WordPress and Social MediaTo build an active blog, it's absolutely necessary that your blog pages contain links to popular social media options. This is separate from you as the blog author going out and posting on Twitter, Facebook, and other systems about your blog post. This is about your blog post ITSELF having links to various social media systems, so that your readers can share your posts or follow you in those other worlds.
A picture is worth a thousand words, or so they say, so I'll start with a screenshot of my EnjoyMA blog - and then describe the social networking links being shown there.
So this is a fairly short blog post. It's a description of a cool katydid I found, and it then links to the full article I wrote about that katydid. When I made this post I then tweeted about it, I posted on Facebook about it, and I posted on Google+ about it. So those are things that I, as an author, did.
Now I want to describe the two sets of social media links I have on this post and on every post in this WordPress blog.
Direct Social Networking Links
This is the most basic kind of link, and you should absolutely have it on every page you run, whether it's a blog page or otherwise. You want to link to where you can be found on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+. Whether you personally love them or hate them, some people "live" in each of these three worlds. You want to have your news and information finding them where they live. That is, imagine one of your followers has an app on their smartphone where they get updates from Facebook all day long. So when they're waiting for their kids, waiting in line, or taking a break on their couch, they check their feed. You want to be in that feed. You want your article or update or news to be catching their eye. They probably won't go "hunt you down" - it won't occur to them. But they WILL check their Facebook feed. If you're in there, you'll be seen.
So, in the above example, those direct links are in the left hand column. I did this with the plug-in "Social Profiles Widget". All it does is put a permanent link to your various social networking feeds into a widget which you can then include, using your normal widget manager, into any part of your site. This isn't something a person will be clicking on constantly. It's just a link to your social networking homepage. So it's something a person would do once, to connect to you. You want this to be somewhere visible, but not necessarily "in your face".
In my layout, adding it to the left column was fine. People can see it there. But it doesn't need to interrupt their reading or flow.
Sharing Social Networking Links
These links are critical to gain traction for the articles and blogs that you post. This is where you allow the reader to SHARE what they've read with their family and friends. I use "Simply Sociable" for this, which automatically adds those links with one click. There are two key things to keep in mind here.
1) IT MUST BE AT THE BOTTOM. This is absolutely key. People don't "scroll up" when they're done reading something. They don't go hunting for things to do. They finish reading, and their eyes are at the bottom of the article or post. They are now considering what to do next. This is where you want all your "actionable" links to be. For example, someone wouldn't know they want to share something before they read it! They want to read it first. It's only AFTER they read it that they then think of sharing it with other people. So you want those "share on Twitter" / "share on Facebook" types of links to be at the bottom of the content. Simply Sociable does that.
2) IT MUST BE VISIBLE. This might seem self-explanatory, but some social networking code hide all the various Google+ / Twitter icons underneath a generic "share me" title. People don't tend to read in our modern world. They scan. They are bombarded with ads and gobblygook so they scan for what is important. If someone loves Twitter, they scan for that Twitter icon. If they don't see it, they won't try to dig it out. So you need the actual list of icons at the bottom of your post. The three key ones are Twitter, Facebook, and Google+. Those are the ones which will gain the most traction. Again, this is how Simply Sociable works.
It's also important to use the native code so that the link to the ACTUAL blog post - not just your site homepage - is shared, and so people see how many other times it's been shared so far. This is where some interesting psychology comes into play. You're not aiming to prove you have lots of shares. Quite the contrary. Studies indicate that people love being the "first discoverer" of content. They like to feel, in this world of oversaturation, that they were the very first person to discover something cool. So seeing that something has very few shares excites them. It makes them feel like an explorer who has come across something cool that their friends will appreciate.
So you can see that at the bottom of my post. There are links for Twitter, Facebook, and Google+. Each one shows the current share value and has an easy to click button that lets the person share that exact post with their friends and family.
So, to summarize, you need BOTH sets of promotions on your blog or article. First, you always need to let a person know where to connect with you in general. If someone lives on Facebook, you need to let them know where to find you there. Second, you want to let a person share a specific article or blog post with their friends and family, in Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. That helps turn your readers into free marketing gurus who then spread word of your writing far and wide.
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