Whenever I hold a blogging event, the most popular part - apart from the free food - is when I talk about promotional strategies - in other words, how to get people to read your blog! But I notice something when I'm talking to beginners. They're excited about promotion, but not always sure about why they need to promote or how to make their promotional strategies actually produce results. Until today, that is!
If you are blogging for business, you NEED to know how to promote your blog. It's that simple. Depressingly simple. No one sees what you create if you don't. And if people don't see what you create, your content marketing is failing!
Experts from Moz reckon that more than 75% of blog posts go completely unnoticed. Blog posts aren't the only type of content marketing, but they certainly are one of the most popular and accessible for beginners, so we're going to focus on them. But we don't want your blog to be in that 75%, do we? Of course not!
We promote because there are so many blog posts, pieces of content, articles, whitepapers, videos, and podcasts out there that they just get lost in the vast promotional ocean. It doesn't matter if it's good content, average content or complete tripe, it gets submerged and floats away just the same.
YOU'RE DOING IT WRONG!
But for exactly the same reason, what passes for a "promotion strategy" in many companies - a tweet, a Facebook post and a fervent hope for success - is almost as useless as doing absolutely nothing. Don't believe me?
There's just too much stuff out there. Take Twitter, for example. The folks over at MeetEdgar reckon that the average Twitter user visits Twitter for just 1 minute a day (and remember, if you're reading articles about content marketing, chances are you are NOT an average user). In turn, the average number of Tweets every minute is around 347, 222.
What do you think your chances are of a would-be client seeing YOUR tweet when he or she logs on or opens the app for a minute - literally? Depressing as it is, it's not an isolated problem. You'll see the same disheartening statistics when we talk about promoting on any social network, to a greater or lesser degree.
So how do we get around this dismal situation? Well, I don't think there's a magic solution, but I cope pretty well and I think you can too. Promote hard, repeatedly and strategically.
-- not difficult, but takes time - different types of promotion in different and varied places --
-- the easiest one of all. Promote again, and again, and again! --
-- the hard one - promote on the right channels, at the right time, using the right method --
THE 80/20 METHOD
The first two points - hard and repeated - are a result of the 80/20 method. Remember before I told you that the promotion section was one of the most popular in my courses? Well, it's super popular until I mention this next bit and then, well, I definitely lose a few fans.
I mention that when it comes to promotion, I think the 80/20 promotional method - a rehash of the Pareto principle - is the way to go. In marketing terms, it goes like this.
YOU NEED A PROMOTION PLAN
Ok, so let's accept that most methods of promotion take a long time and move on the specifics for the time being: how, when and where we do this promotion. It's easy to get caught up in the fact that thorough promotional strategies take a long time, but remember that it's also easy to corral and manage them, and from there you'll be able to refine, whittle down and automate some parts.
Now, you need to make sure you completely understand what promotion methods are available to you, and how and when you should use them.
To do this search for "how to promote blog post" on Google, and make a (good-sized) list to try and mold to your own situation.
You really need to train yourself to think in terms of content lifetime. It's also worth bearing in mind that although far more promotional tasks are carried out AFTER publication, the ones that need to happen BEFORE are no less important. And, since many of them involve you asking for the input of other people, and we also know that other people suck at getting back to inquiries, it's wise to start this part well in advance of when you want to publish!
So let's take a look at these aspects a little more closely. No matter what "promotional method" you use - one downloaded from another site, or one you make up yourself - framing them in the lens of before, during and after will give you a starting point and add structure and meaning.
The fact that you've got tasks to do before publication means that it's worth thinking about your posts well in advance of when you are thinking about publishing them. That's why I always recommend the use of a content calendar - there are just so many tasks you need to do to get your blog right that a calendar - also known as an editorial calendar - makes the job much easier, no matter how big the team.
Before you write the blog post you're gathering information that will help you with planning, writing and promoting it afterward.
The kind of thing you should be thinking about is along these lines:
Why are you writing the post?
What do you want to get out of it?
Will you do keyword research for the post?
Who can you contact that might be able to help you with the topic?
During is a little bit of a misnomer. In most cases, it's more like "immediately after you publish", although some parts you can fill in as you're actually constructing the post.
Things to think about:
What parts of the post can you repurpose for promotional purposes?
Are there any nice, keyword-rich snippets?
Quotable lines from the post?
Highlights you can use later?
This part sometimes confuses people - when I talk about snippets and highlights and quotes, I'm talking about the words YOU have written in the post. Remember, you'll be promoting this post hard and repeatedly - don't just want to tweet, Facebook, Pinterest and LinkedIn in the same title, over and over, verbatim. We're gathering these resources so we can promote heavily while still keeping things interesting for both your reader and Google.
After the post has been published is definitely where the grunt work happens. This is the fodder that is going to keep the promotional strategy fed as we stretch it out over the following weeks and months.
Things to think about:
Do I have a nice selection of relevant images, to keep things interesting?
And likewise, a good selection of headlines?
Have I remembered to share to all of the places it might be relevant? Have I remembered to share multiple times on these networks to maximize my chances of people seeing it?
Have I uploaded the post to all of the places that I can upload to (LinkedIn Pulse, Medium, etc.?)
Have I shared the post on all of my relevant forums and groups? (FB Groups, blog aggregators, Quora, Reddit, blogging tools?)
Will I pay to boost this post?
The great thing about using a worksheet or list to do this job is that you can sit down and work through all the points systematically. This is essential, especially when you're starting out.
Benefits of a worksheet
Give you a starting point
Gives you a plan
Allows you to centralize information and resources as you go
Allows you to delegate to others (interns, other staff, virtual assistant)
Allows you to refer back to what you've done to check if it's working
ANOTHER KEY PART OF PROMOTION MARKETING IS THE NEED TO MONITOR, ASSESS AND MODIFY.
This means knowing where you've promoted your articles and checking back in periodically. If you don't schedule this, you're likely to forget, especially once you've published and promoted more than a few blog posts.
Things to follow up on:
Comments, questions and feedback - reply, give thanks, address
Make sure everything's displaying properly - images and videos can fail or be corrupted, you may need to re-upload
Make popular posts as visible as possible - tagging, pinning, etc.
Tweak sharing options - share more or less, or take off the sharing schedule
Update posts with new information, links, images, etc.
Add or remove paid advertising
Promotion is the key to successful blogging strategies, which in turn are an important part of your marketing strategy. The internet is so crowded these days that you have to make a special effort to make sure your blog is seen by the right people. This takes a lot of time and significant effort, so it's important that you have a solid, workable plan and that you only invest your time and effort in excellent content.
Think about promotion in terms of content lifetime. There are tasks before, during and after the publication of your post, and also the issue of content repurposing, which we haven't spoken about today.
Use a worksheet or organized document. You can make your own, or download someone else's. It will make your job much easier.
Always check in on your content to make sure it is having the desired effect and supporting your company brand.