The secret of using social media to attract more blog subscriptions

Social media and blogsI really enjoy a good discussion about social media on Twitter.

Last month I wrote a tweet that asked: “Do you think people are lazy because they prefer to comment on social media rather than under the blog post?” It had been one of many I had placed into my Twitter schedule to try and promote my post about “Where should readers comment, blog or social media?” and it aroused the interest of Thom Scott who felt compelled to respond.

The best thing about this discussion is that it developed into multiple threads at the same time. Thom’s overzealous reaction to what I had tweeted meant he answered in several tweets, sometimes not even waiting until I had commented on the first one he had put out. This was brilliant fast moving engagement, but it did need a platform like TweetDeck to keep an eye on where each thread was going, or I would never been able to keep up!

Here is a selection of our conversation:

Creating a community

What Thom means by this is that social networking should be a social activity. This means cultivating a relationship with your regular tweeters (or Facebookers or wherever you maybe) to form a sort of community of like-minded ideas, subjects, blog niches or lifestyles.

Commenting on social media rather than back at the blog is more fluid, less formal, encourages freer responses and lowers inhibitions, especially when it comes to thinking what to write. Somehow it’s reassuring that these comments won’t be preserved for ever, but will be enjoyed and embraced at that moment in time, the communication will be received and appreciated, and will generate further replies that may not be forthcoming on a blog.

Creating a community on social media does mean finding and forming a proper friendship with a smaller amount of people, because if you are connected to several hundred or even thousands of people on Twitter, there is no way you could communicate with them all the time. Even though Twitter is very ethereal, it’s beneficial to gather together a regular crowd you know will read your tweets, as much as you will read theirs, by collecting them within a list or stream and monitoring their contributions throughout the day.

A trusted source

Twitter is a mode for social media conversations, which need sifting through to find something worthwhile to note, read and act upon. Therefore to survive and cut through the noise, you need to make sure your contributions stand out and deliver value, provide something people can really sink their teeth into, both enjoy and appreciate, and want to read more.

Thom says not to become just one of the voices they like. It’s very nice to be popular on social media, to get lots of retweets, favourites and comments, but you could be doing this for a long time and gain no more than a happy, healthy community. Although there’s nothing wrong with this, without call to actions, valuable destinations from your links and worthwhile incentives to get more readers to your blog, all this albeit pleasurable activity could be no more than a time drain.

Your newly made community needs to be made aware of your status. Being as social as possible, you need to be viewed as a ‘trusted source’ for excellent information, so whenever you promote your latest post by tweeting a link, accompanied by an enticing promotional introduction, this will create the promise, generated by successful past experience, that delivers something good to read on the other side.

How unmissable is it?

If you continue to deliver value, people will learn to expect this, and if your posts provide information that changes your readers’ lives, they will want more. By promoting yourself as the ‘go-to’ person for a particular subject, making your posts freely available via social media will enable your readers and potential new readers to find and access them.

It’s easy for your readers to miss a promotional tweet delivering the latest blog post, even if you regularly publish at a prescribed time (although that would greatly help the search engines as well as your readers), and realistically you can’t expect every one of your Twitter followers to put you on a list so they can watch out for whenever you post. Building up to the event with preliminary tweets may help, but won’t safeguard everybody to be waiting on tender hooks for when you click that publish button (even famous bloggers don’t always have that privilege).

The answer is to encourage subscriptions to your blog. Research into which service is best for you, and be aware this can be done even through your newsletter subscription, as some automate a regular email listing the latest posts. This may be preferential for some readers to receive a catch up reminder at a regular time rather than each subscription announcement cluttering up their inboxes whenever a new post is published.

Make them feel special

To get your readers to subscribe you need more than just publishing great stuff on a regular basis. Wherever these incentives and prizes are placed, both on social media with links to entice readers to click and find out more, or on the blog where there is a captive audience, will depend on what is available and whether it appeals or not.

Some offer e-books or white papers, some promote fabulous outcomes as the result of their knowledge, but only the best bloggers in the world need only say ‘Sign up to my newsletter’ accompanied by the relevant fields to fill in. The more successful and wide reaching a blogger is, the more luck they will have in attracting subscribers.

Give them a reason to stay

Your community shouldn’t be confined to only on social media. A blog is a great place to culture such a gathering of like-minded people, bloggers and others who are interested in what you write. But to retain your newly-gained followers and keep them sweet, it’s necessary to treat them well and continue giving them what they want, accompanied with prizes of value.

Social media is fluid, a blog is steadfast and dependable. You shouldn’t make it like a fortress, but like an open house where people can come and go, invite new friends and engage with whatever is going on. I know this already happens in social media, and perhaps it’s a bit easier to do this there, so add in the applications and plugins that allow social media commentaries to appear on your blog near the comments section. This will bring Facebook or Google+ into your blog, amalgamating each of them, blurring the edges and creating a more sociable atmosphere.

Your blogging community has the freedom to contribute wherever they want. This is good, but they need to be incentivised to stick with you. Don’t lose new friends by not providing excellent material that makes a difference to them. Keep up the interest with prizes, membership stages with different levels and goals to strive for. It’s a full time job to maintain a popular and well visited blog, so maybe get in help with guest bloggers or collaborators to keep the interest factor going.

How to use your visitors

Once you’ve gained your community, it’s time to make use of them. Thom has revealed a simple chain of events that your readers could pass through during their time with you. It needn’t be formal, as it works best when done organically, and its success will depend on what you give them and how they respond to it depending upon their needs and aspirations.

Relationships within social media, which also includes in blogs, makes all your effort worthwhile. There’s nothing like having a sense of belonging, being part of the crowd, so cultivate this scenario and look after your tribe. It does need a lot of prompting, reminding and regular contributions, as a lead that goes cold can be very difficult to resuscitate, but with a good fire and plenty of nourishment, the world will open to all sorts of possibilities.

The sacrifice of scarcity

This is an interesting concept. Should bloggers promote all their posts on social media? It’s a bit like the 80/20 rule, share 80% of your stuff for free or virtually free, but retain 20% for which you can charge big prices.

I can see where Thom is coming from. If you want to encourage more blog subscriptions, don’t give everything away. But his concept of people scanning down every Twitter stream to find old posts is a bit far fetched. You will need the correct platforms, patience and perseverance, and a determination and thirsty desire to read every previous post by that particular blogger, plus a tenacious capacity to lie in wait for each new post whenever it is syndicated to social media.

I don’t think this will happen. Social media is a phenomenon of now, very rarely to people bother with the past, and the future hasn’t happened yet! If you do get a stalker that wants to moderate everything you’ve done, as long as they aren’t a nuisance or hindrance, good luck to them. And it can be quite flattering, with a boost to your self-esteem, something we all need to incentivise us to produce more content!

Let me know what you think…

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