Everyone asks me all the time how I use social media platforms like Stumble Upon, Pinterest and Viral Tag to grow my travel blog and get more traffic (TP now gets over 2,000 visitors every day). I wish that I had an easy answer, but the truth is that it’s a lot of trial and error and a ton of time and energy. You too can have a successful blog–provided you’re a total nerd like me who is prepared to work another full-time job after you get home from the first one that pays the rent! There is no easy recipe when it comes to driving traffic to your blog but here is what I have learned about how to use StumbleUpon, Pinterest and ViralTag to grow my site.
The first thing to know is that you need quality content. Choose your passion and offer unique and valuable insight from your perspective. Use Google Adwords to figure out how to title posts too…but this post isn’t about SEO. I digress.
This is an article about social media use to grow your audience. Everyone is all about Twitter and Facebook but I have to tell you, not this girl. I honestly think that the majority of people on Twitter are just self-promoters (self included), bloggers (guilty), PR firms and creepers. I have checked my own personal followers and while a majority are definitely travel people, there are tons of other spammers and weirdos. How did they find me? Hmmm….might have to blame my edgy alter-ego name on this.
But for real, Twitter? What’s your deal. You are amazing for coming up with the hashtag but other than having fun discussions with funny strangers about trending topics occasionally, do you have any non-blogger friends that use Twitter in daily life? To actual search for real information? Cause I don’t. I’m a lawyer in real life and live in NYC with tons of friends. No one uses Twitter. There! I said it.
I used to spend endless hours tweeting and scheduling tweets and rescheduling tweets so people would see my content. And while I have gained a significant following, once you post something, it’s pretty much lost into a never-ending timeline of content unless you repost it and resuscitate . And with Facebook’s algorithm, good luck getting content seen unless you sponsor it and pay to have it shown. Plus, how many people plan vacations or travel on Facebook anyway? Isn’t it just to look at photos of friends, enemies, babies and that boy you want to date? I have my followers and I love them (kisses, peeps!) and I maintain and update my page regularly but it’s not where the majority of my traffic comes from.
So what have you all been waiting for? My advice on what I do use? Well here it is. My largest traffic streams come from StumbleUpon and Pinterest via ViralTag.
So many people don’t even know what StumbleUpon is. Well, it’s a discovery engine that helps find and recommend web content to its users. Its features allow users to discover and rate web pages, photos and videos that are personalized to their tastes and interests using peer-sourcing and social-networking principles. You can click a “stumble” button and based on its intelligent principles, StumbleUpon will help you find totally rad content.
I love StumbleUpon for taking a break at work because it allows me to take a little virtual vacation! I love the mystery of finding out where the Stumble engines are going to take me next! I’ve found some amazing hotels and destinations that I never would have found on my own. I feel like it’s a little armchair vacation work break every day. Oh and you don’t have to worry about inappropriate content. Pages are sorted so that you can take a PG vacation and stumble worry free, even in the office.
But what’s in it for you? Well, I share tons of my own content on StumbleUpon and see a huge return in traffic. Like many posts get up in the thousands. It shows that entertaining goes a long way on this social media platform. Unlike Twitter, which you constantly have to click through to different pages, you instantly see the content that’s being curated for you. Not just some lame, tiny thumbnail photos.
Like most social networks you can follow others and create a profile for yourself. It goes without saying that if you can get people to follow you, the more followers you have, the more people will see your content. But the beauty of StumbleUpon is that I’ve gotten tons of page views and followers from people just stumbling around and finding me by the luck of the stumble. You can also advertise on StumbleUpon. I haven’t found that I even need to so far but have heard great things. I am considering it currently because of my wonderful and organic success rate.
When you submit content on StumbleUpon, be sure that you’re filling out the entire form. Be sure to add keywords and descriptions as this goes a long way!
Click here to submit your first stumble! It could even be for this very article! (Not so subtle hint, hint)
Pinterest is the other social media engine that has given me the most bang for my buck! This one is less of a secret. Pinterest is so successful because (drumroll please!) people–real people–actually use it to search for things and save things and articles that they want to remember and come back to.
Here is what I’ve learned so far about Pinterest. The most important thing is that you don’t need an enormous following to see big engagement if you know what to do. You don’t even need that many pins if you do some really great ones.
First! Make pretty pins–they need to be vertical and colorful and you should use a site like PicMonkey to add text and make them engaging. Also make sure that your boards all have great descriptions and that the pins do as well. Here are images I used that have done fabulous.
When you post–don’t forget to add the URL to your blog. Otherwise no one will have anywhere to click through. This is a dumb but easy way to mess up 🙂
Convert to a business account and add your URL to your homepage.
Pin Popular Pins and join group boards to get more exposure. Posting comments on a very popular pin is also a good idea. The more people who come across your name the better. Plus, then when Pinterest suggests other pinners they are more likely to suggest you. They also reward pinners who don’t just self-promote (or so I’ve read).
Next, Pin regularly and consistently. Which brings me to my next point and important recommendation.
This is probably the hardest thing to do because who has time to sit around everyday pinning? That’s where VirtalTag comes in. ViralTag allows you to schedule pins (which other free services like Hootsuite and Buffer do not. Pinterest is elusive like that.). This is a paid service but for me it’s made my life entirely a million times easier and I am able to get great results I was otherwise missing out on. I can sit down on the weekend and schedule pins out for the whole week in one pop. ViralTag prices start at $29/month but it’s worth it for the extra traffic I’ve gained to be able to increase my numbers and thus increase my ad dollars.
By the way, I didn’t get paid to write about any of these services. This is just what has worked best for me. I don’t mean to knock anyone else’s methods, I’m just trying to help anyone out there who may be looking for some advice. I do want to mention that ViralTag gives bloggers a discount who mention them in posts but I have been using ViralTag before and would continue to use them even without the discount. Plus, I had promised to write this post about Stumble Upon and Pinterest for a long time–so here it is!
I’m happy to answer questions to my fellow travel bloggers out there! I know this is short and there are endless questions you have about social media–and frankly so do I. I could go on for hours about advice I have but alas, have to get to some travel posts! Hope you found this helpful!
PS- The link to Viraltag is linked to an affiliate account now. Originally when I wrote the post I was not an affiliate but I was just asked to sign up after they saw the post I assume. I will make a small commission if you sign up through my link but you will also get $15 off. So there.
*****And speaking of disclosures, if you are a blogger, you should make sure that you are making disclosures like moi when you get things for free. Your readers will trust you more and you won’t get in any hot water 🙂
Katie is a luxury lifestyle expert. She runs luxury lifestyle sites, KatieLara.com and Smartypanties.com. But she's not only a luxury lifestyle blogger, she's also a freelance writer for The Huffington Post, Fodor's, Forbes, Pursuitist, Just Luxe and She Knows. She's also a professional photographer and her photos often appear alongside her writing.