Social media helps grow your blog in several important ways. With all the social media hoopla (and in some cases, backlash), I wanted to write a clear explanation for you about the relationship between social media and blogging. If you’ve just recently discovered blogging, and are still puzzled by social media, this post is for you. If you’re a blogging and social media veteran, I suggest you send the link for this post to your struggling friends and family. Now, on with the show…
What is Social Media?
I could get into trouble for this, but to hell with that. I’m going to define social media my own way:
Social media is generally internet and mobile communications services that provide a platform for messaging and other interactions between people in a selected group.
Let’s break that down, shall we?
Generally internet and mobile communications services: Most social media comes in the form of a service provided by a website and/or a mobile phone service. StumbleUpon is on the web, but Twitter is used heavily both on the web and by mobile device.
Provide a platform for messaging and other interactions: One chief component of all social media is messaging in various forms. Messaging can be time-delayed, like how comments can only be left one at a time. You can’t respond to a comment at the same time the other person is writing it. Messaging can also be live, with everyone conversing at the same time, like chat or a shared whiteboard on the web. Any social media service you look at will provide at least one or more forms of messaging. The different ways in which messaging is done are numerous.
Between people in a selected group: Social media nearly always requires that you associate yourself with a limited group. Groups are defined by users selecting other users as friends and by keywords, like robotics or Coldplay. In some cases, the entire social media network may be designed to appeal only to people of a certain group, such as gardeners. So you have friends/followers/buddy list and a series of keywords/tags/categories that you use to identify and associate yourself.
Social Media Extends Your Internet Presence
By engaging in social media, your presence online is not limited to your own website. I consider blogs with commenting as a form of social media. When you leave a comment at another blog, you’ve just created a new outlet for others to see you. If you create a StumbleUpon or Facebook account, you’ve just generated more exposure for yourself.
The recluse who stays hidden at home is never known or cared about by anyone, but the social gadfly who hangs out with friends and attends social events around the town is well-known and liked by everyone.
Social Media Provides Links to Your Blog
Not only does social media extend your brand online, each new social media profile page, post, tweet, whatever, is a link back to you. Social media is more than just putting yourself in front of others to gain exposure, it’s a portal for others to click through to you. Social media is also a lot of fun and, well, social… but we’re specifically talking about how social media helps your blog, so let’s stay on track (but you see, that’s an important difference between social media and other forms of marketing–fiddling with AdWords isn’t most people’s idea of fun).
Each interaction with others on social media gives them an opportunity to click through to your profile page you have with that social media service. On that profile page, invariably, is a link back to your website. If what you’re doing in the social media space is valuable and intriguing to others, they will click through and visit your blog. And if your blog is then providing valuable content, they will subscribe. See how that works? Pretty cool.
StumbleUpon and Twitter are two of the highest sources of traffic for Remarkablogger, as seen below in this Google Analytics screenshot from March of this year to the present:
Social Media Puts You Where the Action Is
The conversation is taking place, with or without you. Which do you prefer? Social media (along with blogs) is where the people are online. If you’re not at the party, you are missing out. You are missing opportunities to put yourself in front of others, provide links back to yourself, and have interactions with others that could lead to opportunities. In many ways it’s a lot like in-person networking events.
Criticisms fired at people heavily involved in social media include: ” it’s just a popularity contest” and “all those thousands of friends aren’t your real friends.” There is some truth to those criticisms, but like much of life, it’s not that simple. What is simple and irrefutable is this: if you’re seen, known, and provide value wherever you go online, you (and your blog) will benefit in visitors, subscribers, links, and opportunities.