Beginners Guide to Social Media

Social media can be confusing. Below is an extract we found recently from Christian Media Magazine, that provides one of the best summaries we’ve found online.

Social-mediaSocial media is a great way to effectively get your message out as quick as possible to the masses and focus on the next big thing. Some of my most popular posts are about social media, so I am taking notice that more people are interested in increasing their online presence.

It also happens more often than ever before that someone asks me about social media and where to start, so I wanted to share how I started with social media and grew it to where it is today. It eventually became beneficial for me as an individual, but whether you are an individual or a business, you can use these ideas to form your own social media plan.

1. WordPress Blog

When I first began blogging, I was just trying to find the right platform to use to get my posts to my few readers. I experimented with xanga, blogger, wordpress.com, notepad, posterous and tumblr. I used all of these different sites over the course of two years, before I realized that I needed to switch to a self-hosted blog.

Doing this opens up the most potential for you as a blog publisher. Full customization, a custom domain name, and built in code for the best SEO options is probably enough to sell this to you. Because of these few things alone, I will be the first to recommend a self-hosted WordPress blog to you. I don’t want to confuse you.- You need a self-hosted wordpress.org blog, not a free wordpress.com blog [although the later is still useful and recommended.]

Also, you will need to set up Google Analytics for your blog. This in-depth site will show you everything you need to know about your audience. It will tell you who your audience is and when they are visiting, what sites are directing traffic to your website and what posts are doing well.

Once you have setup your new blog, you can begin sending your readers to one place where you write all of your in-depth posts. Find specific subjects that you want to write about and make that clear to your readers through publishing an About Page and link to it on your other social media sites. The sooner that you introduce yourself to readers, the better. People want to know you as a blogger and they also want to know what they are getting into upon arriving on your blog.

Some other things to think about here is post length and using attention grabbing photos and blog titles. As far as post length, my experience is that most times readers like shorter posts. I have even had readers tell me that they appreciated shorter posts over my longer posts because they didn’t have much time in their day to read longer posts. Whatever the length of your posts are, make sure to get your point across and have something for your readers to walk away with from your posts.

Blog titles are really important as well. A great blog title can be the difference between 100 readers and 10,000 readers. Focus your time and energy to construct an enticing title and see what a difference it makes.

I believe that this is a great start to developing your new, self-hosted blog. The best thing to do with this information is to find what works best for you and your audience. Maybe your audience likes longer posts versus shorter posts, but as a blogger, you can ask the right questions, get the responses that you need and make the necessary changes to make your blog better.

Next, we will discuss how to use twitter to it’s fullest potential.

2. Twitter

Besides direct traffic and search engine traffic, twitter is my top traffic directing social media site. I have had significant benefits come from using twitter and here is why… People want content quickly. This can even tie into what we talked about with blogs.- The more times that you offer quality content quickly, the better. With twitter limiting you to 140 characters, you are made to get straight to the point. Know what you want to communicate to your followers and communicate it effectively. If you can’t communicate what you need to with just twitter, this is where you can use your blog to take things further. This is why it is important to now have a blog, because twitter fits in to your social media plan better as a traffic director to send your readers to the sites that you need to. Use a link shortener for your longer URLs to take up less characters and you will have more room for that attention-grabbing title in your tweets.

Some tools for twitter that I have found useful are Tweet Grader and Tweepi. Tweet grader organizes users through a grade and different lists. So, you can see where you are by your ranking out of all of their users on tweet grader. You can also be more specific and look at the area that you live in and see how you are doing there, too. The other site, Tweepi, lets you sort through your followers and who you are following as well to help manage your twitter network.

I hope this information on twitter has been helpful. Next, we will talk about the site that everyone is on, Facebook.

3. Facebook

I will be the first to tell you that I am not a Facebook expert by any means. When I need assistance with Facebook, I read what others have already published. I am learning more about it everyday, but here is what I do know…

Facebook was created to keep all of your content in one place and to help you stalk your friends. But as you know, it has become much bigger than that.  You can use it post updates, micro blog and store photos all on one site. While not many people use it to blog on, it is nice for everyone to be able to go to one spot for your information. But not only has it become a useful tool for individuals, it has become a massive marketing tool for businesses as well. Mashable has created a Facebook Guide Book that thoroughly explains how you can use Facebook to it’s full advantage. If you want to know more about Facebook, I would fully recommend that tool from Mashable as the one to read. I can guarantee that you will learn something from it.

Next up is the largest photo taking network of people out there, Instagram.

4. Instagram

Instagram has more than 100 million users, so it is definitely a great tool to use to reach more people. It is the site that I found traction with because people want visual updates. And now that they have added video to the mix, it is even better. I was using Vine, but with Instagram holding both photos and video now, I would rather not use and have to keep up with another media site. If you are new to social media, you are probably quickly finding that there are too many social media sites out there already. And as we have discussed before, focus brings better results.

Here is a great resource for any Instagram user because It has the most used hashtags(#) from users at a given time. You should use hashtags because they help more people find your photos. My other tips to you would be to post photos that are different from others, pinpoint your location, so it makes it easier for those around you to find you and follow you and find new faces to follow.

Next we will talk about Google+, which has actually surprised me on how big it has become.

5. Google+

Google+ is now the second largest social networking site out there as far as active users go. I use Google+ for the sole reason that Google, the world’s largest search engine, runs this networking site. Once you start using Google+ and setup your profile, sync up Google+ authorship. This will actually show up in Google+ search rankings and help your readers find your work. Performing this small step will boost your content tremendously.  This is one of my favorite Google+ guides, which is written by Ronnie Bincer. It is very informative for any new person that is using Google+ and will help you use the site to it’s maximum capabilities.

And last but not least, we will talk about Pinterest.

6. Pinterest

Pinterest is driving a lot of traffic now as well, but for bloggers can be the most difficult site to figure out how to use effectively. At least this was the case for me. Once I found this guide over at Problogger, Pinterest began making more sense to me. Even if you don’t write a lot of “How to’s”, “Craft” or “Photo” posts on your blog, you can still use Pinterest well. Use the guide from problogger.net to form how you plan to use Pinterest to draw people in through this exploding social media site. It is more popular than ever, so you should use it to your advantage.

A great social networking tool that shows you where you stand with your social media networks is Klout. It shows you where you are on your different media sites by using a number from 1-100 to rate you on your social media presence. It goes more in-depth and shows you the different interactions you have had on all of your linked networks, too. A very useful site for you who want to see where you are doing well and where you can improve. Klout also helps you remember that each social media site is different and shows you how people interact differently as well.

Check out these social media posts to help you discover what works for you as a blogger, too.

I hope you have learned something from this post on how to use each social media network that is available to you. The main thing is to not get overwhelmed with all that is out there. You may need to start small and eventually add sites later on, as it is better to use what you have well, instead of spreading yourself too thin.

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