Blogosphere

Promoting your creative blog in social media: for now, the key is Facebook

Promoting your blog and its posts is work, and it takes time. If you want to put your blog in front of more people, however, you have little choice but to invest the ongoing effort.

Facebook has proved the most valuable way for me to promote this blog, which is a creative and personal blog. I don’t know what’s best for other kinds of blogs. I’ll explain how I do it, and why I think it’s the best option for creative/personal blogs like mine, in this post.

In case you have negative feelings about Facebook

Welcome to the club. I may quit Facebook someday as I think it has become a net negative for society. But until then, I’ll milk it.

Be realistic about your prospects

Despite my promotional efforts, Facebook drives but a fraction of total page views. In 2018, Down the Road gathered 212,035 page views. Only 14,815 of them came from Facebook. In contrast, search engines delivered 57,965 page views with no effort on my part.

None of my other deliberate promotional efforts have been as effective as Facebook.

Creative blogs have legitimate, but limited, appeal. Facebook may be the best way to reach people who will enjoy your work, but it won’t unlock Internet fame.

However, sometimes one of your posts will really resonate. My post about Traders Point, Indiana, (here) got a lot of traffic after I shared it on Facebook in a couple Indianapolis and Indiana history groups. It turned out lots of people were curious about that former town’s history. Every now and again someone will reshare it and it’ll get another couple hundred views. Most of its 7,300 all-time page views have come from Facebook. But that’s about as good as it gets.

Why other social media is less helpful

I also promote my blog on Twitter, but to little effect. I think it’s best for echoing outrage, and I don’t post anything outrageous. I admit I haven’t worked very hard to build a giant Twitter following, which would help. But I’ve talked about it with fellow photo bloggers and we all have the same experience. Twitter just doesn’t generate engagement with creative content.

I used to use Instagram to promote my blog, but because you can’t put links in posts it did little good. That limitation is by design — Instagram wants you to keep scrolling to see the ads. I built a decent following by seeking out other film photographers and following them. A good number of them followed me back. I put a link to my blog in my bio. I’d post a photo there from every new blog post, tell about what was on my blog today, and added “link in bio.” Almost nobody bit.

A few times, Reddit has brought a lot of visitors to my blog. Reddit has subreddits about anything you could ever blog about, and offers a vast audience. But Reddit aggressively frowns upon all but the most occasional self-promotion, and bans users who flout the rule. I’ve gotten traffic from Reddit only when someone else shared one of my posts there.

I know some people find Pinterest to be a good way to promote their blog. From what little I’ve seen, blogs about crafts, interior design, fashion, and the like do best there. I know little about Pinterest otherwise.

The key to Facebook is Groups

Your best bet today is to promote your creative blog in Facebook Groups, given the sheer number of people on Facebook.

Join Groups related to things you blog about. I’m in a bunch of film-photography and film-camera groups as well as groups about old roads, roadside architecture, and roadside attractions. I’m in groups for the Indiana cities and towns I’ve lived in or visit a lot. I’m even in a couple groups about heartfelt personal writing. That covers my blog’s subjects! To find groups, type keywords related to your blog’s topics into the Facebook search box and see what turns up.

Read and heed each group’s rules. A few forbid posting links, especially to your own blog. Some groups don’t mind if you share links to your blog if you participate in the group otherwise. Some groups are happy for you to only share links don’t as long as they’re directly related to the group purpose and are interesting to members. In all cases, it’s good etiquette to Like and comment on other posts in the group. And don’t carpet-bomb any group with your links. You’ll be seen as a gadfly.

You can also create your own groups, although it takes some work to promote them to build a following. Whatever you blog about, others are interested in it too. A couple other film-photo bloggers I follow created a group where members share photos of the old cameras they buy (here). The group creators use it specifically to share posts from their own blogs, and encourage shares from other bloggers (like me). I’ve used that group to share every last one of my film-camera reviews. It’s helped bring people to the blog, and some have subscribed.

Even if groups already exist for your favorite topics, you could create another one anyway. There appears to be room for many similar and overlapping groups. I’m in a bunch of old-car groups, for example. Some are general and some are specific, such as the one that’s for photos of entry-level models only, with no chrome and dog-dish hubcaps.

How to share a post in a Facebook Group

First, create a Facebook Page for your blog (instructions here). My blog’s page is here. Link your blog to your Page using WordPress Publicize (instructions here), so that each blog post automatically posts to your Page. This makes it easier to share your posts to groups.

You can also build a following on your Page, which can lead to new blog subscribers.

From there, here’s how you share a post in a Group.

  1. On your Page, find the post you want to share.
  2. Click the Share button. A menu appears. Click Share in a Group.
  3. A popup opens. In the Group box, type letters from the group name. A list of groups appears. Click the Group you want.
  4. Click the Include Original Post box until a checkmark appears. This shares your post with a link to your Page, which helps build your Page following.
  5. In the “Say something about this” area, type a custom introduction to the post.
  6. Click the Post button.

As group members interact with your share, it’s a good idea to respond, at least by clicking Like on comments. That encourages them to keep interacting with your shares.

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30 thoughts on “Promoting your creative blog in social media: for now, the key is Facebook

  1. Hmm, this sounds much more effective than my method, which is to post weekly and wait for people to eventually find it. Numbers are still going up, but more slowly.

    I quit sharing posts on FB a year or more ago, at the time I stopped almost all of my FB activity. I’ll have to decide if I want blog stats more than I don’t want to spend time on FB. I don’t know the answer right now.

    You have provided some good stuff to think about here.

  2. Hi Jim,
    good to see that it works for you. You know my standpoint regarding this company.

    For myself, I’m more convinced than ever to not join this platform, as I do not want to … “take the good and ignore the evil”.

    The latest event, which made me again aware how right I am, was the ADL Award Presentation … https://youtu.be/ymaWq5yZIYM … which is worth listening to. This is hard stuff … at least IMHO.

  3. Interesting.
    Last year I did a lot of work on my blog’s SEO, both on-page and off-page. I am starting to see the search engines (mainly Google, but some Bing) overtaking Facebook in my referrer count.
    Facebook still remains a significant traffic source though.

    • I’m doing SEO work now and hope to see a return of some of my former search-driven traffic glory. Facebook is still second to search, but by a much narrower margin than just a couple years ago.

      • Steve Palmer, from sunsettravellers.com is a friend’s son. He is a professional blogger and traveller. I met up with him in Ireland last year. His view was very strongly in favour of building communities, particularly using his own FB groups, like Couple Travel Bloggers.
        Seems to be quite successful for him.

        • Despite all the negative things that can be said about Facebook, its Groups functionality is pretty compelling. You have the critical mass of people there to build on. The news feed works pretty well for group discussion, and I like it better than the old forum software we used to use for such things.

        • I’m only just really getting into the groups. I started baking sourdough bread last year (posts to come) and became very involved in a couple of groups.
          Powerful stuff!

          I have never been a forum fan, partly because of the software and lack of usability, which has a tendency to make me start coding again!

  4. I agree. Facebook has turned its great potential into so much commercialized garbage. I only remain to keep in touch with certain family and friends. If it weren’t for the advantage of using Fluff Buster Purity on a computer interface I couldn’t stand to use it at all.
    Fortunately I’m not after blog promotion, so that isn’t an issue for me.

    • The feed is so algorithm-driven now that I’m not sure I’m keeping up with family and friends anymore. Do I really see all that my family and friends post? I’m no longer sure.

  5. analogphotobug says:

    You are right about Twitter. I have lots of followers but chat with the same half dozen or so people, I am a member of some Facebook groups, but Haven’t tried posting there. I’ll do that. Also I get the most comments from Instagram….

    • Almost all of my blog posts auto-tweet to Twitter but I get a tiny, tiny number of visits to my blog thanks to them. And I’d say 75% of my followers are photographers! I think Twitter just encourages you to scroll fast through the feed and not click.

  6. This is very interesting. I actually haven’t had the best luck with promotion on Facebook, but I’ve had a lot of luck on Instagram. Maybe I just need to explore more how to best use Facebook to my advantage a little better. Very informative post!

  7. Ellen Bales says:

    Thanks for the tips, Jim. It sounds like you have some good ideas. I’m also in a number of FB groups that relate to my interests and the places I’ve lived and have had some good feedback. I agree with you about Twitter and Pinterest. Although I belong to Pinterest, I’ve never been quite sure what the point is.

  8. I agree with you that Facebook certainly is one of the best ways to drive traffic to a blog, but I stopped doing it. Almost each time I did, no matter what topic I was writing about, someone would make a rude, snarky comment. Social media, through its anonymity, has emboldened people to make thoughtless comments without considering how they might land on the other side. Maybe I need to get thicker skin or perhaps I just don’t have the truck for those kinds of things anymore.

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