Al McCullough is a blogging traveller and travelling blogger, Al is now providing his expertise on building an online presence for your brand.
Some people think you can start blogging and within a year you can make thousands of dollars doing so. It's definitely not that simple — unless you've got a pretty cushy budget (like thousands of dollars of budget)! You see, there are some key things you will need in order to gain some traffic, and one of those things is social skills.
In Part One of Kashoo’s Build Your Brand Voice Series, I detailed WHY you should have a blog, and in Part Two, I outlined HOW to blog. But there's one more aspect of blogging, and it's pretty important in order for your brand voice to be heard:
Getting people to read your blog
Sticking with our ever-changing technology theme from the first two articles, Social Media falls right in line with those tech-changes. Mass electronic interaction started with emails, then along came MySpace (formerly Friendster) to re-connect us with all those people from high school. That was quickly usurped by Facebook which did the same thing (but better, somehow). Shortly after came Twitter, Instagram, Flickr, Linkedin, Digg, Reddit, Google Plus, Pinterest, StumbleUpon, Vine, Snapchat — you get the idea. As you can see there are many different roads for your blog to go down.
So where do you share your blog?
Okay, Facebook is a no-brainer. Twitter is also low-hanging fruit. And you can also send out an email to those who have opted-in as subscribers (more below on what opting-in is).
There's a bit more to sharing on those platforms, so let's take our recent blog; Increasing Cash Flow using Payments. When it comes to Twitter you (still) only have 140 characters, so a brief description is required. Facebook allows for much more, so playing up both is a bit of a game. As you can see, a slightly different approach is taken with both when writing the post for each, with Facebook allowing for a lot more text:
But what about other platforms, like Instagram, Pinterest, or Reddit? Should you bombard past and present colleagues on Linkedin with your company blog post?
Knowing how to take advantage of each social platform does take some practice and knowledge of said platform, but it also depends on what your product and/or service is.
For Kashoo, we don't share blogs on Pinterest or Instagram. We develop accounting software, and as sexy as that may sound, those channels aren't exactly hotbeds for accounting information, so it's not cost-effective for us.
With Instagram, it's quite common to see a lot of "bling" products being advertised, or movie trailers — and for good reason. Instagram is a popular platform used by teens. Does your product or service fall in line with the typical Instagram user?
Pinterest is an interesting example though. Many times people go to Pinterest for inspiration — like repurposing or renovating ideas for example. Let's say someone wants to renovate their kitchen but doesn't want to spend time looking through all those House and Home magazines they snagged from their doctor's waiting room. They can simply go to Pinterest and search for some kitchen renovation ideas. Wouldn't that platform be a great place to showcase some before and after photos if you're a contractor?!
Let's use another example, this time with a social platform that came out a few years ago called tsū. It started off with great fanfare tsū rewarded users by offering payments to entice them to get other people to join tsū. When those new members joined, the original member got a kickback for every member their "recruit" enrolled. Okay, tsū was basically a social media pyramid scheme that failed because when it became time to pay members they couldn't. Sometimes it pays to wait for the initial tsū -nami to pass!
The lesson here is that you don't have to be on EVERY platform, and it's okay to wait for a platform to become more mainstream. Sure, you can go snag your favourite handle/username and just sit there with it — no harm in that. But you don't have to share your blog everywhere.
Pump up the volume with these:
Most web editing tools have a way to assign what's called a "featured image". A featured image is the image that will represent your blog on your site as well as when shared on social media. The featured image can be whatever you want, but for business, it's nice to include some enticing copy and an image that relates to your blog post.
Opting-in refers to the act of someone giving you their email address, usually to receive promos, updates, or other mailings. By opting-in they are saying it's okay to send them email. This is usually accomplished via a signup form on your website.
While an email list isn't part of the social media portion of sharing your blog, it's still a great way to reach your readers. You can blast out a >monthly newsletter to subscribers summarizing blogs or other material that promotes your business.
We'll use Facebook as the example here. When you sponsor a post on Facebook, you can target people based on many demographics. It's a great way to get the proper set of eyes on your post.
I like examples, so let's say you're a small Spa owner running a Mother/Daughter promotion. A blog can be created that deatils your promo, and you can sponsor (also called boosting) a Facebook post targeting women within a certain age range in a specific geographic location. Facebook's algorithms will take over and place your sponsored posts in the feeds of those who match your targeting.
You can even take it a step further and target people based on their interests. This can also be done using Facebook Ads — something well beyond the scope of this blog series, but worth investigating if you're a small business owner.
Now let's really blow your mind. By using an opt-in form, you can offer a discount on the promotion if the site visitor opts-in. Now you've expanded your subscriber list, but more important — you've got another lead!
Most social platforms allow for sponsored/paid posts now. It's one of the ways social media networks make money. And according to social automation software provider, Hootsuite, it's becoming a "Pay to Play" environment — meaning you'll have to pay to get your posts seen by more people.
Using automation tools
Managing your social accounts can be a full time gig, especially if your small business requires you to interact on social media. But there are some great automation tools that can help with both evergreen and scheduling new content. From there you can schedule a few minutes a day to interact with people, just but be careful not to get sucked in by all those funny cat videos!
You can schedule and automate a lot of your social posts these days using tools like Hootsuite, Hubspot, Buffer, and Social Jukebox. These tools allow you to step away from the day-to-day requirements of manually posting content on social media.
Because of the ever-changing social media landscape, it’s not uncommon for companies to hire a Social Media Management company, or to outsource their socia media needs to another small business or freelancer.
If you're just getting started though, these automation tools can definitely save you some time and money. But if you have absolutely no clue what a tweet is, you might want to look into hiring someone.
Let your brand voice be heard!
Running a small business involves many things. You've got your hand in Sales, Operations, Accounting, and Marketing, among other areas. We live in a great time though, because it's never been so easy to build your brand's voice. Let's recap this series:
- In Part One we touched on what a blog is, and using some amazing K-Mart analogies, provided four superb reasons why your business should—no—MUST HAVE a blog.
- Part Two traded in K-Mart for pizza and outlined some specifics about blogging and also shd some light on what SEO is, as well as some tactics you can use to help with said SEO. Don't know what SEO is? Check out the post!
- Lastly, Part Three gave you a glimpse of the social media platforms you can take advantage of to get your brand's voice out there to the masses.
Whether you're writing a weekly blog about your product, providing updates on promos and sales, or sharing customer success stories, a blog is a great way for your brand's voice to be heard. And with the ability to share across numerous social media platforms, there's never been a bigger megaphone for you brand's voice!