Blogging networks are a delicate ecosystem between content, curation and promotion. How they generate and redirect traffic is a major business driver.
Blogs, whether personal portfolio sites, niche platforms or major content curators, do not exist in a vacuum. The core of their existence is readership, and to obtain readers your content needs to be brought to the attention to as large as possible a potential audience. I will now go through the basics of setting up a working blog ecosystem or “social media map” for yourself, which can make sure your name gets out and reaches the people where it helps your reputation the most.
As I am planning to put up a big update on my blog in the coming months, I thought I’d put up a summary post on how to select and map out your ecosystem.
Analyzing Your Needs
The first step in creating your network is analyzing what you will need to benefit your blog. If you are running a pure portfolio blog, it means you will have very few updates, but want to spread it to a lot of professional site. If you have a personal blog your update rate is higher, but you will be less focused on what audience you attract. A niche blog about a specific topic will require you to identify and target readers of those topics.
Either way you will be needing the following services:
- Your Content (A blog, portfolio or personal page)
- A URL shortner (for ease of sharing and tracking)
- An Engagement platform (for speaking with your audience outside comments on your posts)
- An Announcer platform (for spreading your posts and increasing readership)
- A Reputation platform (for building credibility and getting your name out there)
In addition, you are going to want to have a good idea of your (potential) audience so you can make solid choices on which platforms you would get additional readership or customers from.
Linking and Link Shortening
A URL shortner will create a short link that is easy to share and remember. As an added benefits, these services can also track who clicked on your link and feed you all manner of information on your prospective audience. This can work in tandem with your blog analytics to show you exactly what kind of audience you are working with, and give you ideas on how to spread your reach even further.
I personally use bit.ly for my URL shortening, but there are quite a few to choose from. If you target mainly through Twitter and Facebook, they have their own inbuilt link shortners for posts and long links. However, you won’t be able to proactively use them – only when sharing through their platforms will those short-form links be applied. I am not sure if using goo.gl, the system Google uses, will improve your SEO and ranking, but at the very least it will be optimized for their search engines.
When you post content, people can respond to it by liking it, sharing it, or commenting on it. Those are great interactions but aren’t always 1 on 1, and it’s linked to that specific post. It’s harder to get to know your audience and be a real person. Finding a platform where you can interact with and hang out with your audience will be much more meaningful.
For professionals, Linkedin is the engagement platform of choice. Groups, articles, status updates – it’s all there. On Facebook this is much the same, but for a much more relaxed, regular-joe audience. If you’re focusing on professionals in German-speaking languages go for Xing. And there are hundreds of social engagement sites for Chinese and Russian audiences. So find out where your audience nestles, build an account and link it up to your blog or portfolio.
When you write a new post, you want the world to hear. That means you want to get your message out there, and that requires an announcer. Not just to send it onto the internet, but for your audience to spread it and potentially get you new readership. Twitter is great for the short messages, and getting a large following can be easy if you fall into an easy-to-market section. However, if you’re targeting business professionals you will have a hard time. They aren’t going to follow your Tweets unless you give them real business value – and that’s hard to prove with Twitter’s short-form.
But fortunately Linkedin and Facebook also work well as Announcer platforms. For Linkedin this means posting it as a status update, which means having a large network already, or placing it in your groups (where it has to meet the groups’ topic standards). For Facebook I would suggest making a page for your blog (like I’ve done for Smörgåsjobb) and using it to send the updates from rather than your regular account. If you are blogging under your own name and about your own life, feel free to skip that step.
Here’s where your options are getting tricky. Reputation is hard to build up – you need to prove you know your business, get your name out there, and cross-pollinate platforms. How you do that will depend on your subject matter and is highly subjective. If you know a lot of things and want to be known for that, try answering questions in a specific topic on Answers or Quora. If you want to show that you have knowledge on topics just a bit South of your regular posts, try and turn them into hubs at Hubpages. And once you feel you’ve got what it takes you could even start writing articles for Forbes.
Video can add a lot to your cred, whether as mostly-animated infographics explaining complicated topics, or as a self-interview style explanation against a green screen. For those purposes, sites like Vimeo and Youtube will serve double-duty as reputation, engagement and earning platforms, all at once.
All of this serves but one purpose and that is to validate your credibility. If you run a niche blog or are running on personal credit (like an entrepreneur or consultant) then you need to show the world you’ve got what it takes and you’re not afraid to get noticed.
Building your Social Media Map
Once you’ve taken inventory of all of that, it’s time to set up the visual map of how that all comes together. I found that it’s easiest to just work with a blank sheet of paper and some pencils. Put a big circle in the middle with your blog name. From there, put up circles with each of the platforms you’ve chosen.
If they link directly to each other, connect them with a line, an arrow pointing at where the link goes. If they link back to each other, obviously, it’s a double arrow. Use a dashed or dotted line to make where it’s simple one-way announcing (like sharing your posts on twitter).
Now look at the result and consider the following:
- Do I have more than one way of spreading the news I made a new post?
- Do my engagement and announcement platforms reach the same audience?
- Do I have too many platforms? You will get overworked – try and focus on a few, you can always add more later
This map will help you to keep your posting under control. Don’t try and engage with your audience on Twitter if you’re only using it to send out links. Don’t post your links on Linkedin if you’ve got no audience there. Don’t try and build credibility on platforms that will never link back to your blog.
Building an ecosystem for your blog is not just about SEO, monetization and self-importance. It’s a valuable tool to make sure you spend your time wisely, reach the audience you want and not get bogged down trying to engage on a dozen platforms at once. Whether you are a professional trying to get their portfolio out to potential customers, a blogger desiring a larger readership, or a vlogger seeking to expand out their audience, building and visualizing your interactions will lead to less time spent on achieving more.