Dear Socially Stephanie,
I run a small online business that teaches students how to write better essays and prepares them for the SAT Writing section. I've been an educator for a long time, and I have a lot of great articles and blog posts about the principles of teaching I believe in.
My question is two-fold:
1. How do I get a bigger audience for my blog? I do not have time to write guest posts, and as a 60-something man, I can't seem to figure out Twitter and Facebook. Even without any social media in my schedule, I work about 12-14 hours a day, so I don't have time to figure out a full-blown social media strategy.
2. Any ideas where I should spend my limited advertising money to reach the most number of parents?
Teaching in Tallahasse
Dear Teaching in Tallahassee,
Ahhh... Do you smell that? It's fresh social media blood. My favorite. I don't mean to scare you, and I'm no vampire, but fresh blood is great because your mind isn't already jaded. You are naive to the social media world and I'm going to train you to be the best darn social media-ite out there. It's time for you to pass over your red marker to me, and let me do the teaching.
The bell is ringing. You ready? Let's go.
Since writing is nothing daunting to you-I mean, this is what you teach!-you have an advantage here. Most people find it difficult to sit down and write. But you deal with it daily in your business. Since you're free of writer's block and you have content to work with, here's your first task-blog promotion.
Your blog will only go as far as the promotion you put behind it. You have to be a cheerleader for your own work and toot your own horn.
Here's how to get started.
I want you to deconstruct your past articles and blog posts. Break each post down into 5-10 tempting tweets (140 characters or less) and 2 Facebook posts. Think headlines and summaries here. On Twitter, you have little space to work with, so your tweets have to be concise, yet inviting enough to make the reader click through to read the whole post. On Facebook, you have a little bit more leg room to wiggle around. A summary with a question would be a good starting point.
Now start scheduling these snippets to go out daily, at least. I know, I know, it sounds like a lot of work-but trust me, it works. I recommend using Hootsuite, but there are tons of social media management tools that can help you schedule these posts. Understand how important this is: Your scheduling software will be your ghost. It will tweet and post for you automatically! So, while you're working, your name is still getting out on auto pilot. It's a life-saver.
Now, you might be thinking, what's the point of this "Tweet-Like-Crazy" mentality when you don't have many followers? Let me tell you, there is real value in tweeting and doing it often. Besides a communication tool, Twitter is a search engine. There are over 2.1 billion searches per day! That's HUGE! People are searching keywords, and by including them in your tweets (don't forget to use hashtags effectively), and pointing people to valuable content, you're going to grow your following and your traffic. Welcome to the big leagues.
So, you got it? Awesome. Now that we've taken care of your past posts, you need to keep on writing. For each post you write, follow my tips above. And remember, the more content you put out there, the more organic traffic you're going to see. Add your blog promotion on top of it, and BAM! You'll be pushing your business to the depths of the Internet.
Now it's time to get others to help the push. Add social sharing buttons to your blog so that people can easily share your content to their networks. Without these buttons, you're far less likely to see people sharing your content, which is going to make your efforts a lot slower. The lower the barrier of entry, the more results you'll see.
Twitter and Facebook aren't the only places to promote your blog. In the beginning of your exploration, you'll want to hit up as many networks as possible. This includes family forums, LinkedIn, Pinterest, StumbleUpon, Reddit and writer's forums. You'll start to see where your traffic comes from, and those are the additional networks to focus on. You should also check out Learni.st, a social learning platform where you can create boards dedicated to different topics of learning. Since the community there is learning-centric, it could be a great place for you to increase your exposure.
As for advertising, I'd stick to parent-to-parent sites, like CafeMom. Here's what you're going to do: run a Google search for blogs where parents talk about their high school-aged kids and then reach out on those channels. Mom Blogs are a good place to start, because moms love to talk about and share their experiences. Moms are super influential on social media. And what mom doesn't want their child to succeed?
If this seems like too much, you can always hire a social media marketing company to take on that workload so you can focus on what matters most... your business.
Do you have a question for Socially Stephanie?
Please email [email protected] and let Stephanie help you solve your social quandaries, queries, and boondoggles. (Questions may be edited for length and clarity.)
Illustration by Jesse Wells