April 15, 2016
Social Media Optimization
Do you blog for your business? Thought so. You’re not alone. According to MarketingProfs, there are 2 million blog posts published every day. Basically, everyone blogs these days. And with good reason too, because blogging is just about the most cost-effective marketing weapon out there. When you establish a killer content marketing strategy and blog correctly, an entire business can be transformed with a single post. But here’s the issue: There’s a lot of competition. In a joint study last year, Moz and Buzzsumo analyzed 1 million articles. They found that 50% of those posts earned a measly 8 shares or less. How do you cut through all the noise and create blog posts that get tons of social pickup? What’s the big secret? After a lot of effort and experimentation, I found out that there are 5 things that every blog post needs in order to give itself the best chance of going viral. You might be aware of all 5 factors, some of them, or none at all. But the trick, if there is one, is ticking all 5 boxes every single time you blog.
Factor 1: Relevance
The first mistake that most bloggers make is that they just randomly think of a topic and write about it. Here’s an example. As a copywriter, everything about writing interests me. But I can’t just think to myself ‘Oh, I’d like to write a post about commas today’. And the reason why is that I don’t know if my audience is interested in that topic (and I would guess not!). Successful blogging isn’t just about creativity; it’s about data too. You need to know what your target audience wants to hear about. You need validation. Put simply, you have to know whether your preferred topic is going to be worth the effort. At the start of the blogging process, I use Buzzsumo to see how popular a topic is. Here’s what I see when I enter ‘commas’ into their search function: You can see that this post about commas actually earned over 5,000 shares. So I’d have to do a little more research, but maybe I was wrong about this subject matter? Perhaps it would be more popular that I thought.
Factor 2: An engaging structure
Clearly, a popular blog post has to be written well. Make sure that you’ve really honed your copywriting skills so that readers engage with your piece. Focus on telling a story. Also, don’t publish a post that’s just a block of text. Unfortunately, it appears that we’re all a bit lazy when it comes to reading digital content (despite the apparent popularity of blogs). Instead of reading an entire post word-for-word, we tend to scan a post for words that leap out. Use plenty of paragraph breaks and headings so that your key points stand out more and keep readers interested for longer. So instead of this: Do this:
Factor 3: Visual attraction
Simple one - people love images. As a copywriter it pains me to admit it, but a good image can amplify the effect of a message multiple times. And in terms of modern, digital content, you’re going to get more traction from a post that has images in than one that doesn’t. Authoritative, popular blogs are often giving away free information. Sometimes, this information can be quite complex. So if the use of an image can help a post deliver what it promises, you’ve got to make the most of this opportunity. Check out this example from Kissmetrics: Their post is about how to improve your ad campaigns. Now that might get a little heavy, so they’ve taken a step-by-step approach and included visual examples. It’s a much softer strategy and, ultimately, more effective.
Factor 4: Social currency
The annoying thing about viral content (for the bloggers on the outside), is that when a blog post starts growing, it usually keeps growing. To that end, once you create a piece of content that starts to catch on, you can usually just sit back and watch it fly. One key reason for this is social currency. In other words, people share stuff for a particular reason. Either they want to look good, popular, or knowledgeable. That’s not a criticism, that’s just a fact. When you share something, it shows up on your timeline or profile. In other words, it’s public knowledge. No one is going to share anything that’s embarrassing or going to make him or her look silly. With that in mind, provide easy to access share buttons: Meanwhile, make sure your content is long enough to gain credibility (I’d recommend at last 1,000 words). Plus, reference other highly regarded sources within your content:
Factor 5: Content promotion
If I had to bet on which one of these 5 factors you’ve either ignored or underused, this would be the one. Does this scenario sound familiar: You slave over a blog for hours and finally publish it. And the good news is that it’s great. It’s a well-written post on a relevant topic. It’s got some great images and has a lot of social currency. You send it live and then tweet it a couple of times. You wait for the phone to ring, but nothing happens. A couple of days pass and you check your website again. Nothing’s going on. The point is, unless you’re already a massive name in your field (like a Forbes or a Huffington Post), your job isn’t done when your post is published. And posting it on a few social media platforms isn’t going to cut it either. Creating a popular post takes a lot of content promotion. You should treat every new post like a book launch. In the biz, this is known as blogger outreach. It’s hard work, time consuming and not scalable at all. But that’s why most people don’t do it. Do your research and compile a list of people who might be interested in your post. Email them. Try and reach out to the owners of popular blogs who might want to show your content to their audience. Ultimately, not promoting your content is like buying a new car and not getting any keys to start the engine. Now it’s your turn. Create a new blog post for your business and make sure to cover all 5 points. If you’d like a PDF version of these 5 factors to print out and refer to, you can download it here.