Social Media 101 – Launching your blog

So you decided to dip your toes into social media. Well done. You created a blog on your website to start conversations with your customers. That’s often the best way to start. And rest assured, you’re not the only one starting a blog. According to numberof.net, the number of bloggers in early 2009 was at least 133.000.000 and it will have grown dramatically since then. Interestingly, according to Technorati’s 2010 state of the blogosphere the majority of these bloggers are hobbyists and self employed people. Big opportunity for businesses to catch up on this.

blogs

There are plenty of blogs about blogs. With lots of tips about how to create and how to write them. This post is not about how to write your blog, but just in case you need some guidelines, this Blogpost Checklist is a handy guide of the basic things you have to do when writing your own blog.

One of the areas that doesn’t get as much attention, is how to launch your blog and how to get traffic to your blog. Isn’t this why we blog? To promote our thoughts and to direct people to our blog and associated pages. To share knowledge or to sell products or services. So based on my experiences of last week’s launch of my own blog, here’s my Social Media Marketing 101 – how to launch your blog.

1. Automatically post on other networks like twitter, linkedin and facebook.
Most likely you have used a blogging platform provider like WordPress or Blogger. There are many free blogging platforms but you have to make sure in your selection process that they offer adequate social media integration tools. One of the key tools is that they automatically integrate with key social media networks like Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin. You basically configure your site so that when you launch a new blog post, it automatically feeds into your other social media sites. A tweet will be generated about your post and your post will appear on the activity walls of Facebook and Linkedin. Obviously, this does require that you have a presence on these social networks.

2. RSS and subscriptions.
RSS stands for ‘Really Simple Syndication’. Many people describe it as a ‘news feed’ that you subscribe to. It is a technology that provides you with a method of getting relevant and up to date information sent to you for you to read in your own time. There are three important RSS things you need to do with your blog. First, Make sure a link to your RSS feed is available above the fold of your blog. Subscribers are the lifeblood of any successful blog. These people are often the ones providing you with regular comments. Second, Add subscribe links to the most popular newsreaders. Provide readers with above the fold access to some of the most popular newsreaders such as MyYahoo! and Google Reader. Thirdly, Offer an email version of your RSS feed. According to Copyblogger, offering an email version of your RSS feed can as much as double your subscribers. MailChimp is a great email marketing tool to turn your RSS feed into an email newsletter. Its free for lists below 1,000 subscribers.

3. Social Bookmarking.
Seed your best posts. Many readers are using social bookmarking sites every day. By seeding your best articles, and by using keywords as tags, you can bring readers to your site on a weekly basis. The best way to select the tags for your article is to think of social bookmarking sites as a form of search engine. By including both broad keywords and narrower keywords you are certain to get a blend of both low quality/high volume readers and high quality/low volume readers. The following is a list of the top bookmarking sites which you should submit your top articles to:

Digg: Mammoth traffic; tech-focused; savvy users
Delicious: Pretty big traffic; somewhat tech/design-focused; a lot of bloggers browse Delicious for “things to link to”
Netscape: Pretty big traffic; a mix of topics; less savvy users
Stumbleupon: Medium traffic; weird stuff/literary articles; normal users.
Yahoo MyWeb: Medium traffic; general interest; normal users
Reddit: Lower traffic; politics/random stuff; normal users.
Furl: Lower traffic; tech-focused/some random stuff; normal users

4. Link building.
Create as many external links to your site as possible. Today, success of your site is not only measured in page views, but also in links. How many sites link directly to your site? Here are a few tips:

Submit your blog to general web directories such as DMOZ and Aviva Directory
Leave your blog’s URL as your signature when you participate in forums
Put a link in your profile of your various social networks (Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter)
Use your URL in your email signature
Submit guest posts at other blogs

5. Get networked.
Finally, try to connect with your target community both online and offline. You need to make a name for yourself and make yourself valuable to the community. One way is to start commenting on the sites of community members within your niche. Its also good to start discussion groups on sites like Linkedin and Facebook. Update your blog regularly and include many links to other sites or videos in your blog posts. By putting a lot of outbound links in your posts to other blogs in your niche, you can start to raise your profile. When your readers click on those links your site will appear in the referrals list of the bloggers you link to. If you have something to give, give it away! Give people a reason to visit your site which goes beyond the typical content. Give away a free report, in PDF style, called “Top 10 secrets of Social Media Marketing” (watch this space ;-)).

Start building real relationships. Bloggers are real people. When you live in big cities, there will be plenty of opportunities to meet fellow bloggers face to face. Or start building personal relationships via email or chat. Networking (making friends) is maybe the single most important difference between an average and a successful blog.