Content must be promoted.
Many content creators expect their content to get the attention it deserves. The truth is — it rarely does. To get your blog post the attention it deserves, you need at least one of these things:
Establishing trust within a community takes time and luck seems to favour the persistent. So what you can do attain that critical reach for your newly written blog post?
The Concept Of Critical Mass
Critical mass is always a challenge for anyone who doesn’t yet have it. You basically need to make sure to get your content in front of enough people to “get the ball rolling”. To do this, you need to promote your content “by hand”. (One way of ensuring critical mass for everything you publish is to ride the wave of engagement.) But the key here is:
You must promote your content, especially in the beginning!
Part I: Prep Work
1. Shorten your URLs.
Make sure to push your link with a trackable url-shortener, like bitly.com, preferably with a vanity url. Also make sure your social sharing buttons are connected to your Bitly-API.
2. Boost your post with tweetables.
Why should only your headline be shared in social media? Why not have your readers also share pull quotes? Using Click-To-Tweet.com is often a great idea. If you’re on WordPress, you can use this great plugin.
3. Research your hashtags.
Research the proper hashtags to use when promoting your post. Here’s what to think about:
A. Use hashtags that are relevant. Luring people who are looking for something else to your content is bad form.
B. Use hashtags that are already in use. You can try to get people to use a hashtag that you have designed, but remember that this takes time and patience. If you’re primarily looking to get your message spread, use hashtags that people are already using.
C. Use hashtags that are native to social networks. There’s a huge difference between how hashtags work on Twitter and Instagram, for instance.
4. Tweak your headline.
A good headline will do wonders for the spread of your content. Here are a couple of powerful tips:
A. Benchmark your headline with Buzzsumo. Buzzsumo lets you search content based on social media popularity.
B. Try this formula for grabbing attention. The formula as described by phenomenal blogger and writer Jeff Goins is simple but easy to learn:
Number or trigger word + Adjective + Keyword + Promise
56 Unorthodox Techniques For Writing Headlines That Grabs Attention
How To Write Catchy Headlines That Will Double Your Conversions
C. Test your headlines with KingSumo Headlines. You can easily test your headlines before you choose which one to go with it (How To Write Noteworthy Headlines Based On Behavioural Data With This Cool WordPress Plugin).
D. Test your headline with Coschedule’s Headline Analyzer. For creating Buzzfeed-type headlines that grab attention. It’s not perfect as the algorithm can’t really read your headlines the way a human can, but it’s a great training tool to help you test different variations.
5. Check for SEO improvements.
The purpose of most algorithms is to give the user a great experience and a relevant service. So if the algorithm is working against, then chances are you wouldn’t want the type of traffic that algorithm would serve you, anyway. But targeting relevant keywords makes sense.
A. SEO by Yoast is an easy-to-use WordPress plugin. It will help you to tweak your content just enough.
B. Test your keywords with Google Keyword Planner. You shouldn’t write to target keywords, you should write to satisfy your publics. But once you’ve finalized your content, I like to check it with Google’s free tool.
6. Incentivise your content.
You could add a quiz, a contest or a giveaway to help your post to reach gift status. Or maybe you have some digital goods to hand out, like ebooks, invites or deals? If nothing else, you could offer your blog post like a downloadable pdf for people who wants to save your blog post and read it offline. My favourite tool for lead magnet delivery is LeadPages.
7. Develop a social object.
Imagine a reader of yours sitting at a dinner party. At the dinner party, they’re discussing a challenge that you’ve blogged about. Your reader realises that she or he can offer a solution based on having read your blog post! Now imagine your reader telling the rest of the guests how to address the challenge based on the knowledge she or he got from your blog post. How would this person explain the core concept? Once you do this mental exercise, you’ll probably gain some basic insights:
A. The challenge must be real. You must target real pain points, so be clear on what challenge your blog post is addressing. People must care about solving the problem, so make sure your blog post outlines the challenge before rushing into describing your solution.
B. There must be a memory hook. Sometimes you need to conceptualize your solution, like “Content Talking Point (CTP)” as an example. People might not remember the abbreviation CTP, but it makes it easier to remember that there is a solution to increase word-of-mouth for a blog post.
8. Post within a content theme.
This technique’s time-consuming, but it’s often necessary. But you should always look into how to explode your content. See Content Themes für Alle and The Surround Strategy on how to create content packages. If I really wanted to make sure that this blog post would reach more people, I could have exploded this content to:
And so on.
No, this isn’t a quick fix for getting your content out there, but the main insight here is that you shouldn’t focus on producing separate content entities, but rather group your content into content themes.
9. Schedule social media copy.
I recommend crafting your social media share copy when you finalize your content. I would share this particular post on Twitter, I might write up something like this:
- How to spin your blog post: [link] #digitalpr
And that’s fine. But I might want to share this post more than once today, one time tomorrow, one time a week from now and one final time one month from now. But blasting the same social copy over and over again is hardly good form.
Here are a few examples (for Twitter) on how to highlight this particular post:
- 21 techniques for getting your content in front of more people: [link] #digitalmarketing
- Why critical mass is critical for promoting your blog posts: [link] #growthhacking
- How to develop your Content Talking Point (CTP) and other tricks: [link] #wordofmouth
My favorite WordPress plugin for scheduling social network updates is CoSchedule. Very intuitive and efficient also for collaboration in teams. So, we go to the CoSchedule blog for an elegant explanation of how this works:
10. Go evergreen with the 2-year rule.
Before posting, ask yourself:
- Will this content be as useful (or more!) in 2 years from now?
Most people like evergreen content and evergreen content tend to increase the value of your blog’s archive. Sure, you might have to update your posts every now and then, but going for evergreen will help you reach critical mass also over time.
Part II: Pitch Work
11. Activate your inbound tribe.
Every serious blogger knows this — you need to hustle in the beginning of building your blog. This basically mean that you have to reach out to influencers and tell them about your blog post. And ask them if they would consider sharing it.
There are a few ways to set this up:
A. Join Triberr. Triberr’s a great community of aspiring (and quite a few established ones as well) bloggers who help each other out. It works, but it does require you to actively engage and take an interest in the community.
B. Email (or tweet) your blogger friends. If you have friends who like you and the content you create, then ask them to share. This works better for some markets and worse for others (us Swedes, for instance, we tend to see each other as competitors instead of helping each other to grow audiences).
C. Join (or start) a Facebook or LinkedIn group of bloggers. Help each other out to get the word out there to reach critical mass. Why not support an aspiring blogger instead of retweeting blog posts from A-listers who won’t even acknowledge your existence?
12. Pay to play (seeding).
Now, you might also want to practice some seeding.
And so on.
How much to spend and where to spend it? Now, that’s science for another blog post…
13. Listen and engage in conversation.
When people start reacting to your content, make sure you’re listening. Reply promptly to comments and take part in discussions where you can add value.
When someone shares your content, make sure to say “thank you”. It might be enough to mark their tweets with stars or whatever (you don’t have to publicly thank everyone), but try to make sure to somehow acknowledging the people who help you get your message across to more people.
14. Activate your email list.
Most respectable blogs today focuses on building an email list:
- Can your list be used to promote your blog post in any way?
15. Cross-promote your post.
Using your email list is one way to cross-promote your content. Using your social media channels to promote your content is another. But you can, of course, make sure to leverage all channels at your disposal. One sneaky yet highly aggressive trick is to research your own most visited web pages and link from those web pages to your blog post.
Some companies have respectable volumes of relevant and organic hits on their front page, so maybe you want to showcase your most important content there?
But here’s the ultimate trick of cross-promotion:
The secret to massively succeed with cross-promotion is to shut up about everything else while you’re promoting your blog post. Only promoting one thing at the time across all channels creates a powerful surround effect.
16. Publish guest posts (or do a podcast tour).
RA great way of sparking conversations and word-of-mouth for your blog post is to make sure that you discuss your content yourself in front of other people’s audiences. For this post, I could “go on tour” arguing that marketers and PR professionals are spending way too much time at content creation compared to content promotion. I really think this is true — and I have the arguments to back up my claims. And of course, I have answers to how to do it and why it will benefit most brands.
A couple of guest posts on influential platforms linking back to this cornerstone blog post won’t exactly hurt this post’s search rankings, either. Or why not talk about the problem of neglecting content promotion on a couple of digital marketing podcasts? I’m sure that would be a relevant topic for any podcast discussing content marketing.
17. Trigger some haters.
You can force your readers to pick a side. To do this, you need to show them where you stand and be very clear about it. But that’s not enough; you also need to show them the opposition. Basically, what this means, is this:
You pick a fight with someone who deserves it.
And then you bait the people who are wrong (according to you) and you ask them if they would like to comment. For instance, I could link up some blog posts who are completely missing the point of content promotion. I could easily bait that douchebag crowd who advises people to create “awesome content” because “awesome” is better than, well … “good”, I guess.
Their reactions will fuel your social media spread and hopefully activate readers who agrees with you.
Now, this might sound as a black hat technique, but conflict is the oldest trick in the PR book. Conflict’s what all journalists, editors and authors use to convey engaging stories.
18. Do a VIP outreach.
If you have frequent commenters, treat them like pure gold. Buy a relevant book and send it to them, like a way of showing that you appreciate their contributions. Send them an email thanking them personally for contributing to your content. Follow them on social networks where they’re active and value their relationship. Interact.
A trick is to routinely mention influencers that you respect. If done right, they’ll appreciate the mention and the link and hopefully the’ll grow more interested in sharing your messages.
Insights: Do You Have A Process For Content Promotion?
So what have we learnt from this exercise? Here are my insights from writing this post:
A. They don’t teach you content promotion in schools. Content promotion is a hustle, but an important one. And you need to fight for every unique visitor in the beginning.
B. Lots of companies disregard content promotion. If so few companies properly promote their content, then this means that there’s less competition for you, right?
C. Content promotion should be second nature to your community manager. Your community manager shouldn’t just take care of your social channels — they should also promote your content actively.
D. There are few shortcuts, unfortunately. Content promotion takes time and resources and there’s often no way around that fact. Those who are prepared to do things that don’t scale will be rewarded over time.
E. Every brand should have a process for content promotion. Why bother creating content if too few will ever discover its value?
F. Distribute your resources wisely. Publishing content doesn’t mean you’re done with your job — you’re only getting started.
If you practice Part I: Prep Work and Part II: Pitch Work, then you could push your post to thousands and thousands of views, a respectable amount of social shares and some conversions in the form of comments or leads. And that’s exactly how you reach EBL (engagement bottom line) each and every time and that’s how you reach critical mass.