Reality check: how many of you consider blogging as a form of social media? [Infographic]

If you thought that blogging was different from social media, it’s time to think again.

Did you know that blogging is a form of social media?

And here’s some code you could paste into your own posts (via the text mode) if you want to share this Infographic with your readers.

It’s not just about writing

Successful blogs converse with their readers, just like you would do on social media (if you’re using it correctly, of course!).

That may sound a little harsh, but I see plenty of unknowing businesses use both blogging and social media as marketing tools, as somewhere to advertise their services or products. They think a blog is a vehicle to showcase their business’s wares and social media is another place to publicise the links back to their blog.

For years I thought this was what you should do. So don’t be too hard on those who have yet to understand what social media is all about.

I wanted to know what it was that made successful bloggers and businesses successful, so I lurked, listened, watched and read until I got it!

Make sure it’s relevant

You can always spot when a copywriter is trying too hard. They miss the point. They waste the most important part of the post, the first 100 words, with total drivel that has no relationship or representation with the remainder of the post.

For example, one young, inspirational marketing chap likened writing blog posts to missing socks and black holes. What the…? Sorry, but I can’t find any connection there. And I also can’t see how his readers are going to appreciate him talking about his laundry or his sky-at-night activities in relation to the subject of blogging.

You can be conversational without being an idiot. Maybe I just don’t get the sock and space thing, being a middle aged woman and not a 20-something male. But surely there are other ways of gaining your reader’s attention?

Record your conversation

In the Infographic above I referred to your post as a transcription of your conversation with your ideal reader. For years I have talked to myself in mirrors, or driving home from events in my car. Yes, I know the men in white coats are just waiting in the wings for a chance to pounce and wheel me away. But these antics have held me in good stead when it comes to writing posts.

I type what I hear in my head. I am actually talking to you now through my fingers on the keyboard (yes, all of them!). It is important for me to type in silence, and not have distracting noises in my vicinity. Otherwise I won’t be able to hear the conversation generated by my brain. And over the years I have learned to type fast enough to accommodate my train of thought as it materialises.

This is because I have noticed the bloggers who do have a large audience write their posts in the same vein. They talk to their readers. They focus on their readers’ desires, deliver what they want, make an effort to position themselves in their readers’ shoes.

These bloggers are aware of the WIIFT (what’s in it for them) scenario, and produce their content accordingly. If there is any reference to themselves, it is produced in a way their readers can relate to it, imagine themselves in the same situation, appreciate the human element of sharing a story.

Similar to socialising

If you want to see good examples of writing conversations, then look no further than on social media. The space constraints either forces or induces people to ‘speak’ in their updates (I have yet to work out which one is applicable). And this ‘speaking’ thing is so attractive, it generates a similar response using the same style.

Nobody appreciates a bore. Those with awkward social skills do less well in parties. Whereas garrulous people tend to be popular, especially if they are entertaining and worth listening to.

But we know it is a skill to say stuff that people like and want to hear. Some of us may never master it properly. Some may become more successful through writing rather than verbally expressing themselves. But whatever system is best for you, it needs to be incorporated into how your write your posts.

And it doesn’t have to be writing, either. One hypnotherapist lamented to me that she found writing in her blog was becoming increasingly difficult. I quickly analysed what it was that made her popular: her lovely Scottish burr and her natural way of talking. It was obvious she needed to adapt her blog into an audio one. A quick explanation in how to create podcasts resulted in a fabulous series of recordings and several new clients to boot.

Eliminate the boredom

Many a time have I started to read a blog post, only to be put off by the boringness of the writing. It may have contained the most fabulous content, but I never got that far.

Blog posts that drone on, either in a jargonised corporate style, or with longwinded sentences, never do anyone any favours. In today’s world readers don’t have time to sit through a thesis, they want immediate impact. They will respond better to being hit between the eyes with the subject, solution, sensational statement or whatever. Don’t make them search for what they are looking for.

Think about the kind of words you are using. Would they be what you would normally use when talking to someone? Remember to include explanations for anything difficult that you would do for someone who doesn’t understand your subject well. Never assume every reader is at your intellectual level. But you don’t want to put them off. You never know who they are and what they might do to help you, once they have properly understood what you are writing about.

Also are your sentences constructed in a way that resembles natural speaking? This is not easy to do, hence why I suggest having a conversation inside your head and then transposing it onto the page. You may have to abandon what you have been taught in your English grammar lessons at school. Speaking is not the same as essay writing.

Social media restraint

Social media doesn’t offer much room in their updates. Therefore what you write in them tends to be short. And conversation is also comprised of short sentences. Plus you repeat many words, rather than making an effort to find a different one that has the same meaning.

It is the ping-pong style that can be attractive. The to-ing and fro-ing of a repartee. There is no reason why you can’t replicate this within your posts. Even if it is one-sided – you need to imagine the kind of responses you will get, and incorporate this into what you write.

Social media can be seen as restricting for some writers. It’s much easier to create a blog post rather to limit yourself to 140 characters. Actually one of the things about tweeting my mother loved so much was being forced to condense what she was going to say into a short, punchy missive. And I find this an exciting challenge too. But unfortunately you can’t fit all of your blog post into a single tweet.

The answer is to use social media to provide amuse-bouche for your potential readers. Tantalising tasters of your blog post to stimulate curiosity, desire and a must-have scenario. Perfect for short communication. Ideal for short attention spans. Great for practising your attention-grabbing tactics.

Use social media as a lever

Social media and blogging go hand in hand through conversation. But they also can collaborate together to drive more readers back to your blog.

This involves setting up the means to attract, entice and persuade your social media followers to click on a link to your latest blog post. Either write a headline for the post that is so wonderful it cannot be ignored, or instigate an introduction or discussion around the post’s subject. The former is attraction, and therefore instantaneous; the latter is social interaction, and requires some work from you.

I nearly put an image in my Infographic that would have been a pile of dung. Nearly. I was tempted. This stems from the phrase ‘dump and leave’, which is often seen as a result of automated RSS systems of sharing posts on social media, or by the uninformed that don’t understand the power of engagement.

Conversations make the world go round. They are also good at stimulating persuasion. A cold statement will generate very little results. You need to ‘warm up’ your readers, get them on your side, allow them to find out more about you and therefore to know, like and trust you.

Don’t forget the ‘social’ bit

Social networking happens on social media. Networking is about making friends, gaining contacts, increasing your profile. Social is about talking, having conversations, exchanging ideas, commenting on what others have said.

Blogs are at a disadvantage in that they can’t accommodate the ‘real-time’ commenting facilities social media has. OK, there are plugins that ‘show’ any interactions you may have had on other social media platforms, but it’s not the same as having a proper conversation, seeing the response immediately and being able to reply accordingly.

But blogs allow writers to say a lot more than they can within social status updates. Therefore it is imperative to make the necessary connections on social media, warm up your crowd, get them on your side, and only then introduce them to what you have written on your blog. Let’s hope that then they will succumb to the ‘old ways’ and happily leave a comment under your post, which will probably remain there for as long as the blog is active.

This, dear reader, especially if you have got to here (fabulous, thank you so much!) is a hint to leave me a comment. Are you going to oblige?

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Alice Elliott writes the award winning Fairy Blog Mother blog for beginner and post-beginner bloggers to “explain things really simply” about blogging and WordPress. She provides simple, easy to understand, highly visual courses and tutorials using ordinary, everyday words. Visit her new Beginner Bloggers blog to find her latest learning resources.
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