I’ve been blogging since 2007.
As a blogger with an actual audience though, I discovered the power of social media in 2013 when I joined three Facebook groups for bloggers. A couple of years later, I took to Twitter and then, 2019, I started on my Instagram.
I am extremely grateful and indebted to the people I’ve found through these social media platforms. Amazing bloggers and wonderful friends have become a part of my circle.
But, as a blogger, do you actually need social media? It depends.
To be very honest, even though I’ve been blogging for the last 13 years my bigger aspiration is to be a go-to source and website for bloggers looking to grow an authentic brand and gain an organic, loyal audience.
Ideally, it should happen in the same vein that people land on Leo Babauta’s site when they think of Zen Habits or James Clear’s Site when they think of Atomic Habits or George Kao’s site when they think of Joyful Productivity or Meera Kothand’s site when they hear the term ‘Email Marketing’ or Cal Newport’s site when they hear the words ‘Deep Work’.
High aspirations, I know. 😉
But I am beginning to think it’s doable if I actually switch my focus from social media platforms to building a stronger website and presence online.
In fact, I embarked on a 60-day social media sabbatical to test it out. Here are the insights from that experience.
- When Social Media is helpful
- Blogging without Social Media
- 3 Ways to Promote your Blog Without Social Media
- Why Social Media Is Not Good for Bloggers
When Social Media is helpful
If you are a hobby blogger, writing about things that are not really search engine oriented, social media is very useful. Of course, this depends on whether you want an audience in the first place.
Bear in mind though that these people may/may not be your actual audience. They are usually your network of fellow bloggers.
Benefits of Social Media for Bloggers
So, here are the things that are actually GOOD about social media as a content creator and how you need to be using it to get the most out of it.
Build your network
It’s the easiest way to find your people. The loyal supporters, the genuine followers, the network that will lift you up and back you up, motivate you and inspire you when you feel low.
Engage with your audience
Yes, you CAN find your audience through social media; but they take longer to convert to a loyal audience. That’s why social media is meant for building engagement and connection.
That’s the whole point of ‘social’ media. Talk to people, find out what they like, build a connection. Be yourself. Be kind and helpful and compassionate. Above all, don’t use it as a ranting or venting ground. The more you do that, the more you tend to drive people away.
Post content with the aim to motivate/inspire/educate/inform
In other words, don’t use it merely as a conduit to your blog or website. You’d observe that people who successfully use social media do it in a way that helps people talk, connect and feel genuinely welcome. Don’t talk down to people or talk at them. Talk to them. Empathise.
Reduce your expectations; Eliminate disappointments
Read that again. Reduce your expectations to practically ZERO from this platform (or any social media platform). Do it because you enjoy taking pictures or seek inspiration or just find joy in connecting with people.
Limit your social media channels
You don’t have to be on EVERY social media channel. Pick one (where your audience is active) and be present there. That way you will enjoy the platform without getting overwhelmed.
Learn from the ones who do it well
One reason I learnt to grow my Instagram the organic way was watching how people I admired do it so effortlessly. Study the way they connect with people and build that bridge with your own people.
Check my Free Instagram Course on how I grew my audience the organic way between June 2019 and June 2020.
Blogging without Social Media
Okay, so let’s get real here when it comes to why I ask people to tread warily when using social media as a blogger or content creator.
3 Ways to Promote your Blog Without Social Media
Here is how you can promote your best blog posts without social media.
You can do all of it by just focusing on three things:
✔️SEO (Google Search)
✔️Pinterest (Visual Search)
✔️An Email List of your loyal audience
SEO Traffic and why it’s more reliable
Search Engine Traffic is relatively more stable than social media traffic.
You aren’t fighting algorithms and you aren’t looking for instant gratificiation.
Instead you choose to decide what your audience is actually interested in and create content based on that.
More tips in my 10 SEO Secrets E-book and my e-book on how to do Keyword Research with Free Tools
The Power of an Email List for Bloggers
Every blogger should have an email list.
If SEO is reliable, the next reliable source of a loyal audience is your email list of genuine, engaged readers.
Why Every Blogger Needs an Email Marketing Plan and How to Get Started
How to Launch your Own Newsletter: 8 Things you Need to Know
How to Grow a Loyal Email List of Engaged Readers
Pinterest for Bloggers: The Non Social Media Route for Traffic
Isn’t Pinterest Social Media?
Interestingly, no. It’s actually a visual search engine.
While it is easy traffic, especially if you’re a new blogger, it’s still a little unreliable when it comes to consistent volumes of traffic in comparison to SEO and an Email list.
But the good news? It’s absolute testimony to the fact that you can promote your website without social media.
How did I come to this particular conclusion that it is possible for a blogger to build a brand without social media?
Well, years of using both social media and working on alternative sources of traffic, of course.
Over the last week or two, I’ve been weighing the cons of social media, both as a blogger and a blog coach. Here’s what I’ve learnt.
Why Social Media Is Not Good for Bloggers
You Don’t Have Any Control over the platform
Social media followers can disappear overnight if the platform shuts down, goes through a glitch or your account gets hacked, suspended or deleted. Appealing does very little to actually restore the status quo.
SOLUTION: Have your own website where you have control and where people can find you. Do it whether you have 50 or 50K followers. Today.
Likes/Retweets/Favourites/Hearts/Claps are Passive
Think about the number of times you’ve hit the ‘like’ button on Instagram or Facebook. Now think about the number of times you’ve actually hit the ‘link in bio’ and read the post on their website. See what I mean?
Relying on ‘likes’ is a very dangerous thing because it gratifies the ego but does nothing for your actual hard work on your content. ‘Likes’ don’t pay the bills.
SOLUTION: Focus on the part where people ask you for the link/ask you questions. THAT is the true value.
Social Media is Distracting
You know this already.
It’s why I took weeks off Instagram and also finally removed the app from my phone in July.
SOLUTION: Use it as a tool; reduce the number of people you follow on every platform.
Recommended Reading: How to reduce the Lure of Instant Gratification
Social Media can cause a feeling of inadequacy
Have you ever had this happen to you?
You post a piece of content on Instagram and then wait for people to like/comment/respond to your images or videos. You see other people in your niche killing it with their content and instantly feel, ‘Wait, am I not good enough? Is that why nobody wants to engage with my content?’
Here’s another scenario. You join a Facebook group where the idea is that you drop links to your blog posts and other people are expected to visit them.
You observe that other people’s blogs always get readers, comments and applause. Yours? Not so much. Enter the green-eyed dragon of jealousy and the feeling that your content isn’t just as worthy as the rest of it.
That’s a big and real problem with social media driven engagement. People tend to stick to certain groups of their own and if you don’t fit their expectations, they tend to ignore you.
In other words, it’s not necessarily about you or your content. You just begin to feel invisible, despair of ever making a mark and stop blogging.
Read this: On Social Media and Character by Cal Newport
Social Media is Easy
It makes you THINK you’re being productive and taking action.
This is the most dangerous drawback of all. Every time you post on social media you think you’re doing something productive.
“Hey, I clicked that picture/shot that video and uploaded it with a lot of care. Just look at my engagement. It’s amazing!”
Sure it is.
Now, tell me how many of those people did more than just ‘like’ the video. How many of those people went to your website? How many people will come back to find that viral post of yours on IG and use it for their questions?
Then ask how many people will, instead, find your website via Google/Pinterest and engage with your content regularly. There’s your answer.
Social Media Reduces your Focus
As a blogging coach and a solo entrepreneur I find this particularly challenging.
I’m someone who likes to deeply engage with her audience. Whether that’s on my blog, via my email list, my Instagram channel, my Facebook group or my Twitter audience.
See what I mean based on that list?
It’s humanly impossible to deeply invest in relationships with your audience if your attention is fragmented across 4 different social media channels in addition to your blog.
So then you have to invest in a Virtual Assistant to help you along, which, honestly, is not on my radar or within my budget at the moment.
This became so challenging, in fact, that I had to start adding the following signature to my emails:
Please give me 48 to 72 hours to respond to your emails.
That’s because I actually WANT to be able to respond to comments and mails within a reasonable time frame and don’t want my audience to think that I am ignoring them.
So does this mean I will stop using social media to promote my blog?
Honestly, I would love to do just that and it’s something I am seriously considering as one of my long-term plans.
But until I work up the confidence to do that completely, I will combine the power of social media to share free ideas while working on ways to nurture an audience of true fans for my overall content.