Recently while I was trying to figure out why my page was getting ravaged by something looking for the movie poster for The Shawshank Redemption, I came across a couple of posts on how to increases the number of visitors to your WordPress blog. I’ve read these types of posts on several occasions in the past, after all I’m always interested in how to get new people to discover my blog, and I have used a few tips that I’ve found contained in them.
However, I found it interesting that many of them cite “Use Publicize” as the number one recommendation, but that most of them (if not all) really don’t go into to much detail about how to use it. If fact, most articles pretty much cover the use of Publicize with a “turn it on and let it rip” nonchalance that I don’t really think covers the subject well.
So, with a subject that I feel could use a little more fleshing out, and me looking for something different to write about than beer (I know, I hear you, “why?”) let’s take a look at this feature. But first, a caveat, I’m supplying this info as a kind of “thinking out loud exercise”, so if you have a different way of doing it PLEASE comment and add to the discussion. I’m certainly not putting this out there as “THE” way to do it, I don’t have the followers or the page hits to have that kind of clout or arrogance when it comes to knowing how to get more people to read your blog. This is what seems to work for me (to whatever degree it “works”). So let’s start.
First, if you’re not using Publicize, shame on you (to a degree), this feature allows you to auto share your posts with other social media applications as soon as you publish it. It’s fairly simple to set up. On your blog’s dashboard got to:
SETTINGS -> SHARING
At the top of the page you’ll find the section for Publicize. At the moment you can connect to four different social media platforms; Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIN and tumblr, and if you wish, connect to multiple accounts in each platform. Simply click on the “Add New <Platform Name> connection” link next to the platform you wish to add and follow the directions.
Once you’re finished , a Publicize field should appear at the bottom of the PUBLISH box in the upper right hand side of the EDIT POST screen. The box should contain three pieces of information; a list of accounts that your post will be auto shared with when published, an EDIT link that can be used to edit these options, and a SETTINGS link that will take you back to the SHARING page where you can add or delete accounts from Publicize.
So now that we’re set up, let’s talk about the two platforms I started using when I first began using Publicize and see how I’ve come to use them now.
Twitter is probably the most versatile of the Publicize options because when you click the EDIT link, you’ll see that under the Twitter option there is a box that allows you to customize your tweet. Just above it to the right is a character counter so that you know you’re staying within Twitter’s character limit.
This is a pretty powerful tool, and yet I see a lot of people out in the Twittersphere not taking advantage of it. Before publishing your post, take a few minutes to think about who you’d really like to target with this post. WordPress Publicize with start you off with something like this:
But why not take a few minutes extra and get some people’s attention:
The first thing I did was add the words “Blog Post:” so that all my Twitter followers know what to expect on the other side of the short link. I also took the time to add Evolution Brewing’s and Megan Moore’s (Evolution rep for PA and DE) Twitter handles so that they’d get a “MENTION” alert from Twitter. This serves two purposes for me. First, if I’m gone to talk about someone’s beer (good or bad) I feel I should have the balls to do so to their faces. Second, if they like the review, perhaps they’ll retweet it to their followers and drive more traffic to my blog. I get a good chunk of my followers and traffic from posts that have been retweeted or shared, so I’m always looking to take advantage of this kind of social sharing.
Lastly, let’s talk about Facebook. I can sum up how to take advantage of Publicize for Facebook in one contraction – don’t. Yeah, just don’t. This is a case where the “check the box and let her rip” mentality really fails you in my opinion and it all boils down to the fact that for the Facebook option, you don’t have a chance to add a custom message and even if it did it probably wouldn’t work to its full potential anyway.
If you connect your account to Facebook and use Publicize, this is what you get on your page feed:
Wow, exciting huh? The thing is that you don’t have a character limit on Facebook, so the sky’s the limit on how much information you want to give about your post to engage your followers. Also, like Twitter, Facebook allows you to tag people in your post to draw attention from people you may really wish to reach out to. Why wouldn’t someone want to take advantage of that?
What I recommend here is simply not to connect to your Facebook account or, if you’ve already done so then when you’re about to publish your post click on the EDIT link in the Publicize box and uncheck the box next to Facebook. Then publish. Once published, click the CLOSE X on that little side panel that comes up on the left hand side of the screen that tells you what a great job you did. The link in the address field of your browser is now the URL for your post (and only the post). Copy and paste it into your STATUS field in Facebook. Once Facebook loads it, select the thumbnail you wish to use, and add some words and tags to make your post more enticing. Something like this:
Here I’ve pasted the URL of the post into my Status and selected a thumbnail that I thought looked good. I then added a little description, tagging both Two Stones Pub and Brewery Ommegang, and used the opportunity to share some information on up coming beer dinners at Two Stones. More engaging, and much more informative than the above example.
And here’s another example where I tagged the event and added some personal stuff. If I really wanted to go all out, I could have also tagged all the breweries that I mention in the post. It’s really up to you how far you want to take it.
So there you have it. Some of my thoughts around how I use (and not to use) the Publicize option in WordPress. What are yours?