Remember the good old days when all a blogger had to do was write a post and the world would come rushing to read it? No? Me either. Despite that, new bloggers always start out with the belief that their words will be so inspiring, so epic, that they’ll be beating traffic back within a week and making piles of cash two weeks later. They dream of living the good life in this beautiful land of milk and honey.

Then, to their dismay, six months later, they desperately look at their analytics for the millionth time only to find their website is still showing very little or no traffic. Imagine throwing a grand party where no one shows up. That’s the same type of rejection most will feel when they see the dismal traffic they are receiving, and many will give up at that point, if they haven’t done so already.

A few smart – or stubborn – souls will have finally realized that no matter how amazing their content is, they have to spend the time to promote and market it and words such as “social networks, social sharing, and social discovery” will permeate the research they do.

Each market is unique, but there are seven social sites that every brand or blogger should be active on, if they hope to boost traffic to their site. Each of these sites belong to one of the three types mentioned above; social networking sites, social sharing sites, and social discovery sites.

Social Networking Sites

I doubt you need to be told that social networking has changed the way people communicate these days. Even those who resist technology the most have at least heard of Facebook, and with its 955 million monthly active users and 552 million daily active users (Source), it’s obvious that we’ve crossed a line in communication. The days of calling someone on the phone, or even sending SMS texts, are giving way to mass communication via social networking sites. In addition, people aren’t just communicating differently now; they are also consuming content differently. We get breaking news and information about new products and other updates via Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus, to only name a few.

You, as a blogger, need to be active and present on these social sites. This is where your readers are. At Level343, we like to make sure our clients are involved in each social networking site that makes sense for their business. That may also include keeping track of mentions via Google alerts, using tools such as Hootsuite with lists, and following relevant hash tags.

So which social networking sites are essential for almost every blogger? There’s really no surprise here. The big three are:

Twitter – Twitter is a great platform to share your content and with a plethora of Twitter plug-ins that are readily available to use on your website, it’s dead easy to do so. Adding a Twitter button to your site is a simple and effective way to make it easy for your readers to share your content with their friends and family by retweeting your post. Of course, you should be careful to respect your Twitter followers’ time. Don’t bombard your readers with multiple or repetitive tweets, as there is nothing more annoying than to see the same exactly-worded post filling up a tweet stream over and over again. For more tips on using Twitter effectively, see our Get Started with Twitter Guidelines post.

Facebook – With nearly one billion registered users, Facebook has proven itself to be the big gorilla of social networking. While most users enjoy looking at pictures and sharing status updates, many are also reading and sharing news and blog articles. You can’t afford to overlook this opportunity to connect with people who might find your content interesting enough to share it with their network of Facebook friends.

In addition to your personal Facebook page, you should also create a “fan” page for your brand. Like Twitter, there are a number of Facebook plug-ins available to place on your blog to make it easy for your readers to share your content.

The key to using Facebook effectively is to interact with the users who “Like” your page. Simply posting links to each of your blog posts won’t help your marketing efforts, either directly on Facebook, or on Google. (Google says they don’t include social shares directly in their algorithm, but there is no doubt that generating social shares is good for your SEO efforts). Be sure to post photos, ask questions, interact on a personal level, and most importantly – focus on the fans more than you focus on your brand.

Google Plus – Google Plus is not as popular as either Facebook or Twitter, but it is growing fast. The biggest benefit of posting on Google Plus is your content will be indexed by Google and is more likely to be highly ranked in search results. Of course, you can easily add a “plus” button on your site for your visitors who use Google Plus to share your content and give it a “plus”, which is similar to a “like” on Facebook. You should apply the same types of etiquette and engagement tips that you’ve learned from using Twitter and Facebook to Google Plus as well. Don’t overwhelm your circles with repetitive “me me me” content. Focus on engaging with your followers and their needs instead of lounging in the “it’s all about me” narcissistic pool that is rampant in many bloggers’ and brands’ social experiments.

Social Discovery Sites

StumbleUpon – The oft-forgotten StumbleUpon is a discovery engine that finds and recommends web content to its users. Users are able to discover, rate and share content they find informative and interesting to their own networks. Adding a “stumble” button to your site is as easy as adding other social buttons. Then, add the StumbleUpon Toolbar to your favorite browser, so you can share sites with other users. The toolbar is available for Firefox, Google Chrome, Opera and Safari web browsers. Once again, you shouldn’t focus on only sharing your own content, as this will quickly come across as spamming. However, with some estimates showing StumbleUpon driving over 50% of social media traffic in the United States (Source), this is a site that you should pay attention to.

Users specify their interests, and StumbleUpon then sends each user to site pages that match those interests, using the community’s aggregated recommendations for each page. By participating in the groups that match your niche, your content has the potential to be recommended and distributed throughout the large network of like-minded people.

Social Sharing Niche Sites

Pinterest – Launching in 2011, Pinterest is one of the fastest growing social sharing sites. If your content includes a lot of images or photos, this is a site you’ll want to be active on. You can create your own pin board and share your content easily to your network. Adding a “Pin-It” button to your site will help your readers easily share your content to their networks as well. Content posted for the purpose of generating re-pins won’t get shared if it’s boring, spammy, or unoriginal. The key is to create original content that has broad appeal to be shared amongst a wide range of users.

YouTube – There are 800 million unique visitors each month to YouTube. If your content is video based, YouTube is a must-do. You can easily upload videos to YouTube and then embed them on your site. Since YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world (Google is number one,) your videos have the potential to spread quickly and gain significant exposure for your product or website. Users can also interact with your content by leaving a comment, liking and sharing your videos on their favorite social networking sites.

LinkedIn – You may wonder why Linkedin is included here. LinkedIn is a professional network that has over 175 million members and growing. The beauty of this platform is that it allows members to exchange ideas and knowledge as well as providing a great networking platform. You can add your blog’s URL to your profile as well as share links from your website or blog to your professional connections.

Does this sound like a lot of work?

Don’t worry, it’s not just you. If this sounds like a lot of work, that’s because it is. The alternative, however, is to keep doing what you’ve been doing, which will lead you to continually staring at your miserable web stats that show zero visitors. We know it’s difficult to create great content and participate in the dizzying array of social sites where your users demand your presence. Experience and a judicious use of tools will go a long way towards keeping these tasks from becoming overwhelming. The sooner you begin, the sooner you’ll gain the experience you need. If you realize that there’s just not enough time to learn and manage all of the social responsibilities you’re now faced with, get in touch! We’ll show you how we can help.

In the meantime, don’t forget to practice these basic principles of social media management:

  • Create and share only useful and well written content.
  • Engage with your readers through your blog and the social sites they are active on.
  • Reciprocate with other bloggers in your network, share, like and comment on other blogs and websites to build relationships.

Did we miss anything? Anything to add? We’d love to hear from you.

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