10 December 2013

Beginner Blogger's Bootcamp: Week Eight: Navigating Social Media

The Beginner Blogger's Bootcamp is a series of posts published once a week on Monday evenings. It is designed for new bloggers, those thinking of starting a blog, or seasoned bloggers wanting a refresher, and covers everything from starting a blog to photographing your nails to using social media. Check out past posts in this series.

Hi bloggers! If you're interested, and haven't already done so, don't forget to check out the group critique launched last week. I'm so overwhelmed by the very positive response to this experiment and the many good things I've seen come out of this so far. There's still time to sign up, and if you've already signed up but haven't visited any blogs, don't forget to give feedback! There's still some blogs that haven't received any feedback.

Now on to this week's topic...social media. I definitely have a love/hate relationship when it comes to social media. On the one hand, it can be a great distraction, and I encounter lots of a talented bloggers and nail artists that I might not otherwise have found. On the other hand, it seems to be the necessary evil of blogging. In my experience, it takes a considerable amount of time to update each account and it is difficult to keep up with everything being posted and to separate the unique content from the noise.



The purpose of this post is to get you to think about how you use social media as a blogger, and how you might develop a social media strategy. By social media strategy I just mean a way to develop unique content across multiple social media platforms.



Why Use Social Media?

When it comes to the content posted by nail bloggers, a lot of the activity happens not on the blogs themselves but on social media. So much so, that Debbie of The Crumpet asked "Is Blogging Dead?" in a recent popular post. Despite the problems that go along with social media, there are many benefits for bloggers:

  • The ability to interact with other bloggers and like-minded individuals
  • The ability to easily update blog followers about new posts on your blog (many people use social media as a type of blog reader to keep up to date on posts for the blogs they follow)
  • To provide a behind-the-scenes look at your blog or just life in general
  • To get feedback or help on new projects or ideas


How Many Social Media Platforms Should You Use?

I think this is a personal question, one that will vary from blogger to blogger. Some bloggers are content to have just a Facebook account, while other bloggers must have an account with every major social media platform. In part this is due to a need to claim their name on each site.

For new bloggers I'm going to suggest starting slow and approaching social media in an organic manner. When you are starting out you might want to get a Facebook or Twitter account (notice I said or, not and), and get used to updating that. Then slowly add other social media accounts as you see fit. Updating each account can take time, so this way you avoid blogger burnout, which can result from doing too much too soon.


A Social Media Strategy

As bloggers stretch themselves across multiple social media platforms, I've noticed that the result isn't always an increase in content, but instead a repeat of the same content on different sites. For example, I recently signed up for Twitter after much internal debate. I've heard great things about Twitter, and as one of the most popular social media platforms out there I would be silly not to sign up, right!? Unfortunately what I've seen is that many people update Twitter automatically from other sites. So the Twitter feed seems to be a stream of people's Facebook and Instagram feeds, if that makes sense.

When I talk about developing a social media strategy I mean trying to present different content on each social media platform, in a way that makes use of the unique features of each one. Since many of us blog in addition to holding full-time jobs and/or family responsibilities, this can be a challenge, but I think it's important to tailor what you post to each social media site.

How do I develop a Social Media Strategy?


For example, Pinterest is a fantastic site for sharing photos from your blog, but it is also awesome for sharing images that inspire you, nail art designs you would like to try, and polishes on your wish list. Twitter is great for sharing quick ideas and thoughts and for interacting with larger brands and companies. Instagram is good for sharing photos of your manis that might not make it to your blog, or for sharing in-progress shots of your nail art designs. While Facebook is excellent for sharing albums of your nail art and interacting in different polish/blogger related groups.

Think about how you can use each site differently. Advertise this to your blog followers. This will also encourage them to follow you on different social media sites.


Which Social Media Sites Are For You?

Social media is such an exhaustive subject, and I can really only touch on the basics here. But I wanted to address each of the major sites and look at what is good about each one. This is not meant to be a basic introduction to each site, or instructions on how to set up an account. Instead I wanted to present some of my thoughts and perceptions on each site and how they can be used by the polish blogger.

Tumblr


I used Tumblr before I started this blog. And while I haven't updated my account in some time, I think it's a great platform for nail bloggers, especially nail artists. Tumblr is a form of micro-blogging, so it is good for posting pictures and very short text posts. You don't have to deal with comments, instead Tumblr users "like" or "reblog" your posts. A reblog means that a person posts your post on their blog. There are many Tumblr nail art blogs that reblog content from other sites - if your post is reblogged by a popular site (like Fuck Yeah Nail Art) it can result in a lot of traffic for your blog.

Also Tumblr has nail art editors who tag posts with a special nail art tag. This results in a very cool gallery of nail art from the Tumblr community. Getting your work tagged with the nail art tag can be fantastic for getting an increase in traffic and followers to your blog. It is also very easy to connect your Tumblr posts to your blog so you can drive your Tumblr traffic to your blog.

Instagram


Instagram is probably one of my favourite social media platforms when it comes to nails and nail art. There is so many talented swatchers and nail artists on IG that don't have blogs.

IG is great for posting swatches, nail art, and photos from your phone. I like to show a combination of photos from my blog and casual snapshots such as in-progress photos of my nail art, my everyday manicures that don't end up online, or pictures of my nail mail or stash.

It is a good idea when you are editing your blog photos to edit one or two photos specifically for IG, which requires a square format. Like any social media platform, inspirational nail art, clear swatches and shorter captions are key. Tagging your pictures with popular tags (#notd #nailart) can make it easier for people to find you. Like Tumblr, there are accounts devoted to sharing nail art, so learning about these accounts and what tags to use can make it easier to get your photos shared.

Twitter


I've already expressed my thoughts about Twitter. My issues with Twitter might be due to the fact that I have only recently started to use it. But my impression is that it is not where things are happening when it comes to polish and nail art. It is also very difficult to keep up with your Twitter feed, I find I have to be on it throughout the day or I miss stuff - which is impossible on days when I'm working. However, if you are interested in the latest fashions and trends, or interacting with brands and larger companies, Twitter might be a good place for you.

Facebook


Oh, good ol' Facebook. Since it is one of the most used social media sites ever, it is really hard to ignore. But recent changes have made it a very frustrating place for bloggers.

Facebook can be great for sharing photos, recent posts, or just posting your thoughts or ideas on a topic, making sure to keep it blog/polish related. However, many blogger have noticed a recent decrease in the interaction on their Facebook pages. Even though someone "likes" your page, they may not be getting all your updates. So I find Facebook can be really great because of the huge audience you can reach, but also frustrating because the nerds behind the platform are always changing whether or not people actually see the content that you post. And there seems to be a recent push to get users to pay for promoted posts. Sorry, no thank you!

Pinterest


Pinterest is another recent foray for me - my sister and I signed up for an account for Renaissance Cosmetics. However, I have reaped the benefits of Pinterest long before I signed up for an account. Pinterest is great for sharing nail art and swatch photos, not just your own but from other bloggers. And if a pin is popular and gets liked and pinned by other users, it can lead to lots of traffic for your blog. So even if you don't have a Pinterest account, make it easier for users to pin your photos by adding Pinterest buttons to your blog photos.


Final Thoughts

When it comes to Social Media I'm going to advocate a "do what works for you" approach. Having genuine interaction on fewer social media platforms is better than having very superficial interaction (or no interaction) on many platforms. Find what sites you like to use, and what brings traffic to your blog. Think about how you can use the distinct features of each site to your advantage to engage users on different site.

Let's Hear from You!


What social media do you like to use? And bloggers, I'd like to hear from you - what social media platforms bring the most traffic to your blog? Or what sites do you find the best in terms of engagement from blog followers? Any social media sites that should be added to this list?

---
See also:

14 comments:

  1. I'm a big fan of instagram and pinterest, those are definitely my two favorites. Facebook is useful but lately has been a bit of a pain in the butt. I still have yet to understand the use of twitter even though I have one haha!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lol! I'm glad to hear that I'm not the only one that finds Twitter confusing! I feel like bloggers in other niches love it, but nails, maybe not so much. :)

      Delete
  2. When I started my blog last year Tumblr was the first social media I created for my blog. I think Tumblr is really interesting because nail art designs I didn't always think were that good end up getting lots of notes, which suprises me. At the moment I'd say facebook isn't going that well, I only have a few likes and not much traffic comes from there. I've recently joined Instagram, and I really like it! It gives you more interaction with other bloggers and followers! I haven't ventured into twitter yet, but I'm still undecided if I should or not :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I also find that too about Tumblr - or about social media in general. Something might be very popular on one social media, but not another. It's interesting. Sounds like you have a lot to do, so if you don't feel the need to get on twitter, I would hold off. You can always sign up with an account so you have your name, just in case you want to use it later, but in the meantime set it to private.

      Delete
  3. Great post! I totally agree with having unique content for the various social media accounts. At the same time it is hard to strike the right balance of not being spread too thin... and fighting the urge to cross-post everything so the person who only follows you on Twitter doesn't "miss out".
    This is my current set-up:
    Google+ - basically just used to post updates from my blog, and what I give a +1 to around the web.
    Pinterest - I have a board for my own swatches, and one for tutorials that I make. Otherwise I use it to pin other people's nail art for future inspiration, and fashion find from around the web.
    Instagram - I love this! =P Recently created a separate account for my blog, and it houses unique "behind-the-scenes" content as well as the occassional picture from a blog update.
    Twitter - I do tweet my posts, Instagrams (for people without a smartphone), and some of my Pins, but also try to post mini updates... insanely hard to keep up with and seems to yield very little participation. I also use it to share sales, giveaways, and coupons.
    YouTube - I would like to use this more. Obviously unique content!

    I *don't* use Facebook. It's tempting to create an account, at least to claim the name, but I really have no desire to use it. Which kind of stinks. (I feel it is slightly over-promoted... there are a lot of giveaways out there that are only open to FB, for example.) But I would rather have participation/commenting ON MY BLOG. =P

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Rochelle!! Thanks so much for sharing your social media strategy, this is very helpful. I'll admit this is still something I am trying to work on, so it's good to hear what other people do.

      I agree that it can be good to cross-post so that people following you on one platform doesn't miss out on other content, that is actually very reasonable. However, my criticism is when people do it more out of convenience than anything else. So they can look like they're there, when they're not (if that makes sense).

      Delete
  4. You don't mention Google + in the post. What is your thoughts about that? I do honestly don't like it very much.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good question - I am not a fan of Google+. I have no interest in it whatsoever, which is why I didn't mention it. In terms of a social media platform, I don't think it has anything to offer that other platforms don't already offer. It seems like most bloggers are pretty apathetic about Google+ which makes it a very boring place to hang out. Also I just don't like the look of it. Sounds weird but I like my social media sites to be at least somewhat nice looking! However, I'm willing to change my opinion if someone wants to let me know about the awesomeness of Google+!! :)

      Delete
  5. I was late to the party when it comes to social media. I started a Twitter because I was told I should if I have a blog but I honestly never use it. The three social media sites that had the most impact for me have been Pinterest, Instagram and recently Tumblr (which I only just started posting on but have gotten a decent response from) You are right- it can be overwhelming and I attempting to focus more on posting unique thing on Tumblr vs. Instagram vs my blog.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's good to hear that those three are working for you! Although it's only three accounts (compared to some bloggers which are spread amongst many more) I know that it's still a lot of work. I've been thinking about adding a Pinterest for my blog, but I think that would be just too much. :)

      Delete
  6. I never thought about having different contents for different social media, but it so makes sense and can actually make my blogging life easier. I already use my social media for specific things, but I can make that difference clearer, better defined. I use Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Sorta. I don't like Twitter and I mostly use it to tweet about giveaways and my latest posts. I don't interact with people through Twitter, but it is actually a quick way to get in touch with them and ask direct questions or comment on whatever. I use my Facebook page to share links to my latest posts, but I also share information about nail polish related sales because it is a quick way to inform my readers about local special offers. Today I found another use for my Facebook page - I can use it to post answers to tag posts. I don't like to do tag posts and never do them on my blog, but I can use Facebook for those. And for polls too. If anyone can see them :D I use Instagram to share my latest posts and manis, but it is also a glimpse behind the curtains, a glance into my private life too, which I learned our readers really want to know about.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Another extremely helpful post (a topic I had requested back in the beginning - so I'm a little biased :))! Thanks for all of the great ideas. I have got my toes in the water so far with a few social media accounts: Google + (because I had people asking for it! Wowsers!), Pinterest (which I am loving from both the time aspect, it's quick, and the value to me of having things book-marked easily; but also an established blogger offered to post some of my photos to get me traffic and it was very successful), and grudgingly Facebook (again, people asked - I have a personal crankiness toward Facebook for many reasons...but I bit the bullet for some followers and to maybe join a nail-art group or two). I am interested in Instagram...but am taking things slowly. I've heard of people using Twitter as their commenting system (shutting down commenting on their blog because of issues and/or not many comments) and they like it. Just thought I'd share that. Personally, if I do Twitter, it will be a ways down the road for me. I'm working on using each media outlet for "extra" content to help build my "brand"....so much to learn; and so thankful for all of your help with that!!!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Hi Meghan,

    Thank you so much for another informative post. I definitely agree with your point on starting slow to avoid being overwhelmed. I signed up to just about all the major social media platforms out there when I started my nail journey back this summer and to this day, still mostly use Instagram. I’m getting better at updating Pinterest and FB but find that it’s so hard for me to gain exposure on them. I’m not sure if I’m doing something wrong? Getting traffic to my blog is really difficult too. I’m only beginning to learn to get over my shyness and to comment more on my favorite blogs. Hopefully that would help. Thanks again for providing a welcoming forum on your blog! :D

    ReplyDelete
  9. Great post! I've tried out a lot of different platforms. I have a lot of accounts right now, and I saw this post at a perfect time, as I'm trying to decide where I want to move forward with each. It does get overwhelming and boring when you have several to update. I do like the idea of having different uses for each, so it doesn't become repetitive! This was very very helpful! Thank you! :)

    ReplyDelete

Thank you for taking the time to comment on my blog. I really do appreciate every comment and read all of them. <3 Also, I try as much as possible to respond to comments, especially if you have a question, so please check back.

Please do not use comments for spam or to leave links. Those comments will be removed. If you would like me to check out your blog, please email me and I would be happy to do so. :)

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...