That’s quite a title eh? I’m quite aware that it sounds very much like one of those ‘web marketing’ blog posts by ‘web marketing gurus’ we see quite a lot of these days. And to an extent, it is. I’ve recently experimented with my personal blog (witteringon.org) and social media (just Facebook in this case) to look for a formula that works best when it comes to getting a solid ROI on your blog writing efforts. One of these experiments is exploring blog content, post titles and the usefulness of social influencers.
Blog post content is a critical part of your web content mix as it is directly supportive of your social media strategy. Without strong, targeted content you have nothing to share with your social network, nothing linkworthy, nothing engaging and therefore nothing likely to get shared, liked or retweeted, and these benefits not only help to grow your social network (and therefore the reach of your messages to your target audiences) but also send positive social signals in Google’s direction, boosting your organic search traffic. So I’ve been messing with content types and titles to see how these factors might affect engagement. A recent post on my blog was effective enough (just) to warrant a mini case study (and validation of what I’m always nagging my clients to press on with!).
Putting Together The Content
In the first instance I pulled together some recent emails I’d had (a disgruntled customer email back-and-forth) between me and popular retailer, Next – bless their hearts. The outcome of my experience with them was both interesting and amusing and worthy of sharing I thought. Folks love a customer service tragedy so it seemed like perfect content for my personal blog warblings.
I gave the post a title that I felt reflected the experience and teased a tiny amount as to what Next’s reaction might have been to my contacting them: I Almost Charged Next For My Time, You Won’t Believe How They Reacted…
I wrote enough to tell the story without dragging it out just to make it ‘long form’, added a squirt of humour and a couple of photos to give it some personality and a human face (this happened to me, I’m a person, like you probably are, etc), and set it free.
Plucking Up The Courage To Share
Then I did something I’d never had the courage to do before (because it’s people that know me), I shared it from my personal Facebook page. witteringon.org will get it’s own Facebook page in due course, as it should (how else will I measure engagement and shares?) but as it’s so new I needed to use my existing personal network to test the effect of influencers on sharing and reach.
For the first few hours there were a few likes, a few comments and a few congratulations for ‘sticking it to the man’ and all that jazz, I saw maybe 10 – 15 views in analytics, nothing fancy. But then I asked a few key influencers in my network, that is people who are very engaged with the platform, have lots of friends and tend to share stuff regulalry with their friends, to have a read.
The Power Of Influence
They read the post, liked it and shared it. Then a few others shared it, then I lost count of shares because like I said, I had no insights (FB’s version of analytics) given it was posted from my profile, rather than a facebook page. Then, from just a handful of visits to my blog previously (it’s dead new with only a handful of posts), I had over 1500 visits during the next 4 days. Crazy. What was particularly impressive was that these were visits from people who were actually reading, engaging and sharing.
My point is that this is just one post, one social network (I don’t have a massive amount of friends either!) and although on it’s own doesn’t add up to much in terms of ROI if we were to scale this strategy up to content delivered across several social networks on a regular basis, made this content part of a long tail SEO strategy (targeting all those nich terms your target audience are using in Google) and measured the results we’d have a killer traffic delivery channel on our hands.
Adjacent Content Can Help
I know what you’re thinking (not literally of course, that would be weird and not a little creepy) “But I’m an accountant / dentist / brick layer and I can’t possibly come up with regular content that people are going to want to read about my industry, let alone share!”. I hear you (again, not literally) and it takes some thought, but that’s the strategy part. We look for something we call adjacent content; that is content that is connected to your general industry topic but doesn’t have to be directly about what you do, remember this is not your ‘about us’ page you’re writing here, it’s your blog and your blog is not ‘about you’, it’s about giving your audience a reason to read. Be useful, be unique, be entertaining. And you can do this by being ‘adjacent’. Accountancy might be dull (actually there’s no ‘might’ about it) but who doesn’t want to learn the top tips for paying a lot less tax? Or comfort themselves reading the worst dentist disasters ever or see a photo of the Death Star built out of bricks. Adjacent content is everywhere, just needs some digging up and dusting off for your audience.
The most important take-away from this piece is probably the bit about influencers. They were the key to my post getting so many views (and it’s still getting them by the way) and identifying them is critical. You may be able to put your finger on a few right now, folks who like your company facebook page or follow you on Twitter who are well connected, are likely to be interested in your content (Top Tip: Don’t be afraid to butter up an influencer in your blog posts – flattery gets you everywhere!) and like sharing and retweeting content. If you don’t, get some, steal an influencer from your competitors, analyse your existing network and see what gold you may have right under your nose. It’s a high ROI task, well worth your time.
Obviously we can help you get some direction with all this (and the wider inbound marketing thing generally), that’s what we’re here for, so drop us a line if you want to find out more. But I don’t want to end on a sales pitch, there are lot’s of folks that can help you with this sort of thing. What’s important is that you don’t dismiss social activity, or building great, sharable content on your blog – it’s the most future proof strategy you can employ to keep those traffic channels flowing.
NB: Facebook updated their algorithm recently, the one that determines who sees what and how often (think organic facebook views as opposed to paid or promoted posts). There’s some interesting evidence that there are some clear do’s and don’ts when it comes to sharing content on Facebook and I’ll be putting a blog post together about it soon…