I’m not going to claim that I am a blogging expert, although I have been blogging for over 6 years on this blog, several years on a personal blog and as a guest blogger on other people’s blogs. I’m not going to tell you that I am an SEO guru who can help drive thousands of eyeballs to your blog each day, although we get at least 35 leads per week that come directly from people finding our blog content and then learning more about how we can help them with their social marketing. What I am going to tell you, is that I am a busy mother, wife, business owner and content consumer that has had to learn to skim through business blogs, posts, and data, to find content I enjoy, that is relevant to me and to growing my business. I can tell you that we live in a YouTube, 140-character, shiny Pinterest picture kind of world, and if you want your blog to be read by and shared by more people, you might want to take out your Big Chief notebook and write some of this down.
8 Lessons That Will Improve Your Business Blogging:
Use FABULOUS images
We live in a social world. Content flying in at a staggering rate. (Approximately 21 million Tweets per hour and approximately 420 million posts per hour on Facebook) Tweet That!
Whether you are sharing on a social media site, or on your blog, your images need to STOP TRAFFIC! As we are scanning the stream of text, great photos cause us to stop and take a second look. On your blog post, great images evoke emotion; they tell the story before you tell the story; they connect our visually-oriented brains to the message you are trying to convey to us. To stand out here are some tips: Don’t use corny photos or “Corporate Porn.” You know those photos of a perfectly diverse team in the board room all high-fiving each other around a FLIP CHART! Come on, show us something great. Don’t use clipart or graphics that look like they came out of the free and oh-so-tired Microsoft library. Don’t use poor quality images you find on Google. Check out services like UNSPLASH, Shutterstock, or check out the creative commons area of Flickr and Google Images, but look for large beautiful pics. Use a site like Picmonkey to add your logo or some fun text to personalize the image further.
Use Attention-Grabbing Titles (but that are tied in or relevant to your business topic)
The title of your blog is very important, but it is hard to come up with titles that both, describe your topic and capture the attention of readers or those searching for your topic. While it’s great to ride the wave of a trend (How David Letterman Retiring is Like Managing Social Media), you also must be careful not to get too trendy or witty with your titles that it brings the wrong people in and they leave just as fast. I once wrote a post about needing to be a little like Magnum PI when digging for prospects on social media sites. I even had this great mustache clad photo of Magnum. Our numbers went crazy that month. We got lots of hits to the blog, but our bounce rate went through the roof. Who knew he was still so trendy?
Write Less Text-Heavy Paragraphs….More Bullets and White Space
When I go to a blog post or website that looks more like a textbook than a socially engaging website, my eyes glaze over and I am forced to click away before I slip into a coma. Learn from today’s social trends. Twitter has taught us if it can’t be summarized in 140 characters, you probably don’t need to say it. Pinterest and Google Plus have taught us that all you need is a large photo and wee bit of text to keep people with you. And then there’s Instagram…sometimes the photo says it all. If you have a lot of text to cover (like this post), break it into bulleted segments and add great photos. White space gives our brains a break. Space is like the rest in music. Without the rests it’s just a bunch of noise. [BONUS TIP: When breaking up your text, make the headlines for each section a H2 tag – changing it from the small paragraph text style to a HEADING 2 format. This helps your SEO since Google scans H1 and H2 tags to see what your post is about before scanning the small text]
Make it easy for people to share your posts
After all, you are writing to hopefully reach a larger audience. Be sure to add the social share buttons on the bottom (and/or top) of each post to make it easy for people to share. It’s frustrating when you have to search around a site and scroll to the very bottom to find the almost transparent gray images of the social icons. Most blogging platforms have social plug-ins…add them.
Ask for comments, or evoke enough emotion, if you want people to speak up and leave a comment
I get this question at least once a week. “How can I get people to comment on my blog posts?” This is a tough one. People might love what they read, but feel intimidated to post a comment in a public forum. Some just don’t want to take the time, and some blogs actually make it hard for people to leave comments because people have to register for an account before they can comment. Another thing to consider is that if you have a great call-to-action at the end of a post or you are asking people to connect with you on other social media platforms, it also could be that people are wanting to have the conversation elsewhere. I get more emails from people who have a comment or question after reading a post. They simply go up to the CONTACT button instead of down to the comment area. Look for other measures such as the number of retweets you get on your post, or how many people +1 or LIKE them.
Give People a Next Step (Calls to Action)
I blogged for a very long time (a shamefully long time) before I learned this one. I was writing to be helpful. I was writing to share my knowledge or passion with the world, but I wasn’t writing to convert readers into leads. I wasn’t even writing to keep people coming back…strategically. Every post should have a “next step”. That step could be to subscribe to your blog, to sign up for your newsletter, or to download a tip sheet that ties in with the post they just read. If you suggest other past posts to read to dive deeper into your topic that also keeps people around and pulls them closer to you. If you want some specific ideas on how to set up this workflow with call-to-actions be sure and read, You Want to Drive More Traffic to Your Website.
Fun usually beats academic…even when writing for academia
If you scan the web for your industry topics you will find, there are a lot of boring writers. It seems like there are a lot of writers who try and impress everyone with their highly intellectual command of the English language. Don’t write for a college-level English course. Write for the average reader. Write for a pimple-faced, 10th-grade reader. Put a bit of your personality in your posts (unless you don’t have one…then put a bit of someone else’s personality in your post). It’s always fun when you are reading and it feels like the writer is sitting across from you having a fun conversation.
Don’t be afraid to take a more controversial stand on your topic. Sure you may alienate 50% of readers, but the other 50% will love you for it. There is an audience for every topic and every spin on a topic. Write from your passion point and your audience will find you!
What other tips have you learned along the way? We would love for you to share them with us in the comments section below.
Juggling my job as a social marketing manager and being a busy mom of two has both rewards and challenges. We can all agree that social marketing is hard work. Completing all that needs to be done in a day is one of those challenges, but I have always found ways to get my errands done with kids in tote by “selling them” on the idea that the stop at the store will be “FUN!” Sure, some chores require that I get more creative, but it has always worked and fortunately bribing a 6-year-old is still legal.
It was on a recent, not-so-efficient, day that I discovered my usual, oft-employed strategy to get my daughter excited about running errands with me had suddenly stopped working. Just like that – the answer was “No thanks, Mommy. I don’t want to go.” This was supposed to be our one-on-one time, so I was already feeling guilty about cutting into that precious time with my to-do list, so I tried again. “Let’s go get a cookie and you can color (so mommy can finish this post).” Her response was the same. “No. I don’t want to.”
Wait, what? But I’m the mom and this always works. I realized I had to change my approach. The rules changed and so I had to adapt and change my strategy.
The unpredictability of life with a child is strikingly similar to social media, at times. As a social marketing manager at SocialKNX I see a DIRECT correlation between these two jobs. Change is happening all the time in social media platforms and social media marketing, and there’s little – or sometimes NO – warning. Indeed, it can be frustrating, but with a little know-how and a lot of stamina, your social marketing strategy will be able to handle anything that Mark Zuckerberg throws at you.
Of course with the constant changes and sometimes unclear targets we are trying to hit, it can be quite overwhelming. Therapy, anyone?
Here are 4 Tips for Creating Happy and Healthy Social Marketing
Just like parents who say, “That music is too loud or why do you have to dress like that” we find ourselves saying similar things about social media. The moment you catch yourself saying things like, “This is stupid. No one is going to join a social platform that has nothing but knitting patterns.” You sound old, and you will be wrong. (check out RAVELRY) MySpace was king of the social mountain until Facebook knocked it off and took over the kingdom. There will be others, but you will be ready. Stay nimble. Realize it is not the tool or the platform, but the way we are learning to use them to connect and communicate that is important.
Never Stop Learning
None of us are experts or gurus in parenting OR social marketing. The only expert parents are GRAND parents. We are all students of this social revolution and there is much to learn… daily. Make a point to subscribe to top blogs and Twitter streams to stay abreast of what is new. Join groups on LinkedIn or Communities on Google+ to share new tools with others who manage social marketing. It’s not until you sell your business or retire that you can look back and see your true expertise.
Don’t Give Up When The Going Gets Tough
Like anything worth while in life, there will be challenges and tough days. Ask any parent. There are good days and there are bad days. If you stay at it long enough, the good days will definitely outweigh the bad. Don’t be that guy who gives up and refuses to play in the sandbox anymore, because you don’t like the rules. And certainly don’t be a person who tries parenting for a couple months and says it doesn’t work. “This baby is still too needy and not showing a return on my investment so far.” Social marketing takes time and lots of tweaking and changing. Just as you invest time growing and nurturing your little ones, nurturing a fledgling social media strategy NOW might just be what your business needs to stay relevant and survive into the next phase of its life.
Ask for Help
Many parents are afraid to ask for help for fear of revealing they can’t handle it alone. The reality is, we were never qualified to handle parenting alone. Hillary Clinton taught us all that in her book, “It Takes A Village”, and I am here to tell you that it takes a village, or at least a team to do everything that needs to be done with your social media management. Perhaps you can have a couple people writing content for your blog, have someone else handle finding great photos for all of your posts, and someone else in charge of coming up with ideas for contests or campaigns. Perhaps you have someone who loves data. That person can handle analyzing what is working and what is not each month. You might need to hire some help or bring in an intern to help you. You can join coaching circles or sign up for a class for that support and assistance. If you are needing parenting classes, we probably can’t help you, but if you need some help with that social strategy, we are here and eager to help.
Now go…take that brand new social marketing bundle of yours and grow it into a successful marketing strategy. You’d better hurry though…the rules are about to change again.
Give us a call and talk to us about your business…or your kids – we’re ready, we’re willing, and we’re parents too.
Need a few more pointers? Here’s a social marketing time management tool we use:
Sharlene Keithley is a community manager at SocialKNX and loves discovering ways to drive more traffic to client websites using social media and seeing those conversion numbers rise! When she’s not juggling her roles as mom, wife, community manager, and taxi driver, she is learning to play guitar, piano and spending time in the great outdoors!
I love when clients tell us their goal for social marketing is to drive more traffic to their website. After looking at their website, I tell them, “No You Don’t…Not Yet.” After all, the goal isn’t to have people just visit your website, and if there is nothing on your website but boring text about you, they don’t need to leave a social media platform for that. What is the goal of your website? Have you given that any thought?
Your goal should be to get people to TAKE ACTION once they are on your website—to subscribe, to download something, to request a demo, to sign up for a webinar, or receive a free consultation of sorts. Social marketing works in tandem with your overall marketing strategy and that is to bring people in as a fan or follower and begin providing more targeted information to them based on their needs and responses to your content to eventually convert them to a customer, member or subscriber.
So before you set out to drive more traffic to your website from your social media sites, Google ad campaigns, or sign spinning, take a step back and do a little prep to ensure you are set up to convert those visitors to leads and customers.
Here are 5 steps to drive traffic to your website with social media:
Capture Email Addresses
If your goal is to drive traffic to your site, you need to ask yourself, “What do I want people to do once they are there?” If you haven’t started capturing email addresses using an email marketing tool like Constant Contact, MailChimp, or a more robust system like HubSpot, this is your first step. You know you’ve been saying it for years, “I should be building my email list” and perhaps you still have email addresses scattered in your gmail account, your outlook contacts and some still sitting in an AOL account from 1995. Set up an email marketing tool NOW. You need this step completed before you go on. We’ll wait….go do it.
OKAY now, back to our list…
Create Value Products
Create 5 value products that you can give away in exchange for someone’s information, such as email address, phone number, or other contact information. Keep in mind the more you request from people, the greater value your product or download better be. Do you really need their mailing address, birthdate, and first born’s blood type? These items you have created will be used in “Call-To-Action” statements, buttons, or posts on your site. The value products can be a great checklist of items that your potential clients need (10 Questions You Need to Ask Before________; 7 Must-Have Resources for_________), A FREE Webinar; An eBook, A Ticket to Your Event; A Self-Assessment for Your Time Management quotient, etc. Save these as PDFs and load them (or have your website manager load them) on your website, usually in your media library. Commit to creating 1- 2 new value pieces every month to add to your downloads. You can segment them into top of the sales funnel pieces and more qualified, bottom of the funnel items as you go along as well.
Create Landing Pages
Create a page of content for each item (a Landing Page) that tells people what they will get when they download this content. (We love LeadPages for making this so simple) A landing page is the first page someone will see after clicking on your call to action in your social media post, Google ad, or link in a piece of content telling people to “CLICK HERE FOR A FREE DOWNLOAD”, etc. A landing page has a very specific job; it is to gather information about your prospect. Make sure these landing pages are optimized with your key words and phrases so they can be found organically as well. Your landing pages can be simple or more robust giving lots of information. You can create a short and long version of your landing pages and test them for yourself to see which one converts is most effective. If you know how to set up a landing page on your site you can do it yourself or again, have the help of your website manager. It is not a difficult task once you have the copy written.
Now invite people to the landing pages
Now you can drive more traffic to your website with social media. You can link directly to the landing page from different pages on your website, from your blog posts, from your social media posts, your newsletter, or even from an email. Create several social media posts that will take people to your landing pages and mix them into your content to keep new prospective clients coming to your site and more importantly, entering your email marketing database. With each step in your email marketing, you can ask different questions that will help you qualify your new leads and target your content to them further. Again, social marketing can be used at each stage to attract new leads that are qualified through the use of these questions in your posts.
Make Your Site Interactive
Now about that text -heavy website…Add some interactive pieces to your site such as a SlideShare presentation that ends with a call-to-action. Put a video on your site that ends with the next action you’d like people to take. Do you now see how social media can be used more strategically to attract people to your website?
Social media magnifies the messaging from your website, so make sure what it is magnifying isn’t a dead-end of brochure-like content. Let your conversations in your social communities invite people in for more of your expertise, more of your helpful resources, more of the relationship you offer. That’s when you will see a greater conversion and return on your social marketing efforts. Go ahead…invite those fans to your website now!
If you’re new to social media marketing, you’re most likely feeling overwhelmed, under its control and a slave to the computer. Many businesses and business owners struggle with how much attention to give their budding social media sites and ultimately feel defeated, annoyed or wondering if their effort will ever pay off.
Much like a new parent with a small child, you must learn how take control of your social marketing, correct its mistakes while ultimately focusing on what you want it to mature into.
Here are 3 Parenting Tips To Help You With Your Social Marketing:
Nip the Sassy Attitude:
If you are branching out and expanding your marketing efforts using social media, chances are you’re hoping to connect with your customers and potential customers. Beware – as this isn’t always a pleasant experience. Customers are thrilled to connect with you, especially when they want your attention or to share a piece of their mind. If you reciprocate with the same sassy attitude, you’re demonstrating to your readers the lack of importance you place on the customer experience. Instead, diffuse the situation graciously, showing appreciation for their comments, and direct them to a more constructive avenue of communication. Like a child throwing a temper tantrum, don’t ignore it or hide from it, rather address and redirect.
Stop The Mom-Mama-Mommy-Mum-Mummy-Momma-Mom:
Social media is so needy. Many people start off like a ball on fire, connecting with everyone, ready to converse with the world at the drop of a hat. It can quickly become overwhelming when the world starts conversing back. If you have your phone, computer or tablet set up to ping you every time a tweet or comment is posted, you’ll soon feel like a slave to social media, perhaps losing focus on what’s in front of you. Know when to disconnect from gadgets or turn off the alerts all together. Like a new parent, remind yourself you came first – it’s okay to take time for you.
Beware of Bad Influences:
Just like wanting to know who your child is associating with, you’ll want to be wary of those you connect with online. Twitter, for example, is riddled with spammers. Be sure to read bios, monitor the number of followers vs. following they have and ensure their bio pic is appropriate and legitimate. (see also: 4 Things You’re Doing That Smell Like SPAM) The last thing you want to have happen is for prospects to click on something from your posts and get spammed by those you’re following or worse, for them to review who you are following and question your integrity. Like dad always said: Bad company makes for a bad reputation.
Keep your mind on the future and what you can groom this new ‘child’ to be into, while reminding yourself, you are the boss, the parent and ‘supposedly’ in charge.