Guest post by Bridget Burns, Co-Founder and Director of The Vegan Project
It may appear to some that I am an expert at what I do: vegan social networking. And if Malcolm Gladwell is right, I suppose I am. But I was not always adept at social media networking or navigating the internet. It took time, a passion-driven message and lots of mistakes. I run The Vegan Project, a vegan recipe and lifestyle blog I founded with a couple friends back in 2009.
When we started, I didn’t know anything about blogging or tweeting, and to be honest, I wasn’t too stoked on either. What I was stoked on was spreading the word about plant-based living (I’m a huge animal lover). I’d been on Facebook but I certainly hadn’t used it for building a community. Today, our blog receives over 15,000 (and growing) visitors per month, double that in page views. And our social media community has also grown exponentially, with 6300 followers on Twitter and almost 3500 on Facebook. We’re also on Pinterest, Instagram and Stumbleupon.
How Did We Get Here?
The Vegan Project evolved into what it is today organically, but I want to share with you the steps along the way, so you can apply these principles when starting your blog and building your social media following. If I, someone who wasn’t particularly fond of social media and blogging to begin with, can build a community like this in a short period of time, anyone can!
1.) Start a blog you’re excited about
When you’re jazzed about what you’re writing about and sharing with the world, and learn to embrace the many ways the internet can help you do it, there’s not much that can go wrong from there. People will recognize that you love what you do. It’s contagious!
2.) Start building your community on Twitter
Use your blog’s name as your Twitter handle (or a close variation of it), and include a concise description of what you’re all about in your bio, along with your blog URL. Don’t fill it with hashtags, and don’t be cleverly elusive. You want people to know what you do right off the bat.
From there, start searching and following people that are doing things that interest you and your followers. Follow people who follow them, and follow their followers. You can break it up and follow more and more people each day.
Then, interact. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, say “hi”, and share links. Don’t just share links from your blog; spread the love and share posts you enjoy from other people in your community.
It’s also good practice to keep the random, irrelevant thought tweets to a minimum, unless you’re a comedian, or trying to start the next ‘Shit My Dad Says’. Share information that is useful to others. If they recognize its usefulness, they’ll retweet it and share it with their networks, which does wonders for building yours.
3.) Build your community on Facebook
I’ve found that one of the keys to success on Facebook is beautiful images. Get yourself some images associated with what you do (bonus points if you can get some professional photography of yourself and things related to your subject matter), and start your Facebook page. Pick the best photos you can find to use for your cover image and profile image.
In your About section, be sure to link to your blog and all of your other social media presences. You can put more info on Facebook than you can on Twitter, so take advantage of that (but don’t go overboard).
When posting your updates, share links from your blog, other peoples’ pages and blogs, and photos. I’ve found that the posts that get the most attention and shares on Facebook are ones that feature well-taken photos.
Spread the love! Unabashedly ‘like’ and comment on posts that interest you from people in your network. Show interest in others’ projects and posts that are similar to what you are doing. Reciprocity is key: You can’t expect the internet to work for you if you don’t give back to the internet karma pool.
4.) Write for other blogs and have others write for your blog
Posting on other blogs is great because it gets you in front of other communities, thereby growing your network. You’ll also be getting link backs from the site you’re posting on, which will help improve your Google ranking.
Having guests post on your site also broadens your network because the guest poster will likely promote their post to their own networks.
A Few More Things…
These tips will hopefully jumpstart your social media expansion and result in getting your message, service or information to others. I’m sure many more social media portals will emerge in the future, so stay on top of what sticks and what doesn’t.
Have fun with your blogging and don’t over-think it. Each post doesn’t need to be an essay (unless you’re a professional essay writer). And remember, if you’re stuck, Google “how do i…” and undoubtedly someone else has asked the same question.
And please have someone proof read your writing! There is nothing worse than typos and poor grammar in a post, or worse, your Facebook or Twitter bio.
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