The world we live in is a giving one, people are striving for the attention of others and the best way to get that attention is to share interesting, useful and engaging content with them. Why then do people just like you and me write killer blog posts that never get shared?
Have you ever put hours (sometimes days) into researching, structuring and writing a blog post only for no one to read or share it? Don’t worry, we’ve all done it. It wasn’t too long ago that I launched my own blog and I’m pretty sure the only people to read my first post were my mum and girlfriend! I couldn’t even convince my brother to take the dive. The hit and hope approach to blogging just doesn’t work, you need to be strategic in your approach to promoting your content.
I posted a blog at Bluewire Media called ‘Your Ultimate Blog Checklist’ on the 16th of July. The two weeks following that, saw it gain around about 50 shares on social media. I was pretty happy with that, nothing special, but respectable. Nothing could have prepared me for what would happen between the 30th of July and the 2nd of August, the blog went viral! See for yourself;
- It is now the most shared post ever on the Bluewire Media blog with over 1000 social media shares (Most of which came within this 3 day period)
- I went from an average of 30 Twitter mentions a week, to 400+ mentions a day. That is a 1300% increase in Twitter mentions!
- Bluewire increased their blog website traffic by up to 8 times over the 3-day period
How to get discovered on social media
What I learnt from this experience is that writing a great post is only the beginning. If you want exposure to a big audience, you need to find a way for your content to be discovered. This post will outline the four phases I went through to get over 1000 social media shares. Apply what works best for you and start taking the guesswork out of getting your content shared, on a large scale.
Phase One – Finding Your Platform
Writing great blog content is time consuming. Everyone told me this before launching my own blog, and I shrugged it off as if to think “I’ll be different”. But coming up with great ideas, engaging an audience around them and regularly producing valuable content is extremely difficult. What I’ve found is the best way to mitigate these challenges and get the best bang for your buck is to find a platform with an already engaged audience.
Related Resources from B2C
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Guest blogging is a tactic that has skyrocketed many people to online stardom, but one that has picked up a tainted reputation along the way. Keyword stuffing, blogging for backlinks, duplicate content and Google penalties have tarnished the once reputable practice known as guest blogging. But don’t give up hope. If you’re smart about it, guest blogging can still spread your reach, accelerate your development and help you build an online asset that will flourish over time.
For example, I had only published 3 single posts on my personal blog when I first got published on Social Media Today, a site with a Moz Page Rank of almost 80 and over 350,000 Twitter followers. Imagine the exposure a guest post would get there instead of on my own newly created website.
Let me give you another example of how I found a platform with an already engaged audience. A few months ago I registered to attend an event at the Australian Institute of Management. Before the event I did some research on the presenter, Adam Franklin; Marketing Manager at Bluewire Media. After a five minute conversation, a book review and a coffee all of a sudden I was blogging on one of Australia’s most respected marketing blogs (according to SmartCompany and Australian Writers’ Centre). The beauty is, it’s a process. You can do it just as well as me, or anyone else out there, give it a try. (Hint: I used the ‘Blogger Outreach E-Mail Template’)
Finding a guest blogging platform for your best content is an excellent way to boost your online influence, and inevitably get more social media shares for your blogs. Here are three easy principles to stick to so you don’t lose credibility OR get penalised by Google;
- Don’t duplicate – Don’t write a blog and simply distribute it across as many platforms as you can find. Google will penalize this. If you absolutely have to syndicate content make sure you leave a grace period between posting it on your blog before posting it elsewhere. (Learn more about duplicate content from Moz)
- Quality not quantity – Guest blog quality content that increases your credibility, not just as a way to get backlinks
- Choose wisely – Don’t just blog anywhere, make sure you are targeting a specific audience who see value in your content
Here are a couple more resources about guest blogging I recommend;
How to Find the Best Places to Guest Blog – Quick Sprout (Neil Patel)
How We’ve Reached More Than 1 Million People by Guest Blogging – Groove HQ (Alex Turnbull)
Phase Two – Writing Shareable Content
Once you have found your platform, now it’s time to write a great post. Everything you need to know about writing a great blog post is included in ‘Your Ultimate Blog Checklist’ (My blog that went viral remember!)
But for the purpose of this blog, let’s focus on optimising a post for social shares. Here are four tactics that will help make your content more appealing to share;
Nail the headline
Think about the last time you shared a blog on social media. The chances are the blog you shared either had a fantastic headline, or you tailored it so that the link to the blog was accompanied by a catchy one liner. As scary and in-authentic as it is, most people share blogs without ever reading the content in them (Buffer created an iPhone app on the back of this concept, called ‘Daily by Buffer’). So the next time you are crafting the world’s best blog, spend a little bit of time on the headline otherwise it may go unnoticed.
Still having some trouble thinking of a blog headline? Here are a couple of cool online tools for generating blog topics;
Solve a pain point
If your reader makes it all the way through your blog, and implements something you have suggested, they will share it with others. This is why you should come from the mindset of being helpful. What is the biggest challenge your reader is facing right now? Why have they found your content, and what can you offer that will make their life easier?
If you’re struggling for ideas, or aren’t quite sure what challenges you need to solve to engage your readers, here are a couple of great tactics to help you out;
- Tap into LinkedIn Groups
Be present in relevant LinkedIn groups about your niche or industry and start collating the most common things people are talking about (Hint: Evernote is a good tool for collating research). Even better, you can start a discussion. For example I recently did this in a group called Content Marketing Academy by asking the 30,000+ community ‘What is your biggest challenge as a content marketer?’ That has armed me with some great ideas for blogs.
A similar tactic to the LinkedIn discussion groups is conducting a search on Quora. Quora allows anyone to ask a question and engage a large group around a topic. The beauty of Quora is there is a very small chance that someone else hasn’t already asked the questions you are looking to answer. For example, I typed the same topic ‘What is your biggest challenge as a content marketer?’ into the Quora search and returned loads of awesome discussions on similar topics. I’m backlogged with great blog topics now.
These are great tools for discovering what content is already out there. Search your relevant keywords or customer pain points and see what blogs have already been published on the same topic and shared on social media. This will help you figure out whether your blog idea has legs. (Remember these tools for when I talk about promotion in Phase Three)
Use sub-headings and dot points
Much like the headline of the blog, using sub-headings and dot points throughout makes it much easy for people to skim read your content. For those that decide to go beyond the headline of your blog before sharing it, there is a second group of people who will browse over the sub-headings to see if the content underneath them is worth reading.
Remember you are trying to help your reader solve a problem. If they can easily digest the information you are trying to convey through dot points and sub-headings they are much more likely to continue reading, digest the content, implement your insights and inevitably share it on social media.
Here are a couple of examples of successful bloggers who use this tactic very well;
Write it like an assignment
Think back to the last time you had to write an assignment (Perhaps in University or High School). Remember how important everyone said first drafts were? If you are anything like me, despite that advice you would still submit an assignment after just one writing session.
On that odd occasion you actually took the time to write a draft, seek feedback and re-write a better version of the assignment I guarantee you achieved better results. The same goes for blogging. The harsh reality is that great blog posts aren’t created by sheer luck, they are created using a clear process and dedication. Try and go through the three rounds I’ve outlined in the ‘Blog Creation Process’ below next time you are writing a blog, I promise you will write better content that is more likely to be shared on social media;
Share other content within the post
If you go beyond writing your own thoughts and share the work of other bloggers within your post, it adds a level of depth that your readers will value. All of sudden they have access to all of these other fantastic resources, and you were the one to provide them. Another, quite deliberate, reason for including the content of other influential people in your industry is a key reason my last blog post went viral. Read more about this in the section on promotion.
BuzzSumo and Topsy are great tools for finding other content that is relevant to what you are writing about. It will also help you find experts in your field to connect with, and create a collaborative sharing partnership!
Phase Three – Promoting Your Blog
There are many ways to promote your content in order for it to be shared. Instead of listing out all of these, I will just share with you the strategy I used to get 1000+ social media shares on ‘Your Ultimate Blog Checklist’.
Step 1 – Connect with influencers before you post
If you write a post, mention a bunch of other bloggers in that post and then spam them asking for a re-tweet or share it’s unlikely you will get much traction. Build a community by engaging on social media, and creating a genuine relationship with people. Share their content first, comment on their blog, review their book… And let them know about it! Once you’ve done that, maybe they’ll share your content.
Step 2 – Schedule Social Media shares over the week following the post
Use a tool such as Buffer or Hootsuite to schedule promotional content over the week following your blog being published. I find a great approach to this is to change the commentary you pair with the link, take some key points from the blog and use them instead of the headline. Not everyone is looking for the same thing.
As well as Twitter and Facebook, make sure you post on LinkedIn and Google+. These platforms allow for a much more targeted approach to promotion by posting in ‘Groups’ on LinkedIn or ‘Communities’ as they are called on Google+. People are already scanning these pages for valuable content they can share, arm them with yours.
Step 3 – Schedule Social Media reach outs over the week following the post
This is where you capitalize on sharing other people’s content in your post. Reach out to thought leaders in your niche using their @handle on Twitter or +1 them on Google+ thanking them for their great content. Have a look at how I got in touch with Dave Kerpen below, special thanks to Dave for the Re-Tweet too!
— Will Blunt (@WillBluntAU) July 17, 2014
Step 4 – E-mail your network
E-mail marketing is a fantastic way to encourage social media shares of your best content, but be careful not to over-promote. If someone has signed up to your e-mail list it is because they think it will add value to their day, solve a problem they face or help them do their job better than they do currently. My suggestion would be to focus a minimum of 80% of your e-mail (make this the top half) on improving your readers day. I do this in my newsletter by collating the top 10 marketing articles I’ve found across the web, with easy-to-share links. By doing this the reader really feels like you are there to help THEM, therefore when you ask them to share your content they are willing to lend a hand.
Looking for some more ways to promote your blog? Check out these resources;
10 Steps to Ultimate Blog Promotion – Traffic Generation Cafe
31 Ways to Promote Blog Posts & Get Blog Traffic – Niche Hacks
[Infographic] How to Promote Your Blog Post to Get 1000 Shares – Razor Social
[Infographic] 9 Potent Tactics to Promote Your Blog Posts – Social Marketing Writer
Phase Four – Repurposing Your Content
Repurposing your content is an important part of the process, and many people miss this opportunity. If you’ve put hours of effort into creating a great blog post then why not get every last bit of value out of it. Here are a couple of ways you can repurpose your blog post and why they matter;
- Mention it in future blog posts, or e-mail campaigns. WHY? You never know when a post can go viral, mine had sat all but dormant for two weeks before it kicked into gear. So give people other opportunities to discover it, even if it is a blog you posted months ago.
- Create a template or E-Book. This is something I need to get moving on myself. WHY? Having downloadable content on your website will attract more people, and give you an opt-in for increasing your e-mail list.
- Create something visual. Such as a presentation, infographic or video. Then share it on SlideShare, Prezi.com, YouTube or Vimeo. WHY? Some people are visual, and will more likely consume this type of content rather than a blog post. Therefore you reach a new audience, and create another backlink to your original post.
Here are some interesting blog posts on repurposing content;
The Complete Guide to Building Your Blog Audience; Chapter 10 (Repurposing Content) – Quick Sprout
The Ultimate Guide to Repurposing Content – Kevan Lee at Buffer
Priceless Tip: Getting Featured on Buffer
I have left this for last because it is perhaps the most important and valuable bit of advice I can give. The number one reason ‘Your Ultimate Blog Checklist’ went viral and got over 1000 social media shares was thanks to Buffer. Buffer featured the blog on their ‘Suggestions’ menu and in their iPhone application, ‘Daily by Buffer’ (See the image below).
It would’ve been easy to sit back and enjoy this increase in engagement, but my curious mind wanted to know more. I wanted to know exactly how my blog got featured in Buffer’s suggestions, and more to the point I wanted to figure out whether there was a process I could follow to make this happen again. So I contacted Buffer directly. (Side note, there customer service is awesome!)
Here are four tactics you can use to get featured on Buffer’s suggestions and guarantee your blog will go viral;
- Submit your content directly to Buffer here – Make sure this is your best content, because they only accept one submission from each person!
- Add the Digg Digg widget to your WordPress blog – This is a social sharing plugin that is super easy to install, looks great and was created by Buffer! By using this widget your blog will be more easily discovered by the Buffer employees looking for content.
- Connect with people from Buffer – I have had a dialogue with at least 3 people who work with Buffer, and all of them have been extremely pleasant. These are the type of people you want to network with. I won’t get into the specifics of networking, but please don’t spam them. Create a lasting relationship based on authenticity and genuine interest. You never know what could come of it. (Special mention to Nicole from Buffer, she was uber helpful! Follow her on Twitter here @nmillerbooks)
- Follow the process I have provided in this blog – Find your platform, write to be shared, promote your work and re-purpose it! By going through this process you increase your chance of being discovered by Buffer and increase your chance of creating a blog post that goes viral.
Whilst there was an ounce of luck in my last blog going viral and being shared over 1000 times on social media, by going through this process you are setting yourself up for success. You can create the perfect storm of content, promotion and discovery. Keep that storm regular enough and you will consistently grow your audience.
What are some tactics you have found work when it comes to increasing your social media shares for a blog post?
This post was originally published at Bluewire Media.