Understanding Each NetworkAs of last year, social media surpassed search as the leading driver of web traffic. As the leading driver of web traffic, choosing your networks strategically becomes even more important. Here is the full breakdown of how (and why) I use each network.
Google PlusPersonally, I consider the Plus to be one of the best kept “secrets” of the social web. This network is uniquely focused on establishing relevant connections and providing you with the tools to grow those connections into strong, thriving relationships.
Use tools such as communities, collections, and ripples to identify people relevant to your industry. Use circles to organize the people you want to engage with. Set your notifications to ping you when these people publish or share something new. As others then express interest in your content, build an opt-in notification circle to keep them informed when you publish new material. You can see a detailed discussion of how to do this here.
If you are beginning without any sort of marketing budget and looking for ways to build genuine relationships organically, Google Plus is a solid starting platform.
Update: Shortly after publishing this, Google announced that they are discontinuing their “ripples” feature. While ripples was a unique way to track influencer engagement, the remaining communities and collections still stand as one the best features for finding and connecting with your target audience.
Optimize your Pinterest graphics in a vertical 735×1103 format and write keyword-rich descriptions. Build a variety of boards around relevant topics, taking the time to pin regularly. Integrate your Pinterest efforts with other networks by adding a “Pin It For Later” link to the relevant pin.
Pinterest’s strength comes from a combination of highly visual content, a persistent “shelf-life,” and its integration with other networks. Use Pinterest in combination with other network efforts, rather than in isolation.
Curate content through Buffer, including images to improve your click-through rate. When you share content from other bloggers, be sure to mention them in the Tweet. Use Twitter lists and Buzzsumo to target specific people to connect with. Engage with relevant Twitter chats to find others interested in your field.
The key to Twitter is recognizing that it is an outreach platform, not a traffic-driving platform. Twitter has now become the top driver of social media traffic for this site, but this traffic all comes through the relationships I have built rather than through my own following.
YoutubeVideo content that displays your face as you speak to your audience establishes a psychological connection that no other form of media offers. Youtube integrates with every other social network through embedded video, and adding a branded watermark allows viewers to subscribe to your channel anywhere the video is seen. Also, integrating with Google Plus and Twitter allows comments to draw attention to those profiles.
If you are on Google Plus, make use of Google’s Hangouts-On-Air to connect your Google following with what you are doing on Youtube. Share your videos on other social networks, which will embed them and display the watermark, thus growing your Youtube subscribers. Integrate your Youtube channel with your Google Plus and Twitter profiles. Create a Youtube welcome video and brand your Youtube page. Ande Lyons has a great tutorial showing you how to do that with playlists.
Youtube is about building your brand awareness, not about driving referral traffic. Building brand awareness has long-term benefits if it is done well.
I placed Facebook as the last on this list because it really needs to be approached with a marketing budget in mind. Use Facebook ads and external networking to build your audience. Curate relevant content. Engage with your followers on their own profiles as well as your page. When you publish your own content, pay to promote that post.
That promotion is actually much better than it sounds. It means that Facebook will intentionally place your post in front of your followers as they are using Facebook, guaranteeing that they see it. The cost is also insanely low. Once you have a budget to apply to your social media efforts, Facebook offers a substantial return on investment.
Closing ThoughtsOn social media, being everywhere is not your goal.
Your goal is to find your audience, connect with your audience, and nurture those connections until they become genuine relationships.
So start with one social network. Establish those connections, and expand from there.
Because you are not limited by your social networks. You are only limited by your social relationships.