Social Media Marketing Tips for Higher Blog Traffic
Tons of Social Media Marketing Tips
Are you getting good traffic from your free social media channels? You probably are already using Facebook, Twitter and other channels to promote your blog posts.
Why not? They’re free and easy to use.
Which is nice, but “free and easy” doesn’t automatically bring “good traffic” results.
I’m talking about hundreds, even thousands of visitors each month finding your blog with the help of social media… You might be happy with “dozens” of visitors…If you aren’t happy with the amount and quality of the traffic reaching your blog, you will love this interview.
Let me introduce to you Dustin Stout. He’s a social media expert, web designer and a “creative lunatic.”
He is the cofounder of Warfare Plugins and the creator of the Social Warfare plugin [affiliate link], an excellent WordPress tool that helps your blog increase the number of shares on each post.
Dustin has 54K followers on Google Plus and 11.6K followers on Twitter, and 2.2K followers on Pinterest.
He helps brands more effectively spread their message through social media…he’s also a long time blogger and experienced content marketer, which is why I wanted to pick his brain on
the topic of blog promotion using social media. So I caught up with him and asked him a bunch of questions, which he answered extensively.
He shared a wealth of information, so get ready to pick up a bunch of social media marketing tips that will help you to make small adjustments that lead to greater results.Social Media Marketing Expert Dustin Stout Shares His Blog Promotion Tips for Higher Traffic
Ready to get more visitors to your blog?
You can absorb the tips here either by video or reading the text version of this interview. Whichever you prefer, enjoy!
Let Dustin and I know in the comments if you have any questions.
And when you’re ready to step up your social media game, grab the Social Warfare plugin to turbo charge your WordPress blog’s share counts.
Here is the video, which makes for great audio listening while you’re driving or taking a walk.
Dustin Stout Interview Transcript
(For those who like to read.)
Matthew Loomis: So Dustin, let’s start with your story. What is your background and experience with social media and blogging?
Dustin Stout: I started like many of us did. I didn’t go to school for social media, didn’t go to school for blogging, but just kind of fell into it because I had a need. I needed an outlet for my creativity. I wanted to write. Mostly it was because I was a youth pastor at the time. I was working at a small church, so I was teaching on Sundays, and I wanted a way to put what I was teaching online for the parents that weren’t in attendance, so they could read what I was teaching their children, right? They probably want to know that. So I used it as an outlet to record my Sunday morning lessons.
Then I got into social media because my students were into social media. I’m a highly social person and I love technology, so it was a lot of fun for me to start discovering social networks. I was already on Facebook and Twitter…digging into it from the perspective of “how do I reach my audience”, or “more students” through social media, I started to learn some things and I picked up quickly a lot of the things that marketers were discovering and implementing and tactics and so forth. I started writing about that.
I started a new blog which is what you know as Dustin.Tv. It was a way for me to teach as I was learning, because, as they say, you retain 10% of what you hear, but I think up to 90% of what you teach. So when I learn something I try to teach it right away. That helps me retain it better, so I just started blogging about social media as I was learning and before too long I was being named one of the top social media blogs in the world.
Matthew Loomis: That’s awesome. They say “for those who can’t do, teach” right? (Laughs)
Dustin Stout: That’s right.
Matthew Loomis: Now, you are also a cofounder of Warfare Plugins. Can you tell us what that’s all about?
Dustin Stout: A couple of years ago I was redesigning my blog dustin.tv and every year I do a big redesign. As a web designer my own blog is my greatest work of art. Or at least it should be. So I was doing a redesign and I was just so frustrated, both as a blogger and as a designer with the social media sharing plugins that were out there that I was trying to use to get my blog posts share. Every blogger wants people to share their blog posts, right? So you need sharing buttons and it just sucked that all the social sharing plugins out there were really bad.
Matthew Loomis: There’s a lot of bad ones.
Dustin Stout: A whole lot of them! And the biggest problems that I found were, 1. they were ugly. The looked like they were hacked together. 2. They destroyed my page load times, and we know that’s a huge factor, not just for useres (nobody wants to just sit there waiting for their page to load), but for SEO as well. Google knows that faster page loads means a higher quality page.
So I went to my buddy Nick…Nick is a developer, and he’s basically a genius, and I said “Nick, I’m going to design these buttons (I had mocked it up in photoshop what my new design was going to look like), and I said, How hard would it be for you to hard code these buttons into my WordPress theme?” And he said, “Not that hard.”
Our other buddy, Jason Wiser, he was wanting to create his own social sharing features, he had some ideas for things like custom Pinterest images along with some other things, and he, being a developer too, hated that social sharing buttons destroyed page load times. So Nick had some ideas of his own, and before long, we were all talking, and we realized we all had some ideas to put into the pie, and we came up with what we believe to be the answer to our own problem.
Having my social media background, we infused the plugin with some tactics that helped the content get shared not just more, but more effectively so that people are actually clicking back to the website. Once we started developing this we realized that if we have the same problems and issues, and we want to get the most out of our social sharing plugin, and make it more effective, other people probably do too, so why don’t we consider selling it?
After about 9 months in development, we released it to a small beta group of people and they loved it. Before long we were out of beta and here we are two years later, and we’re doing great.
Matthew Loomis: That’s a cool entrepreneurial story.
Dustin Stout: Yeah, you hear it all the time–scratch your own itch. Solve your own problems. I had never experienced that before. I’ve had businesses before, mostly marketing companies and consulting, but this was that one golden gem of “Here’s a big problem and we just solved it with this thing.” So let’s share it with the world. It’s a great feeling.
Matthew Loomis: That’s awesome. You happened to match up with a really great team. I don’t know them personally but they seem like really good guys.
Dustin Stout: Yeah, and it’s really astonishing because we compliment each other very well. Jason is the business guy. He runs a successful development company. He knows the business side, like accounting, getting the LLC, all the contracts, operating agreements. He takes care of all the businessy stuff that us creative people run from.
Nick is a developer but he is a genius when it comes to performance, and making sure things work at the highest possible level. And I’m the marketing and design guy. I make sure its pretty. Make sure it looks good.
And I make sure I bring all my social media expertise into the mix as well. To make sure it is a strategic plugin. Not just “another” social plugin, but the most effective one.
Matthew Loomis: Yeah, that’s why I’m talking to you, because you know social media, blogging and marketing. But before we get to that, can you tell us more about the Social Warfare plugin? Things like “What does it do?” and how can it help a blogger expose more people to their posts?
Dustin Stout: 1. It’s beautiful. As a designer, my number one biggest qualm was most social sharing plugins were ugly, they ruin the beautiful aesthetic you spent so much time with. A lot of bloggers spend a lot of time and money to make their websites look good. And these social sharing buttons just annihilate that because they’re ugly, unsightly and they’re not responsive or mobile friendly (which is also a big SEO thing right now), so we designed one that was beautiful, that had a uniform, authentic look, and it’s highly customized so if you want to match the colors of the buttons to your theme, it’s very easy to do that through our settings page.
It’s also the fastest social sharing plugin on the market. We’ve had several third parties do benchmark testing and every time, Social Warfare comes out on top, even faster than the most expensive social sharing tool out there and faster than the free tools available.
Why we are the most effective social sharing plugin is because we allow you to customize how your content is shared. When somebody goes and hits that Pinterest button, if you are aware that taller images do better on Pinterest, and you have a specific, optimized image you want people to pin, you can upload that right on to social warfare, right on your blog post editor, then you can even write the description so when your visitor clicks your pin button, it automatically pulls up your Pinterest image, and your Pinterest description you’ve optimized, and all they have to do is pick their board.
Similarly, let’s look at the Tweet button. If you have an exact tweet that you know is going to be more effective for getting click-throughs, you can craft that tweet for the visitor, so when they hit your tweet button, they pull up your tweet, it automatically adds “via @username” to the end, and you will get the most effective sharing. You can customize the social media image when you share it on Facebook or Google Plus, when the link populates a snippet, you can customize that title, the description, and the image that shows up so you can make sure you’re getting the best possible share that will get people back to your site.
Matthew Loomis: Wow, and you don’t have to be a technical genius to do this, right?
Dustin Stout: No, it’s super simple.
If you know how to upload an image in WordPress, and if you’ve ever filled out the Yoast plugin or any SEO plugin, it’s very similar. Just put it in the input, we have it labeled. Hit Publish and you’re good to go.
On top of that we have a bunch of different visual themes you can try out, we have different button shapes that you can play with, we have floating buttons that will follow the user down the page, on the left side of the page, the top or bottom of the page, we have short codes where you can add buttons anywhere inside your theme, php snippets, the plugin is super development friendly, so developers can build on top of it, extend it, we have a cool tool in there.
If you have ever moved from http to https you’ll know that all your share counts disappear because it’s a different URL structure. We’ve built a tool that allows you to save or salvage those share counts and bring them back, which is something that SEO people really love because all their clients out there are refusing to switch to SSL because they will lose all their social proof.
That’s another thing our plugin does, it shows your share counts–including Twitter counts, which were recently taken away by Twitter. We found a way to bring them back.
Our SEO customers really love us for being able to take it to their clients and say, “Look! Get your share counts back. Now let’s make it HTTPS.
Matthew Loomis: That sounds pretty ingenious on the Twitter thing…
Dustin Stout: Yeah, it was a big deal. When Twitter removed people’s social proof almost overnight, thankfully we caught wind of it early and started working on a solution. We partnered with a guy named Arthur who built a website called New Share Counts.com and we were able to bring it back for our users about 6 weeks ago.
Matthew Loomis: Cool. You know, we’re talking a lot about share buttons and let me just ask you straight out:
Why does a blogger need social share buttons on their blog?
Matthew Loomis: Why bother setting that up?
Dustin Stout: That’s a fair question.
There are some bloggers out there who are not really blogging for the sake of building an audience. Those are the hobby bloggers out there who are just maybe journaling or using it as a diary or maybe to just record cool things.
I have a good friend who does really interesting photography and crafty things for her home and she blogs because she loves doing it. She loves recording it.
But there are those of us bloggers who are looking to build an audience and to build a platform and to grow our blog into something that could potentially be profitable someday.
For those looking to build an audience, the point of social sharing buttons is to exponentially grow your reach. You will only ever have so much reach. You can only ever reach so many people, but the power of social media is that you can leverage other people’s audiences and have them share your content for you. They will help grow your audience. So when you create a piece of content people love, they can share it with people they know who will love it too, and that will grow your audience beyond you.
That’s why social sharing buttons are there. You want to make it as easy as possible for them to share your content and you want to make it a good experience so they keep on doing it again and again.
Matthew Loomis: Do you happen to know any statistics on the odds that somebody will copy and paste a URL into a social share?
Dustin Stout: Oh I don’t know…I do know it’s very low. For me personally, if I’m surfing the internet, I use a Buffer Chrome extension, so no matter what website I’m on I can hit that Buffer Chrome extension and I can share any page instantly, but if I didn’t have that, and if I didn’t have any social share buttons, I would have to REALLY be in love with that blog post to share it without the ease of buttons.
Matthew Loomis: Dustin, you also have a blog at dustin.tv. Can you tell us a little bit about that?
Dustin Stout: Back when I was deciding on a blog name, it’s funny, I was blogging on a site called Posterous…do you remember Posterous?
Matthew Loomis: No, I don’t.
Dustin Stout: It was newer than Blogger and even Tumblr, and it was a strange platform that looked like it had a lot of potential. It was a free site, just like Blogger, and it allowed you to share stuff instantly whenever you published a blog post, it would instantly share it to Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, and all the social networks of that time. So I thought, this is perfect!
Twitter eventually bought it and basically disassembled it. I think it was 6 months into my blogging when I realized I needed to move to something more sustainable and had more control over.
That’s when I discovered WordPress.
I began trying to think of a cool domain name…I don’t want it to just be dustinstout.com because it’s too long. So I was looking into a cool short URL to use, so first I shortened my name by taking out the”i” in Dustin, and made it dustn.ws for my initials at the end, which made sense. Then I thought, what if I made a blog that’s just dustin.com, well that was taken. I thought about it more and since I came from the entertainment world and always intended my blog to be very media heavy, I thought, what about dustn.tv? Because my blog is like my own personal show.
So I went with that. Dustn.tv was the domain I bought and I’ve used it ever since.
Matthew Loomis: You were one of the first people, that I saw, who used the .tv suffix.
Dustin Stout: Yeah, well, it’s unique, and it speaks of entertainment. I always try to be somewhat entertaining when I write. I don’t like to be dry. I’ll put some fun, animated Gifs in there when I can.
Matthew Loomis: You are good at that, for sure.
When it comes to social sharing, what social buttons do you recommend a blogger absolutely has to have? Which are non negotiable?
Dustin Stout: That’s a great question! Someone was just asking that same thing on our customer forum…
It really comes down to your audience. We just did a big article on our Warfare Plugins blog about two things…
1. The paradox of choice. Which is the concept that even though people think they want more options, when you present them with more options, they choose to take less action. In the world of social sharing that means if you give them more buttons, you will actually get less shares. Even though we think if we give them more options that will result in more shares, actually if you reduce your sharing options, you will get more shares. What I’ve been telling people is that it’s really about your audience. What I recommend every blogger do is go through Google Analytics, find their top three or four sources of social media traffic are coming from (usually its sites like Facebook, Pinterest or Twitter.) Those three are usually in there. My audience is heavily from Google Plus, so I add that into the mix. For me, watching my analytics and seeing where my audience is thriving, for me the non negotiables are Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google Plus. But it might be different for other audiences.
We had one user who, before Social Warfare had a StumbleUpon button, he was really struggling because StumbleUpon was his greatest source of traffic. I was like, wow, I didn’t know people were still using StumbleUpon…but he was getting tens of thousands of stumbles on his articles when he would release them. When he got rid of that button, he saw a big drop in traffic, and obviously wasn’t getting those shares. So I really encourage bloggers to look at where their audience is. Wherever you’re having the most success on social media, use those buttons, and be super aggressive about offering only those buttons.
In that article we shared about the paradox of choice, we talked about Neil Patel, who is a well-known internet marketer. A brilliant guy. He gets hired by giant companies to increase their traffic. Like Buzzfeed. Who would think they need more traffic? But they hired Neil. So Neil did his own experiment where he typically only has three sharing buttons on his articles. In this experiment he added two more buttons so that increased it to five total, and when he did that, he monitored the results and his sharing actually dropped by 30 something percent. Which then significantly dropped his traffic. When he reduced it back to three share buttons, his shares and traffic went back up.
Matthew Loomis: Interesting…
Dustin Stout: Right, it’s mind boggling to some people!
Some folks still refuse to believe it.
Trust me when I say: Limit your sharing buttons to the most important networks for you.
Matthew Loomis: Do you ever recommend more than 3 or 4?
Dustin Stout: Never. Unless you have the analytics to prove that you’re getting significant traffic from all those sites. There are some power bloggers like Peg Fitzpatrick or Rebeka Radice, both fantastic gals and social media pros who get significant shares on EVERY PLATFORM. They know how to do the analytics. So if all the social platforms are close in results (traffic), then maybe branch out. But if its clear you have a top three, and there’s a big gap in traffic between the third and fourth platform, then stick to those three and you will be more effective.
Matthew Loomis: Even if it’s StumbleUpon, right? (Laughs)
Dustin Stout: Even if it’s StumpbleUpon. Now we could dive deeper into that by looking at the quality of the traffic, but…for the beginning blogger, just find the top three or four at max.
Matthew Loomis: Which platform is the weakest?
Dustin Stout: Another good question.
Again it will depend on your audience. Most of the time, I’ve found that people who don’t invest a lot into Google Plus tend to not get a whole lot of traction. Google Plus is a unique, wonderful, rich and highly engaging audience. But if you don’t take the time to engage with that audience, then it can be one of the lower returning networks for you. But if you take the time to cultivate relationships you’ll find it can be a rich experience of conversations better than you’ll find on any other social network.
Even though it’s my favorite, I would say Google Plus is probably the least effective for most people. There’s probably an argument as well for Facebook with the declining reach of their Pages. People are struggling over there because the Facebook algorithm has been beating them up. Again, look at your audience…if I had to put a generalization on there, probably Google Plus.
Matthew Loomis: Let’s start with Google+ and go through each of the seven top platforms. I’d like to ask you…
What constitutes a good, effective post on each social media platform?
We’ll start with Google+. Give us a quick rundown on how to shape and craft your posts so that people will visit your blog?
I wrote an article called The Anatomy of a Perfect Google Plus Post because I found a formula that worked over there.
The thing you have to realize is the audience on Google+ is highly engaged and they’re highly sensitive to spam. So the tactics you would use on Twitter or Facebook will not work on Google Plus because they will spot it a mile away.
On Google Plus you want to utilize the formatting. They have a simple mark down system that allows you to bold and italicize text. You should use a big, bold title in your post. And always make sure there is an image, or at least a link that populates an image preview. And I would suggest writing at least 200 characters worth of content. It should be at least the length of a tweet, or a tweet and a half.
Do this before giving them a call to action. Like “click this link” or “read it here”. In your commentary, tell them why you’re sharing this post with them and why you think they should read it. Because they don’t want to see you “phoning it in” with a headline and “click this link.” G+ users want to know why. Showing your personality and giving them a compelling reason, your perspective, will get you a good yield on engagement and a great return on click-throughs.
Matthew Loomis: So if you just drop a link and run, G+ users will view it as spam, is that right?
Dustin Stout: Exactly. They consider that “phoning it in” and will think you’re a spammer and will ignore you, uncircle you and unfollow you. So don’t do that.
Matthew Loomis: Alright. So let’s now talk about your recommendations for using the sort of polar opposite platform…
Dustin Stout: Similarly, I don’t think the old-fashioned headline and link is working on Twitter like it once did. There is such sea of people tweeting a headline and a link. I would craft something sort of like commentary–a short and sweet commentary. (Obviously since you only have 140 characters.) Craft a brief commentary like, “I love this post! So good!”
Matthew Loomis: So you don’t recommend including the headline in the tweet?
Dustin Stout: Only if the headline is really good. It may work then, but I would change the headline into an actual sentence. Then people will see that you crafted it. And remember to add an image whenever you can to that tweet. Aways. Always. Always. Because the data has proven that tweets with images in them get…the last study I read said they get like 80% more engagement.
Matthew Loomis: Whoa.
Dustin Stout: Previously it was 50% more. Now it’s like 80% more engagement on tweets with images, so always add an image when you can.
Matthew Loomis: What about LinkedIn?
Dustin Stout: You know, I’m not a LinkedIn guy. Never have been. I wouldn’t know the latest tips and tricks, but one thing I do know that works is whenever I’m sharing an update, if I mention someone in the post–whether its the brand, business name or a person who wrote the article, I always get higher engagement because that flags it for them, they get notified and they normally will interact with it.
If I had any advice, it would be: mention people when you can.
Matthew Loomis: What about Facebook?
Dustin Stout: Facebook is a weird animal.
I’ve read articles in the past that suggest keeping your posts at 40 characters because people don’t want to read a whole lot on Facebook. They do want to have a connection to some part of what you’re sharing.
One tip is to never share the headline in the Facebook post if you’re sharing a link. So if sharing a link, when you drop a link and the link snippet comes up that has the headline and a little description in there, avoid putting any of that into the actual text of the post because Facebook’s algorithm will actually detect that. Now, we don’t know for certain, much like SEO or Google, this is our best educated guess, most experts agree that this will cause your post to get ranked poorly in Facebook’s little algorithm. So avoid duplicating the title in the text description. Instead, make the text you add at the top compelling, at least explain why you’re sharing it, and do it in a short and sweet manner.
Matthew Loomis: Is it true that you want to clean up the link? Take it out of the text box where you add your description?
Dustin Stout: Yes, definitely do that. Take the link out of your description once the box had dropped down that shows the headline and image.
Matthew Loomis: Dustin, what about…
Dustin Stout: YouTube is interesting because it’s not a traditional social network.
It’s focus is producing high quality video content, which is a bit more difficult than writing a tweet… So for YouTube, one of the things we find to be important is if you’re building a YouTube Channel and you want it to be successful, consistency is key. Finding a rhythm of posting regularly on YouTube (whether once a week or twice a month, once a month) is important. Get a schedule to help you find that rhythm of regular content. Give your audience something they can expect–that’s what people like.
Another tip with YouTube is to always have a great title. Titles are what sell the content when people are searching inside YouTube. Seeing recommended videos.
Also, be highly aware of the thumbnail on your video. Again, that’s another selling point. A visual selling point to get people clicking on the video. I recommend customizing your thumbnail whenever possible. Use a jpeg that has a title or frames the video really well.
And finally, optimize those descriptions, baby. Make sure you have keywords in there that people would be searching for. Always use your tags as well. Tag appropriately.
Matthew Loomis: Okay. So now tell us about…
Dustin Stout: Pinterest is a wonderful platform.
I love it to death because it takes minimal effort and if you do it right, it can yield astonishing amounts of traffic. Long term traffic.
One thing I mentioned before: when we implemented Social Warfare on my blog, Pinterest was barely on the radar as far as referral traffic goes. But I started using a custom Pinterest image thanks to the feature on Social Warfare, custom Pinterest description, and the very next month my Pinterest traffic had increased by 400%. A year later, after doing a Pinterest image and description for every blog post, my Pinterest traffic was up 2000%.
Matthew Loomis: Whoa!
Dustin Stout: Today, Pinterest is by far the #1 source of social media traffic for my blog. I can’t stop it. It’s unbelievable.
Here’s what you need to do to be successful on Pinterest…
First, create a tall image. The specific dimensions for the image are 735X1102
Always write a description that people might be searching for. Not a one liner. Not the headline. An actual description of what it is being linked to. That way it will populate in search more, the tall image stands out more because it takes up more screen space in the Pinterest stream. They typically do so much better the wide or landscape images. That’s what’s good about Social Warfare. These tall images for Pinterest don’t look good on a blog, so you can have these tall images hidden, so they only appear when someone shares your post to Pinterest. So for Pinterest, if you want to excel and to help your pins do well, tall images, good descriptions are the way to go.
Also, do not use hashtags. You will get penalized for it by the Pinterest algorithm. And mention people when you can. Just like LinkedIn or any other social network, you can mention people in their user names and that will grab their attention and get more eyeballs on it.
Matthew Loomis: I want to ask you more about hashtags, but before I do, there’s one more platform to ask you about…
Matthew Loomis: This one is interesting. Some folks are finding success using IG to get traffic to their blog, so what do you recommend?
Dustin Stout: That is a weird thing for me because I have definitely not experienced that. But I’m not so naive as to say my experience is the end all be all of experiences.
For example, most people say Google+ is dead, and I have the traffic to prove that’s not true.
So, personally I haven’t gotten any traction on Instagram, although I haven’t tried. From what I know, talking to some experts who are friends of mine, Sue B. Zimmerman has some great articles on Instagram. She recommends…
Have relevant hash tags. They are a great discovery tool to use on Instagram.
What you have to do every time you post something from your blog, you need an Instagram image for it.
You also need to change your profile link to be the link to that blog post. You typically say, “Click on the link in my bio to get to the blog post.”
That’s how people do it. It’s a little clunky, not exactly user-friendly, but for the right people who have the right audience, it could work really well.
Use Hashtags on the Right Platforms–Not All
Matthew Loomis: I know hashtags are fundamental for Instagram. What about some of these other platforms we’ve talked about? Which ones work well with hashtags and which ones don’t?
Dustin Stout: Obviously Twitter works well with hashtags. They started the whole hashtag trend. Instagram is obviously the other platform that works well for hashtags. I think the other network that does well with hashtags is Google Plus because you can click on hashtags, although I don’t have any significant data to prove that people are utilizing those hashtags like they once were. But they are on there, and like anything, for Google it’s another keyword opportunity. Whenever you think about Google Plus, always think like an SEO. That’s what I recommend. Facebook has hashtags but I really don’t think people use them. Facebook search is so bad, even if people were trying to use them, I don’t think it would be any good. So for me, I recommend using hashtags on Twitter, Instagram and Google Plus.
Matthew Loomis: Interesting. I had no idea Pinterest penalizes you for using hashtags.
Dustin Stout: Because they really don’t use them. When you search for something in Pinterest it used to appear that each word looked like a hashtag. So people began thinking they needed to make hashtags. Then people started getting really spammy with that tactic. So Pinterest had to start penalizing it.
Matthew Loomis: Well, we all hate spam, so…(laughs)…Well, as we come down to the end here, I have just a few more questions for Dustin Stout, social media expert. Let’s look at social media posts in general, can you give us any other particular tips on making effective posts? Any tips you haven’t mentioned yet?
Dustin Stout: Across platforms, the most important thing is visuals.
It’s undeniable that the internet and social media have become a visual place. That’s the nature of most things.
The internet is no different from say, the evolution of cars. At the beginning, cars were not pretty. They were just working on getting the function right. Same is true with the internet. I just spoke at a conference a couple of weeks ago (SMX) where I talked about the evolution of the visual web, and the first website ever was just a plain white page. It looked like a Word document. Slowly things progressed. Once the function is down and easy to take care of, then what makes it stand out is the form. Form follows function.
So the internet has gotten to a place where it’s now about the visual. Because the function is easy. Anybody can put up a WordPress website today in 15 minutes. So the visual is what makes you stand out, especially in social media. Across all platforms, that is the one thing you need to make sure you have–a visual that grabs people’s attention.
Aside from that, can’t say that there are any other best practices for posts across the board, because each platform is so vastly different. Each expects different things. As long as you have a visual, and you speak to each platform using the language specific to each one, you will be on the right path.
What Time Should You Share on Social Media?
Matthew Loomis: They say timing is everything. Can you tell us a little bit about the importance of when to share your posts? What times should we share posts?
Dustin Stout: There is a case to be made for this…
I don’t think there is any such thing as a general time that always works for a platform. Because again, social media, if you want to be successful, you have to make it custom tailored to your audience. Nobody’s audience is exactly the same. You want to think about your audience and when are they awake. When are they consuming social content? I
If your target audience is teenagers for instance, most teenagers have a lower consumption of social media during school hours, so you would want to avoid school hours. As soon as they’re out of class, the first thing they’re doing is checking their social feeds. Their notifications. So you want to plan for that to post at the optimal time their eyeballs are going to be on the social stream.
Another example: business professionals, LinkedIn in particular, most of the activity happens after 8 a.m. Eastern time, so you want to plan for that. Approximate times when people are getting in the office and times when people get on LinkedIn to see if they got any new leads.
So always think about who your audience is, what their habits are like, what their lives look like. You can schedule using things like Buffer, Hootsuite to schedule your content to be there when your audience is most likely to have their eyeballs on the screen.
The other important thing to remember is to always schedule reshares of your content. Don’t just share it once and think you’re going to hit everybody. Twitter especially, you will want to share something two, three, even four times in order to get the maximum reach. Facebook much less, probably two times, otherwise you will burn out your audience there.
Matthew Loomis: Would that include your personal Facebook account?
Dustin Stout: Yes. If it’s an article that is really important to you, what I would do, and what I recommend clients do on Facebook is share the same thing twice but don’t share it the same way. One thing I’ll do is share the first time with a description of the article with one image, and then the second time I’ll share it with a quote from the article, or a little excerpt with a different image. That way it looks like two different posts and anybody who has read it the first time will recognize that it is the same post but someone who hasn’t seen it the first time, or maybe they saw it and it didn’t connect with them the first time, they’ll see it that second time and it might click for them.
Matthew Loomis: Right, but we shouldn’t assume the same times work all the time for every platform, isn’t that correct? For example, 9 to 10 a.m. is really good for Google+ but not so much for Facebook. Is that what you’ve seen?
Dustin Stout: That’s interesting. I’ve heard people say they find 9 to 10 a.m. to be a good time for Google Plus, but I haven’t found that to be true. I’ve monitored my statistics and stats and I actually get the most traffic around 10 pm to midnight.
Matthew Loomis: Interesting.
Dustin Stout: Yeah, because I have a lot of overseas followers, so as time zones shift…but yeah, with Facebook, I tend to see a lot of action in the morning. Google Plus tends to be…I see more activity than normal around 10 am to noon (that’s Pacific time, of course), but I see the most activity at night.
Matthew Loomis: That’s mind-blowing to me. I’ve always thought Google Plus had much lower traffic at night.
Dustin Stout: Yeah, every audience is different.
Matthew Stout: That’s true….what about paid campaigns? When do you recommend a blogger use them?
Dustin Stout: Do not experiment with paid campaigns until you are already generating revenue with your blog. That’s my biggest recommendation.
Paid campaigns should be a last resort or something you go to once you have exhausted the earned social media or your own social efforts and you have some success already with earned media.
Paid campaigns should be that area where once you’ve matured to getting earned media, you’ve got some revenue coming in from your blog, then you start to test, because doing paid social is not a magic wand, where you create an ad and people click on it. It does take some tweaking and testing.
You’re going to burn through some cash on experimenting to find what works and what doesn’t. Now the great news about that is that once you do get the hang of it, you can be highly targeted and highly effective with it, but just know you’re going to spend more money than you probably first anticipated.
Matthew Loomis: Alright, now for the final question…what do you see in the future of social media? What new things are coming down the pike? Anything that bloggers should anticipate or be aware of?
Dustin Stout: I think one of the most important things in social is content customization. Personalization. So with today’s targeting tools, they are getting better and better and helping you find your audience, especially with the paid advertising. Facebook is getting better at this, so is Twitter. These platforms are getting good at helping you find your specific audience. So it is and will continue to be important to tailor your social content to those needs, wants and desires.
Intelligence and understanding your target audience is going to be how brands and bloggers win at social in the future. Because social media is not going to become less fragmented. There will always be a new social network, new apps that are here today and gone tomorrow…what’s going to make you stand out no matter what is how well you know your audience and what they want.
Getting super focused on that is what’s going to be what makes or breaks a good social campaign in the future.
Matthew Loomis: Real quick, can you give us a couple of tips on how to get to know your audience real well?
Dustin Stout: Talk to them. Interact with them.
The best thing you can do is spend an hour a week just commenting on your target audience’s posts. Looking at what they’re sharing and how they’re interacting, then internalizing it.
Make them the hero of your story.
I don’t recall where I heard that before, but many of us think we are the focal point of our own story. When you’re building an audience, you have to flip that in your mind. Then you have to say the audience, someone you can visually see, that is the hero of your story.
The more you can build things for them and solve their problems, the more successful you’re going to be. Spend time getting to know them and the only way to do that, like making a good friend, is to sit down and have a chat with them.
Use social media to engage with them on their terms and get to know them.
Matthew Loomis: Dustin Stout, it’s been a pleasure talking to you today.
Dustin Stout: You too, my friend.
Matthew Loomis: I really appreciate all the advice you’ve given us about social media. Anyone out there, if you’re interested in the social warfare plugin, Dustin, tell us where they can get more information on that.
Dustin Stout: You can visit the Social Warfare plugin page [Dustin gives me a modest commission that doesn’t affect your price] where everything will be right there at your fingertips.
Matthew Loomis: Thanks again, Dustin. I’ll see you later.
Dustin Stout: Alrighty.I just learned a ton of helpful tips on social media marketing!