- Take one platform at a time
- Test different approaches
- Work on creating an effective strategy
- Automate this as much as possible
- Then move onto something else.
Although don’t move onto something else just for the sake of it.
I have been blogging a long time now and I don’t use most of the social media platforms listed above although I have tried them all out at some point apart from Snapchat.
Don’t just get a social media account because you feel you should. There should be a reason, namely your target audience is there.
However, when you first start your blog it’s really hard to be this disciplined. It’s also a good idea to sign up to a few right at the beginning so you get the URL you want (assuming it’s not already taken).
To work out which ones you should start with, you should consider where your audience hangs out. Are they on Facebook? YouTube? LinkedIn? If you are not sure, look at people blogging in the same space. Analyse their social media accounts. Which ones have good interaction? That’s where you should start.
You also should consider where your skills lie and what you plan to do on your blog.
If you are great at taking photos then Instagram and Flickr might be a must for you. If you are more a vlogger than a blogger and love video then YouTube and Snapchat might be more your style.
To start with, consider opening 4 or 5 just to at least get the URL you want. A good starting point may be:
These are the ones I am most familiar with so I will focus on them in the rest of this article. This doesn’t mean they are the best for you – only you can make this decision.
2. How to set up social media accounts
Each social media account will require some effort to set up although this is usually minimal.
You usually set up the account with your name, email, login details etc. Then you need to make your public profile look good. This usually entails a photo or two, a link to your site, a name and a description.
It’s important to keep branding the same across your social media accounts and blog. Use a similar logo and photos of yourself.
Keep the name the same, use the same URL where possible and have similar descriptions of what you do.
When you are uploading photos for your social media profile, I recommend you make the images custom sized to be perfect for the particular social media. It’s easy to make these in Canva.
If you are not sure what dimensions an image should be, Google it to make sure you are using the latest specifications (these things change). For example, Google facebook cover image size. You will find the answer easily.
3. How to get followers
After you have actually set up your account, the next step is to create strategies around getting followers and what you will post on the social media. In this step, I will concentrate on followers.
In a perfect world, putting out the perfect blog post week after week and having perfectly crafted posts on social media would get you followers. However, this is not how it works the majority of the time.
It’s just not that easy.
The first step is to advertise your social media accounts on your blog. Put them in a widgit in the sidebar (there are a lot of free plugins that will do this) or in your menu bar.
You can also add call to action links to your blog posts. For example, Like what you read here? Follow me on facebook for all my best tips and advice.
However, generally the easiest (and by far the quickest) way to get followers is to follow a ton of people yourself, many will follow you back.
This does not work in all social media, but it is effective in Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and probably many others.
Twitter is a particularly easy one to use the follow/unfollow method as there are lots of tools to help you. I recommend Manage Flitter.
You can use this tool to find relevant Twitter accounts to follow. There is a search function where you can enter things like you want a certain word in the bio (so if you are a travel blogger, you could target ones that say travel), a certain number of followers and/or they are following a certain number of people.
Once you find accounts using these filter options, you can save them to follow later.
The idea is that you gradually follow the users every day, keeping to the limits that Twitter imposes on how many people you can follow/unfollow a day.
You then wait a week and unfollow the people who didn’t follow you back. Manage Flitter will tell you who these people are.
Instagram and Pinterest
This works very well in Instagram and Pinterest too. However, it is against their terms of service to do this using an application so apps that do this tend to come and go.
You can do this manually as well. I recommend starting with the followers of a blog in a niche similar to you. Start following accounts, many will follow back. You’ll then have to remove either all accounts or ones that didn’t follow you back later.
Doing this method of growing followers can be controversial in certain blogging circles. However, it’s incredibly common and effective so I recommend you consider it when starting out.
Facebook is one of the hardest platforms for growing likes. Following other people doesn’t help here.
Here are some ways to get likes for your page when starting out:
- Invite all your friends and family to like your page. There is a function to do this on your Facebook page. It can be hard to put yourself out there like this but it’s worth the potential embarrassment.
- Join Facebook blogging groups. Many will have a regular thread where you can put your Facebook page and everyone will like it. In return, you will have to like everyone else’s page. This isn’t a great way to get an engaged audience since people are just liking you because they have to.
- Set up an auto direct message on Twitter so that when people follow you on that platform, they get a message asking them to follow you on Facebook as well.
You can set up an auto message using CrowdFire for free.
Some bloggers worry that doing this last suggestion will mean people will get annoyed with them and unfollow them on Twitter.
I have not found this to be the case at all and found enough people also like me on Facebook that it’s worth setting up this tweet. Besides which, if they are annoyed this easily then they aren’t going to be the perfect engaged audience that you would like anyway.
This is a great way to automate some Facebook likes at the same time as your Twitter.
Other social media accounts
As a general rule, the best way to get followers is to interact with others. Look at people sharing things related to your niche. Comment, like, interact.
This does take substantial time and is one of the reasons why I suggest you start with a limited number of social media accounts and not all at once.
Buying followers is a controversial practice that generally isn’t very wise. You can get followers for very cheap on platforms like Fiverr. However, these are most likely going to be fake accounts.
This only hurts you in the long run as fake accounts won’t interact with your pages at all. On social media like Facebook this can hurt you and stop you from getting in front of your real followers.
Buying followers is quite common. I have seen plenty of blogger Facebook pages add an extra 10,000 followers overnight and it hasn’t seemed to have hurt them too much. It can help for platforms such as Twitter to give you an initial boost.
However, I recommend you keep away from doing this if you want to build an engaged social media audience (which should be your goal). I have never bought followers for my blogs.
4. A basic posting strategy
In conjunction with getting followers, you will also want to have a basic posting strategy. You will not be very successful in gaining followers (and there is no point) if you don’t have anything for them to see and interact with once they follow you.
Every social media platform will need its own strategy.
I recommend concentrating on one at a time and experimenting with what works until you find something that does. You can then plan and automate as much of it as you can before moving on to something else.
Something that works very well on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Google+ and probably many others is posting questions. Ask your audience about themselves, what they like, dislike etc and it usually helps to get a lot more interaction.
What doesn’t work very well is dropping links to your own blog posts and that is it.
Here are some good suggestions of where to start with some of the main social media:
- Twitter is one of the easiest social media streams to automate. I have a spreadsheet where I add a tweet for every new post I create which usually involves a question and a link. I also have a list of 100 question tweets. Once every couple of months, I add a date and time for these so that I tweet 4-10 a day. I then upload the spreadsheet to Hootsuite and it tweets them all for me.
- Make a pin for every post. Join relevant group boards and schedule your pins to these boards using Tailwind. You can read more about my Pinterest strategy here.
- Use PostCron to schedule Instagram photos. Use relevant hash tags and include questions where you can. I like to schedule one a day.
- Every week, write a plan of Facebook posts for your page and schedule them using the schedule function in Facebook. Mix up the type of posts you use to involve images, video, text only, Facebook live and links.
- Cross post any videos you make for blog posts on YouTube.
- Take a look at IFTTT. This is a tool that can automate many functions on your social media for free. I use functions to put my latest blog posts on LinkedIn and to post my Instagram photos on Twitter.
When you have downtime during the day, like when you are commuting, waiting in line, even on the toilet!!, get into your social media accounts and interact with others. In combination with the suggestions above, this will give you a good starting point with social media.
5. What you should do next
All the suggestions above are easy ways to get started in social media, but they are just that, a starting point. They will help you get your social media accounts off the ground and to start experimenting with what can work on each social media platform for your blog.
To grow them further requires dedicated time and a strategy for each platform. This takes time and experimentation. If you start by implementing the strategies above, pay attention. Which posts work really well? Which fall flat? Constantly try to be learning and improving.
This does all take time and it can be very hard to balance time for writing blog posts, SEO, social media, monetisation and the millions of other things you need to do as a blogger. That’s why it’s important to prioritise which social media platforms are worth your time and which are not. Don’t try to do everything as it’s just not going to work.
What are you best social media tips?
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