With over 200 social networking sites at your disposal, it can be a challenge determining the best options for optimizing traffic to your blog. That was a topic of discussion at the 5<sup>th</sup> annual <a href="http://www.bloggingwhilebrown.com/" target="_blank">Blogging While Brown</a> conference, held June 1-2, in Philadelphia, PA at the Chemical Heritage Foundation. Hundreds of aspiring and seasoned bloggers, influencers and social media aficionados congregated to network and discuss the changes taking place across the Web. With growing one’s audience on nearly every attendee’s mind, here’s a look at how bloggers can build, observe and engage with their audience.–<em><strong>Yoli Ouiya</strong></em>
(Image: Yoli Ouiya)
<strong>"See and be seen," advised technology consultant <a href="http://www.hanselman.com/blog/" target="_blank">Scott Hanselman</a></strong> <br><br>
"You need to participate because it is a conversation, not a monologue," said Hanselman, principal community architect for Web platform and tools at Microsoft. By visiting other blogs within your niche and leaving comments relative to their posts, you create exposure for yourself, interacting with a community that is likely interested in your content as well. But don't just do so for the sake of participating. Find blogs and articles that speak to your interests so that your presence and support remains authentic. "People can smell inauthenticity," remarked the former professor.<br><br>
“See and be seen” also applies to one’s social media engagement. Don’t be shy—connect on Facebook, join in on Twitter parties, and even volunteer to guest blog. By putting yourself out there, you start creating a buzz around your brand and the expertise you offer.
<a href="https://plus.google.com/up/start/?continue=https://plus.google.com/&type=st&gpcaz=d67ef310" target="_blank">Google+</a> is useful for sharing links and expounding on content whereas <a href="http://www.facebook.com/" target="_blank">Facebook</a> is more of a photo-sharing site. Use of pictures and videos are catalysts for increasing engagement on social media as opposed to written blog posts.<br><br>
"<a href="https://twitter.com/" target="_blank">Twitter</a> is trying to be a conversation…What's great about Twitter is its constraint,” said Hanselman. Twitter allows users to demonstrate their expertise and have a constant stream of engagement with influencers, peers and loyal followers. The newer platforms are gaining traction, but, once again, bloggers must decide if it’s worth the investment. "<a href="http://pinterest.com/" target="_blank">Pinterest</a> is a bulletin board…it's the new scrap book.” The pinning and repinning of “likes,” allows bloggers to gauge their readers’ interests and increase traffic at the same time. Bloggers, the platforms you choose will all depend upon the content you offer.
(Image: Yoli Ouiya)
<strong>Determine your audience </strong><br><br>
Utilize analytics tools such as <a href="http://www.google.com/analytics/" target="_blank">Google Analytics</a> to determine users’ demographics. From there, you can use an apparatus like <a href="https://bitly.com/" target="_blank">Bit.ly</a> to track the real-time effectiveness of the content you are sharing. <a href="http://tweetreach.com/" target="_blank">TweetReach</a> allows you to track impressions and see how far your tweets are reaching.
"In terms of social media and building traffic, I would say engagement is one of the best ways,” said <a href="http://butyoureagirl.com/" target="_blank"><strong>Adria Richards</strong></a>, developer evangelist at <a href="http://sendgrid.com/" target="_blank">SendGrid</a>. “I would start off with engaging influencers. And these influencers may be individuals who create content; they may be companies who aggregate content.” By being observant, resourceful, and effectively engaging, you become an asset, not a detractor.
(Image: Yoli Ouiya)
<strong>Make your content easily sharable</strong> <br><br>
Ensure your blog’s content is sharable via social media. With various plugins available, any reader should have easy access to immediately share your content. Depending on your platform, there should be the ability to share individual posts, as well as the option to sign up for updates.<br><br>
Richards notes the importance of ensuring functionality. “You should test it and make sure it actually works because I’ve seen several [instances] where it says “tweet this” and it just shows the link. What the site should show is the title of the content and then the short url.”