Social media and blog traffic: 4 tips that work and 2 that don’t
Traffic to my blog has jumped recently. Twitter and Facebook are the trick.
I’ve been blogging for just over 6 months. While I’m writing this entry, my blog will be visited for the 9,000th time. 2,000 of those visits came in October, and over 4,000 more have come in November.
Most of my visitors have been referred to my blog by social media. More than 2,000 have come from Facebook while just under 1,000 have come from Twitter. Only a few dozen have come from LinkedIn.
Here are six ways I use social media — four that work for me and two that don’t.
The easiest one is Facebook. I have only a personal account, and when I write a new blog entry, I post it there. If the entry is good enough, friends read it. If I’m lucky, they like it. But if I’m really lucky, they share it. And those shares have a big impact.
My two most read posts are There are only 3 reasons women don’t make it to the top and The Nobel Peace Prize’s problem with women, each of which has over 1,200 hits. One thing that distinguishes these two is that they were shared by many of my Facebook friends. Instead of reaching only my 338 friends, they reached a few thousand. Sharing has become important feedback for me on my blogging; if an entry doesn’t get shared much, I know I didn’t quite press the right buttons.
There are three ways I get blog visits from Twitter. The 347 people who follow me see that I’ve posted a new blog entry and may come for a visit. Better yet, and akin to Facebook sharing, is that that people who follow me retweet (RT) my announcement of a new blog entry, so that their followers see the announcement and perhaps drop by the blog. The third strategy is through the use of topical hashtags, which generates visits from those who follow that particular topic. All three of these can be approached strategically.
The most enjoyable way to get more followers on Twitter is to actively use it in very specific settings. For example, at any conference there will be many people making comments on the conference as it happens, tagging their entries with the relevant hashtags. One recent example for me was #egs2011. By participating in these discussions, many people saw my Twitter account and started following me. The discussion at the conference also related to various earlier blog entries, so I could broadcast those links to the conference tweeters.
My most strategic use of Twitter focuses on getting RTs. I often check hashtags that interest me and look for conversation participants with large numbers of followers — sometimes 5,000, sometimes 50,000. I read their profiles, look at their blogs, and then I send them a tweet with a link to an entry that I hope will catch their eye. When it works, this leads to RTs, which means my link gets put in front of several thousand people.
I tried to avoid flooding my followers on Twitter with all those tweets aimed at just one person, by using Twitter’s direct message function. Those messages don’t appear in my Twitter stream, going instead only to the person I write to. One evening I sent out many such messages — and not a single one led to a retweet! So, with apologies for the flood, the public @ is clearly the most effective tool. (UPDATE: See the comment from Scott Meyer below.)
Finally, I’ve started using LinkedIn, since I kept getting requests to join networks. I only have 172 connections, and while posting a link to my new entry does generate a few hits, it seems like I haven’t yet discovered the best way to use LinkedIn. Tips are welcome!
Four ways to get more traffic with social media come from Facebook and Twitter. Facebook gives many hits through its usual structure, but if your friends share your post, your readership will spike. Success with Twitter requires getting more followers, getting lots of retweets, and successful use of hashtags.
Two uses of social media have not been successful for me. Direct messaging on Twitter has led to nothing, and LinkedIn posts generate only a minimal response — so far.
What works for you?