March 16, 2015 by Paula Reed Nancarrow
Thanks to the 189 bloggers who took my 2015 Blog Hashtag Day Survey.
They were all very enthusiastic. You can read the results of the survey here.
Thanks also to those intrepid creators of hashtag days like #SundayBlogShare (@Suzie81blog), #MondayBlogs (Rachael Thompson, or @RachelintheOC), #wwwblogs (Barbara @chicaderock @womenwriterblog), and #ArchiveDay (Vicky Charles @SingleMAhoy). Because of these people, and that survey, you and I have a lot more information about how people use blog hashtag days on Twitter to do the two things they see as important: create community and grow audience.
I thought I would publish a final post detailing how I maximize my use of hashtag days but in truth I think I’m going to need two – precisely because those two purposes, to create community and to grow audience – are often at odds. The reason for this is something I have explored in an earlier post, and will look at in terms of its implications for my own hashtag practice next week. But for this post, we will focus on audience growth.
Hashtag Days have treated me well since I first began blogging weekly in 2014.
At least the stats that are built into WordPress.com tell me so. In January 2014 my blog had 159 page views – twice what I’d had in the highest month of 2013, when I was blogging at most monthly, and was rarely on Twitter at all.
I got back on Twitter specifically to promote blog posts. I stumbled onto #MondayBlogs in February, and #wwwblogs shortly thereafter. Page views tripled that month, and kept climbing. #ArchiveDay came to my attention in March.
There were a couple of growth spikes (in July and November) with two very popular posts, but most of the growth was steady. By the end of the year, monthly page views on my blog were over 2000, and the average number of daily page views was 48. That’s up from an average of ummm…one.
Those results may not be much for a business blogger whose income is dependent on clicks or product sales, or for an established author with a strong following. But they pleased me. Still, I had no idea whether or not my experience was typical – or what a good growth goal for 2015 might be. That was one of the reasons I created the 2015 Hashtag survey. So you can just put that One Altruistic Blogger award back on the shelf.
It seems I am doing better than most.
Forty percent of survey respondents claim to be getting between 1 and 49 page views on their highest hashtag day, and 25% between 50 and 99. Along with 12% of respondents, I regularly get 100-199 page views for #MondayBlogs. For more popular content, my page views can be even higher.
Here are five things I do that seem to make a difference:
1. I publish new content weekly.
I try to keep my posts to an ideal length of 750-850 words. That’s not always possible, as you can see with this post. But I use headers that essentially outline the post, and break it up with pictures. Six may seem like a lot, but the number suits my social media strategy well.
2. I promote my posts 24/7.
If you are not taking advantage of the fact that #MondayBlogs is a global phenomenon, you’re not getting the most you can out of it. The UK in particular is very blogger-friendly. I publish late Sunday evening if possible; if not, in the wee hours of Monday morning. I promote a new post on Twitter once every two hours, using six different headlines and images, each twice in a 24 hour period.
3. For every tweet of my own blog post, I retweet eight other bloggers, or about four an hour.
This is on hashtag days only. And it is not always true in the early morning hours; on Mondays I may have just enough time after writing the post and scheduling it to scatter in a few prescheduled retweets before I crash for the evening. On Monday morning before work, I preschedule retweets through lunch time if possible. If not, I take a coffee break midmorning. The afternoon works much the same. If you see retweets coming fast and furious in the evening it is because I had a popular post, and accumulated a debt of reciprocity over the course of my workday.
4. I write down people who have retweeted my post and reciprocate. Religiously.
I only retweet one post per person on a hashtag day and cross out each name as I go. I distribute my retweets over the course of the day so that I am initiating a retweet as often as I am reciprocating one – so in an hour’s time, I am usually retweeting two people who have already shared (and possibly read) my post, and two who have not. This keeps traffic flowing. If I run out of time, as sometimes happens with a very popular post, I reciprocate without the #MondayBlogs hashtag on Tuesday.
5. I do not worry about reading posts before I retweet them.
This is probably the most controversial thing I’ll say. When I was new to #MondayBlogs, I made sure to read everything before I shared it to decide if it was “worthy,” and I tried to include a comment or recommendation in my retweet. But if you want to grow your audience, this is simply not a sustainable practice. Last week, for example, over 150 people retweeted my post in a 24 hour period. Even if I had wanted to, there was no way I could read each of them before reciprocating.
And I still think a retweet is better than a thank you. A retweet keeps a post “live,” which is the key to how social media works. Though people complain about those who retweet without reading, if you have 800 followers and you retweet the post of a person who has 50,000 followers, would you prefer that person say “thank you” and let the link go dead because they have not had time to read the post, or retweet and expand that post’s potential reach by 49,200 people?
So I do some checking to ensure I am not putting graphic content or hate speech into my stream, but I’ve reconciled myself to the fact that if I want audience growth, I have to work at the speed of Twitter on hashtag days, and save most of my actual reading for later in the week. Which I do.
This is one of the ways I’ve learned to balance the goal of audience growth with the idea of building community on Hashtag Days. I’ll focus on that community aspect next week.
How about you? Do you have ideas you’d like to share about growing an audience by using Twitter hashtag days?