Tracy S. Morris

Quirky Mysteries, Screwball Fantasy and Sassy History

Monday Musing: Blogging For Fun and Profit Part 4: The Dos and Don’ts of Social Media

Written By: Tracy - May• 16•11

Congratulations! You settled on a topic and a plan for your blog, chose between self-hosting and letting a company host your blog and set it up on a blogging platform. The next step is to start publicizing your page.

Drumming up publicity for your blog can be a confusing step. There are literally hundreds, if not thousands of things that you can do to attract attention. Some of them are great ideas and they work well. Others are the internet equivalent of sticking a flyer on a telephone post. The most difficult part of this process is knowing what works and what is a waste of time.

The most important thing to remember is that promoting a blog is like climbing a mountain: there is no one right way to the top. Some paths will get you there faster than others. But as long as you are moving in the right direction, you will eventually get there.

The first thing you need to do is consistently produce good content. I covered this a bit in my post on making a plan. Your readers visit your blog because it is interesting and entertaining. In order to keep producing work that will keep your readers coming back, treat your blog like another job. Decide in advance what topic you will post on and how often you will post. Then stick to that schedule. Readers will continue to check in when they know you are providing the content that they want and when they know that you are providing it on a regular schedule. For example, the webcomic Girl Genius produces new content every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. The comic is always updated without fail at midnight on those days. The creators kept to this schedule even when their regular colorist was sidelined due to health challenges. But what good is quality content if no one knows about it? This is where publicity comes in. Your first step in publicizing your blog is to leverage social media sites.

Social Media Sites

If you are using Livejournal, the social media aspect of your website will allow other Livejournal users to check in on your work on a regular basis. You can leverage social networking websites in similar ways. For my web magazine Eden’s Container, I am active on a social network for gardeners called Blotanical. This is one way that I reach people who garden, which is my target audience. If you aren’t a gardener, this social network has no value. But for the specific gardening target audience, it is valuable. Social Network communities such as the type found on Livejournal or Facebook are handy for reaching audiences with specific interests.

If you haven’t already, consider creating a fan page through Facebook for your work as an author. When you update your blog, have the blog content automatically post to your Facebook fan page using a program called Networked Blogs. (If you look at the bottom of my page to the right and you will see the button to follow my Networked Blogs account). If you just use your personal Facebook page, you won’t need Networked blogs. But if you have multiple pages (One for each pen name and one for each book series) then Networked Blogs will help by linking specific blogs to specific pages and twitter accounts).

You should also consider creating a Twitter account if you don’t already have one. Once you do, Networked Blogs will automatically make a post into Twitter that will notify your followers that you have made a post on your blog, and will link it to your Twitter page. (There are other programs that are also helpful, but I prefer Networked Blogs for the same reasons that I prefer it for Facebook, because I have a separate Twitter for me, and one for my web magazine on gardening).

Also, don’t forget to put a link on your website telling your readers where to find you on Facebook and Twitter. This way, if they don’t always check your website, they can still keep up with you on the social networking site of choice. The name of the game is making things as easy for your potential readers as possible.

You can evaluate additional social networking programs based on how useful they are to your purpose. For a while, I used Myspace, but I abandoned it long before it officially announced that it was restructuring because I didn’t find many fans on the website. I’m told that bands and singles used it more than writers. Similarly, I don’t participate in Tumblr, but I am told that many comic book fans find it useful. I should mention that Goodreads is useful because my target audience of actual readers are there.

Social Media Faux Pas

Social Media is useful for letting your fans know you are out there. But you should never fall into the trap of only sending out notices to your websites. This is one way to make sure that no one pays attention to you.

Think of social media as being at the world’s largest dinner party. Do you pay attention to the “me monster” in the corner? The self-absorbed guy or girl who only talks about themselves? If you are just sending out notices through your twitter or facebook, you have become the social media equivalent of that guy or gal.

Instead, you must participate in the great virtual cocktail party small talk. Do this by visiting other sites, commenting on posts, and liking other people’s posts and work. The best readers that I have are my friends who just happen to pick up my work because they think “I like Tracy as a person. She’s funny. I bet that her work is fun too.”You can also link your Twitter and Facebook accounts so that your Twitter update literally becomes your Facebook Status update.

If you don’t have time to log on to Twitter several times daily and update your account, you can think of several posts in advance and post them using programs such as Hootsuite. Although you won’t be able to participate in back-and-forth dialog using this method of posting. This is at least a good way to keep from sounding “spammy” by only posting with constant e-updates about your blog.

The landscape of social media is changing constantly. In 5 minutes, this post may be dated. The point is to keep up to date on what’s current and dive in. Next Monday, I’ll discuss some of the other ways to promote your blog in addition to social media.

Standard song and dance: I have a book series. It has nothing to do with blogging, but it puts food on the table. If you want to read a series of gonzo southern mysteries, check them out in print at Yard Dog Press , or in eBook format through Baen Books.

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One Comment

  1. Another great post with lots of useful information. You’re absolutely right; you’ve got to treat your blog and the general maintenance of your website like it’s a job, with deadlines and quality control. In that sense, the social media component is just as much part of your professional work, although it feels more like fun. Regularly following and commenting on other writer’s sites doesn’t just make and strengthen connections; you can learn a great deal about what people are interested in, and get ideas for what to write about yourself.