Regardless of the number of social media fads destined to launch and fold in the next decade, one thing remains clear: the blog will likely never go away. Once a popular platform for angst-filled personal journal entries and detailed political commentary not accessible in the traditional media, blogs are fast becoming the traditional media – they are cited as sources by television news networks, have been known to break stories, and provide readers with the ability to easily share information. It’s amazing to think twenty years ago one had to read a newspaper or watch for a special bulletin to be informed – these days it seems we hear about news before it happens, and blog are instrumental in bringing information to us in a timely manner.
That said, if blogging factors into your online marketing strategy, you want readers to get the most of the experience. While a percentage of your following may aggregate your posts through an RSS reader on their Google or Yahoo start-up pages, some likely prefer to read on-site. Looking at some of the more popular news and entertainment blogs, you’re certain to find advertising, supporting links, and widgets displaying related social profiles – these are helpful in that they present a well-rounded profile of the blog, and encourage readers to subscribe via alternative outlets. Visitors to blogs may come and go, but one who clicks to follow the blogger via Twitter or Facebook becomes an opt-in capture, one who may be interested in contact for future products and services.
So if you’re blog sidebar is naked – doesn’t matter if you use Blogger, WordPress, Typepad, or another CMS – it’s seriously time to consider dressing it up. If somebody is aware of your blog and reading it, they should know where else they can find you. Here are just a few widgetized goodies to use to brighten up one of your Internet homes.
AddThis Button: You blog needs to go viral in order for it to improve your business and income. A reader enjoys an article, and needs encouragement to share it with friends. The AddThis button is the one-stop shop for data sharing. Hover over the button to share an article with as many as 225 social media profiles, everything from AIM to YouMob. Even if you don’t have 200+ separate accounts for all these sites, somebody else might. Give them the opportunity to advertise for you.
FriendFeed Widget: If you don’t have a FriendFeed account, you’re missing out on a great opportunity to collect your blogs and social profiles together in one place. One person may not be interested in visiting your blog, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube channel in the same day, but with FriendFeed they can. Adding a join box on your sidebar lets people know about this great catchall service.
Twitter Widget: I hear two schools of thought on adding a Twitter widget, particularly if your blog feeds into your Twitter account. On one hand, why display a widget that basically repeats information there? On the other, a blog reader will catch from this widget other posts you make, and in turn can catch up on blog links he/she may have missed. Even if you do integrate your RSS into Twitter, it’s handy to have this widget up, and perhaps an additional one that tracks the tweets of like-minded accounts.
Facebook Badge: Facebook allows you to create different styles of badges for widgets. A “Join Us” badge may offer rudimentary information on your fan page, or a scrolling widget may preview posts and information featured there. Determine which would work best (if you don’t have many fans to start with, try a style that doesn’t highlight that fact) and get it up there.
Digg Widget: Perhaps one of the best known of the data sharing social sites, Digg allows users to determine a story’s popularity by having them “dig” URLs toward the top of the search heap, or else “bury” links so they are not found. If you have a Digg account, more than likely you intend to submit your own blog posts to the site, but as a prolific Digg user you to need to share the wealth. This Digg widget lets readers know what articles and videos interest you the most.
Flickr Widget: Keep your photos in one place, particularly where they can integrate into other social networks and sites. Yahoo’s Flickr photo sharing site gives you the advantage of placing slideshows and photo grids on your sidebar, so visitors can peripherally glance at your albums while reading.
AdSense: If you enjoy a large enough fanbase, why not take advantage of it and try to make a bit of money to support hosting, and perhaps pizza? Save some room on the sidebar for AdSense ads and earn some cash for every click-through. Bloggers users have the advantage of a built-in AdSense option, provided the content of your blog permits it.
The more information you provide in one place, the more likely you are to have visitors follow you wherever you go.