Harnessing the Power of Social Networks to Promote Your Blog

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If You Build It – Why Will They Come?

Too often new bloggers mistakenly believe the now cliche axiom from the movie Field of Dreams based on the book Shoeless Joe Jackson Comes to Iowa by W.P. Kinsella: “If you build it, he will come,” often misquoted as “If you build it, THEY will come.”  Well, they won’t.  With over a billion Google searches taking place every day and hundreds of thousands, if not millions of blogs out there, simply registering a domain and installing a WordPress Blog is hardly reason enough for the masses to come knocking at your virtual front door.  Even if you have discovered some relatively uncharted micro-niche, you have to realize that it is probably uncharted for a reason.

Planning, building and populating your little corner of the web is all important stuff, but letting people know about will take up the lion’s share of your efforts from here on out.  Fortunately, tapping into the free, powerful viral nature of the Social Web to promote your site is as easy as installing the right plugins, setting up a few social web accounts and then pinging those services whenever you post a new blog.

Sure, it’s a bit of an oversimplification to say that you can just SPAM away and people will flock to your content; Social networking is an art unto itself, and beyond the scope of this article, but implementing the technology into your site is a must.

There are several choices that stand out when searching for ways to make posting to the Social Net easier not just for you but for your readers.

Social Bookmarking Plugins for WordPress

Sociable by Joost de Valk lets you choose from ninety-nine different social bookmarking sites. You are able to determine which social networking or bookmarking sites to display via their respective logos below each post on your blog.

Socializer Zyblog Edition is similar to Sociable – it will automatically add links on your posts to popular social bookmarking sites. An enhanced version of Sociable, it features small changes to the code and adds many new bookmarking services. See which works best for you.

ShareThis is a little different in that it starts with a single button that, when click opens a drop down menu that has three separate tabs – one for social networks, one for social bookmarks and another for emailing the link to friends.  Adapted for WordPress by Alex King, ShareThis is actually a third-party standalone service.  To properly implement this into your blog, you will want to register at ShareThis

so that you can get a custom code that reflects your site’s specifics.

The benefit of a single button/drop-down linker is that it takes up far less real estate and requires your site to make less calls to the server in order to upload all the individual logos like in the case of Socializer.  The downside is that readers may not think to click on the ShareThis button – it creates less of a “call to action” when you can immediately see the MySpace, Facebook, Digg or Reddit buttons.  ShareThis, however is used by many of the largest online magazines so you can rest assured when using it, that you are in good company.

Add to Any Share/Save/Bookmark Button

is a powerful social bookmarking plugin that features a lot of customization options.  You can decide how you want it to display on your site, whether or not you want large or small drop down menus, what icons to display up front, and what sites to feature.  An excellent alternative to ShareThis, that doesn’t require external registration, but I have had problems with some themes.  Try it out and see if it works at your site.  If it does, then this is a top choice.

Digg This O’ Mine by Phoenixheart is perhaps my favorite of the myriad options for adding a prominent “Digg This” button to the end of your posts.  Certainly do a search for Digg This in the WordPress plugins searchline to see what else is available, but don’t overlook this one.  Simple in its implementation, Digg This O’ Mine has various skinning options, lets you decide whether to open Digg in a new window and the ability to change the background color around the icon.  Tip: if you choose to implement this button on your site in tandem with Sociable, ShareThis or others, remember to remove the Digg option from the others so that you are not double dipping and potentially confusing your readers.

Tweet This

The Cake Eaters video

which I mentioned in my article WordPress and Twitter Make Good Buddies, is like the Digg This O’ Mine plugin but for Twitter.  Best described by the author:

“Adds a “Tweet This Post” link to every post and page. Shortens URLs in advance through Th8.us, eating up only 19 of 140 characters.”

A recent update features similar implementation for Plurk, Yahoo Buzz, Delicious, Digg, Ping.fm, Reddit, and StumbleUpon.  To read about its extensive list of features, visit the plugin’s page at WordPress – I highly recommend giving it a once over to understand just how deep this simple to install plugin really is.

Don’t Leave Home Without It

There are many other options for making your blog not only more interactive but a part of the much greater social web.  Whatever options you choose, don’t shortchange yourself by overlooking this very powerful method for getting the word about your site out there.

About the Author:
Keram is a new media consultant, music producer, actor and writer who opines on SEO at blogging-fool.com and society at theculturepin.com

. Listen to his podcast at KeramCast.com and find him on Twitter @ConstantChange

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