Whenever someone asks the question of how they can improve traffic to their site, the same two pieces of advice are always given: use social media, and try improving content through a blog/guest blogging. Both are great methods of increasing visibility and bringing people to your site, and both work very well. But is one better than the other?
It depends on who you ask, but I have always been of the opinion that both are fantastic options and should each be utilized to their best ability. Why use one when you can use two?
The fact is, social media and blogging, while technically part of the same overall genre, are very different. Each satisfies a different need, and so provide a different approach for marketing. One is a quickfire method of engagement, opening up your potential traffic base to one-on-one communication. While the other provides you a platform to impart your knowledge and personality, giving a more in depth view of topics, all while maximizing your own image of authority.
Blogging and social media marketing actually compliment one another, and you should be incorporating both into your overall plans for success. To see why that is the case, we have to begin seeing both in a different light.
Social Media Is Not Just For Microblogging
Twitter is sort of the official microblogging platform on the list. But all networks have kind of taken that role in the last few years, even if sites like Facebook and Google+ allow for longer statuses and other ways of getting your point across (like Notes).
Common advice says to use those platforms with higher word counts as a way of blogging right on your social profile. This works well for certain occasionally, but the truth is most people don’t wan to see that. They are on social networks to quickly gain and share info, to see interesting photos and videos, and connect one on one with people on both a personal and brand level.
When it comes to using social media to the best effect as a marketing tool, I tend to believe that shorter and more to the point is better. If you can do that with visuals more than words, all the better. That doesn’t mean you won’t have plenty of conversation, but it should be conducted between viewers, with maybe occasional break ins from you.
A good example of this is media outlet NPR. They post things, people comment (usually arguing), and NPR’s social media guru usually stays out of things. Very occasionally they will reply to something someone says, usually something that isn’t at all inflammatory, and it shows they are paying attention. But the bulk of the content is left in the link.
Blogging Is Not Just For Repeating Data
There is an interesting opinion out there right now that content has changed and started moving away from “educational” or “informative” posts. Not that you shouldn’t aim to teach where you can, or that you aren’t trying to inform the reader. Just that the general style of ultra-helpful blogging has become too routine.
In a way, I get where this thought process is coming from. Unless specifically looking for a technical style of writing, people will prefer to get a dose of personality with their facts. Being too dry or too clinical, especially about a topic that should be interesting, can spell death. The way around that isn’t to add even more data to the mix.
But I don’t think educational blogging is a thing of the past. Yes, we are seeing more interview style formats, more photo enriched posts, more videos. These aren’t any less informative than the more traditional posts, just presented in a different way.
Combining The Two
How can you best use one of these to compliment the other? The process is really simple:
Step 1 – Write amazing and dynamic content that you are proud to show the world. Make sure everything is high quality, and that you only write when you have something to say. Try to offer something valuable to the reader, whatever that might be. This is the core of content marketing, and important.
Step 2 – Post a link to that content, along with a snippet, on your social profiles. You could also write something independent as an introduction, talking about what it is. But I have found that finding a good part to quote seems to get people eager for more.
Step 3 – Use the topic of the content as a “theme”. Ask about related issues in your status updates, and engage people with questions, comments, or asking for their perspective and stories. Give people a chance to discuss things among other followers of your group, and comment when necessary, or when you have something valuable to add. Refrain from commenting just to comment, as that comes across as disingenuous, and offers nothing to the conversation.
Step 5 – Reshare content through the week. Twitter is the platform to reshare content on most, as the constant updates mean your links will get lost in the feed rather quickly. But also reshare on your other active platforms, perhaps after a couple of days. Or, if you have a very active page, twice that day.
Step 6 – Use your social media profiles to find more content ideas. What are people discussing? What boosted activity? What catches their interest? What has more reach? A social media page is a great chance to find topics that your followers want to read about, and by extension, what their friends might be interested in.
There is no single marketing gimmick that works, and no single way to gain attention to either a blog or social profile. You have to experiment, remain consistent, and use all the tools you have at your disposal.
For marketing, both social media and blogging provide powerful platforms for gaining traffic, visibility, and pushing your brand. But more than that, they compliment one another. So use both!