As our trip departure is less than two weeks away, I’ve been ramping up social media over the last few weeks which has exploded traffic to our family’s travel site. Although I started this blog just under a year ago, I’ve spent the last 10 months focusing on writing core content which has resulted in roughly 40 posts on travel, education and technology. I’ve tinkered with different word press themes and now get to apply what I learned as a digital learning coach to share our story with a larger audience before we take off, literally.
This is the sobering reality: we live in an age of ‘brain hacking’. With the amount of web content doubling every few years, anyone that starts a campaign, sells a product or who has a story to tell is competing with a deluge of information for views and site clicks which can be monetized with affiliated ads. It’s not just enough to make content worth reading, we need the curb-side adversing of clickable headlines as recommended by SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and writing transformed into ‘List-acles’ entitled “10 best things to do whenever and wherever”
Social media use is mostly predicated by age, and Facebook still retains the lions share of percentage used by adults, especially for the older generation that are using it to rekindle old relationships and preserve new ones. Youtube is running strong, but microblogging platforms are creeping up and have their uses. For our big trip, we’d be using Facebook, Youtube, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter. In my word press site analytics, the statistics are pretty consistent with the graphic below as my referring sites with the exception of ‘youtube’, although our youtube channel is still in it’s infancy. Here are the strategies I’m using to help drive traffic to our site:
A Facebook Page: The Fuse Is Lit
My wife and I have been avid users of Facebook for over a decade, but use it to connect with friends (not students) and not push any sort of agenda on anyone. For our trip, I didn’t want to link to our own personal Facebook profiles, but rather create a facebook ‘page’ that is searchable and we could put trip updates on, and links to blog posts. I created a Facebook page called ‘Nomadic Edventures‘ and have started sharing blog posts, youtube videos from travel so far this year and it will end up serving like a digital journal.
If I had to describe my facebook strategy, I’d call it “reserved” and waiting for just the right time to share with all my 300+ friends who I’ll all invite when we start our trip. I’ve spent the equivalent of a Starbucks coffee on 2 ad campaigns and despite having a Facebook page for only a month, it’s my top referring site.
Pinterest Boards: Community Building Blocks
Pinterest is a news feed that changes based on your search history. I started some Pinterest boards only a month ago, and the growth has been exponential. For the first week, I had no monthly visitors. By week two: 75 monthly visitors. By week 3, I had a measly growth of up to 376 monthly visitor. However, by week 4 my average monthly visitors grew from 6,500 to now 21 thousand monthly viewers! Damn. Here is how I did it:
- Create and Join a Variety of Boards. Our trip will be focused on travel destinations, education and homeschooling resources, so I wanted to create enough variety to attract viewers to the myriad of topics. I joined some group boards from others that have given me ideas for travel, and even workout routines and cooking recipes.
- Save Posts from Your Blog to Pinterest Boards. Since people may find you on Pinterest instead of your actual blog’s URL, you should save posts from your blog there which will direct visitors back to your site. I created a board called ‘Nomadic Edventures‘ and I’ve been pinning posts from my blog to it, which redirects users back to my site.
- Use ‘Canva’ to Advertise What the Post is About. When you ‘pin’ articles to your pinterest board, you’ll have the choice of which image to showcase for the post. ‘Canva‘ is a super easy graphic design generator that can weave text with beautiful images to help ‘hook’ your readers rather than just with a pretty picture. (See mine at the bottom of this post)
- Promote Your ‘Pillar’ Posts. My ‘pillar posts’ are the best posts on my subject matter and I’ve spent a small fee to promote them with keywords. You have to spend money to make money, and I’ve just about made back what I’ve spent.
- Re-share Pins with ‘Tailwind’ and Tribes. Once you’ve made content, sharing and re-sharing it is essential, but can be time consuming. Tailwind creates the ability to share articles and whole Pinterest boards on a schedule, so you can set it up for a reoccurring schedule for the week ahead. Share to ‘Tribes’ who share similar interests.
Instagram: Pictures Made Easy
Most of my photography work over the last decade has been underwater but I have started sharing 2-3 Instagram posts per day which has grown my Instagram following from 35 followers to about 300 in a couple weeks. Still modest by Kim Kardashian standards, but a 500% increase is still impressive. In fact, I started going through my hard drives and finding that I have about 2 decades worth of photos that I hadn’t shared with the world so I’ve been uploading my best stills to Google Photos and have been adjusting and cropping my favorite images from over the years and will have a boatload of media to share this year from all around the world no matter where we are.
As Instagram and microblogging is easier to do on the fly rather than sitting down and writing a lengthly blog post, Instagram is a time efficient way to share fresh content quickly and keep your followers engaged. I embedded a 3×3 grid on our blog’s sidebar widget from our instagram feed and it became our third highest referring site. Here are some tips:
- Focus on Beautiful Images. The slideshow above shows some skills we teach our photography students such as how to compose along rule of third lines, and interesting compositions with framing, leading lines, symmetry and broken patterns. Edit and crop before posting either in the settings app, or if it’s really HD and you want to have fun, apply Adobe Lightroom or Photoshop. I started using ‘Pixeloop’ to animate images with water, fire and movement.
- Talk About It! Rather than indiscriminately sharing pictures with no rhyme or reason, write a few sentences to evoke thought, humor, motivation, inspiration or the human condition. Be honest and colorful depending on your niche. People respond to stories.
- Leave the ‘Look Ma!’ Pictures for Facebook My mother would love nothing more than to see pictures of Lisa, Ava and myself, but it’s not that interesting to others. Your mother is probably not on instagram anyways.
- Interact with Your Followers I’ve been getting more and more comments from people and it’s been a joy to reply to commenters and forge positive digital friendships. They’ll know that their opinions are valued and appreciated.
- User ‘Everliker’ for a Follower Boost! ‘Everliker’ is a chrome extension that automatically likes hashtags that you designate, so when anyone posts an Instagram with a certain hashtag, your bot will ‘like’ it and the user may be more inclined to follow you. Hey, if the Russians can use bots to influence an election, why can’t we?
- Stretch Yourself. What has been the most interesting to me in working with social media over the years is when you ‘stretch yourself’ by posting something outside of your normal interests. Below is a collage I made with ‘Layout’ for instagram and got a bunch of followers from the macrophotography community. You should hear our gushing, geeky chats peppered with the scientific names of nudibranchs.
Twitter: My Travel Tribe
When I created a new twitter handle for our trip, I didn’t get our first followers until month 4. My edtech handle has over a thousand followers, and I use it frequently for community building dialogue with other professionals. It wasn’t just until last month that my twitter followers for ‘Nomadic Edventures’ got over a hundred follows and I’ve been getting about a dozen per week. Twitter is good for ‘banter’ and you can have discussions with individuals or groups of people that stretch out over days like a funny email from work. Here’s what I’ve learned:
Thanks to this great #traveltribe PLN. You gave me some great feedback to improve our family’s travel blog: https://t.co/w8HNii6JZD Our world trip starts in 2 weeks from today. So excited! https://t.co/XCHJnXdy2c— Nomadic Edventures (@NomadicEdventu1) June 3, 2019
Have an Inviting Profile. Have a nice image, header image and description to showcase your interests. If you have a website, include it in the website link next to your profile.
Share with Influencers, Not Just Hashtags. Mention influential people and and they may share your post to their followers. I wrote a post on ‘Staying Fit While Traveling‘ and included @ShaunT in my tweet and he retweeted it to his 280,000 devotees, giving me a follower boost. Use ‘Followerwonk‘ to learn who the top influencers are on twitter on your topic of interest.
Share and Reshare Posts to Multiple Hashtags. Moz reported that the average tweet has a lifespan of 18 minutes. Share old posts with images to direct new viewers to your material.
Participate! I’m in an ongoing discussion thread that’s been happening for about 2 weeks with a group of travel bloggers who are giving each other website advice. Step up and share with interested parties and include these users in your tweets.
Use ‘Tweetdeck’ To Organize Discussions. This is a chrome extension that allows you to organize hashtags, posts from specific users, messages and mentions into customizable columns so you can track the twitter sphere.
Share 3-7 Tweets Per Day. If users see you contributing content on a frequent basis and have interesting things to share, they’ll think you’re worth a follow. If you’re perusing articles on your iPad or reader, share them out!
Engage With Trending Hashtags. Post a travel video or picture on Tuesday for #traveltuesday, share an old photo on Thursday for #throwbackthursday and follow new people before the weekend on #followfriday
Have Links to Your Twitter Profile. On our website, we added icon links to Twitter (and all other social media) so each form of social media has the potential to direct users to platforms that they prefer.
Youtube: Visual Literacy
Making good quality videos is time consuming, but my goal is to make a video from every country we visit showcasing its attractions or the experience of homeschooling our daughter while there. I may do a 2 or 3 part series like I did from Mongolia last fall for some countries that we may do extensive stays in like Morocco and Tanzania. Our channel has a paltry 7 videos at the moment, but may have a hundred or more by next June. Here are some ways I’m leveraging it:
Having Multiple Playlists. Travel destination videos will require the most work, but will probably be the most interesting. The 360 theta camera will be nice for getting 360 degree videos to capture those magic moments that I’m calling ‘The Space Between’ which don’t require a lot of time spent on editing and Ava will eventually have a channel showing her digital creations.
Using Cards and End Screens. After making videos, going into the video editor and adding cards and end screens will redirect viewers to others videos on your channel. It’s a great way of easily keeping people engaged and links your videos effortlessly.
Incorporating High Quality Drone Footage. I’ve written about the power of using drones and the 4K shots and perspectives are pretty cool. See the opening shot for the Mongolia video above.