Social media and blogging work hand in hand. Your blog is where you write your content. Your Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Youtube and other accounts are what you use to both broadcast that content and engage with the readers of that content.
Never before have independent publishers had access to such powerful, free marketing tools. Are you on board the social media wagon yet?
What if you’re new to social media?
NP: We’re not all Charlie Sheen. Your following isn’t going to be a million overnight. It’s about starting, it’s about engaging with your audience. You’re best off having 100 followers who talk to you than 100,000 who don’t engage at all. Realistically, to make it work, do devote a certain amount of time in your day to social media. How much you devote depends on your time but you can get to know when people are hanging out in your chosen social media accounts.
NA: When I started my blog I didn’t ever consider myself to be a brand and Planning Queen is just something I came up with. It’s stuck so I do have to actually consider my reputation on social media. There needs to be a level of consistency as to how I present myself on my blog, Facebook and Twitter. On my blog, which I see as my prime source of content and where I deliver most of the time, my aim is to share information and to add value. Think about what you want to offer to people. Are you on Twitter to chat or there as an extension of your brand. My rule of thumb, there’s probably about 20% of general chit chat on Facebook and Twitter, 30% of me promoting my own stuff and then the rest is re-tweeting other things that I think are important.
YV: When I started on Twitter, I thought this looks ridiculous. There were people just saying, “Good morning”. I thought, who’s listening? I went on it because I was launching the Happy Child website and you’ve got to be on there. But as it happens I’m very social and some people forget that. They just use social media as a broadcasting medium and it does have a role there. I share links and in that sense I’m broadcasting but it’s so social. I’ve got so much more personally from it. People who are creative and generous. I’ve got work from Twitter. I’ve had PR opportunities. Follow Source Bottle, it’s a great way of keeping an eye out for opportunities. On Twitter you have to be concise, you get to know the essence of people.
MP: When something new (in social media) comes out, I do a deep dive into it. It might be for a month or so and I try to work out how it’s going to be used. Usually how it launches isn’t how it ends up being used. About six months after Twitter launched, I was working a bit on Earth Hour, I had about 20 tabs open in Firefox and was looking at all these different apps and Twitter was one of them. I signed up to Twitter and after about a week, I thought, “this sucks”. For some reason at that time you got automated SMSs so I’d get something at 4am from someone in London I didn’t even know saying I’m waiting for a taxi and doing my shoelaces up. I got off it and didn’t use it for six months. I got back on, paid attention to who was following whom, what was working and started working at it. It’s ok to fail and re-set your calibration and go in a different direction.
NA: I false-started with Facebook. I didn’t have a personal Facebook account and everyone said, you’ve got to have a Facebook account for your blog. I set it up and had a personal one and what happened was that I merged my two worlds, my personal one with my blogging one. I had people from my school reunion uploading photos of me with short, white hair. In the end, I said, I’ve done it wrong, I want a page, and said sorry, it’s all going and started again. You sometimes have to give it a go and find out what works for you. For some people working from their personal profile, it’s fine and they’re happy to put that information out there.
NP: From a technical point of view with Facebook though, there is a limit on the number of friends you can have (5000). It really annoys me with businesses start a business on their personal profile. I don’t want to be a friend of a brand, it should be a page. If you do that you have the choice to have your personal page completely closed off and have your personal page just people you’ve actually met – you set your own boundaries.
How do you position your brand using social media?
MP: It’s a concept of For. Only. Because. Generally speaking my audience are strategists, designers, sometimes bloggers. The way I think about them is that they are going to be the next impact makers. What they try to do is take information and try and make an impact. That could be in their job or writing a book. They agitate for change.
NP: I work across all social media accounts because my readers and my target market are in all of them. They might be just on Facebook, they might be just on Twitter or they might be on both, so I can’t ignore them. I jumped on to Youtube because that’s another way that people might find my blog through a different search.
NA: It’s the second biggest search engine after Google.
NP: I’ve been on Twitter almost two years; Facebook since I started my blog (almost three years ago). I monitor it all the time. Facebook tends to be for me where my local community hangs out. If I were just on Twitter, there’s a whole lot of my business market I would not be talking to by ignoring Facebook. Twitter is the reason I’m here. Twitter is the reason I’ve grown my blog to where it is. Twitter has given me national contacts for advertising, marketing and commercial agreements to wholesale products. Think about your readers. Where are they hanging out and what times are they hanging out? When are the peak times they are hanging out on social media? I don’t know if anyone in this room watches TV at night time anymore. Everyone’s on Twitter.
NA: Twitter for me is far more a networking tool. Facebook for me is a sense of community and I get a lot more visitors coming to my blog from Facebook.
NP: I do too. Even though I hang out on Twitter more, most of my blog referrals are from Facebook.
MP: I think it’s recent trend. The “like” button is about six-nine months old and if I look back quarter by quarter then the most the recent quarter, Facebook’s sending more traffic than Twitter. They both have different advantages. Twitter’s public and Google’s changing how it shows search results so it’s real-time search results. I think it’s always good to lean your headings to mostly literal for search engines and eyes scanning for it. Facebook will be increasing for search space as well.
NA: It’s discipline. I use Focus Booster. It’s an app you can download. It works on the Pomodoro technique – you work or concentrate on something for 25 minutes and then have a five-minute break. So when I’m writing my blog posts, which tends to be Friday night and Saturday when my husband is around to take care of the kids, I will switch Facebook and Twitter off and will just write my posts. I batch write. I’ve got a plan. I know what I’ve got to do. My five minute time comes through and I go and hang out on Twitter. With Facebook, I might talk about what I’m doing on the weekend. It’s great to say yes, you can grow your blog through Twitter and Facebook but you can also waste a lot of time. You have to think about what do I want to get out of the social media I’m using? How much time do I want to put in? You do have to have a regular presence. If you don’t go on for a couple of months, it’s like walking back into a party and it’s hard to get back in. Check what time you get on and what time you get off?
NP: I’m just shrinking into the chair, here. I don’t set a lot of boundaries, except the one I put around my computer and no-one can come near it while I’m tweeting. For me, apart from using social media to build the brand and blog, I went from working in an office for 20 years to working literally in my lounge room. Social media, particularly Twitter, is like having a water cooler in the office. I have a really crazy brain and I think I can handle a lot of tasks at once and I just take it all on. Some days it can feel like it’s taking over but it’s kind of fun. It’s my social outlet. If I’m not with clients or out in public situation, I’m kind of getting that personal need from people all around the world. I don’t beat myself up too much about it. I can’t switch it off all together. Anyone in the room hear the phrase, “Get off the computer, Mum”?
Working with your brand and others
YV: When I started the Happy Child website I thought about the values of the site and one of the ones I wanted was generosity. The site’s obviously about parenting. I thought about how I could benefit from the brand but I also wanted to help others so having parents blog on the Happy Child site was a way of producing content I can’t produce because I only have one voice, one perspective. I know there’s a diversity of voices in parenting and that’s important. I’ve been tweeting under my name for some time. I also have one for Happy Child but have barely used it as I’m all about social media being social. I am aware that I need to start using it more because it is the brand. I don’t want to use it only as a broadcasting medium only. I’m still working out how to do that.
MP: The brand wants to change perception, they want you or your readers to do certain things and there’s knowledge. Being in this space is not comfortable for brands. You don’t get to the top of business by being vulnerable and honest – and that’s the key to social media. A lot of brands are working out the content that works in these spaces, the time of day it works, who to work with etc. I work with the guys from Kleenex and we don’t do blogging outreach. We’re trying to help in a way that works for everyone, rather than have people review stuff in a forced way. Brands are looking at traffic, followers, reach, advocacy, persuasion, word of mouth, ideas and stuff you can do together.
More blog posts from Aussie Bloggers Conference 2011:
I’m SO grateful for my Aussie Bloggers Conference sponsors