Once you’ve published your blog post your work is not done. It’s not the time to make yourself a congratulatory cup of tea and watch those hundreds of readers come a flocking. You need to get out there and tell people about it.
I’ll admit, actually following this social media checklist is a weakness of mine. I know exactly what I should do – I used to do it in my work at HostelBookers.com and at gapyear.com – but I tend to spend my time on the writing, rather than the promoting.
Definitely not the best idea.
For me, and for you, I’m going to go through exactly what you could be doing to make sure your writing gets in front of the most eyes. Then we can look at some people who do it particularly well.
The importance of social media
Social media is a huge part of being a travel blogger. For some bloggers, everything they do is broadcast on at least one of their platforms. If you’re just starting out I’d suggest you bag all your names on every platform but then just concentrate on the ones you like best, or you get the most return from.
Being active on social media can be one of the best ways to make friends with travel bloggers, to create a link to your readers and to get your name out there. But, as I’m sure you already know, social media is one of the biggest time siphons out there. You need to learn to use it wisely.
My social media story
My love for the different social media platforms comes in peaks and troughs. I used to be obsessed with Pinterest when it first came out but sadly that was when I was at HostelBookers.com and so all my efforts on the boards went to them. But I did get paid to be on Pinterest for a few hours a day – all good.
I had the same timing for my interest in Twitter. Now I find this the most difficult platform to keep up with. It’s so full of self-promotion I find it hard to find anything of any use on there. I decided that if I can’t beat them I’ll join them and now I’m not proud to say my feed is generally just my posts going out on a scheduled post plugin. I do enjoy talking to people on there when they talk to me but if you want it to be productive and personal you need to invest quite a bit of time in it, which I don’t have.
Right now, I’m into Facebook and Instagram. It took me a while to use Facebook for my blog. When I was working on the account for gapyear.com I couldn’t face spending time on it in my own time too so my account isn’t as good as it should be, but now I find it to be the most rewarding platform of them all and I enjoy sharing my photos on there. And as for Instagram I just really enjoy taking and editing cool pictures of my life to remind me what I’ve done. Just for fun, not really even for branding or driving traffic or all those other things you’re meant to think about.
What I don’t like about social media
One of the things I battle with with social media is the cheesiness of it all. Posts from travel bloggers like “[Country], I’m falling in love with you” really make me cringe. You don’t have to be like that though, in fact, please don’t be like that. I feel like some people I know who are perfectly normal and cool in real life turn into these sickly sweet forms of themselves once they’ve got a Twitter account in front of them.
Keep it real.
You need to be able to transfer the tone and voice of your site over to your social media channels while thinking about what you want your followers on that channel to do, and what they’re likely to do given the platform possibilities. Also, don’t just write the same thing across them all as the chances are many of your followers cross over in following you and it won’t work.
For example, I try to post weird things on Facebook and beautiful scenery on Instagram. I’ll rarely post the same picture and definitely not on the same day (apart from when it was my 3rd blog birthday the other day – special occasion). Another thing to avoid is cross promoting on your Facebook brand page, and your personal page, particularly if you’re friends with a lot of travel bloggers. It can all just get a bit too much.
Travel blogger’s social media checklist
1. Tell everyone on Twitter you’ve just published your post, using carefully selected hashtags. Include any companies or tourist boards you think will be interested in what you’re saying using the @ symbol.
2. Use Tweetdeck or Hootsuite to schedule some Tweets to go out over the next few days. Don’t do too many or you’ll just annoy your followers.
3. Post, or schedule a post, to Facebook to tell your fans that the new post has gone up. Use your usual voice to entice them to look at the blog post but phrase it differently to the Twitter update.
4. If you think your post is StumbleUpon worthy, submit to StumbleUpon, and if you can ask your travel blogger friends to stumble it too. While you’re there I’d recommend Stumbling a few posts – just to show StumbleUpon you’re a willing member of their community and they should reward you by sharing it a bazillion times.
5. Post the best photo as an Instagram photo and let your Instagram crew know a new post is up.
6. Post the best pictures to Pinterest. If you’re a member of any shared boards get them on there so it alerts your fellow board members that you’ve posted something. Remember to use relevant hashtags here too. If you’re clever and have time you’ll create Pinnable images to share on Pinterest within your post, to bring more people back to your post.
7. Next up it’s time to post your article to G+. Join some groups and share it around in them for more exposure. Again, remember to use good hashtags to get it noticed.
8. Then post to any other platform you think will be useful and that you have some sort of presence on. There’s little point in using social media as a broadcast, it’s meant to be a conversation.
Give them some space
I’d recommend spacing out all these updates as some people will follow you on all platforms and it’s really annoying to be bombarded with the same message. I’ve actually had to stop following some travel blogger friends on Facebook for posting to their brand page and then sharing on their personal page too. Far too annoying. And even if you have their ‘Like’ once you’ve lost someone’s follow on your brand page, it’s really hard to get it back.
As I’ve said Twitter can tend to be just a constant stream of self promotion. The travel bloggers who really stand out on here are the ones who genuinely want to share other people’s articles of interest and who actively seek them out. Of course this will be combined with promoting their own articles, ideas and pictures too.
The brilliant Dave and Deb @PlanetD are very great at seeking out other stories to share and helping other travel bloggers to get their name out there. As is the equally brilliant Micheal from @goseewrite. Take a look at their accounts to see how they’ve managed to build up huge communities around their brands.
Sometimes travel bloggers show off too much, sometimes they go off topic, sometimes they don’t say enough, and sometimes they say too much, too often. It can be so hard to get the balance on social media, and the biggest difficulty is, that balance is subjective. I’d advise you to just be yourself and do what feels right. What are the bloggers you like to follow on Facebook doing?
I think Flora from floratheexplorer.com has Facebook nailed. Her page features a mix of her awesome photography, tales from the road and other articles that have taken her interest. When she was travelling in South America in 2013 her Facebook page was a sort of short form blog. At the time I was stuck in an office and I used to really enjoy the quick snippets whenever I logged on to check my account. It’s an interesting page in itself, not just to drive people to her blog. I feel like she really takes care over her Facebook page and considers what to post, rather than just sticking up her latest article as soon as it’s done.
Posting to Instagram can seem a bit of a mystery to some travel bloggers as you don’t get to link back to your site and it’s probably the least ‘in your face’ as far as marketing goes of them all. For me this makes it perfect. I like to scroll through and look at the pretty pictures, and to check out who else is using the same hashtags as me to see if they’ve found something I need to see. There are no ads and it’s so easy to scroll I don’t bother reading any descriptions unless for some reason the picture has caught my eye enough to take more interest. I just want to see great travel and travel life photography.
One of the most successful travel bloggers on Instagram is Liz from Young Adventuress. Her Instagram account was so good Instagram decided to feature it as an ‘account to follow’ for all new users. Her photos are clear and her passion for her current New Zealand location is obvious. I love how colourful her account is and the filters she uses accentuate that, rather than dumb it down. She looks like she’s having an incredible time.
Pinterest is the biggest time suck of them all. I just went on it to see how many followers I have (not many!) and it’s now 30 minutes later and I wish I had a house to decorate, some money to buy clothes and the ability to bake peanut butter brownies with no calories. Pinterest is like the Argos catalogue at Christmas for children of the 90s, for adults, you just want everything. This makes it perfect for aspirational travel shots – so get your best photos on there asap.
Monica Stott from thetravelhack.com (promise not to mention her again in Travel Blogger High!) has a brilliant account. I used to work with Monica at gapyear.com and she’s hot on the social media. Her Pinterest account was chosen by Pinterest as a ‘one to watch’ for new users they liked it that much. This has led to over 140,000 followers. It takes a lot of time and effort but I’ve heard you can get big rewards if you put the time in. Share, follow, upload and just keep at it. This is what you need to do to heighten your exposure and the chance of getting picked up by someone big. You just need one photo to do well to reap the benefits.
Thanks to the lack of interaction on Google+ it seems like the least interesting social media platform to spend your time on. The thing is though, it’s owned by Google, and you need to make Google your friend. Google is a demanding little fucker and the only way to do that is to do exactly as they want. Once you get stuck in and find some friends the functionality of Google+ – the groups, the communities, the circles – are actually pretty good and you can do a lot more than on Facebook. All the while building up your friendship with Google, which will be repaid in your position in the search results.
Ken Kaminesky is one of the best people to follow on G+. Admittedly he’s a travel photographer rather than a straight up blogger, but the rules are the same. He posts industry news about his topic – photography and travel – shares absolutely incredible photos, and shares other people’s news and articles which proves his interest and influence. Whenever I manage to go on there I always see cool stuff from him going up. And his dedication to the platform is proven in his visitor numbers.
A few tools to help you out
I’ve used all these both in my desk job full time employment and on my blog.
- Hootsuite – manage all your accounts across all platforms. You can schedule updates too.
- Buffer – store articles you’ve found and want to share to go out gradually throughout the day. Great for bingeing on blogs and then sharing your findings one by one.
- Tweetdeck – you can schedule tweets, follow hashtags, follow lists and generally make Twitter easier to keep up with.
- Facebook automation – use the functionality on your Facebook page to schedule your updates up to three months in advance.
- Blog widgets – I use Tweetily to tweet out old posts. To be honest, I don’t think this is a good idea. But the theory of blogging and the practice can be very different given the time constraints. It does drive quite a bit of traffic but it’s not very personal is it?
More ideas for social media promo
- You could join forums you think are relevant to your post – you’ll need to be an active member though or else you’ll just look like a spammer.
- The more you put into every platform the more you will get out – absolutely guaranteed. You can monitor your success in Google Analytics, under the ‘Social’ tab. If you’re really looking to improve approach this scientifically and make notes about what you’ve done differently each week so you can see what’s had the biggest effect.
- If you managed to rally around some travel blogger friends as I suggested in How to Make Travel Blogger Friends (and Why) just ask them to share your article as well. Don’t do this all the time though – it could get annoying.
If you want to get the most out of your social media efforts aim to spend spend as long on promoting the article after across all your platforms as you did writing the post in the first place.
I definitely need to follow my own advice there.