7 Days to Turn Your Blog Into a Social Media Hub – Day 3: Building Blocks
This is the third part of a seven part mini-series looking at how and why to turn your blog into a social media hub. You’ll be able to find the complete series here.
Last time we looked at decluttering your social networks, for the simple reason that having too many spreads you too thin. Being spread too thin dulls your impact, and to use social media for your goals (and meet those of your customers) you need to have impact at every touch-point.
Think of it like a flashlight in a power cut. All your current networks are lights, and too many lights blind and confuse, especially if they’re on at the same time.
By cutting the power (culling the dead or less important networks), you naturally switch on the flashlight to guide you to where you can restore power and see clearly again (concentrating on your strongest networks).
So now that you’ve restored power, it’s time to start building your power base. To start collecting your conduits, both incoming and outgoing, and focusing their energy on providing the strongest light beam for you and your customers.
Powering Your Hub
The real benefit of turning your blog into a social media hub is two-fold. You can better manage your social activities, allowing you more time to target and meet your audience. And in return, your audience can find everything they need in one place. They can see your resources; your activities; your skills; your outposts and home-bases. And we all know simple makes for a better user experience.
To start building your hub, you need to decide what results you want from the networks you decided to keep. While they can interconnect, there’s also a lot of nuances on every network. Knowing how to separate them, and then transfer that effectively to your hub, is where the trick is.
So let’s look at some of the main ones from both a home-base and an outpost approach.
While it still has its issues regarding security and reliability, Twitter has become one of the best social platforms around for a multitude of purposes. Connections, conversations, research, customer service, promotional tool, crisis communications and much more. For these reasons and more, it should be a key ingredient in most social media hubs.
- Home-Base. You want your Twitter home-base to offer a few options. Your visitors need to know where to find you; what you’re talking about; what interests you; why you’re the person to come to for their Twitter business strategy. Twitter itself offers great tools for this. Yet instead of just your feed, provide updates of the markets your customers are interested in; how their business profiles are being viewed; what information they could be missing. If you’re on a self-hosted WordPress blog, you can run your Twitter account inside your dashboard – perfect for building your hub and maximizing your time.
- Outposts. While you want your blog to be your social media hub, you still need outposts for people to reach out to you on platforms they’re comfortable with. But can you expand on that? If it’s a company account, do you just have one feed or one for each area? Why not have your HR team on Twitter? Or research? Or digital? Twitter’s not just for customer service and marketing – think how you can really use it, and then interconnect back to your hub again.
The most popular social site around at the minute, Facebook is a behemoth. Yet it’s still very much underused by both people and businesses as an area to drive a social media hub on your blog, and back again. Like Twitter, its potentials are yours to explore.
- Home-Base. Because Facebook is so popular, there are many ways to really integrate it with your blog and keep your Facebook visitors interacting on your home turf. One of the best is the Wibiya toolbar, which is compatible with all the main blogging platforms and allows Facebook conversations right on your blog. For WordPress users, there’s WPBook, which not only sends your blog content to Facebook but imports any comments made there back to your blog post. If you’re a developer, Facebook Connect is the perfect way to bring Facebook users further into your blog.
- Outposts. The most obvious outpost for Facebook is a dedicated Facebook Fan Page. Ideal for personal and business blogging, a Facebook Fan Page allows your community to connect with you on their preferred platform (if they feel more comfortable on Facebook than a velvet rope/closed community). If you can afford a developer, build a Facebook app to make your page interactive and connected back to your blog in unique ways. For instance, Facebook Fan Page members get special downloads or offers, or exclusive access to first run products. Think of how you can make a Facebook Fan Page work better for you, but whatever presence you have on Facebook, make sure it ties back to your blog. Networked Blogs, for example, is a great way to have your blog on Facebook and tie it back to your hub.
Podcasting and Video Blogging
One of the most underrated sides to blogging is podcasting and video blogging. Both offer an interactive extension to “normal blogging” that often can’t be met by text, and they’re perfect for cross-marketing purposes as well. Seeing a face makes a world of difference in trust factors, and a voice can display the emotion of the content or the excitement of a pitch far better than the written word. The key to integrating into a successful hub is (as with the others) your goals.
- Home-Base. While there are some great external sites to work from, why not utilize your blog and really offer an all-in-one experience for your videos and podcasts? Look at Gary Vaynerchuk with Wine Library TV as a great video example. On the podcast front, No Agenda is consistently praised for its quality. While both these shows run as independent mediums on their domains, you can recreate the experience as part of your own blog. John Haydon offers an excellent video on how to integrate your podcast into your blog, while there are plenty of coding options available for different platforms. For video blogging, it’s a simple matter of filming yourself with your webcam or something like the Flip Mino HD, and uploading it to a video account, then embedding HTML code into your page or post. Having these mediums as part of your own blog keeps you and your brand in a cohesive space, although you’ll still benefit from external sites.
- Outposts. While having your content, networks and mediums collected on your blog as part of your social media hub, there are benefits to having podcasting and video blogging outposts. If you’re on a network like Viddler or BlogTalkRadio, there’s a chance your show(s) could be picked up and syndicated to the rest of the network. You can become part of a topic-specific community and share/be shared. And if your search engine optimization skills aren’t the best, having an outpost can help you get found easier by customers or partners seeking your skill sets. However, the best outposts will allow a feature to have your show on your own blog as well as on their platform, and these are the ones you want to use to help you solidify your approach.
These are just three examples – depending on your needs, you define what networks and platforms you integrate. Obviously there’s LinkedIn (although that’s fairly limited for true interaction). Slideshare is another great network for highlighting your knowledge and allowing your customers to benefit from it.
The previous exercise of decluttering your networks makes sure you’re selecting the strongest building blocks for your hub. There are many resources available that will help you integrate them depending on your needs – Google is most definitely your friend here. Once you have the building blocks, we can look at how they benefit your business, and this will be addressed in the penultimate post in the series.
Takeaway: Write down what you want to achieve with each part of your hub. If it’s Twitter, make a list of uses and Google for examples of businesses using each one. Find examples of the best Facebook pages for both large brands and small businesses, and take ideas from each as to what works and what doesn’t. Whatever the platform, find examples of best practices and adapt. Tomorrow we’ll look at why a self-hosted WordPress blog offers the best platform to build a social media hub, in readiness for the design to a successful hub. To make sure you receive the latest from 7 Days to Turn Your Blog Into a Social Media Hub, feel free to either subscribe by RSS feed or email subscription.