Better web developer

Starting Small? How to Show Yourself Off to Make Your Blog Look Better (and Get Bigger)

In our last post on blog and social media stats we talked about how to pick what stats are best for you to concentrate on depending on your blogging goals, if you need a refresher, take a read before jumping into this one, or after, whatever makes you happy.

Displaying Trust without Looking Spammy

There’s tons of ways to show off your hard earned blog and social media stats because there are countless places to earn a reputation online. There’s Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, blog subscribers, guest posting, community engagement and the list goes on.

A lot of bloggers mention not feeling cool about shouting from the rooftops about their “numbers” and it’s not about that. It’s about showing other people online that you’ve been around awhile and for online purposes anyway, you’re trustworthy 😉

By now (after reading that last article) you will have decided on what you are going to work on first. With most things in life, doing one thing really well at a time is best for results.

And one final note about social stats: they are not a measure of worth or how awesome you are in the core of your being, they are just what they are, stats. If someone is visiting your site online, they can’t (nor do you want them) anywhere near the core of your being before you know that they’re ok, so we use stats for that instead of having to worry about restraining orders, good deal, no?

Twitter Proof

If you are a Twitter lover and excel in social media under 140 characters, you may have some wicked Twitter numbers. I’m not talking about 1000′s here either. I’ve seen data that the “average” Twitter user has anywhere from 35 to 150 followers. If you have more than average, that’s something to share.

This type of social proof can be helpful if you’re looking for brand and company engagement, opportunities in social media and areas like that. Companies like to see a lot of twitter influence especially if they target a demographic that is on twitter as well and like to do twitter parties, etc.

There’s a number of ways to display that you’re a tweeting dynamo:

1. Show off That You’re Worth Following

There are a number of services that let you do this but I’ll highlight one and you can search for more if you want something that looks different.

Twitter Counter is a great resource if you want to use this form of social proof for your blog.

Twitter Counter

You can use Twitter Counter to show that you are on twitter, and you’ve on there a lot. When user land on your site, it’s one of the first things he/she sees and it helps build trust, instantly. The subconsious train of thought goes something like, “Wow, if that many people follow him/her, he/she must have something important to share, I should maybe follow too…”

That’s a lot communicated in the first 3 seconds you’re on a website. Placing valuable social proof cues above the fold (no scrolling down to see them) helps communicate quickly and effectively.

Twitter Counter also has different button types to suit your design preferences too.

2. Show Your Engaging Twitter Stream

If you’re new to twitter, maybe your number is still small, like 5 or something. Now you don’t want to go create a giant grey box that shouts, hey look I’ve got 5 followers because that’s negative social proof. That box doesn’t say I only have 5 followers because I just started Twitter yesterday, it just says you have 5.

Best to leave that social proof display for a little while down the road.

What you can do instead is show that you’re active on twitter even without the big follower numbers. One of my favorite blog widgets for this is Twitter Widget Pro.

It shows a really nice looking twitter stream in your sidebar that is styled with your website’s CSS (the code part that controls, colors, fonts, etc.) so it looks like it belongs there AND it can include a follow button below your stream with or without your follower count.

That way you can show all your fantastic social sharing plus give your visitors a chance to follow you without leaving your site and you don’t have to advertise that you’re just starting out. Win-Win.

Once you do want to show off your twitter count, it’s as easy as checking off the box in your widget too or you can change it out for something a little bigger like shown above.

Facebook Proof

Very similar to Twitter Proof, you can show Facebook numbers or activity depending where you are on the Facebook spectrum.

1. Show off Your “Likeability”

Facebook has a whole bunch of plugins but one of the best is their “Like Box”. It’s straight code into your sidebar so there’s no plugins to bog down your load times either. This box can be configured to just show your posting activity, with a facepile underneath and your “like” count.

Facebook Facepile with Numbers

The facepile is super important, and facebook doesn’t make these by accident. If you know anyone who has already liked the page, their cute (and instantly familiar) face will show up right on top, increasing the likelihood that you’ll like the page too. This is using social proof to get more social proof!

2. Show off Your Activity

Just like with Twitter if your number of page likes is 5, save the numbers for later and concentrate on your involvement with the platform. You can configure the same widget to just show your activity stream while giving readers the opportunity to “like” you without leaving your blog.


Comment Proof

Another way to display social proof easily on your site is to showcase your site’s engagement. This is done by using widgets and styling to showcase share numbers or comment counts. For example, check out how The Bloggess displays comment counts at the end of her posts:

Comment Proof

If you’ve ever been to her site, you will find it hard to ignore the giant pink numbers that are prominently displayed down the page. This is not by accident. She also has facebook and twitter counts but her blog design creates the emphasis on that comment number to draw attention to the fact that she has a LOT of engagement.

When you land on a site that highlights their comment counts, do you think they are showing off? Chances are you want to know what that post is about and dive right in to see why 121 people took the time to comment!

You don’t need 100 comments to highlight your comment count either. Consistently having any amount of comments says a lot about your reader engagement. Choosing a theme that displays comments prominently is a great way to use this type of proof on your site.

Also, you can have this featured worked into just about any custom blog design by editing your comments’ font size and color through your blogs CSS files.

There are countless widgets available to showcase social sharing numbers too but once again, like twitter numbers if you’re just starting out, you may want to focus on something else while you’re building up this area. If you want to encourage sharing without displaying numbers, look for widgets that don’t scream to the world that no one is sharing or commenting on your stuff…yet, but still gives people the opportunity to do so.

Subscription Number Proof

How many RSS readers is another metric you can use to show that your blog is worth reading to someone who just happens to pop by. Remember 3 seconds, that’s all it usually takes for someone to decide to click away or explore further so make them count.

Subscription Number Proof

Let’s take Copyblogger for example. This is a screen grab from their subscription page. After the title, the most prominent feature that draws your attention is the FREE TRAINING AND UPDATES box.

Notice, the red box: that’s a lot of subscribers. That communicates a high level of value for the content on that blog. Instantly.

Also, notice how the number for Twitter followers is displayed and for facebook the number of likes isn’t? Can you guess which of the numbers is not that important to them? Yup, you guessed it, Facebook isn’t critical to their online strategy and Brian Clark, who owns Copyblogger, has mentioned that in many an interview.

For most blogs, subscription counts is a hard number to increase but that’s usually because you’re not targeting it as a goal. You often see subscribe to my blog in the footer or waaaay down the page. If you want to grow this number you need to display the request prominently to prompt people to do it – or they won’t. Ask for what you want, or don’t be surprised if you don’t get it.

If you need help displaying your subscription box for maximum benefit, check out our post on how to use graphical elements effectively on your blog to encourage reader action.

As Featured On Proof

The last on we’re going to cover today is As Featured On proof. You will have no doubt seen this little diddy on a number of big blogs or company sites but you can use this to your advantage too. The reason you see this on “big sites” is that it works, for everyone.

Featured On Proof

This grab is from and if you haven’t tried them out, go do that! It’s a social dashboarding site and so much more, maybe I should do a post…

If your blog as ever been covered by a local paper or has been featured on another site, there is a huge opportunity to put that up on your blog!

Grab a picture of the logo from the other site and place it in your sidebar in a Featured On section or if you have a lot to share, make an entire page and put little excerpts with photos linking to the main article.

Now I know, you’re thinking – my site is uber small, I just started blogging yesterday, I’ve never been featured anywhere! That’s where guest posting comes in.

You don’t have to wait to be featured, you can look for guest posting opportunities and then link those up in the same section. Being featured doesn’t mean they called you first, it just means you appeared there.

Guest posting is intimidating for a lot of bloggers, especially when you’re new. It kind of feels like high school dodgeball all over again.

But here’s a secret, more bloggers love guest posts because it saves them work! Just think how hard it is to come up with great content all the time, won’t you love someone coming to you with a guest post right out of the clear blue sky?

The trick to guest posting is that when you make inquires with other bloggers you don’t know well, do you research, make sure you know what they write about, their style, their preferences and tailor a pitch that’s all about them, not all about who you are and you’re more likely to get a bite.

What other kinds of social proof have you used? Any favorite plugins or widgets? Stuck growing a number that you would really like increased – let us know in the comments and we’ll help however we can.

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