If you're feeling a bit lost when it comes to promoting your blog posts through social media hopefully I can clear things up for you and get you going in the right direction. It's exciting to be able to put out blog content on your site but the sound of crickets once you hit publish can be disheartening. The good news is there are readers out there for just about anything you could want to write; it's just a case of getting your writing in front of them.
Until a blog is well established it's unlikely that people are going to organically stumble upon your site - say through a Google search - or navigate to it directly. This means you have to think about how and where people - your people in particular - are surfing the web and meet them halfway. Social media platforms (as well as search engines, but that's for another time) have become the gatekeepers of and portals to the vast majority of content online so knowing how to use them to your advantage is key here. The following are some general guidelines for promoting your blog content through Facebook and Instagram - since those are two of the most popular platforms and the two I use - and reaching a wider audience.
There's a very high chance that Facebook and Instagram (if not both, then one or the other) are ideal platforms for promoting the blog content you create. With over one billion people signed up to Facebook and 113 million on Instagram, it's a fair bet that a segment of those people are going to be interested to hear what you have to say. Even if only 0.001% of Facebook users took an interest in your blog that's ten thousand people (a very respectable audience, to put things in perspective).
So while it's worth spending some time deciding which platforms to focus on to reach your ideal audience these two are a solid starting point. You might want to explore others, and your market research will give you an idea of what way to go in that regard. Taking a closer look at where exactly on these platforms you're likely to interact with your potential readers is the next step. It's crucial throughout this process to keep in mind how your audience navigates social media and the internet generally. You need to be able to envision their journey from having no idea you exist to having your blog bookmarked on their browser and the micro-steps in between.
Facebook pages are the most common way for people to consume content on the platform that doesn't come directly from their friends list (although even a fair amount of what your friends post to their timelines will be shared from a page). If you don't have a page set up for your blog then you can guess my next piece of advice: set one up. It's easy to do and will allow people to like and follow your blog (or business, brand, etc.) on Facebook. It also lets you keep your personal profile separate which helps to maintain boundaries between your personal and professional online presence. Once you've written a blog post you're going to want to post it to your Facebook page, but there are some things worth keeping in mind.
Promoting Your Blog Through Your Facebook Page
Once you've written your blog post you want it to be accessible from your Facebook page, but simply posting a link to your site isn't going to cut it. One big reason for this is that Facebook can penalize content that directs people away from their platform by dampening the organic reach it gets (essentially it will show up less frequently in the newsfeeds of people who like your page).
A simple way around this - and you've likely come across this perhaps without knowing why it happens - is to post the link to your blog in the comments section of a post (not the caption) of course indicating in the main body of the post that it's down there. So the question now is what should the post (or posts since I recommend doing a few of these) consist of?
Each post can either be text, image, or video so go with what suits you and your audience here. If you do decide to only use the one I would recommend against a text-only post as they receive far less engagement on average. If you blog about something very technical and detailed you could post an infographic and mention in the caption that you've linked to a blog post in the comments that goes into more depth. If your fans are likely to engage with something on a visual and aesthetic level, post a photo that will grab their attention and maybe a quote from your blog as the caption or overlaid on the image - Canva is a great tool for this but more on that later - again mentioning the link below.
Use Native video Content to Promote Your Blog
If you want to go a step further you can use a video to promote your blog post. Native video content (i.e. you posted it directly to the platform, rather than posting a Youtube video for example) generally, and increasingly on Facebook, has the highest engagement rate. It engages more of a person's senses and allows you to speak directly to potential readers. This could be anything from a simple selfie-style video announcing your new blog post, maybe sharing some of the takeaways or why you wanted to write it and inviting people to read it over on your site. If you don't like the idea of your face being on show you can simply shoot your surroundings vlog-style or use an animated graphic (again, Canva is great for this) adding a voiceover either as you record or afterward using something like Vlogit.
If you want to give yourself an edge then I do recommend using the live video feature on Facebook. This way people who follow your page will get a notification when you go live and can interact with you in real-time. For some people, this is way scarier than posting a pre-recorded video and for others, it takes the pressure off because they feel like they're talking to another human which can ease your nerves and help your personality come across.
If you don't like the idea of seeing your face or hearing your voice - stick to pictures! It's important to work in a way that not only appeals to your audience but that works for you, your personality, and your preferred working style. While it can be hugely beneficial to expand your comfort zone and try new things you don't have to conform to every trend and use the same playbook as everyone else. People will enjoy your online presence when it's truly yours, so own it - especially if you go against the grain.
Facebook groups have become much more prominent on the platform recently, and it's no wonder. They're an amazing way of building up communities (from a tight-knit couple of dozen people to the 1 million+ members mega groups) and they form around a particular subject, cause, or interest.
You can leverage these niche online spaces to your advantage by joining groups relevant to your blog and sharing your posts in there, assuming this doesn't go against the group guidelines - always check! Use the same formatting as above, and always stick around to answer questions and continue to engage with the community more generally. Some of the most worthwhile connections I've made online - including ones who would go on to become clients - have been through Facebook groups.
This will help you form connections with people who might become part of your core audience, and will help portray you as someone interested in more than just getting views on your blog - which you are, right?
Being connected to your audience on an authentic level is important. If you go to the length of writing your own blog it's probably because you care deeply about something, or have views and opinions on a subject that you care about sharing. Hopefully, this means you also care about the community that your blog sets out to serve because that shines out in a big way.
The other social platform I use for promoting my blog and generally to build an audience around Reality Hack is Instagram. The highly visual nature of the platform suits me as someone who enjoys photography and graphic design - don't worry if that's not you, I have you covered!
There are a few major differences between Instagram and Facebook, but the one I want to bring your attention to is the use of links on the former. Unless you have over 10,000 followers you have to rely on a single link in your bio for people to access your blog (after 10k you can insert links in your stories and use the 'swipe up' feature).
This link can be updated to reflect your most recent writing or a featured piece for example, but the challenge is simply getting people to click to your profile and follow through to your blog. There are a few ways you can go about this but first I want to share a simple process to go through when you have a new blog post ready to promote.
First of all be sure to update your bio link to the piece you want to promote (via the 'Edit Profile' tab, inserting the link in the 'Website' box). Next, I recommend posting to your Instagram story, and similar rules apply here to those I mentioned for Facebook. You have the option to post a quick video and show up for your audience that way or create a nice graphic (or a series of graphics) using Canva or the native story tools (text, stickers, etc.) that give people a taste of what your blog post is all about, and invite them to click to your bio.
The next step involves creating regular Instagram posts for your main feed which will also help to promote your blog. A time-saving strategy here is to simply repurpose parts of the blog post itself for the caption of the post. You could post a photo or create a text graphic using a quote from your writing, then insert a couple of lines from the blog itself as the caption, mentioning of course that the full article is on your site (with the customary mention of the #linkinbio).
Also, remember to use hashtags wisely - which means not too few, nor too many. There's no golden number so I say just go with your gut, or a max of 20 if you're not sure about your intuitions here. Hashtag research is a very useful thing. Take time to search various relevant hashtags on Instagram and see what kind of content comes up and how common the hashtag is. You want to vary how popular the hashtags that you use are as this gives you the benefit of using popular hashtags and increasing your reach, as well as tapping into more niche audiences with the less popular ones.
Rather than scratching your head for fresh hashtags every time, it can be useful to write them out in the notes section of your phone and simply copy+paste them each time you post, adding in a few specific ones each time depending on what you're posting. The copy+paste tip also helps with formatting your caption as you might have noticed Instagram typically ignores line breaks in your text. Having a few different sets of hashtags is also useful, for example, one for each topic you post about. Over time you should start to get an idea of which hashtags are helping you reach a wider audience but it is by no means a precise art, so have fun.
Once you've got the image, caption, and hashtags you're ready to post. Go ahead and do that and then share your post directly to your story using the little paper plane icon under your post. You can add additional text or stickers here as before, again encouraging people to click through to the link in your bio.
Repeat this process a few times, creating new posts for your feed and sharing them to your story. Before long your story chain will become a mini 'marketing funnel' taking people from your initial story announcing the new blog post and through a series of shared posts from your feed that give them a little more information and encouragement to click through to read the blog post on your site. I would also recommend against sharing other account's content to your story for a time while you're trying to get eyeballs on your blog.
Engaging with Your Community + Making Connections
As with on Facebook it is crucial to engage with your wider community on Instagram. Through your hashtag research, you will come across accounts that are on a similar wavelength to your own. Following these - as well as liking, commenting on, and sharing their posts - is one way to start building connections within your Instagram community. A percentage of these people will like and follow back, helping to get your content in front of new faces. Just to make this clear I do not recommend cheap #like4like tactics or the follow-unfollow protocol.
I've made great connections striking up conversation through DMs and recently have used this strategy to find potential podcast guests for my upcoming show). Following people who follow accounts similar to your own is another way to tap into a pool of potential fans. Simply find an account that has a similar vibe to yours, click on their followers, and follow as many as you want (avoiding obvious bots and spam accounts).
Caveat: Instagram Business Accounts
Whether you post to one, the other or both when it comes to Instagram and Facebook might depend on whether your accounts are linked. Changing your Instagram account to a business one gives you the option to link it to your Facebook page, and this allows for Instagram posts and stories to be shared to your Facebook page.
This opens up the option to skip the steps about posting to Facebook; simply link your accounts and let Instagram cross-post the content for you. One thing to note here is that you'll still need to manually add a link to the blog post in the comments section of the Facebook post.
There are pros and cons to this and I usually prefer to post natively on Facebook regardless of the content that ends up getting cross-posted from Instagram, but again so much of this process is about you finding your way. Sure some techniques are fairly tried and tested but with the way these platforms and the online world in general keep evolving it's more important to be adaptive and experiment than to know a series of steps.
Stock Images, Design Tools + More
When it comes to promoting your content and getting noticed on social, it can help to look the part and have a visually captivating and recognizable presence. You can achieve this through simple things like the colours you use, the style of images and fonts, and the use of your logo if you have one. These create a lasting impression and build to form the aesthetic of your brand.
If you're somebody who doesn't enjoy photography or doesn't feel comfortable using their own photos, that's no problem and certainly shouldn't hold you back from putting your work out there. Sites like Unsplash and a whole host of other royalty-free stock photo sites offer professional photography for you to use.
Combine this with drag-and-drop design software Canva and anyone can create amazing looking content for their Instagram and beyond. I use Canva for most of my blog cover photos and social media headers and believe you it is so easy to use. There are thousands of premade templates for you to insert images of your choice and change the text to your liking, or you can create from scratch with their drag & drop editor.
In cases where I need a little more control the free image editing software, Gimp is a perfect substitute for Photoshop or Lightroom (although heads up, there's much more of a learning curve with Gimp). You could get by just fine without having to ever look at this type of software but I'm sure for some of you time spent learning to use Gimp will pay off.
While we're on the subject of digital tools there are a few that help when it comes to taking your own photos. I use my smartphone for 99% of the photography and videography; there are a grand total of 3 apps that I use to help me. The first is Snapseed, a simple but powerful image editor. I rarely post an image without passing it through Snapseed first.
The second is Photoshop Camera. I only came across this one recently but it is invaluable. It allows you to capture shots with a shallow depth of field (or apply it after the fact) which is an area of functionality where smartphone photography often loses ground against something like a DSLR. This is changing any many newer phones now have a portrait mode which has features like this but the PhotoshopCamera combines that with other effects (see my fly edit below) and a more full range of control than any default camera app I've used.
Again, I enjoy photography and graphic design - it's part of the services I offer - but if that just isn't you that's absolutely fine. Do what works for you, take wonky blurry photos and own that, post nothing but pictures of your feet, whatever makes sense for you and your brand. Trying too hard to fit in with the aesthetic choices of the day may well help you fit in but it certainly won't help you stand out. The best approach is the one that you will take consistently.
Other Tips & Final Thoughts
While I've focused on promoting your blog post after it's published there are ways you can begin to generate interest in it before you even start writing. I often give my audience a heads up when I'm writing something for the blog to get a gauge of how interested people are in the topic. It also gives me a good opportunity to hear directly from my audience what they would like to know about a particular issue. This way you can build anticipation and awareness before you hit publish like you might expect with a movie or song in the run-up to its release.
It's important to remember that your promotional efforts have an accumulative effect. Never be dismayed if a particular Instagram post - let alone a particular blog post - doesn't get a great response or a load of views. It doesn't matter. It really doesn't. That doesn't mean that you shouldn't try though, because it's the compound effect of you constantly trying that will get you and your blog and your brand noticed.
The effectiveness of a post - its reach, reactions, engagement, and so on - can indicate what works and what might not work so well and that is hugely helpful to take note of. On saying that, just because you tried something and it didn't immediately get a great response that doesn't mean it won't later be effective or that you should drop it. Give your approach time to develop and to reach the audience that it's meant for. The main thing I want you to take away from this, if nothing else at all, is to be consistent in your effort and remember why you set out on this journey.
Things like the time of day or day of the week can also impact a post's reach and engagement. Initially, you'll just have to go with your gut on when is a good time to post. Are you putting out long-reads? Wait until people finish work or the weekend. Snappy, bite-size stuff? Time it for when people are likely to be on their lunch break and looking for a quick read.
Over time your analytics will give you an idea of when your audience is most active and which posts are reaching people, but don't worry about that to begin with - you need to get stuff out there in the first place to then start looking at the data it's creating. If you are there you can start to be more strategic with when you post and use scheduling tools like Hootsuite to get your content scheduled in advance.
As I've said throughout, keep in mind what your potential readers are looking for and how they consume content. What information will benefit them, and why are they looking for it in the first place? Not only will this help you to meet them where they are but you will be able to go on creating more of exactly what they need to hear - and remember there's someone out there who needs to hear exactly what you need to say. Go say it.