Tuesday, January 11, 2011

From Oldways to the New Ways: How to Promote Your Blog Through Social Media

This is a guest post by Alison, the Social Media Manager for Oldways (blog: The Oldways Table)! You can also find Oldways on Twitter and Facebook. Interested in writing your own guest post for BostonFoodBloggers.com? Email Rachel. Without further ado, here's Alison!

As the first Social Media Manager to ever grace the halls of the Oldways office, I had plenty of work to do when I was hired in February 2009. Instead of “first comes love, then comes marriage,” in this case it was “first comes Facebook, then comes Twitter.” And instead of a baby carriage, then came The Oldways Table blog. We called it The Oldways Table because we envision this as a place for everyone and anyone interested in healthy, delicious food and drink to gather and have a lively discussion about how we can collectively change the way people eat.

Because Oldways is an internationally-respected food non-profit, created to change the way people eat through practical and positive programs, the blog slowly grew into a place for Oldways employees to post personal cooking victories (and mishaps), commentary on major food/health world happenings, Mediterranean Diet and whole grains-related news, and travel photos of culinarias to Normandy and other exotic lands (we’re going to Turkey in March – you should come!).

So with all of this great content, how on Earth were we going to get it out there to our different networks? With the social media landscape changing rapidly every day, there are now literally hundreds of ways for you to get your content to the right people. It’s all about what type of audience you’re looking for. These are my personal favorites for The Oldways Table blog:

1. Facebook – The Oldways Facebook Page was the first social media account I set up after I was hired. Why? Because it has over 500 million active users, making it the most visited website in 2010 (sorry, Google). You make a Facebook Page and you’re now theoretically connected to all of those people playing Farmville at work. We post links to the blog whenever there’s an update, and I love participating in the conversation that ensues right on our Wall. You can even run a contest on your Page, like our contest to give away a free blogger pass to the Whole Grains Conference happening later this month. See you there?

2. Twitter – Twitter is the second-largest social networking site out there right now, set to reach 200 million users this year. You can tweet 140-character messages out to your followers, which as you may have guessed, is a wonderful way to get your blog posts noticed. What’s even better is when people start to Re-Tweet your links, and you start to see your tiny message spread like wildfire all over Twitter. The magic of social media is letting go and allowing your audience to take your message (in this case, your blog post) and marketing it themselves. That’s when you get the furthest reach. Also, search.twitter.com is basically Google for Twitter, so you can keep track of your keywords and blog links that much more efficiently.

3. Foodbuzz – No matter what your particular niche or industry is, I can guarantee you that there is a community or forum out there just waiting for you to join. Foodbuzz, a food blogger community, has been a great way for us to connect with other food bloggers and online culinary personalities. Here’s how it works: You add other Foodbuzz-goers as “friends” (like Facebook) and then you can share your blog posts with them and they can share their blog posts with you. Foodbuzz is friendly and welcoming, and whenever I post something there, it always seems to appeal to communities that differ from the ones we’ve built on Facebook and Twitter. Foodbuzz holds a food blogger conference annually as well, and it’s always good to walk away from the computer and meet people face-to-face.

4. Guest Posts – We frequently reach out to food experts we admire and ask them to contribute guest posts to our blog. This adds a fresh voice to our blog offering useful information to our readers and also attracts new traffic and new friends and fans. My advice: If you’re a huge fan of a certain food fanatic and you want them to guest post on your blog, just ask. We food types are a generous bunch.

5. Email – There’s email marketing (we use Constant Contact around these parts) and then there’s email. It’s easy sometimes to get wrapped up in all the fancy-schmancy ways you can share your newest post on what to do with avocados after they’ve gone bad, but sometimes the most effective way to get the right attention is to send the link directly to the right person. Luckily, Oldways has a large network of RDs, scientists, journalists, bloggers and foodies who love to hear from us, and if I know that a certain blog post would appeal to a specific person, I send them an email. This also allows you to re-connect with that person and give them a big hello! Sure, it takes more time to write a personal email than it does to hit one of the ShareThis! buttons, but it has a bigger effect. Also, it’s just plain nice.

Now that you've started promoting your blog through social media, how do you know if it's working or not? Obviously, paying attention to the number of followers and fans you have is great, but keeping a detailed eye on your analytics will provide you with tons of information on how many people visit your blog everyday, which posts are the most popular, and how readers are finding your blog in the first place. My two favorite tools are Google Analytics and StatCounter, both free of charge and user-friendly. If you’re the administrator for a Facebook Page, the site will send you a weekly report on statistics, and Wordpress also has a built in stat recorder for non-self hosted sites.

Hope this post helps you get going on your 2011 goals for your blog! And feel free to stop by The Oldways Table blog and say hello!

For more on Oldways, visit www.oldwayspt.org or The Oldways Table Blog at www.oldwaystable.org.

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