In today’s online publishing environment, content and social media go hand in hand. While you can do just one or the other, neither is as successful alone as they are with the other. In this post, we’re going to look at how you can use social media to drive content engagement and loyal readership and how content can help you build a strong social media audience.
Engaging with Content through Social Media
Offering your readers the chance to engage with your content using social media is beneficial in so many ways. As a publisher, you get to tap into your reader’s networks whenever they like, tweet, or share your content.
This is why it is crucial that you include social sharing buttons on your content at the bare minimum. Publishers large and small include them, so there’s really no excuse not to.
Aside from encouraging readers to share your content with their social networks, it also provides social proof that your content is share-worthy. To get the most from your social sharing buttons, use only ones from the top networks like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn. Also, make sure they are at the top and bottom of each piece of content. At the top, they serve the purpose of social proof; at the bottom, they allow readers who just finished your article to share with friends.
You can also incorporate sharing into your social commenting platform, like Mashable has done using the Livefyre system. This encourages readers to not only share the content itself, but also their thoughts about what they just read.
Reader engagement with content through social media shouldn’t stop with just sharing. You can also lead new visitors to your content by using it to start discussions on social networks like Facebook. When you do this, you encourage your readers to click through to your content and either discuss it on the article itself or back on your Facebook page. Either way, you are drumming up great engagement for your Facebook page as well as traffic for your content.
You can also create engaging content using the conversations happening on social networks, thanks to the ability to embed posts from Facebook and Google+, as well as the ability to embed live streams of tweets from Twitter. You can do the latter by searching for a particular hashtag using the Twitter search box and then embedding the results on your page. Or you can do it like Boston.com did with select live tweets about the Oscars.
You can even turn your content discussions social by using Facebook Comments. News sites using Facebook Comments have seen higher quality discussions and more referrals. Everyone who makes a comment is identified by their personal profile, encouraging real people to participate in real engagement. As an added bonus, readers will also be able to share their comments – and your content – simultaneously to their Facebook networks.
Not only that, but you will be able to learn more about your reader demographics using Facebook’s Insights for the comment plugin. And at a glance, you can get even more personal details such as where your reader works or go to school.
Building Loyal Readers
Giving your readers many different engagement options, both on your website and on social media, allows you to create stronger relationships with your readers, resulting in a more loyal readership base.
You don’t even need statistics to figure out why this is. When you get your readers to become a fan of your publication on Facebook or Twitter, you’ll get more repeat visitors because your readers will continue to see your content updates without having to visit your website daily.
You also get the chance to market to your readers and reach them where they spend the most time. If you think about Facebook alone, you have the potential to reach 757 million users who are active on a daily basis. Using their ad platform, you can create ads targeted towards your perfect reader demographic, which can be as specific as a woman in her 30s who is married and has children. Using those ads, you can promote your content while encouraging new readers to like your page.
To make your readers loyal through your social networks, simply engage with them. For example, when you post a new piece of content to your Facebook page, jump in the discussion.
This will make your readers feel like they are part of the conversation, and it will keep them coming back for more.
Gaining a Social Media Following
If you’re looking to build your social media following, content can significantly aid the process. For starters, just by putting your social networking buttons, boxes, and badges on your website, you’ll gain followers from your readership.
For an additional boost, any time you mention Facebook, Twitter, or another social network in your content, use that as an opportunity to link to your social profiles and pages. You can do it within the content, or as a P.S. at the end of your content.
When people engage with your content by sharing it with their social networks, they more often than not share your social media handle along with the content. This gives new readers the opportunity to click through to your content and follow your social profile or page.
As a small publication, you can even grow your followers by engaging with larger publication’s content. For example, you can use Facebook as your brand’s page, then go to pages of other publications and comment on their content. Along the way, if you leave good comments and engage with that publication’s fans, you’ll likely gain them as your fans too. If your comment has a high number of likes and replies for that post, you’ll get pushed to the top and see even more engagement.
As people come to the page to add their comments to a piece of content, yours will always stay ahead (until someone else’s comment gets more popular). This means a huge multiplication of exposure for your publication!
As you can see, there are lots of ways to tie your social media efforts and content together to increase engagement and build loyal readership. You can also use the connection to grow your social media audience and continue to promote your content to those readers through organic and promoted post advertising.
How does your publication tie social media and content together for maximum benefits? Please share in the comments!