How to develop a social media strategy for a new blog
Thinking about creating a social media strategy for your blog?
In this post I’ll show you why you need a social media strategy and how to find the leading principles for yours.
If you google for the term “social media strategy” you’ll get plenty of results. The problem? Most of these resources target larger businesses rather than blogs. In fact, most seem to address social media account managers, the kind that businesses pay money so that they’d run their social media presence for them.
Sure, the principles of social media promotion are the same for a small blog or a huge shopping website. However, when it comes to implementation, most bloggers can’t afford to invest the same amount of resources (mainly time) into social media. That means we bloggers have a different angle on social media promotions – one that needs to be taken into account when it comes to forming a strategy.
What’s a “Social Media Strategy” anyway?
It’s almost a buzzword – or buzz phrase – at this point, isn’t it? As bloggers, we can’t afford to be sidetracked by buzzwords, so let’s take a look at what this concept even means.
“Social Media”, that’s the easy part. Well, relatively easy. The difference between blogs and other types of businesses is evident here as well.
Some experts define pretty much any online presence that’s not a shopping cart as “social media”. Brick-and-mortar business actually consider blogging as part of their social media strategy! Not very helpful for our needs, is it?
For a blog, social media means using online social networks as a promotional tool. The strength of these networks almost always lies in the potential for virality. It’s the digital age equivalent of traditional “word of mouth”.
There are other benefits to having a strong presence in social networks. Basically, it’s expected of you! Your “value” as a blogger is determined – among other things – by your social media presence. For your followers, it’s a chance to show their support and – if needs be – to access you directly.
Ahh… but what do we mean by “strategy”?
As a former military officer, I know just how important strategy can be. As a commander, you are given a certain set of circumstances: an adversary with certain strengths and weaknesses, and a fixed amount of resources you can utilize. The trick is lies in “how“. Just throwing whatever you’ve got at the enemy is a recipe for disaster.
In the military, “strategy” usually applies to higher ranks but the principle is the same. Use your resources in the best possible way to get what you want. Translated into the business world, it means “work smarter, not harder”.
Now, let’s bring the two concepts together. Social media strategy is about utilizing your available resources (time, energy, money…) to get the maximum rewards from your promotion efforts on social media.
Why social media strategy for blogs is different
Blogs are a unique niche in online publishing. As a blogger, you are your brand. You’re essentially trying to market yourself and convince people of your content‘s value. Yes, many bloggers sell their own ebooks and most use affiliate marketing to monetize their blogs. Still, these products are not on the cover of your brand. You are.
Add to that the fact that most bloggers operate as “a one-person-show”. Most of us can’t afford social media account managers. In terms of resources, it’s a whole different ballgame for us.
So, does that mean you should just wing it without having a cohesive strategy? I don’t think so. In fact, I think that investing some time in coming up with a good social media marketing plan is crucial. You have to analyze your specific situation so that your resources can be allocated in the way that best helps your blog.
How to create a social media strategy for your blog
Not all blogs are the same and not all bloggers are the same. As as you read through the following suggestions, think about how you can adjust them to your own situation.
5 Basic Steps for Creating a Social Media Strategy
1. Set the right goals
Think that your only goal is to gain traffic? Think again.
Sure, we all want increased traffic for our blog but that may not be enough. Here are additional possible goals you could set for your blog’s social media efforts. Here are a few ideas:
Making actual sales
If you’re trying to sell a specific product then direct conversions from your social media accounts may be a better goal than simply getting traffic. That product could be your own ebook or e-course. It could also be something you’re promoting as an affiliate. Either way, it’s something that you could be marketing directly via social media channels, so actual sales may be a goal in its own right for you.
Networking with other bloggers
I’ve seen tutorials address similar companies and brands in the same social media platform as “competitors”. That may be a good mindset if you’re Coca Cola. It’s a terrible way to look at other bloggers in your niche though, especially if your blog is new.
Think of fellow bloggers in your niche as people you want to network with. Have a positive attitude about it. Some social media channels are golden where it comes to interacting with other bloggers. Even the busier ones tend to reply to mentions, so you can reach out to them that way.
Attracting potential sponsors
I recently started promoting my blog on Instagram. I discovered a great platform, that I actually enjoy using.
Unfortunately, direct traffic from Instagram sucks.
Listen to this: I invested quite a bit of time this month creating good photos, writing nice descriptions, adding the right hashtags and posting and interacting on Instagram every day. I gained more than a hundred new followers this month and people say they really like my photos. Success, right?
I checked my stats and lo and behold, the number of direct visitors from Instagram is 1. One single click through from my profile to the blog. I asked fellow travel bloggers and apparently, that’s the norm. Your instagram followers rarely visit your blog.
Why do it then?
In the travel niche there’s a lot of interaction between brands and bloggers. Brands can sponsor your trips or pay for reviews. And what sponsors love seeing is a large social media following, including on Instagram.
For a travel blog, creating vibrant social media accounts with a large following – especially on Instagram – is a goal in its own right. Regardless of traffic or sales.
2. Which social media networks are right for your blog?
Facebook or Twitter? Pinterest or Instagram? Tumblr or Snapchat? So many options out there, it can get very confusing.
In term of sheer traffic volume, Facebook rules. Unfortunately, I’m talking about the sheer traffic volume that goes through Facebook. Not necessarily the traffic that gets sent your way. Just because everyone’s on Facebook doesn’t mean it’s necessarily a good promotional channel for your blog.
Which goes to show that in determining the right networks to focus on – size doesn’t really matter. So what does matter?
Your goals matter!
Remember how we said that your social media strategy could have more than one goal? Choosing the right platforms should be directly linked to those goals.
For example, in the travel niche, I found that Twitter and Pinterest are good places for me to network with fellow bloggers. However Instagram is where industry brands (potential sponsors) are more active. For traffic, so far Pinterest seems to be the most effective.
Your goals aren’t everything though.
Your resources also matter
If you’re a solo blogger who manages his/her own social media marketing, then the most crucial resource here is your time. And my experience shows that just like with blogging about what you love, marketing on a platform that you enjoy is key here.
For example, I love Pinterest and have used it for my own needs long before I started promoting my blog there. I feel like I’m in my element there and putting time into Pinterest promotion is something I enjoy. That means I’m more likely to stick with it for the long run.
You need to find what social media platforms you enjoy and take that into consideration when shaping your overall social media strategy.
3. Assess where you’re at
You’re probably not really starting from scratch, right? Chances are your blog already has at least a Facebook page and a Twitter account. Maybe you also have some form of presence on other social media platforms as well.
Part of establishing a social media strategy has to do with a simple tally of where you’re at. If you already have a significant following in a particular network that could mean putting more effort there will give you better ROI on your time.
4. Estimate your resources
As a blogger, your resources are most likely to be your time. How much time can you realistically put into social media marketing?
Keep in mind that this isn’t just occasional social tweeting. Once you decide on an overall strategy, you’ll need to actually work on your chosen platform. That means, among other things –
- Preparing some sort of plan for each platform
- posting at regular intervals for a long period of time.
- Crafting your messages – Depending on the platform, that could mean copywriting, image editing or both.
- Replying to mentions and direct messages.
- Actively interacting with others.
Can you do all of the above on one social media network? Two? Three?
Spreading yourself thin is a real risk, so an accurate estimate of your resources as a blogger is crucial.
A word about maximizing resources
You may in fact have more resources than you think. If you’re still thinking about social media marketing in terms of merely operating a Twitter account from your phone, you may be underestimating your abilities.
There are many tools that can help you implement your social media strategy. From wordpress plugins that encourage post sharing, to social media schedulers.
I currently use Tailwind for scheduling Pinterest pins and it’s working really well for me. I also use a free Hootsuite account to keep a flow of tweets coming out at regular intervals. Some platforms – such as Facebook – have built in post schedulers. Others – like Instagram – try hard to prevent you from using schedulers. Each social media network is different but there are almost always ways to automate at least some of the work.
5. Plan to adjust your strategy down the road
When it comes to social media marketing, setting measurable goals is easy enough. Metrics are available, you just have to look at them and see if you’ve met your monthly goals.
What happens if you fail to meet your goals though?
Determine a point in time – perhaps quarterly – for reassessing your overall social media strategy. This reassessment should include every item on this list, only this time, you’ll start with the third item: figuring out where you’re at.
Once you have those numbers, look at your goals once again and see which ones – if any – have been met. Then you need to check which networks perform better than others for you and try to figure out why. Next, take a hard look at your resources. Have you been able to dedicate as much time to social media marketing as you had planned to?
Changes across these parameters – your goals and resources – may mean you’ll have to adjust your social media strategy. And don’t forget to schedule the next reassessment. Through constant fine-tuning, you can reach the best social media strategy that actually works for you!
Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear your opinions about social media strategy and what helps you create the best one for your blog.