This is no field of dreams. It’s a blog, and the one universal truth in blogging is that the saying, “build it, and they will come” is utter nonsense. “Shameless self-promotion” is required. This is different from “obnoxiously flogging that system for making money in your sleep,” or “shouting out the virtues of your $47 turn-key system for blogging wealth and success, even if you can’t spell your own name.” There are $497 courses to teach you that sort of thing, and I can’t – or, rather, won’t – compete.
What is Shameless Self-Promotion?
Ironically, “shameless self-promotion” sounds like something we should be deeply ashamed of. Something not done in polite company. Something done by anonymous night crawlers hawking specious “systems” and “warez” and shoddy products or products you hope arrive in unmarked brown boxes when your neighbors aren’t around to see.
Shameless self-promotion means getting the word out – telling the world that you exist and you’re alive. It doesn’t mean being obnoxious and tiresome – it means realizing that with literally over a billion blogs out there, readers cannot find your shiny silver needle in a haystack unless you shine a light on it and it gleams back brightly out of the dullness of the straw and the glint of other needles.
Shameless self-promotion means that no one else is going to do it for you.
Shameless self-promotion means not being shy or ashamed to tap a friend or stranger on the noggin and say, “Hey, you might like this thing I posted – would you take a minute and come see?” I know it feels like when you were nine years old, standing at the side of the pool, having just learned how to dive, crying out, “Lookit! Lookit me!” but remember, if you hadn’t, you might’ve broken your neck and drowned and no one would’ve noticed. “Oh, don’t mind me down here at the bottom of the diving well, having the life sucked out of me by the pool’s drain…”
It means being willing to staple a few “Have You Seen This Blog?” flyers to the telephone poles in various communities that dot the Information Superhighway. And what do you do when you have a thousand flyers to post? You hand them out in small stacks with a roll of sticky tape and a cheap stapler. You ask people to share them and encourage their friends to visit. You enlist help, and if you can build yourself a little robot to run around like C3PO to invite people over for a look, you do it. And your friends will thank you, because stapling flyers to people’s foreheads – I mean, telephone poles – is tedious and exhausting after a while.
The thing to remember is that there are good robots and bad robots. We all hate spambots and pornbots and lonely hearts scammers. But who doesn’t love C3PO or R2D2 or BB-8?
This is where utilities like JetPack (for WordPress), IFTTT (If This, Then That), and post scheduling apps like Latergram.me (for Instagram), Hootsuite (for multiple platforms), and Tweetdeck (for Twitter) come in. If used in a sane, reasonable, and deliberate method, they’re quite useful. Keeping in mind that you can schedule posts on your blog, the following tips will help you to turn your blog into a post scheduler for your favorite social media sites – including Pinterest.
Publicize (JetPack for WordPress)
If you are familiar with WordPress, you probably already use, or know about, JetPack. It’s a set of plug-ins, all rolled into one – one of which is Publicize. Publicize lets you automatically share your WordPress posts on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Path, and Tumblr. You can edit the settings with each post:
I don’t automatically share every post to LinkedIn, since this isn’t a “business blog,” per se. I may selectively share posts there, if I think they’re relevant to the professionals I’m connected with on LinkedIn, but they’d quickly tire of my shenanigans when I’m waxing poetic over roadkill.
I have chosen to deactivate my Facebook account, so that does not appear in the list at all.
Twitter’s where you land, like a bird on a wire, and poop on all the people nailing flyers to the pole. I’m just kidding, of course – I wanted to be sure you were still awake and reading closely. Twitter is like a raucous party line (for those of you old enough to remember what that is). Just blurt out what you’re up to, and maybe some of your followers will have their fancies tickled and their curiosities piqued.
I’m still trying to figure out Tumblr and not quite getting it. But I’m there; if anyone stumbles onto my tumbles, I hope they’ll find their way here. I’m only spilling a few drops over there. Path is similar; you have to be on mobile to get it. But if JetPack includes it in the handful of connections it offers – I will, too! Some communities are harder to
I can uncheck any of the site options shown, if I prefer not to share this post with one or more of them. And while the default text of the post title is usually sufficient, I can customize it – keeping in mind the 140 character limit on Twitter and the fact that there will also be a link and “via @HollyJahangiri” added to the share. The other sites can handle longer intro text, but with Publicize you only get one shot at it – when you first publish the blog.
IFTTT (If This, Then That)
Think of IFTTT as pop-beads made of bits of code, connecting one platform to another. These little utilities (which you can grab, ready-made, or create yourself) are called “recipes.” I have several:
Post your Instagram pics on Twitter as a picture (not a link) – This was a ready-made, public IFTTT recipe. Normally, if you share a post from Instagram to Twitter, it comes across as a link to Instagram. This recipe includes your image as part of the Twitter post!
If new Instagram photo tagged #flickr, then upload to flickr (Public) – This, too, was a ready-made, public IFTTT recipe. I don’t want to share every Instagram post to Flickr. I only want to share really good photos to flickr; whereas I might want to share “fun” or “silly” snaps on Instagram. This recipe lets me selectively share to flickr without having to share twice using different apps.
Pin your new Instagram photos to a board – Another ready-made, public IFTTT, this one shares Instagram posts to Pinterest. I haven’t yet customized it to share only the ones that contain specified tags, but I probably will before using it again.
If new post with tag or category pin on your blog, then add Pin to board – I created this one yesterday, and will be testing for the very first time with this post. (Do you ever read my blog and feel like a guinea pig in a very colorful, chaotic lab run by a demented scientist who’s certifiable but not certified in anything? Good. Stick around. We’ll be testing out cookie recipes soon, I promise. Not those things the EU insists I warn you about, either, but the kind with chocolate chips.) Supposedly, if I coded the “recipe” right, any post I publish here that has the word “pin” as a tag or category will go straight to my board called A Fresh Perspective.
Well, it worked. But two things to keep in mind:
- Posts sent to Pinterest should be way shorter than this one! (OR, don’t try to include the content of the post, itself – just include the title field!)
- Right now, the recipe only accepts the first image in the post – not the featured image, as I’d assumed and would have preferred.
But it worked.
And that’s where the “sensible” part of automation comes in. Test each bit of automation to be sure you’re getting the desired results. Have a clearly defined plan that lets you selectively share to each site, so that you are sharing only the most appropriate content in the right places. Indiscriminately sharing every post, every time, gets boring – especially for the few friends or fans who follow you everywhere (the last people you want to bore or run off with repetition). Also, if you’re not careful in your strategy, you can create an endless loop, bouncing the same post back and forth between two sites ad nauseum. This is why the main blog is the “hub” when automating; you don’t want to sent a blog post to Twitter, then automatically post tweets back to that same blog. Sketch out the plan on a piece of paper to avoid having all your digital activity bouncing around like tiny ping-pong balls in a child’s toy lawnmower.
That’s not sensible automation, that’s just stupid.
Kind of like that time, two decades ago, that Peter Ziebel suggested I make my chat autoresponder reply, “Wow, it’s a Z word!” any time someone typed a word containing the letter Z.