October 22, 2014

A Small Blogger’s Guide to Social Media Marketing

The biggest challenge for small bloggers is simply getting exposure to new readers. In many cases the quality of content is good enough to catch the attention of visitors, but first it needs to get the exposure and just simply be seen. Social media can provide tremendous exposure in a short amount of time (with little or no financial investment), but often new bloggers struggle to get results with social media.

Many of us see social media as the way to catch a big break and gain some ground on the leading blogs in our niche. However, you may have submitted your posts hoping for a rush of traffic only to see the front page of major social media sites controlled by the leading blogs.

Small bloggers are at a disadvantage, but with the right content and the right approach it’s very possible to get that exposure that you’re seeking. The top blogs already have a huge following, which gives them a natural audience that will generate a lot of votes for their content. This means they can achieve social media success by just publishing interesting content that readers like. On the other hand, a small blogger will have less readers to draw votes from, so there may need to be some optimization and marketing involved in order to make up for the smaller audience.

Here are some tips for small bloggers that want better results with social media:

1 – Target the right sites

Many bloggers who want exposure through social media go straight for Digg. Your content may or may not be a good fit for the Digg audience. Take the time to find the sites that are the best fit for you and your blog. Other social media sites may not send as much traffic, but you may have more success and the traffic may be higher quality.

StumbleUpon is generally a good source of traffic for just about any type of blog. Unlike Digg, SU is not an all-or-nothing deal. You may be able to get hundreds or even thousands of new visitors with just a few thumbs up. And SU has so many categories that almost any content is a good fit.

2 – Be an active user of your targeted sites

A-list bloggers really don’t have to participate in social media in order to get results, but most small bloggers are not so lucky (not yet at least). If you’re focusing on niche social media sites, you may have to submit your own content or it’s unlikely that anyone else will. Take time every day to visit, comment, and vote for other submissions and try to establish your presence at the social media site by providing relevant, interesting content.

3 – Study your targeted sites

Once you know which sites are a good fit for your blog, take the time to see what trends you notice as you visit every day. Study the content that does well and see what you can learn and apply to your own work. Not every social media site is the same, and different audiences have different likes and dislikes.

4 – Prioritize content development

For the small blogger that doesn’t have a large existing base of readers, your content quality is critical to your success with social media. With great content you can stand out, but it’s nearly impossible if you’re just providing average content as a small blogger. Whatever other ways you are spending your time, be sure to place content creation as a priority and save as much time as needed to come up with your best work.

5 – Take a different approach than the big blogs

If you look at the major social media sites and the type of content that gets exposure each day from major blogs, you’ll probably notice that a good percentage of it is news related (that partially depends on your niche). As a small blogger you really don’t have the resources to beat the biggest blogs at their own game, so don’t try to crack the front page by breaking news. Unless you happen to be available to break the latest news (which usually only happens for full-time journalists) you’ll be late to the party and it will be old news by the time you get it published. Old news won’t do well with social media.

So rather than trying to take the same angle as a major news blog, take your own unique and creative approach. Some types of posts that frequently work well for small bloggers are resource lists, well-written opinion pieces, humor, and videos or photos. Personally, I think resource lists are a great choice for new bloggers because they don’t require much knowledge, just some time and effort to do the research.

6 – Focus on quality over quantity

Most of the leading blogs pump out several posts per day. Again, don’t try to compete with them in this area. Instead, take the time that you need to create the best possible post. You’ll get much better results with social media if you publish 2 really strong posts in a week instead of 5 weaker posts.

7 – Make time for networking

I wrote last week about how bloggers can help their social media efforts with networking. Anyone involved with social media should take the time to really get to know some other users and start to build some relationships. Networking may not have a huge payoff immediately for a small blogger, but a few months down the road it can make your life much easier.

8 – Build an inner circle

Take your networking to the next level and find some other new bloggers who are in a similar situation as you. Look for others who are motivated and seem like they will be around for the long haul, and preferably in your niche. A strong core inner circle of your network can help you with much more than just social media marketing.

9 – Leverage smaller social media sites

When I was first getting started with social media sites I learned a powerful lesson that I have been using for almost a year now with very strong results. Various social media sites share users. Not many social media users are active at just one site. That means that with the right strategy and execution you can set up a domino effect that pushes traffic from one social media site to another. In other words, success with a smaller social media site may be able to help you achieve success with a larger social media site. In my opinion, too many bloggers are ignoring the smaller social media sites and they don’t recognize that the impact may be more than just the number of visitors sent directly.

10 – Work on building subscribers

Don’t stay small forever. Small blogs don’t have to be small blogs forever. The more loyal subscribers you gain, the smaller the gap that exists between the leading blogs and you. While gaining subscribers through social media is difficult, it’s far from impossible. Never lose focus of your long-term blogging goals, and don’t sacrifice subscribers in order to get some easy traffic from social media.

11 – Be consistent

The major blogs that have a strong presence on social media sites are, in most cases, publishing new content very consistently. While you don’t need to be on an exact schedule, you do need to make an effort to publish somewhat consistently. Small bloggers who take a few weeks off with no posts will lose any momentum that they had built.

12 – Take time for brainstorming

Earlier I said that content was critical to a small blogger’s success with social media. Well, part of creating top-notch content is coming up with the right ideas. Don’t just sit down at the computer and expect ideas to flow. Schedule some time to brainstorm ideas that will appeal to a social media audience and will help you to attract targeted visitors and new subscribers.

About Steven Snell

Steven is a web designer, blogger, and freelance writer.

14 comments

  1. Steven, let me congratulate you for this article. This is exactly the kind of thing that I’d recommend to all small bloggers — myself included.

    I totally agree with you when you say that resource lists are good for new bloggers. Targeting smaller social media sites is another important lesson. You’ve already written about it in several previous articles, but many bloggers still insist in targeting only the gigantic sites like Digg.

    Stumbled, sphunn and delicioused. ;)

  2. This is very useful for us being a new small blogger and finding our feet. So thanks for taking the time to do this blog.

  3. Great information for us smaller blogs! I think your overall theme was patience and diligence, which are the necessary ingredients for success in any facet of business.

  4. I agree with your post!..It is always important that you know what kind of audience or crowd you are trying to target..^^ anyways this is a great SMM guide..^^ it has been very helpful!

  5. In small bloggers mostly we have to publish the right content in a right approach to get through the social media success by just publishing interesting content to gain the attention of visitors.

  6. Vignesh,
    Content is without a doubt important, but as a small blogger thats not always enough. Sometimes you have to get people to see it or it won’t generate much attention on its own.

  7. I found this to be very good. I have already gone through and read many of your articles. They are great!

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