Winner’s Circle Social Media Ninja Tips

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BlogPaws, the first and original social media network and conference designed by and for pet bloggers, awarded its finalists for the BlogPaws 2016 Nose-to-Nose Pet Blogging and Social Media Awards on June 25th in Chandler, Arizona.

These are the only pet industry awards in which pet bloggers and micro-bloggers are judged on the expertise, performance, and creativity of the entry. Each category is judged by a distinguished panel of professionals and not by popular vote.

“These awards were created due to the respect that BlogPaws has for each blogger who creates content and puts it out there to affect change in the pet world,” said Chloe DiVita, Director of Events and Programs. “We are all trying to improve the lives of pets in the world.”

Winning a social media award is no easy feat, so BlogPaws asked each of the winners to give us their best social media ninja tips. Additionally, the BlogPaws Executive Team dished with their favorite social media ninja tips. Read on:

social media tips

Tips to Grow Blog Traffic

Be consistent. I have written a dog blog every weekday for five years. Our traffic and fans did not grow overnight. (Rachael Johnson, Best Dog Blog, 2TravelingDogs.com)

Make sure you are active on social media and interacting. Social media drives traffic to my blog the most! Interact with your blog readers–comment back, visit their blogs, comment on their posts, etc. Don’t be shy about being genuine in your content. People will see through fake content or lies! (Kait Hanson, Best Pet Blog Photo, Communikait.com)

First, write for publications/sites beyond your own blog so your name and blog name get “out there.” Also, find a Facebook group (or two or three) dedicated to the passion tied to your particular blogging niche and share strategically. For example, I am a member of a 37,000+ member closed group for fans of retired Thoroughbred racehorses. One day my horse had an explosive temper tantrum with squeals and rapid fire kicks that was out of character and quite intimidating. I wrote about my shocking experience and lessons learned and shared the post in the group. Not only did my traffic balloon, but the comments generated were insightful and encouraging. Some of those new readers also subscribed to my blog. (Susan Friedland-Smith, Best Other Pet Blog, SusanFriedlandSmith.com – Saddle Seeks Horse)

Publishing quality content on a consistent schedule. You don’t have to publish new content every day, although it will help your blog grow faster if you do, but you do need to publish on a regular schedule. (Ingrid King, Best Cat Blog, ConsciousCat.com)

Content is still king. Thoughtful, well-written content. Allow and even encourage comments (not really a blog without) and respond to them. Interact. Connect people. If you don’t have the answers be aware of those other bloggers in your niche that might and be a spokesperson for the entire niche. There is enough pie for all. (Sonja Lishchynski, Best Pet Blog Design, MontecristoTravels.com)

Pick one or two social media platforms and focus on them instead of spreading yourself too thin by trying to reach followers on several different platforms. I chose our Deaf Dogs Rock Facebook page to focus my time and energy. Mix up your FB content with your own posts to drive traffic to your blog, but be sure to share your visitors’ posts as well. (Christina Lee, Best Pet Microblog, DeafDogsRock.com)

Build a base of core, dedicated followers. They might be other bloggers, pet people, or friends. These are the people who ALWAYS read and comment on your blog. Get to know them, build friendships, and form partnerships. Visit, comment, and share their blogs if they are other bloggers. Participate in BlogPaws weekly boosts. I started participating in boosts in early January and as a result, I met a whole new group of bloggers who have been incredibly supportive. Build partnerships to help fill in the gaps. For example, I don’t have many Twitter followers, but I do have a few blogging friends with tons of followers. I now tag them in my tweets, and they in turn share my stuff. My impressions have gone way up by partnering with others. Make friends with everyone. I am a dog blogger, but I also enjoy the cat blogs and have made a conscious effort to form friendships with cat bloggers. If you are a dog blogger, a great way to get to know cat bloggers is by participating in The Cat on My Head’s Sunday Selfie Hop. (Kristin Avery, Best Cause Blog, Best Written Blog Post, TheDailyPip.com)

Visit and comment on other blogs both inside and outside your niche, share and engage with people and blogs on their social media sites, look for opportunities to participate in campaigns that may get your blog in front of new eyes.  (Debbie Glovatsky, Best Humor Pet Blog, Glogirly.com)

Social media tips

Blog Tips

If you are on WordPress, there is a plugin called Revive Old Posts. You can set it up to tweet content up to every 15 minutes all day every day. Just be sure to be very specific about which posts you want shared and which ones you don’t. You can set it to tweet posts all the way back to when you started your blog or only pull posts from the last few months or weeks. (Felissa Elfenbein, BlogPaws Director of Director of Influencer Marketing, TwoLittleCavaliers.com)

A few extra seconds to upload an image for your tweets promoting Blog Content = more engagement! More people that retweet / comment on your tweet, the more additional people will see the content. Be clear on your call to action. Now that more people are seeing your tweet because of the image that is holding their attention for a split second longer, they can see the engagement on it. Keep their attention with great content and ask them to read more / learn more by clicking the link. (Felissa Elfenbein, BlogPaws Director of Director of Influencer Marketing, TwoLittleCavaliers.com)

Install the Buffer button in Google Chrome. It allows you to schedule shares ahead while staying in the moment. So, if you land on a blog post that you’re dying to tweet but know your queue is already full, click the little Buffer button. It can either schedule it on your behalf for when your queue is empty, or you can designate a date/time.  (Maggie Marton, BlogPaws Senior Editor, OhMyDog.com)

I would say studying other successful folks, like Carol and Aimee. But, even beyond that. I read articles not only for their content, but for how the expert blogger showcased the content on his or her blog. Then, I look at how they promoted the post. It’s not just in understanding the advice, it’s in dissecting the post itself and learning to write and share with purpose. (Yvonne DiVita, BlogPaws Co-Founder, Lipsticking.com)

I upgraded my camera lens in December of 2015, and it was the best investment I have ever made. My engagement across all platforms comes from my photographs. I wish I could say it’s my writing, but it is not. The trick is to get clear, close-up pictures that capture the animal’s eyes. I call these soul shots, and I try to have at least one in every blog post. They immediately draw the reader in–and hopefully, they stick around to read the post. Another tip is to pay attention to how the white space balances with the images and text in a post. I think short paragraphs with lots of pictures and white space are the most reader friendly. (Kristin Avery, Best Cause Blog, Best Written Blog Post, TheDailyPip.com)

facebook tips

Facebook Traffic Tips

You have to know who your fans are to provide valuable content. Keep up with Facebook’s changing algorithm. Provide consistent content that your fans want to share. Respond to comments, make your fans feel like they are a real part of your success, because they are. (Rachael Johnson, Best Dog Blog, 2TravelingDogs.com)

Interact with your community. Simply publishing engaging content is not enough. At a minimum, “like” your readers’ comments and responses. Better yet, encourage discussion and answer questions from readers. (Ingrid King, Best Cat Blog, ConsciousCat.com)

Our Deaf Dogs Rock Facebook page is more than a page–it is a community of deaf dog enthusiasts. I ask our followers daily to share their struggles, joys, challenges, and questions so I can share them with our entire community. Always be kind, considerate, and genuine. On our Deaf Dogs Rock FB page we have a rule which is for our followers to be respectful, positive, and I don’t put up with any drama or negativity (I ban mean and drama queens). Share photos, photos, photos! People love warm and fuzzy pet photos (consider having photo challenges or fun photo contests). (Christina Lee, Best Pet Microblog, DeafDogsRock.com)

Use a boost for engagement only. Boosted posts may get shown t o people who aren’t your fans. Paid post engagement is goal. Boost posts to fans only. Get cheaper engagement, ad will perform better, and if your true objective is something else, this won’t work. For All Others: Use Power Editor and Use it in Google Chrome Of all the options that Power Editor gives you, the ones most people will focus on are: Send people to your website and Increase conversions to your website. (Carol Bryant, BlogPaws Marketing and Social Media Manager, FidoseofReality.com)

Post a variety of content on as regular of a schedule as possible. For example, a mix of your own photos, videos, status updates and blog posts as well as shared content from pages and blogs you enjoy and are relevant to your audience.  Engage with those who comment on your posts. Stay true to your blog’s personality on your social media channels. Debbie Glovatsky, Best Humor Pet Blog, Glogirly.com)

How to grow an Instagram account

Instagram Traffic Tips

Commenting on Instagram posts of friends and people you follow is one of the best ways to gain followers, in my opinion. I love searching hashtags I use frequently to find new people to follow. (Kait Hanson, Best Pet Blog Photo, Communikait.com)

Know your audience. My Instagram audience is very different than my blog audience. They like cute pictures of Ruby with funny captions rather than the message heavy rescue posts on my blog. Many of my followers also have rescue dogs and/or small to medium fluffy dogs. I sometimes throw in a more serious post, but it never does as well as straight up cuteness. 2. Don’t over post. No more than once or twice a day. I usually post between 7 and 7:30 in the morning, which works well for me.3. Engagement with your followers is vital. Answer comments and visit the pages of those who have commented on your pictures. (Kristin Avery, Best Cause Blog, Best Written Blog Post, TheDailyPip.com)

I have to acknowledge that I have a looooong way to go with all my social media platforms. (And I only actively engage with 3 – Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.) I did recently interview Rachel Oates, the photographer owner of Winny the Corgi who has nearly 25K followers on Instagram, and her three tips were: “use popular hashtags such as #ThrowBackThursday for your puppy photos, be active – comment and like other accounts, videos are really popular.” I think she is especially successful because her images are so distinctive (love the pastel-hued backdrops) but she also takes the time to write charming captions. I was terrible at first, just writing ‘Bodie on beach’ or whatever. Now I’m trying to be a bit more thoughtful in my wording. Though she’s not in the pet world, travel film-maker Kylie Flavell writes beautiful, sigh-inducing pieces to go with her Instagram photography and they remind me that you don’t have to just go for a zingy one-liner, you can also convey genuine emotions. (Belinda Jones, Best New Pet Blog, BodieontheRoad.com)

Know who your audience is and think about who you want it become. Once you’ve defined your audience, strategically identify hashtags that will help you connect with both your core audience and the communities you are hoping to connect with. Follow your hashtags, engage on the content you find and purposefully begin to use these hashtags when sharing on Instagram. (Bernard Lima-Chavez, BlogPaws Campaign Manager, DogandHisBoy.com)

Take a weekend and grow your Instagram account. I pride myself on growing Instagram. Conversation is queen. Here’s a weekend Instagram project to get started on.  (Carol Bryant, BlogPaws Marketing and Social Media Manager, FidoseofReality.com)

One of my favorite apps to use that infuses video with images is Pic-Play-Post. (Carol Bryant, BlogPaws Marketing and Social Media Manager, FidoseofReality.com)

Hot Social Media Tips for Bloggers

Favorite Social Media Ninja Tip

Facebook. Don’t stick to what you think works. Evaluate your page’s success every day by seeing your reach and numbers. PAY attention to analytics! Facebook can work in your blog and brand’s favor. Use it every single day. (Rachael Johnson, Best Dog Blog winner, 2TravelingDogs.com)

Pinterest. I love checking to see what images people pin from my blog posts. You can easily to do this by typing in www.pinterest.com/source/YOURWEBSITE. For example, mine is: www.pinterest.com/source/communikait.com. This is a great way to see what types of images your followers like to pin and to capitalize on in the future! (Kait Hanson, Best Pet Blog Photo, Communikait.com)

If I had to recommend one link that’s a total treasure chest of blogging bling, click this: Ultimate List of Pet Blogging Resources (Belinda Jones, Best New Pet Blog, BodieontheRoad.com)

Did you know you can invite people who like your posts to like your Facebook page? Use the list of people who like your post and then invite them to like your page if they don’t like it already. This is a super quick hack to get more page likes! (Aimee Beltran, BlogPaws Director of Community Education, IrresistiblePets.com)

I like to take photos and photo outtakes from my blog posts and share them on my Facebook page with short and witty captions or commentary. Especially when I’m strugging with ideas for what to post or say, I look to my latest blog posts for inspiration. The content is already there, it just needs a little editing to make it Facebook-ready. For me, consistency is huge. Little things like consistently sized images, consistent fonts, layouts, margins and colors all help to define the look, feel and brand of a blog. Bigger things, like consistent features and a regular posting schedule are also key so readers know what to expect and when to expect it. And finally, the REALLY big things like a consistent voice, personality and overall objective or mission are what defines you and your blog. It takes some trial and error, a little experimentation to figure that all out, but once you do, it can become the driving force behind all of the content you create and actually makes it easier than ever. And it’s that consistency of message that keeps you real with your audience.  (Debbie Glovatsky, Best Humor Pet Blog, Glogirly.com)

social media obstacles

Biggest Blogging/Social Media Obstacle

You can’t be everything to everyone. Stay true to your values and your blog and what it stands for. (Rachael Johnson, Best Dog Blog winner, 2TravelingDogs.com)

Playing the comparison game–ultimately, it’s just not worth it! There is room for everyone in this online world of blogging and social media. (Kait Hanson, Best Pet Blog Photo, Communikait.com)

Time! Answering comments on your blog and engaging with readers on social media takes time, and it’s not something that is easily outsourced since it needs to happen in your own unique voice. (Ingrid King, Best Cat Blog, ConsciousCat.com)

Ironically, reach. When your niche market is as specific and narrow a topic as mine, your public “pool” is greatly reduced. Keep that in mind and don’t look at numbers based on other pet bloggers look at your numbers based on how many people fit your niche and what is the % of those people you are reaching. example: lifestyle, rescue and food pet blogs will have a MUCH larger potential reach than say a blog dedicated specifically to an obscure, unknown breed and their particular challenges. Still worth doing but good to keep in mind that your numbers just might not get to the thousands because there simply are not thousands of folks out there interested. (Sonja Lishchynski, Best Pet Blog Design, MontecristoTravels.com)

Prior to this year’s BlogPaws conference I was having a lot of anxiety over my apparent inability to post multiple times a week, as I had always heard this was vital to growing traffic on your blog. I had set a new intention to post every Tuesday and Thursday (planning to make a pun out of ChewsDay and FursDay) but decided to experiment for a few weeks to see if I could make those targets… I fell at the first hurdle. Despite 25 years of working as writer, I am shockingly slow and given to endless tinkering and tweaking–it’s not unusual for one of my posts to have 80+ revisions. I was starting to think I could never gain any traction posting just once a week with occasional bonus content, but then I saw Pamela Wilson’s keynote speech on How To Get Off The Blogging Hamster Wheel… She spoke in detail about the benefit of going for quality over quantity, offered specific strategies and schedules for making the most of each post and now I feel revitalized and ready to put in even more time and effort! You can see it all on YouTube here: (Belinda Jones, Best New Pet Blog, BodieontheRoad.com)

I struggle with time management because what I do here at Deaf Dogs Rock is in real time. I get hundreds of messages and emails every day, so when we are sponsoring deaf dogs into rescue I have to stop whatever I am doing to network the dogs from shelters into rescues. When the dogs are transported, I have to stop and donate the sponsorship and many times participate in the rescue transport. Once the puppy is safely into rescue, I stop what I am doing and write up the story on our Support blog. If I don’t blog about each dog when the dog is rescued, I get too far behind to catch up.  (Christina Lee, Best Pet Microblog, DeafDogsRock.com)

Although I am fortunate to get lots of engagement (from my base followers), my page views are still not where I would like them to be. (Kristin Avery, Best Cause Blog, Best Written Blog Post, TheDailyPip.com)

Spreading myself too thin. Time. (Debbie Glovatsky, Best Humor Pet Blog, Glogirly.com)

Why attend BlogPaws

Why Attend a BlogPaws Conference

Bloggers need support and to know that others are as passionate as they are! Oftentimes, people don’t realize that blogging is a real job! We think it is the best job and hope to attend next year. (Rachael Johnson, Best Dog Blog winner, 2TravelingDogs.com)

The amount of sheer talent in one place and one time just makes me giddy inside. BlogPaws is a fantastic way to network and learn amongst people who share your same thoughts and interests. (Kait Hanson, Best Pet Blog Photo, Communikait.com)

I attended my first BlogPaws last year in Nashville. Prior to 2015, I had been on a two-year blogging break after my heart dog, Pip, passed away of heart disease. I started the blog with Pip and wasn’t sure I wanted to continue without him. Essentially I attended the conference as a test to see if I wanted to return to blogging or just let it go. Most of the conference, I was kind of lost and didn’t have a clue what I wanted to do with the blog. However, on the final day, I started to gain some clarity and vision of where I wanted to take things next. Six months later, I re-designed my blog and changed my focus to promoting rescue and adoption especially for animals with special needs or those viewed as less adoptable. I still always try to balance the serious stuff with the cuteness and humor. My success over the past year was definitely the result of attending BlogPaws in Nashville last May. (Kristin Avery, Best Cause Blog, Best Written Blog Post, TheDailyPip.com)

Anyone who has an interest in animals, blogging, or social media and loves to learn will fit right in at BlogPaws; it’s a friendly crowd. There are so many ways to learn skills online these days via tutorials on YouTube and online classes, however, there is something special about interacting in an old-fashioned person to person (or person to pet) way. It’s my preferred way to learn. Being at BlogPaws is special because you see the grand scale of individuals just like you from all over the world who want to improve the lives of animals and help pet parents. (Susan Friedland-Smith, Best Other Pet Blog, SusanFriedlandSmith.com – Saddle Seeks Horse)

It’s a great way to network with other bloggers, brands, and industry professionals. And it’s also a lot of fun! (Ingrid King, Best Cat Blog, ConsciousCat.com)

I think if you have any kind of pet blog or animal-centric social media presence then the BlogPaws Conference will probably be the best-spent 3 days of your year! It really helps you take your blog to the next level and encourages far greater professionalism in your work. Also, seeing women just like you who are experiencing fantastic success (so many making this a full-time career), it opens your eyes to all the possibilities in this field. It’s all very nice sitting at home wishing for your dog or cat or ferret to become an Instagram sensation but through the workshops and chatting with your peers you gain the tips and tools to work towards this goal. I wrote about this in my post: http://www.bodieontheroad.com/blogpaws-2016-best-new-pet-blog-finalist/ but I also want to re-state what an uplifiting and feel-good experience the conference is. Everyone is so welcoming and supportive so instead of feeling a sense of competition, you feel like you’re all in this together for a common good! (Belinda Jones, Best New Pet Blog, BodieontheRoad.com)

I recommend bloggers attend the BlogPaws Conference to gain additional education, to learn about income opportunities, and to take advantage of the resources offered by the BlogPaws team. As an introvert myself the hardest thing to do is go to your first BlogPaws Conference when you don’t know anyone. I can tell you from my personal experience every single year I attend BlogPaws it gets better and better. Attending a BlogPaws Conference can give bloggers a fresh perspective and get their creative juices flowing. Going to a BP conference give bloggers the opportunity to meet pet industry leaders face to face. (Christina Lee, Best Pet Microblog, DeafDogsRock.com)

In a word – People. Some of my most cherished friendships are with fellow bloggers. Connecting online and through social media is great, but having an opportunity to be together in person is like a gift. Whether it’s networking, collaborating on a future project, learning from each other’s experience or just having fun, for me the people are the highlight of every BlogPaws conference I’ve attended.  (Debbie Glovatsky, Best Humor Pet Blog, Glogirly.com)

Grab your ticket to BlogPaws 2016

How The BlogPaws Community Can Benefit You

Recognition and feeling that what we are doing matters AND that people actually read what we write! (Rachael Johnson, Best Dog Blog winner, 2TravelingDogs.com)

The BlogPaws Community has been helpful in providing a place to see best practices modeled in the blogs and work of other BlogPaws people! When we do our boost group activities, it’s great to see topics other bloggers are writing about and think of how I can tailor them to my audience, or even notice different blog layouts and get ideas for how I want mine to look. Overall, I have felt extremely encouraged by fellow BlogPaws folks even though my genre of blog is “unconventional.” (Susan Friedland-Smith, Best Other Pet Blog, SusanFriedlandSmith.com – Saddle Seeks Horse)

Put my blog on the map really. Met “my clan,” my “people.” After getting the cold shoulder from the travel blogging community for nearly six years, it has been mind boggling the difference with the pet blogging community. Welcomed and embraced. I have had access to a group of like-minded, like-driven people for the first time in six years and no longer feel alone.  (Sonja Lishchynski, Best Pet Blog Design, MontecristoTravels.com)

Firstly, it is of course amazingly satisfying to find your tribe, to feel connected and surrounded by like-minded people. For over 15 years I have been writing romantic comedy fiction and I am aware that I have (understandably!) lost a lot of my audience switching to writing almost exclusively about dog travel! Without the BlogPaws Community I might have felt I had gone off at a random tangent and that I was simply indulging a whim. However! With the community I feel part of something so special and meaningful and winning the Best New Pet Blog 2016 is a wonderful confirmation that I’m on the right track! (Belinda Jones, Best New Pet Blog, BodieontheRoad.com)

Every year BlogPaws makes me challenge myself to take my Deaf Dogs Rock blog to the next level by redesigning the website and adding fresh content. In the BlogPaws sessions I have learned so much from fellow bloggers and also have met so many great bloggers who now are now guest bloggers on my blog. (Christina Lee, Best Pet Microblog, DeafDogsRock.com)

Conclusion

The influence of pet bloggers is growing, with the BlogPaws community leading the way. Sponsors of the Nose-to-Nose awards, featuring 48 finalists in 12 categories, included:

  •     Hauspanther
  •     Merrick Pet Care
  •     Only Natural Pet
  •     Rocco & Roxie Supply Co.
  •     Women in the Pet Industry
  •     Statisfy
  •     Pet360 Media Group
  •     BlogPaws

Winners receive a trophy, industry and peer recognition, and a $500 valued prize to the 501(c)3 pet rescue of their choice.

The BlogPaws 2016 Nose-to-Nose Pet Blogging and Social Media Award winners are:

Best Cat Blog: The Conscious Cat, Ingrid King
Best Dog Blog: 2 Traveling Dogs, Rachael Johnson
Best Cause Blog: The Daily Pip, Kristin Avery
Best New Pet Blog: Bodie on the Road, Belinda Jones
Best Pet Blog Design: Montecristo Travels, Sonja Lishchynski
Best Pet Blog Photo: Communikait – Merry Christmas, Kait Hanson
Best Pet Blog Video: Real Tree House Cats of Chicago: The Interview, Ollie Davidson
Best Humor Blog: Glogirly, Debbie Glovatsky
Best Pet Microblog: Deaf Dogs Rock Facebook, Christina Lee
Best “Other” Pet Blog: Saddle Seeks Horse, Susan Friedland-Smith
Best Use of Social Media by a 501(c)3: Real Tree House Cats of Chicago: The Interview, Ollie Davidson
Best Written Pet Blog Post: The Daily Pip: The One I Couldn’t Save , Kristin Avery

Nose to Nose winners

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Carol Bryant is the Marketing and Social Media Manager for BlogPaws and runs her own blog, Fidose of Reality and its fundraising arm, Wigglebutt Warriors. When not busy playing with her Cocker Spaniel, Dexter, she stays far away from cooking. Her trademark is her mantra and is tattooed on her arm: My Heart Beats Dog.®

Images: KPG Payless2/Shutterstock.com, tanuha2001/Shutterstock.com, rvlsoft/Shutterstock.com

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