Social media networks are awesome tools for bloggers.
They allow you to place your content in front of a pre-existing audience of likeminded people. Once you have started to build up a following, the snowball effect takes over, and your network begins to grow of its own accord.
Having said that, you must work in order to keep your social media profiles fresh. If you are not consistently active on the likes of Facebook and Twitter, your fans and followers will soon lost interest.
So social media is an ongoing commitment. However, it does not have to be a burden. I only spend a few minutes every day on my blog’s social media profiles. And one of the reasons I am able to keep on top of things in such a short space of time is an awesome web app called Buffer. Today, I want to explain why you should be using Buffer, and explore how you can integrate it with your WordPress blog.
Social media is all about instant gratification. Yesterday’s tweet is all but meaningless. Last week’s status update is old news. If I’m following you on Twitter and you tweet something spectacularly awesome whilst I’m asleep, I will never see it. It’ll be long gone from my feed by the time I log in.
If you want to maximize your profile’s exposure, you must focus on three things:
Whilst Buffer can’t help you with the quality aspect, it offers you full control over the consistency and timing of your social sharing.
How? Its most primary function allows you to easily stagger and schedule your postings across Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. For instance, here are are the three tweets I have “buffered” from yesterday:
But that’s not all. Buffer also comes complete with advanced analytics, so that you can analyze your social media updates and optimize your strategy moving forwards:
Buffer’s analytics are so good that I run as many of my social updates as is practical through it — even if I am not actually “buffering” them.
Oh, and did I mention that it’s completely free? That’s right — whilst Buffer is a freemium product, you get access to all of its features totally free. The only restrictions are that you can only have one of each account (Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn), and you can only “buffer” up to 10 updates at a time.
If you do want more, “The Awesome Plan” affords you unlimited updates and up to 12 social media accounts for a paltry $10 per month.
Integrating Buffer with WordPress
The first thing you can do to better integrate Buffer with your WordPress site is add the sharing button to your blog. You can do that with the Buffer Button plugin, but who just wants one sharing button?
Far better to install Digg Digg, which is (in my humble opinion) the best social sharing plugin for WordPress. Oh, and it just happens to be developed by the team at Buffer, so you know it’s going to do a great job.
You may be dubious about adding the Buffer button to your site. I was, to be honest. But it actually attracts more clicks on my blog than the Google+ button:
Promoting Your WordPress Blog with Buffer
When it comes to tweeting at optimal times, I use the Tweriod service (which will tell you when the majority of your users are active) to influence my buffering schedule. I then promote my post at three different times, with three different tweets:
- “New Post @ LWB: [Post Name] [Post URL] Please RT!”
- “Today’s Post @ LWB: [Post Name] [Post URL]”
- “Yesterday’s Post @ LWB: [Post Name] [Post URL]”
I ask for the retweet only once, because such requests are best used sparingly. I add the preamble for two reasons:
- Buffer doesn’t permit duplicate tweets
- If you have loyal followers, they’re more likely to click on a post that they know is yours
You can of course repeat a similar process for your Facebook and LinkedIn profiles too. I only publish my post to Facebook once (as repetition tends to be frowned upon on that platform), but I can still buffer it so that it is published at the best time. Plus you get those sexy analytics too.
If you want to get really clever and automate your automation, I recommend the WP to Buffer plugin. It pushes new posts to your buffer schedule when they’re published, and allows you to add custom preambles (such as my “New Post @ LWB:” example above).
What’s in Store for the Future?
Whilst Buffer has come a long way since its original launch back on November 30th 2011, I think there is still so much untapped potential — especially when it comes to better integrating its features with WordPress.
Improving the automation of buffering new posts would be a great start, but what I would really like to see is the ability to buffer archived posts automatically. You may have heard of the Tweet Old Post plugin, but it is somewhat buggy and doesn’t allow you to choose the time at which your tweets will be sent out. I would love to be able to slip the tweeting of old posts in-between other buffered updates. Being able to do this via Facebook would be great too.
I have run this past the Buffer guys, and they consider it an interesting idea, but only time will tell if someone picks up the baton and develops such a plugin. One thing is for sure though — Buffer is already a great help to me as a WordPress blogger, and I can only imagine it getting better.