You should not underestimate the importance of social media marketing as part of your blog’s promotion. If you’re not sure where to start, read our comprehensive social media guide to help you get the fundamentals right
Why Social Media is a Vital Tool for Your Blog’s Success
Ah, the S word. Social media. It’s a big topic, and something that – over the past decade – has transcended from the realm of the young and tech-savvy, to the everyday lives of almost every demographic in the world.
Social media is a part of almost all of our lives, and while we might use it in different ways, there’s no denying its significance. And when it comes to running a hiking blog, the importance of social media marketing is hard to understate.
Whether you’re a confident user of social media, or a bit of a luddite, creating and managing different accounts across different platforms for your blog can seem a little overwhelming. There are so many channels, and it’s hard to know where to start.
Social media is also always changing and evolving, so leaping into this fast-flowing digital river can feel a bit like starting to watch a soap opera halfway through, with no knowledge of the characters or plot.
The importance of social media marketing is massive for a blogger though, so the key thing is to get the ball rolling, and get active on at least a few different platforms. To help, we’ve put together this article – we’ll go through 5 of the key channels: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and YouTube, and take a look at why they matter, what they are, and how to use them…
In the blogosphere, it’s pretty widely accepted that social media marketing is vital. It’s a given that bloggers use at least a few platforms regularly and confidently… but why? How did social media become such a core part of running a blog, and why does it matter so much?
Firstly, it’s hard to deny – and vital to recognise – the sheer scale of the impact social media has. At the start of the last decade, nearly 1 billion people were using social media worldwide. It’s estimated that by the end of 2020, that terrifyingly large number will have nearly tripled. That’s 3 billion users, all active on social media. That is a lot of potential readers.
Social media has become an integral part of most of our lives – whether we use Facebook to stay in touch with our friends, follow our favourite celebrities and influencers on Instagram, or get involved in heated debates on Twitter.
For bloggers, this represents a golden opportunity. Social media is one of the best ways to directly communicate with your readers; you can share your (and other people’s) content, stay in touch with your community, network with other bloggers within your niche, and expand your readership vastly, helping new visitors discover what you’ve been working so hard to create.
If you’re looking to monetise your blog, there’s also a financial incentive. Whatever your intentions, social media is a great way to get the snowball of interest rolling, and build an active and engaged community without ever having to leave your desk.
With all of this said, it’s important to acknowledge that – as with all aspects of blogging – there are some advantages and disadvantages of social media marketing. It’s good to recognise what to expect when you get underway.
Some of the advantages:
Social media is a great way to build an active following. It helps new readers connect with you and discover your blog, and it’s a really effective way to interact and network with others who are involved or interested in your niche. Get involved, get active and soon you will realise the importance of social media marketing to your business.
Some of the disadvantages:
Social media takes a lot of hard work, and it can be a real time sink. Sometimes, you can spend a huge amount of time working on your accounts, for what feels like comparatively little reward, so it’s good to be aware of this and weigh up the kind of commitment you’re willing to make along with what to reasonably expect.
If you plan to spend money on your social media marketing (more on that later), then it can also become expensive – you might find your money doesn’t reap the rewards you hope, which can be a little frustrating. There’s a lot of trial and improvement involved!
So with all of this in mind, you’re feeling excited, ready, and willing to put in a bit of effort. You’re ready to create social media accounts on all of the major platforms. But which social media platforms should you use?
Where is it best to invest your time (and maybe even money) first? Over the years, a huge number of different platforms have emerged, from the insanely popular to the bemusingly transient.
A few, however, have come out on top as the biggest players, and have remained so. We’re talking about the ‘big 5’ of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and YouTube. For now, these are where most bloggers can reap the biggest rewards, so we’re going to take a look at each in turn, to see what they’re about, and how you can make the most out of them.
With billions of individuals as potential visitors to your website, the importance of social media marketing simply can not be downplayed.
We’ll start with what could be called the Godfather of social media marketing: Facebook. Started initially as a platform for students at Harvard to connect with one another by the now legendary Mark Zuckerberg (a story nicely captured in David Fincher’s film The Social Network), Facebook swiftly became the titan of internet connectivity.
In April of 2019, it was announced that Facebook was serving an average of 2.37 billion active monthly users around the world, so it’s hard to understate the significance of this giant. The platform also owns many smaller services, such as Instagram, which makes it one of the most important places for bloggers and small businesses to be.
What is Facebook used for?
It’s scope and size means that Facebook has morphed into many things for many different people over the years. It can be used to organise events, catch up with friends, or network with fellow fans of everything from TV shows to obscure sports. For bloggers, though, the importance of social media marketing on Facebook lies in its ability to bring people together around a central topic or concept.
For bloggers, this will usually mean starting with a Facebook ‘page’. These are created independently of your personal account, and act almost like in-house websites for your blog. You can share photos, links to blogs, videos, and more; you can message and chat to people via comments or direct messages, and you can keep those who ‘like’ your page up to date with your activities.
You can also create a ‘group’, which people can join and post to freely, which can be a good way of bringing an existing community together to engage in an organic and natural way, facilitating discussions, debates, sharing experiences and more.
Creating your blog’s Facebook page
To start with, your best bet is to create a Facebook page for your blog. This is a fairly easy process, but you’ll need an existing Facebook account yourself first. Once you have set an account up for yourself (to act as an ‘admin’, in control of the page’s appearance, and with the ability to create posts, events and more), you simply navigate to ‘manage pages’ via the menu dropdown (on desktop), and then ‘create a page’.
The process from there is very straightforward, but it’s worth noting that you’ll want to include a profile image and a ‘header’ image to make your page attractive, plenty of information in the ‘about’ or ‘description’ sections, and most importantly: a link to your blog.
Tips for using Facebook effectively
When it comes to social media marketing for your blog on Facebook, it’s important to understand what the platform’s strengths are, and compare these with your own goals. You’ll need to decide whether you’re simply using Facebook as a place for your readers to stay up to date and connect with you, or whether you’re going to actively try and attract new readers.
If the latter, then bear in mind the content you post needs to be appealing to people who might discover your content and become interested in visiting your website. Here are a few top tips for successful Facebook marketing:
Post regularly, but authentically
There’s no perfect rate at which to post on any social media platform, but it’s important to remain active. At the very least you should be posting a couple of times a week, and it’s vital that your tone and approach to posting matches that of your blog, for consistency’s sake (you don’t want someone visiting your blog off the back of a quirky Facebook post, only to find your website is dry and formal, or vice versa!)
Post links to your blogs regularly, and make sure these look interesting. Tempt people to click through and read your articles, but try not to be too ‘clickbaity’, i.e promising a jaw-dropping discovery as a ruse for getting people to click on a link to a post about the best kinds of hiking boots!
Get people to click on ‘see first’
This is a fairly recent addition to Facebook’s interface, but the platform is now doing what it can to ensure people’s feeds are populated with content from their friends and family’s accounts, rather than third-party pages (i.e, your blog). This is a bit frustrating, but hey, we all have to play the game!
In order to avoid this becoming a problem, actively encourage your followers to change their settings on your page to ‘see first’ if they enjoy your content. This means your posts will jump the queue and display at the top of their feeds, which makes it more likely they’ll comment, like, or share your content. This in turn means their friends are more likely to see your content too, further increasing your ‘reach’.
Pay to play (potentially)
The more cynical among us might reach the conclusion that the reason Facebook has made it more difficult to disseminate content organically on their platform is because they want users to pump money into their paid marketing option. Whether or not this is true, there’s a lot to be said about the potential for this when used correctly.
There are hundreds of tutorials online about how to effectively spend any budget you might want to put into Facebook advertising or marketing, and there are lots of different ways to do this.
Broadly speaking though, ‘boosted’ posting is the most popular option for bloggers, as it allows you to select very specific niches of interest (those with a passion for your blog’s topic, for example) and pay for your content to be seen by accounts that tick this box.
In other words, if you run a hiking blog in the UK, you can pay for people in the UK with an interest in hiking to see your content! It’s important to do some homework and research the different options for this to avoid wasting any money, but in general you can boost posts or create adverts in order to attract people to click through to your account or blog.
Instagram is a more recent behemoth of the social-mediasphere, but in a relatively small number of years it’s become the most prominent visually-based social network available.
There are around 1 billion monthly users of the platform, with half of those using it every day. Over 4.2 billion ‘likes’ are clicked every day too, so these users aren’t just there in droves – they’re actively engaged with the content they’re viewing.
Instagram works differently from Facebook in that there are only really two types of posts you can upload: photos, and videos. You can also post ‘stories’ – transient photos or clips that your followers can view, which are deleted after 24 hours.
If your blog operates in a niche that can involve visual content, such as food, travel, or indeed hiking, then Instagram can be a valuable asset. It’s a great place to showcase your real-life activity, with your wall of ‘tiles’ a kind of gallery of what you’ve been up to.
How to create and use an Instagram account
Setting up an account on Instagram is extremely simple; you sign up with an email address, choose a profile picture, add a description and link your website, and you’re good to go. From there, the interface makes uploading photos and videos very straightforward; the platform is easy to use, and fun to master.
How to use Instagram effectively for marketing
The key to making the most of Instagram is to post content which looks great, and contains a good ‘description’ (or caption) to tempt people into liking the post or following your account. Once someone has followed you, they’ll see all of your future content in their feed, which leads to more regular engagement and likes as your follower base increases.
When it comes to marketing your blog effectively on Instagram, there are a couple of things to bear in mind:
Make your profile a ‘business’ profile
While you might not consider your blog a business as such, by creating the profile as a ‘business’ account you’ll be given access to a valuable array of insights and stats on your viewers and engagement. You’ll be able to see how many people have seen or interacted with your post, and how they discovered it, which brings us to…
Hashtags are the way Instagram categorises content, and posts with certain hashtags in their descriptions will be shown when a user searches for those terms within the platform.
For this reason, it’s important to use plenty of relevant tags to the image or video you’re posting in its description, and Instagram shows you how many posts have used that tag recently when you type it in.
Instagram determines what a person’s interests are from the posts they like or look at, and so someone with a passion for your niche (a new potential reader!) is more likely to be shown your content if you include hashtags relevant to that interest.
It’s good to use a variety of these, not the same ones every time (or the algorithm might decide your account is ‘stale’ and not show it as prominently to new viewers). The current cap is 30 hashtags per post, and there are plenty of tools to determine which hashtags to use, such as…
Use a content scheduling tool such as Tailwind
Two birds with one stone, this. Creating a post on Instagram can be a bit time consuming, with lots of options for editing photos and creating compelling captions. For this reason, it’s a good idea to prepare posts in advance, and Instagram unfortunately doesn’t allow you to do this from within its interface.
Fear not, however, for there are tools to use which make this process quick and easy, such as Tailwind. This program allows you to schedule posts in advance, research hashtags, and gives you access to lots of useful data on your audience and reach which is a great way to learn what does and doesn’t work.
Tailwind can really help you make significant strides and quickly realise the importance of social media marketing to your business as a whole.
This comes with a small caveat in that in order to avoid people leaving the platform, links on Instagram accounts don’t open in the user’s chosen browser, but from within Instagram’s own web browser. This isn’t the end of the world – a user clicking on your bio link will still have full access to your blog.
In order to keep things relevant, a trick that many bloggers use is to regularly update their bio link to their most recent or currently featured blog post.
Doing this means you can post a fantastic photo of a recent hike you’ve been on, for instance, and then encourage people to click the link in your bio, which has recently been updated to your blog post about this specific hike. It’s a great way to capture the interest of those enjoying a specific photo or video you’ve posted!
Engage with other relevant accounts
One of the most important things to do on Instagram is actively engage with other accounts. Follow plenty of bloggers in your niche, along with those who follow them, and there’s a good chance many of these accounts will follow you back. This is particularly true if you take the time to view, like, and comment on their own posts too.
As you build your following, it can also be a good idea to tag other accounts (such as the brands whose equipment you use, or tourist boards to places you visit).
If you catch the eye of someone relevant, you can reap all kinds of rewards, from sponsorships to paid-for trips and endorsements. Granted, this requires a huge amount of time, a large following, and a lot of luck, but the opportunity is there for those who want to pursue it.
Pay to play
As Instagram comes under the ‘Facebook’ umbrella, it’s possible to pay for ‘sponsored’ posts in order to boost the number of people who see your content. You can target this by interest as well, and it’s an effective way of increasing your engagement and following, particularly when you first get started.
Yep, we’re talking about the ‘big three’ first. Twitter has been around since 2006, and in the years since has become arguably the go-to place for instant discussion, updates, and conversation online.
What Instagram is for images, Twitter is for things to say – it’s unique format of instant posts of limited characters make it a live-action transient hub of thoughts and insights.
Twitter was the pioneer of instant social commentary and connection; while there aren’t as many users as Facebook and Instagram (a meager 330 million monthly users, with 145 million daily), but these users are prolifically active, hosting a conversation your blog is just waiting to become a part of.
As with all other platforms, the key thing to think about when using Twitter for social media marketing for your blog is what your intended purpose and outcome is.
It’s important to understand that Twitter isn’t the best place for sharing photos or videos necessarily, and in fact it’s not always even the best place to share links to your blog (although it’s important to do this too!).
Twitter is all about getting stuck into conversations, and sharing your thoughts on things. It’s a good place to share your blogs, sure, but where it really shines is when you get active and start talking to other people within your niche or industry.
With this in mind, there are a few ways to use Twitter particularly effectively that will help you recognise the importance of social media marketing using this platform:
Make a list of who you want to talk to, and get talking
Compile a list of all of the people and topics you want to get involved in, and start searching for and following them. Look at their recent tweets – most recent is best – and see where there’s a good opportunity to join in with conversations.
You’ll gain followers quickly if you’re highly active, and once your following is sizeable enough you can start your own conversations, share your blogs, conduct polls, and more.
Tweet often, but don’t overdo it
Daily tweeting is fortunately very easy – simply open the site or app, check out some trending topics or see what the people you follow are tweeting about, and get involved. Sending a tweet takes seconds. Don’t go crazy though, a few tweets a day is fine and manageable, but tweets every 15 minutes can look a little spammy.
Twitter is probably the best place to really be yourself when compared with other social media platforms. It pays to speak naturally, and tweet genuine thoughts and comments, not pre-scripted promos for your own website. Think about which is more appealing: “Take a look at my new blog post which discusses my recent hike, link below.
Like follow and comment.” or “Had the most amazing hike this weekend, some beautiful scenery! Never seen this kind of landscape before, so I’ve put together this article with some of the highlights – has anyone else been here?”
Hashtags on Twitter are slightly different to Instagram, in that people don’t follow them or search for them in the same way, but they can be a good place to find new people to engage with or follow. Use them sparingly – just one or two per tweet is normally fine – and keep them relevant. Find hashtags that people use regularly, and jump in the conversation this way.
Don’t worry about paying anything
Twitter offers potentially massive organic reach when a hashtag or trend kicks off for all involved, and while there is the option of advertising on Twitter, it’s not usually a very good way to spend money if you’re a blogger. While you can certainly look into this and consider it for yourself, your money is probably better spent elsewhere!
Another visual platform, Pinterest exists to help people collect inspiration, imagery, and web pages around particular topics or themes that interest them. And if that doesn’t scream ‘blogger paradise’, we don’t know what does… Pinterest can be a little bit more confusing than some of the other platforms initially due to its unique offering, but it’s one of the fastest growing social media sites, with 350 million monthly users.
Pinterest works by allowing users to create ‘boards’, kind of like mood boards, around certain topics. They then search for posts or ‘pins’ around that topic, and then pin them to their boards to create custom walls or feeds which they and their followers can view. Users can also create pins themselves, and that’s where you come in…
Pinterest offers a few unique opportunities for bloggers, and a few of our top tips include:
Pinterest allows users to link each of their created pins. What this means is that every pin is kind of intended to take the users off site; these aren’t just images, but links to useful websites, recipes, blog posts and more. This makes pins the perfect place to help people find your blog, as those with an interest in your niche can pin your content to their relevant boards.
Make use of the ‘text and image’ format
This isn’t essential, but it’s become very commonplace on Pinterest and it works well. Create a pin which features a lovely image from within or relevant to your blog post, then overlay this image with the title in a nice font, and link the pin to the post itself so it acts like a direct ‘click and view’ tile for your article.
This works well because Pinterest places more emphasis on the image of a pin than the title and the text, often cutting short long titles and displaying descriptions as a secondary feature. With that said…
Give your pins tempting titles and descriptions
They might not be the centre of attention, but if you want your pins to appear for those searching, there are a few key ingredients: incredible imagery, a great title, and a good description. Hashtags are back again here, and it’s good to use a handful, although in general it’s the imagery that does the talking on Pinterest.
Do give your pin a fantastic title though – while it might be tempting to simply title a pin with the name of the blog post it links to, if the image itself features attractive text with the post title, and the pin reads ‘One of the best hikes in Wales…’ then it’s more likely to appeal to those creating a board of, say, the best hikes in the UK.
Schedule pins with Tailwind
Pins are quite easy to create, and so it’s a good idea to spend an afternoon preparing all of your content to send out over a given period. This is where a service like Tailwind comes in again, as Pinterest doesn’t involve the immediacy of Twitter, and can benefit massively from advanced bulk scheduling. You also get the added benefit of all the stats and insights too!
Pin other people’s content to your boards
It’s a good idea to share the love a bit on Pinterest too – if your account is a hub of great pins and content in your niche, people are more likely to follow you.
This means getting active and finding pins that interest you too; create some boards like ‘Places I dream of visiting…’ and pin some content to them. It shows the algorithm you’re active, engaged, and involved, which makes your content more likely to show up.
Try scheduling pins at different times
Pinterest is a funny one in the sense that some content can get a bit lost if it gets posted at the wrong time or in the wrong way. Once a pin is repinned by a few people, it can take off quite quickly, but to get this to happen, it’s a good idea to experiment using a tool like Tailwind, to see which times of day and week work best for the content you’re posting.
YouTube can be pretty intimidating for us lowly bloggers. We’re usually more at home in front of a keyboard than a camera, but YouTube can be a fantastic tool in the bloggers arsenal. It’s also one of the most used platforms on this list – 6 out of 10 people prefer online videos to TV, and with 1.9 billion monthly users, YouTube is where a lot of them are going to watch things.
Video content is swiftly becoming the most viewed of all content on social media, and YouTube is the channel specifically dedicated to it, so it’s well worth considering whether it could be a good addition to your social media marketing efforts.
The time and effort required to put videos together can be off putting, and there’s no denying it takes a lot of work to manage and run a successful YouTube channel. With that said, YouTube can serve a few purposes, and it can be an incredibly versatile medium when used well… Some of our top tips would be:
Putting together multiple videos a week takes a huge amount of time, and it’s probably not realistic for many of us. It’s also difficult to achieve the visual fidelity and editing quality we see from our favourite YouTubers without a lot of money and time put into getting to that level, so don’t overcommit to your output. The beauty of YouTube is that anyone can upload a video – you don’t need to be the next Scorcese!
Use what you have to create
Chances are you own a smartphone, and chances are that smartphone has the ability to record pretty high quality videos. Try out some filming and editing using the tools you already own, and try putting together a video or two to get used to how it all works. Check out some online tips for beginners, and get stuck in.
Use YouTube in conjunction with other channels
Ok, admittedly, building an audience on YouTube alone is a challenge. It’s become one of the most competitive and popular channels for people in all niches, because of the potential for massive monetisation, but that also means it’s one of the most saturated platforms in terms of content.
You don’t necessarily need to worry about this though – with a little effort, once you have some successes on other platforms, you can easily share your YouTube videos to your followers there. You can also embed videos onto your blog itself, so your readers will be able to view your content with just a single click!
A surprising number of people have taken to watching videos with the sound off. Video content is hugely prevalent all over the internet now, but with people watching videos on their way to work or in public places, not everyone can be bothered (or wants to) stick headphones on. As such, it’s always good to include subtitles on all of the videos you plan to share online – particularly if you’re sharing them on other social media channels.
Make videos about things that aren’t cliche
Before you spend time putting together a video, have a look to see if it’s the kind of content other creators are making, and whether it’s worth putting together more content on this topic. Is there a lack of good YouTube content for this topic? Great, it’s a good opportunity. Is there so much that you’re overwhelmed? Might not be helpful to make even more.
When it comes to something like personal experiences such as hikes though, there’s a strong argument to pull out the camera and take some footage, and edit this into a clip. Your readers enjoy reading your blog because of you and your personality (hopefully, at least!), so why not show it for real on screen?
Pay to play – the smart way
If you want your video content to do well, you can always pay to boost your content. But paid advertising on YouTube can be really expensive, and how many of us are guilty of ignoring the ad as soon as the ‘skip’ function becomes available?
Instead, why not consider putting some of your marketing budget towards boosting posts on other channels, such as Facebook, which feature content from your YouTube channel? That way you can get your content in front of people without having to navigate the gauntlet of YouTube SEO…
Phew. That was a long, long list. If you’ve read all of this cover to cover so far, we’re impressed. We thought it would be helpful to leave things on a few top tips though – because it’s not just the importance of social media marketing that matters, it’s doing it intelligently. Some parting thoughts:
Pick your channels carefully
Don’t try and conquer every social media platform at once. Remember, your blog comes first, and you need to be efficient with your time, so pick a few platforms to try out first. See how things go, and then take a bit of time to try out some other platforms – settle on the ones you enjoy most and stick to these initially, and don’t spread yourself too thin.
Set realistic goals and expectations
Don’t expect to have thousands of followers in your first two weeks of posting. It’s important to be realistic, and really plan out what you’re using social media for. Decide, firmly, what it is you want to achieve from your social media marketing – are you trying to get new readers?
Build your following on Twitter? Or even just create your first Pinterest board? Particularly before you spend any money, set out some clear realistic goals.
Make a content calendar and plan carefully
Trying to juggle even a few social media accounts as well as running a blog and, for many of us, having an actual life can be tricky. In order to make it manageable, create a content calendar weeks ahead, for both your blog and your social media accounts.
This can be a good way to make sure things stay integrated and work to complement each other, too. Looking into one of the scheduling tools such as Tailwind is a great idea to make things easier too. Never forget the importance of social media marketing as a wonderful tool for driving your blog to the next level.
Ok, we think that might be it! Definitely time for a cup of tea. If you’d like to know more about running your hiking blog, take a look at some of our other articles for some helpful advice, or get in touch if you’d like to chat directly to us.
Remember, never forget the importance of social media marketing in your online business. Drop any comments or questions into the box below and we will get back to you just as soon as we can. We look forward to hearing from you…