Using Facebook & StumbleUpon to increase traffic to your blog

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Marketing

At the end of 2009 I committed to Project52 – a year long challenge to post new content to your blog every week.

As part of that I asked what you’d like to read about in 2010.

This post is a direct response to one of the suggested topics I received from my online pal and fellow Canadian blogger, Heather whose blog The Unexpected Twists and Turns we worked on together to revamp during ProBlogger’s 31 Days to Build a Better Blog Challenge.

Heather wanted to learn more about using Facebook and StumbleUpon to increase traffic to her own blog.

Using Facebook

My number one rule for using Facebook to promote your blog or business is that you must provide added value.

Merely repeating what readers would find if they visited to your blog or website, and nothing more, is a turn off.

First you have choices to make. Will you be using a Facebook group, fan page or your own profile to promote your blog?

Networked Blogs

To ensure your blog posts are promoted on Facebook you should look at an application called Networked Blogs which will push new content from your blog to your Facebook profile.

This means your new blog posts will automatically appear in your Facebook stream. Although Networked Blogs is an excellent tool, using it is not. You may have to fiddle around a lot before figuring out it works.

So, let’s assume you’ve done this and your blog posts are being added to your Facebook account. Now what?

Establish your Facebook page as a go-to destination

You must establish yourself (your Facebook account/fan page or group) as a go-to place for information about a specific topic. If, like Heather, you are writing about your local neighbourhood then you should subscribe to other blogs and websites which provide information about where you live and what is happening there.

Then you can decide what it is you wish to publish as status updates on Facebook.

As well as reading the stuff about your local neighbourhood (and replace the word ‘neighbourhood’ with whatever your chosen industry is) you should establish a relationship with those sites. Leave comments, follow those folks on Twitter and Facebook. Create links with them. Build and nuture a relationship.

This works to benefit everyone:

  • You help promote and share information created by others
  • You demonstrate to the author of those sites and its readers that you have a shared interest
  • You begin to build credibility

Nuturing relationships

Eventually some wonderful things will happen.

You will receive new Facebook friend requests from folks that have discovered you because you grew your presence online. These are new eyeballs for your blog.

The authors of those sites begin to see you as a genuine force and will begin to promote you by commenting on your blog or by sharing your posts on their Facebook.

As this network grows, others that you have friended on Facebook will ‘like’ your updates and leave Facebook comments thus drawing attention to you and your blog.

Do you see a common theme emerging here? The one that’s central to all ‘social media’ activity?

Relationships.

Building a following online, anywhere, is about give and take. You cannot expect to launch a blog and for hundreds or thousands of folks to flock to you overnight.

That recognition will only occur once you demonstrate to your peers that you a) exist; b) make yourself known; c) engage with like-minded folks online.

It’s hard work. It takes time.

Providing added value

At the start of this post I talked about ‘added value.’ This means publishing information on Facebook that your readers will not find you publishing elsewhere.

This is how I generally use the National Screen Institute Facebook fan page.

Of course, some information is repeated but I try to include links to cool stuff I’ve read and have not mentioned elsewhere.

Networking with others on Facebook

Connect with other like-minded folks on Facebook.

Find and join groups that cover similar topics to you. Contribute to those group pages by responding to their content and posting links to your own.

Ditto for fan pages.

Are there gurus and popular spokespeople in your industry? Find them on Facebook and establish a relationship.

Organising events, advertising

Heather, who is writing about a location, could use Facebook’s event feature to organise a get together in Montreal and have Facebook manage the RSVPs.

She could also use Facebook’s very targetted advertising feature to spread the word about her blog. You can build your ad on Facebook (thereby saving you the cost of hiring a designer) and set your own budget.

You can pinpoint your target audience down to the minutest detail.

These are just some of the ways Facebook can help create interest in you and your blog.

Now let’s look at StumbleUpon.

Using StumbleUpon

StumbleUpon is a website that recommends other sites for you to check out based on personal preferences you provide

I discovered Miss Britt through StumbleUpon.

While there are a number of different features on StumbleUpon, I primarily use it to do two things:

1) Click the ‘Stumble!’ button installed in my web browser in the hopes of discovering fabulous new sites to visit (see Miss Britt above).

2) Add my own recommended sites for others to ‘Stumble!’

The second action here has sent lots of traffic to my blog and the National Screen Institute’s website. The traffic comes in short bursts but it’s still significant. By adding my recommendations those sites then show up when others ‘Stumble!’

To do all this you must set up a StumbleUpon account.

Like Networked Blogs I didn’t find StumbleUpon particularly intuitive to use so it may take you a while to figure it all out.

Like most things on the internet, these strategies can take time to show results.

Be patient, sensible and give as well as take and you will soon see the benefits.

Guest post: Preventing a nervous breakdown in the age of social media

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Marketing

This post was contributed by Ari Herzog.

Ari Herzog is an online media strategist for organizational leaders, providing consulting, speaking, and writing services.

He is also a first-term city councilor in the city of Newburyport, Massachusetts.

Maybe you know Ari and read his blog. His posts usually cause a stir and he remains the blogger on whose posts I’ve commented the most.

Sales revenue forecasts are down, customers are jumping to your competition, and you were just charged by your boss with being the de facto social media manager because the company lacks the funds to hire someone new.

“Great!” you mumble to yourself, recognizing you know next to nil on what social media is, let alone how to use it to boost the company line.

But, you’ve put in 10 years with the firm, the management trusts you to get the work done, and you realize you have nothing to lose.

First things first, you create a Twitter account. It’s the talk of the town and everyone from Oprah to Ellen to Britney uses it, so it’s gotta mean something.

You start following your role models. You reply to them and their questions but they don’t reply to you. In time, you broadcast your own thoughts or products the company launches. You notice strangers with weird names like jonas556 and BigProductRevu follow you. You don’t know why, and they don’t message you, but you assume they are fans.

When someone does send you a message, you don’t know because you don’t know you are supposed to check that link called Replies. Twitter is a failure in the first week.

Then, you turn to Facebook. You don’t know Facebook from skydiving, but because your 14-year-old kid is on it, he shows you the ropes on creating a profile which you do in the name of the company. You don’t get that, either.

You watch some YouTube videos and add some comments. Nobody comments back.

The sarcasm level of the above is very high, but it could be a real situation.

Maybe you aren’t like the fictitious person above. Maybe you are engaging with your customers every day on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Flickr.

Maybe you have a Ning-powered community in the name of your corporate brand. Maybe your company distributes audio-recorded press conferences on iTunes and video-recorded product launches on Blip.tv and uploads employee photos to Flickr. Maybe you’re using the web like the best of the best. But something’s not right. You have the passion but you’re getting tired and burned out.

You’re having a nervous breakdown.

Sorry to break it to you, but GOOD JOB! You are supposed to get burned out now and then. If you don’t question what you do and why you do it, you risk doing it for the wrong reasons.

Every optometrist will tell you to take a break from staring at computers or reading books to exercise your eyes. Every marathon trainer will tell you to not run every day because you need to relax your muscles. So, why do you write a status update on your favorite social networking service whenever you have something to say? If you don’t send that update, do you truly think your fans and customers will wonder where you are?

If you’re allowed to take a vacation with your family and leave your techno gadgets at home, surely you can take a vacation from tweeting, facebooking, and youtubing. If you don’t, I assure you that you will develop a mental illness. Your doctor would tell you to take care of your body before exerting physical pressure, so I suggest you similarly take a break, if even a deep breath, before sending that next update out.

Life will go on without that update.

And, if you can recognize life does go on without one social media marketing update, then imagine the repercussions if you take a week off from Twitter and Facebook. Continue your offline marketing instead, or focus on increasing the branding of that Ning community. Using social media does not mean using every tool every second of every day.

Unless they lose their funding, they’re not going away. So, take a break and protect your immunity.

Diary of a Web Gal least popular posts from the past year

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Diary of a Web Gal

After listing my most popular posts of 2009 it seemed only fair that I list my least popular posts of 2009.

These posts are basically the fat kid that got picked last in gym class (in England we say P.E. – physical education).

I’m hoping you’ll discover something in one of them that will help you or someone you know.

And if you feel so inclined you can check out my archives which list in a nice and simple format all past posts on Diary of a Web Gal.

So here are my blog posts most in need of a big hug.

My dog’s blog gets nominated for Canadian Weblog Award

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Blogging

There was a little rejoicing in the Web Gal household yesterday.

One of my blogs, Hi, I’m Sadie Shih Tzu has been nominated for a Canadian Weblog Award (Life category).

The Canadian Weblog Awards promote blogs from across Canada year-round with interviews, articles, and the nomination, judging, and award process. A jury then decides on a short list and winners are announced in January 2011.

The awards are something of a breath of fresh air: they’re designed to uncover good, but perhaps not mainstream or popular blogs.

Much of the judging criteria focuses on common sense stuff that all web designers would apply when creating a website. The same stuff I use in my job as website manager.

Design

  • Usability — Is the website user-friendly and easy to navigate?
  • Operability — Do all of its components function properly?
  • Interactivity — Are a comments section and author contact information available? Are its interactive components (including comments, audio, video, etc.) effective, appropriate, and accessible?
  • Aesthetics — Is the website pleasing to look at? Is its design original?
Content
  • Originality — Is the content original and creatively expressed?
  • Intelligibility and clarity — Is the content well-written? Are the content’s messages clearly and effectively delivered?
  • Currency — Is the content timely? Is the weblog updated on a regular basis?
  • Transparency and authenticity — Is the author’s purpose and realness both trusted and apparent?
  • Attention to detail — Has the content been edited for spelling and grammatical errors? Is the content arranged for ease of consumption?
  • Engagingness — Is the content interesting? Does it contain broad appeal within its genre?

So we’ll have to be patient for a few months before we find out if Sadie’s blog progresses any further.

This is truly an honour to be recognised among my fellow Canadian bloggers. I’ve never envisioned making money from Sadie’s blog. It’s only ever an online space for her personality to come alive for others. Pure entertainment. And with the deluge of blogs available it’s a wonder anyone ever found Sadie’s.

We’ve no idea who nominated Hi, I’m Sadie Shih Tzu. If it was you, thank you.

There is more to social media than Twitter and Facebook

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Marketing

I’m not the first person to say this and I won’t be the last but I’m getting a bit bored of reading that social media is all about Twitter (or maybe I’m getting bored of reading about Twitter?)

It isn’t. And it never will be.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Twitter. Most of the time.

And most of the time, it loves me back.

But people – there is a world outside Twitter.

I worry about the marketers who think as long as they have a Twitter account they have their social media bases covered.

No. You. Don’t.

I should be thankful that there’s so much interest in Twitter – most of the popular posts on my site from the past 12 months are about Twitter.

This all goes back to what I’ve said before: social media is a silly term. Misleading in fact.

There are many tools ‘out there’ that allow you and me and many others to talk to each other online including Facebook, Twitter et al. Many (most?) websites let you communicate through comments or using sharing tools.

In fact, the internet in general lets us all communicate with each other and have ongoing dialogue. That’s why it’s called ‘the social web.’

So to focus on one website (Twitter) is a mistake. It’s also foolish for websites dedicated to social media to largely be trumpeting Twitter.

There is so much more out there.

And if we’re to teach communication professionals (and anyone else willing to listen) about the benefits of the social web we’re not doing those folks any favours by remaining so narrow-minded.

This isn’t a case of me listing for you all the sites, in addition to Twitter, that make up the collective we call ‘social media tools.’

I’m talking about the entire internet. This blog. Your comments and so much more.

The internet has given us a way to talk to each other. To listen to each other. To share. To create. To manipulate content.

If you’re a communications professional, for the love of God, don’t let Twitter cloud your vision of what social media really is.

Amazing list – best internet marketing posts by Tamar Weinberg

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Marketing

I love a good list.

Well I’ll be damned if the wonderful Tamar Weinberg hasn’t saved me an awful lot of work by curating the most delicious list of internet marketing posts from the past 12 months.

Apparently she makes this list every year.

It’s almost art.

If you’re looking for a diverse range of reading material (and one of my top tips for folks wishing to learn more about the social web is to READ A LOT) then this is an amazing place to start. In fact it may take you until 2011 to finish them all.

Prepare to be dazzled: The best internet marketing posts of 2009 by Tamar Weinberg