How to Use Social Networks Strategically for Your Blog - dummies

How to Use Social Networks Strategically for Your Blog

By Amy Lupold Bair, Susannah Gardner

Social networks allow you to connect with current friends and make new ones while sharing photos, videos, text, and more. They’ve exploded in popularity in recent years, and many social networks have even added blogging tools. From Twitter to Facebook, these tools are proliferating and their quality is improving. Social networking can build

  • Friendships: You can form long-lasting bonds with people you meet online. By building your social network, you inevitably find others who share your interests.

  • Communities: Connecting with other people is one of the greatest ways to improve your blogging experience. Other bloggers are using social networks to connect with those who share their interests and passions.

  • Audience: Bring more eyeballs to your blog. The fact that these eyeballs belong to folks you already have things in common with — well, that’s a bonus!

In general, social networks are incredibly valuable tools for bloggers. It is now all but a requirement that bloggers use social media tools to promote themselves and connect with readers.

Most blogs include a tool on each post that allows readers to share the post title and a link to it across a variety of social networks. You can include this tool in your own blog by activating a built-in feature if available or by installing a social sharing tool.

How to connect with your audience through social networking

The key is to know your audience and to choose what information to share. The more information you share among the social networks you use, the more attention you can bring to your blog. Take the time to not only identify your current audience and choose networks in which that audience is active, but also to grow your social media following with the purpose of building your blog audience.

Be sure that the social networks where you spend time are those that likely can repay that effort.

Most bloggers tie their blogs and their social networks together, letting blog readers know about their actions on social networks and vice versa. The payoff is not only an increase in readership but also a deeper connection to the audience you already have!

Social media sites often attract huge audiences, and by connecting with your readers on these platforms, you make it more likely that they’ll share your blog with their online friends and affinity groups. The friends and contacts you make through your own social networks and groups may also very well be hungry for good blogs to read… like yours!

How to select online social networks to promote your blog

Integrating social networks into your online activities and your blog does require some planning. With so many options, how do you determine which networks to spend time on? You could just dive in and sign up for a bunch of social networks and then see where the chips fall, but if you want your time spent using social networks to pay off, consider the following questions:

  • What do you want to accomplish with your online efforts?

  • Which networks are most popular in general and therefore frequented by your future readers?

  • What networks does your current readership use? What about your friends and family?

  • Which networks have the best functionalities, especially for bloggers?

  • How active is your audience on social networks? What does your audience seem to be getting out of that interaction?

  • Is your blog content subject-appropriate for any particular social networks? On the flip side, is your blog inappropriate for any of them?

  • Does your audience want to know about you in ways that a social-networking tool might fulfill?

  • How much time do you want to spend playing around with social networks?

You need to consider these types of questions when you’re looking to fit a social network into your blogging life. Take a look at where your readers are coming from, and using the analytics information that you should be collecting for your blog, find out what attracts visitors to your site. Post a question on your blog about a social-networking website and solicit responses and advice.

How to protect your privacy online

You may worry about the security of your identity online if you’re jumping headlong into the social-networking world.

Be smart. Don’t post information on any social-networking website that you feel is inappropriate. You want to keep certain bits of information private. If a social-networking website asks you to provide information that you aren’t comfortable sharing, don’t share it. If the website insists you share that information, don’t use that service. It’s as simple as that.

Social networks often feel safer than the Internet at large because they require membership and logins, and of course, profiles of your new friends often include photos and other elements that look convincingly real.

However, remember that these sites offer very little barrier to creating an account — the accounts are free, the services don’t require identity verification, and the social networks can’t prevent people from including misleading information or outright lying about who they are.

So remain vigilant. If you’re aware of what information you place online, you should be able to protect yourself without much of a concern. Just like writing on your blog, consider using this guideline: If you wouldn’t blog it, don’t social network it.