Almost every business or professional either has a blog or is planning to start one. Even though it is very easy to start a blog, running it and building readership is very difficult - especially if you want it to be profitable. You need to make sure in advance that there will be readers who are willing and able to visit your blog regularly and maybe even buy something from you. Otherwise, all the time, effort, and money you spent on your new blog will be wasted.
This means that before launching your blog, you need to know in advance if you can build an audience for it. To do this, you need to do a bit of market research. Sounds expensive and tedious? It doesn't have to be that way. These 3 social media tools can help make market research easier:
#1 - Facebook Ads =
Facebook is one of the best social media networking sites for reaching individual consumers directly. For example, when a person follows your business on Facebook, your posts appear next to the updates of their closest friends and family. This makes it an intimate platform where people connect with the people, brands, and interests that they care about the most. Even their advertising platform, Facebook Ads, is highly targeted, allowing businesses to display ads only to people who are most likely going to be interested in their products or services.
Apart from using Facebook Ads for advertising, you can also use it to test if many Facebook users would be interested in your blog idea. This would be a good indicator if general internet users will be interested. Here's how to do it:
a) Go to the Facebook Ads creator. It will prompt you to choose a Facebook page or destination URL. Enter "http://www.example.com".
b) The rest of the Ads creator form will appear. Skip the "Set Up Your Ad or Sponsored Story" section and head right for "Choose Your Audience".
c) You'll notice that on the right hand side, there's a small widget labeled "Audience", with a large bold number indicating the number of Facebook users in the United States. Watch this widget as you go through the rest of the steps.
d) Modify the Location, Age, and Gender fields to reflect the demographics of your intended blog audience. You'll see the numbers on the Audience widget change.
e) Under "Precise Interests" type a major keyword relevant to your blog idea. For example, if you're planning to launch a vegetable gardening blog, type "vegetable gardening".
f) The Audience widget numbers will then show the number of Facebook users within your target demographic that would be interested in your blog idea. If the number is over 100,000 users, then it's a sign that you'll have a potentially large audience for your blog. Any number below that shows that your blog idea is for a narrow niche audience and may not generate the amount of interest you want.
It's best to conduct this test with several keywords or categories related to your planned blog topic, and to change the demographics a bit to compare data across different locations, genders, and age groups.
#2 - Twitter Search =
Twitter Search is another way to measure if there will be general interest in your selected blog topic. Simply do a Twitter search of a keyword relevant to your topic. Are there any people who have Tweeted about that topic within the past 2 hours? How many are they? If more than 10 people have Tweeted about that topic recently, then odds are you'll easily find an audience for your blog via Twitter.
If you want more detailed data, you can conduct similar searches using Hashtags.org (http://hashtags.org/) to look for recent hashtag mentions of a keyword, and Follower Wonk (http://followerwonk.com/bio/) to see if many Twitter users use that keyword in their Twitter Bio. Having many results using these tools is a good sign that Twitter users would be interested in your chosen blog topic.
#3 – Reddit =
Reddit isn't as widely popular as Twitter but, when used right, it can tell you if there's enough demand for your chosen niche and which topics your target readers may find interesting.
If you're unfamiliar with Reddit, it is an online community with "subreddits" - smaller communities on almost every topic, category, and niche possible. According to statistics, majority of the Reddit population are men aged 35 to 44, have at least a bachelor's degree, and are most likely in the US or Canada.
To check if there's a subreddit for your blog idea, use Reddit's search function. Find any subreddits or discussion threads about your niche, and answer the following key questions:
a) Is there a subreddit about your target niche, with more than 5,000 readers? This is to check if a niche has a large enough audience to sustain your blog. Also, are there more than one subreddits for your niche? One highly populated subreddit is a good sign, but more than one is better.
b) Are there new posts or comments made within the past 2 days? Do many of the posts on the "hot" tab of the subreddit have more than 20 votes? This is to see if the readers are actively engaging in the topic. If there are many readers but no interaction, then it's unlikely that these readers will be having discussions about your blog as well.
If you answered "Yes" to these questions, that is a clear sign of strong demand for more information or discussion about your blog idea, at least on Reddit.
As you can see, social media isn't just useful for promoting your blog, it's also a great way to test if your blog idea will generate an audience and profits in the first place. By conducting the above 3 steps before you launch a blog, you can be confident that all the time, effort, and resources you put into your new blog will not go to waste.
Note = This Guest Article is written by Spencer Holt, who is a social media strategist from Chicago. He writes about the many unexpected uses of social media in business. He writes for Degree Jungle, a website that provides information about online colleges.