Go where your readers are: a social media experiment

blogger in a cafe

When I wrote about building your niche and a community around it, I stressed the importance of going where your readers are and engaging with them as much as possible. I wrote that and thought I had a pretty good idea that most of my readers/engagement comes from sending out RSS-to-email newsletters when there are new posts on the blog, but truthfully, I hadn't put a lot of effort into nurturing other social media outlets like Facebook & Pinterest. I took to Twitter easily and quickly, and have been pretty active there since 2009, and I like the engagement on twitter, but it never translated into a significant source of traffic for me.

Figuring Out Facebook

Since I focused so much on Twitter, I neglected Facebook – but also because I didn't “get” Facebook and didn't use it personally. I created pages for all my blogs several years ago, and set up the blogs to auto-post to Facebook (not good), but otherwise completely ignored it. I managed to attract a fair number of “likes” to my pages, but I didn't know what to do with them. About a month ago, I completely revamped the Facebook pages for my two main blogs and have been very active on both of them. I manually update the pages with new blog posts, share pictures from pages I like, post questions, answer comments, and have really enjoyed the increased interaction with my readers there.

BUT, I cannot say that increasing my interaction on Facebook has translated into more traffic for my blogs. All it has done is increased followers and engagement ON FACEBOOK.

BUT, I cannot say that increasing my interaction on Facebook has translated into more traffic for my blogs. All it has done is increased followers and engagement ON FACEBOOK. I'm not altogether unsatisfied with that, but as I noticed on Twitter, engagement on social media sites tends to STAY on social media sites; readers who comment, or like posts on Facebook don't come to the blog and leave a comment. Facebook has more potential to turn into a significant source of referrals to the blog because of the reach and virality though, so I look forward to sticking with it to see how it progresses.

Into Instagram

I also started using Instagram again. I was very active there in the beginning and built up a nice following, but when they changed their TOS, I stopped using it. Now that I'm back on Instagram I've slowed down a bit, but I love it for enticing readers who already follow your blog to visit the blog (I post outfit picture teasers there) for more information. I also like getting to see bits of my readers lives on Instagram and interacting there, but I don't expect it to lead to anything else.

Pinterest Perfect?

Finally, I decided to devote more time to Pinterest. Ah…Pinterest. We've all heard how successful Pinterest has been for a lot of fashion bloggers in terms of traffic and affiliate commission (reward style is really easy to use with Pinterest), but I was a late adopter. A couple of months ago I decided to pin more and be more “active” on Pinterest to see if I could replicate other fashion bloggers' success. I did not. First, my personal outfit photos aren't pin-worthy, which takes away a huge potential source of referrals. Second, Pinterest just isn't my thing – if I see something I love online, I usually try to make a blog post around it instead of “pin it,” so I wasn't pinning as much.

The Real Results:

My goals were simple though: to see how much I could increase engagement.

In the months that I've been doing my “social media experiment” I have attracted new followers to my social media accounts, but haven't seen any increased referrals to the blogs, or income from affiliate commissions via Pinterest. My goals were simple though: to see how much I could increase engagement. I didn't have any specific numbers in mind; I was going to see where this took me and make a determination from there. Ultimately, I've decided that Pinterest is not worth much of my time, but I love interacting on Facebook, Instagram and on twitter whether or not it leads to traffic or income.

What can you take away from this?

  • Try everything, but stick with what you love and comes naturally to you: don't force yourself to use what you don't enjoy, and don't just auto-post to have a presence; it doesn't get you anywhere (believe me! I know!) and your readers will see through it.
  • Measure, measure, measure: define goals for your social media experiment, then pay attention to the stats that come with Facebook & Pinterest so you can determine if you're meeting your goals.
  • If what you're doing doesn't lead to the results you want, don't abandon it completely, but don't spend a lot of valuable time on it: use analytics and your “gut feelings” to determine if it's worth the time/effort to spend on certain social media outlets

What has your experience been with using social media to increase traffic/referrals/engagement on your blogs? Have you had success?

[Image credit: Shutterstock.com]

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23 Responses

  1. The Lingerie Lesbian

    In my experience, Twitter actually has huge potential for attracting readers and growth. Twitter isn’t my biggest traffic driver, but it is a significant source and I find that while I can connect with my readers, it’s a great place for peer to peer interaction. I’ve connected with many bloggers and brands on Twitter that have helped me expand my reach and develop great friendships or collaborations online and offline. Although Facebook is a better place to share conversation starting blog posts, there is very little ability to reach out to other bloggers, brands or even celebrities on an even playing field in the way you can on Twitter.

    Pinterest in something that would probably do better for me if I actually spent more time on it, but it’s not something I spend a lot of time on. Tumblr is big for me, but that’s because that’s where I started out.

    Reply
    • Grechen Reiter

      twitter is definitely my favorite social media platform, for a lot of the reasons you mentioned. it’s “easiest” for me to use, and it’s the best way to connect directly with brands and other bloggers.

      Reply
  2. Andra Dorolti

    This is a great topic! Thanks for sharing your experience.
    I am active on Facebook only. For me it’s quite important. Most of my readers come from Facebook, but I see that others are way popular on Twitter. I’m not that familiar with Twitter, that’s why I haven’t tried yet.
    I guess it’s like you said, we should stick with what we like most and feel comfortable with 🙂

    Reply
  3. Amber

    I’m a HUGE Instagram fan and user. I’ve actually noticed an increase in my instagram followers and for me that’s the best source of traffic (Not that it’s being measured)
    I’ve also gotten more active on the FB page. I definitely need to re-vamp my page and make it a little more pretty but I’m trying to do better about posting images manually on there and using different ones than what are on IG and Twitter so those readers/fans feel like they’re getting something different.
    Pinterest is a whole different can of worms. Like you my outfits may not be ‘pin -worthy’ but I still make sure I pin all my own stuff so that people at least see it in the hopes maybe they will be curious to find the whole website. I mean, a girl can dream right? Still navigating the whole social media + blog merge but so far so good!

    Reply
  4. Bitani Marie

    This is helpful, I am so excited to try this out!! Going to do it for the month of June.

    For me, I believe for a follower to become a consistent viewer of your blog, they have to fall in love with you over social media. I think that really just takes time.

    Reply
  5. Blanca

    Hello Grechen, I never comment on this blog since I don’t have a fashion blog (I( have a blog about blogging: advice for other bloggers), but I wanted to share my experience.

    It happens the opposite to me: I don’t “get” Twitter, and although I don’t use FB personally, I prefer this site.

    I interact there with my readers, share my posts and other things (short quick tips sometimes that aren’t worth a post) and I have also hosted to giveaways on my blog that I posted on FB (no requisite to share, but people do).

    So because people do share (not always, but they do), and comment, engage, etc, their friends and fans see it, and I get new people to see me.

    They do come to my site (that didnt know beforehand) and some they stay.

    A LOT of people have found my blog through FB. A lot. Not through Pinterest though, and through twitter probably not many.

    Hope that hepls 😉

    xo,

    Blanca

    Reply
  6. Bisous Natasha

    It’s so true. I find that people stay on the social network that you post on. I have 4 times more followers on Instagram than on my Facebook. I don’t know if I am doing things wrong or just that people can’t be bothered to log onto a link unless there is something in for them.

    Reply
  7. Rachel

    Twitter has always been the traffic pusher for me. Facebook wise, it has been early days for me to tell and Instagram is great as a way to connect with my readers, but does nothing for traffic. Pinterest however, has been really successful on my blog. I was in the very first wave of people on it when it launched so I have quite a following so my affiliates work really well, but with better success with pay-per-click ShopStyle rather than rewardStyle. I do get some traffic from outfit posts and travel images on there, but it is my recipe posts that get a massive traffic boost and lots of pins from other people on there, as Pinterest is such a food porn fest!

    Reply
  8. Claire

    This is something I’ve been trying to work on lately, I still need more work but twitter is the hardest for me I just don’t get it. I don’t think I really have a twitter persona I just can’t write something short and catchy without agonising over it first. I do like facebook, pinterest and instagram but none drive huge amounts of traffic right now, pinterest probably has the edge over the others for me.

    Reply
  9. Cora Harrington

    Social media has been HUGE for me in terms of increasing the reach and readership of my blog. It’s let people know about me and talk about me via word of mouth, and it’s enabled me to have those one-on-one conversations with readers that I believe are so important for relationship building. I am convinced that my blog would be MUCH smaller if not for the impact of social media.

    I’m on all the major social platforms, and when it comes to traffic, my top 5 referring sites (excluding Google and direct visits) are all social media. As with most things, it can take awhile to ramp up and see an effect (I was on Twitter and Facebook for *years* before they became my top referrers) but once you do, you’ll realize it’s well worth the investment.

    Reply
  10. maddie

    I share the same feelings as you. I like Twitter and Facebook because I get to engage my readers – talk to them, ask them question, and overall, get to know them one on one. I use Pinterest for more personal inspiration and if I see something I like that I want on my blog, I create a quality post about it (photo+text).

    Reply
  11. Nasreen

    thats how I feel with twitter! it doesn’t make up most of my blog views or comments but I do talk with people over on the site. We’ll see how it goes 🙂

    Reply
  12. Zynthia

    I actually came to your blog because of Pinterest. I would not have found it otherwise. I like the blog advice you give I would like to start my own and you have a lot of insight.
    Thanks,
    Z

    Reply
  13. The Science of Happy

    The problem I face is that, I don’t want to be that person who depends on all these apps and platforms. I know that they’re essential to increase readership but I value my own independence over a large viewership any day!

    http://thescienceofhappy.blogspot.co.uk/

    Reply
  14. Maurisha

    I recently re-launched my blog with a name and a new domain. Unfortunately, I didn’t do things the smart way, so I have basically been rebuilding my blog from the ground up. This has meant soliciting for new readers, setting up all new social media accounts, and trying to find the best ways to engage. So far, I find Pinterest is my biggest driver of new traffic. My Facebook page is struggling, although I am gaining momentum with Instagram, and Twitter. We shall see in a few more months how much social media is truly playing a part in helping to grow my readership.

    Reply
  15. Shira

    I’ve found that instagram has brought more traffic to my blog. It took a good few months but so far it seems to be the place I’ve been most successful with. Twitter is the one social media that I never “got.” And because of that, I neglected it…I recently started a new page and I really do see the potential in it but I definitely need to take some of my dedication from instagram and pinterest and put some into twitter and a bit more to FB….. it all takes TIME but I feel like the investment really does lead to growth!

    http://www.asequinloveaffair.com/

    Reply
  16. Jacqueline Jax

    This was a really interesting article thank you for your insights. I started on Facebook originally and have had much traffic from there in fact half of my traffic is still from Facebook for all of my blogs. I do see traffic also coming from Twitter now that i use it more often but ony when i tag people but a large source of traffic comes from LinkedIn. LinkedIn is a really underestimated source: of traffic. I have tons of people joining my page daily and interacting from that social media site. if you want to know more about what I do you can see my marketing tips on http://Www.avaliveradio.com – JAX

    Reply