Blog Promotionology, The Art & Science of Blog Promotion
The Only Blog Promotion Checklist You'll Ever Need
There are some who suggest that when you're comparing your time spent writing blog posts with your time spent promoting blog posts, it should be an 80/20 ratio, with the bulk of your time spent getting that post out in front of more and more people.
Honestly, I don't subscribe to that.
While there is a long list of promotional techniques that I use, and even more that I don't personally employ, the actual time spent is typically 1/2 to 1/3 that of the actual writing.
In other words, I focus more on creating great content than trying to promote it.
Yet if you do some searches or ask some people, you'll see me and my content everywhere. Why is that?
It's because I'm thorough. It's not enough for me to share to the top three or four social networks. I need to share to many, many social networks and social directories, and I need to re-share that content as often as my audience and the platform accepts.
And I employ a variety of tools and techniques to make sure my best content continues to resurface to new readers and followers.
>>> Don't forget to grab your checklist for How To Promote A Blog Post! <<<
I wrote about this topic a few years ago and it's been one of my most popular posts. I've edited and updated it, but felt it was time to give the topic a new post and new format and and even more thorough explanation. I'll be including my own techniques just as before, but updated with current potential. And I'll also include a number of additional platforms to share to that I might not personally but might make sense for you, as well as techniques that I'm using to promote blog posts beyond social media sharing.
We will cover:
- Welcome to Blog Promotionology 101
- Blog Promotionology 101 - Prerequisites
- Blog Promotionology 101 - Lab Equipment Needed
- How To Promote Blog Posts Like Mike Allton
- Other Blog Post Promotion Techniques and Platforms
- Paid Blog Promotion
- Influencer Marketing
- Repurposing Blog Posts
- Syndicating Blog Posts
- Blog Post Promotion Checklist
In this course we will be examining the various tools and techniques used to promote blog articles, and indeed, the entire blog itself, to interested readers using a variety of available mediums.
blog - A website that displays content by one or more individuals in chronological order and usually has links to comments on specific postings.
pro·mo·tion - Support or encouragement of the progress, growth, or acceptance of something; furtherance.
ol·o·gy - A branch of learning.
Blog Pro·mo·tion·ol·o·gy - The study of the furtherance of website content.
Blog Promotionology 101 is intended for individuals interested in achieving the maximum reach for their blog and business, and is therefore applicable to both casual bloggers and business blogs that are part of an overarching Content Marketing strategy... and everything in between.
Blog Promotionology 101 Learning Objectives: This course is designed to meet the objectives of The Social Media Hat blogging requirement:
"As content marketing comes to play an increasingly important role in contemporary business strategy, it is essential for all educated bloggers to have a fundamental understanding of the art and science behind blog promotion. All blogging students should be familiar with multiple blog promotion disciplines and the role that blogging plays within content marketing. Such familiarity may be gained through acquisition of knowledge of a discipline's basic vocabulary, chief techniques, and fundamental principles; exposure to a discipline's experimental techniques; and the ability to analyze activity with scientific dimensions."
You should be able to explain the Four Big Ideas behind proper blog promotion
- Preparation: Making sure that your blog, and each individual article, is ideally suited to be promoted and shared.
- Social Media: Understanding the principles behind social networking and how that applies to blog promotion, as well as the tools and platforms involved.
- Email: Developing an engaged subscriber community who remains interested in reading your latest articles.
- Monitoring & Optimization: Paying attention to the long-term performance of individual articles and looking for opportunities to improve and leverage that performance.
Top 3 ways that bloggers are driving traffic to their posts: Social Media Marketing (94%); Search Engine Optimization (50.8%); Email Marketing (34.5%). (Orbit Media) <tweet this stat!>
You should also be proficient in the following scientific blog promotion practices:
- Blog Post Optimization
- Hashtag Utilization
- Analytics Interpretation
Once you have mastered Blog Promotionology 101, you will be ready to proceed to more advanced topics and workshops. A Fall Course Schedule will be announced soon.
It's one thing to talk about sharing your post to Facebook or Twitter, it's another thing to talk about what makes that share ideal, and what might encourage other people to share your posts. To me, that means that there's some groundwork that needs to be done to optimize your blog overall for sharing.
01. XML Sitemap
I mentioned this in my original post, and it continues to be true today. Your blog must have an XML Sitemap that automatically updates and pings Google and Bing when there's new content. It's critical that search engines spider and index your new content as soon as possible to help drive organic traffic.
02. RSS Feed
RSS, or Really Simple Syndication, is a way that others can see that you've published new content. Chances are, your site already offers an RSS Feed for your blog posts, but are you offering your readers an easy way to find it?
Typically, that just means using an RSS Feed icon someplace, perhaps near your social media profile icons, so that if someone's interested, they can subscribe to your feed.
But there's another great benefit to using and offering an RSS Feed to your readers that's actually becoming more popular than subscribers. And that's social sharing and curating.
With tools like Hootsuite and Buffer and so on, businesses and bloggers can now find great blogs and sources of information and plug in their RSS Feeds to see the latest posts. They may pull the posts into a stream for sharing consideration, or if they really like your posts, they may set it up to automatically tweet out your latest posts.
I've been fortunate to have a couple dozen wonderful bloggers set up my RSS Feed in their twitterfeed so it gets shared automatically. And in a moment, we're going to talk about an even better utilization of RSS. So make sure it's on and accessible!
03. Rich Pins & Twitter Cards
If you've ever shared a link to Facebook or Google+, you're familiar with the link preview that appears, automatically pulling the linked article's title and description, and even an image if there is one.
Rich Pins and Twitter Cards are similar.
With Rich Pins enabled, any time one of your blog posts is pinned to Pinterest, the title of your site and a description of the post is displayed along with the image. Like this:
To use Rich Pins you will need to activate some Meta Tags for each of your posts and get your site verified by Pinterest. Here are detailed instructions.
Similarly, with Twitter Cards enabled, your tweets will gain a link preview just like Facebook shares. The card appears anytime someone clicks to expand a tweet, so it's not visible in the stream. But when viewed, Twitter users gain additional information about your content, well beyond what you can include within the normal 140 characters.
You will need to enable Twitter-specific meta tags and get your site verified there as well.
I think it's well worth the time to enable Twitter Cards, though most will find that attaching an image to a tweet results in higher visibility and engagement than just tweeting a link and relying on the Twitter Card.
04. Great Image
This is a rule. You cannot break or bend it. Every blog post MUST have a great image associated with it. Certainly, "great" is a relative term, but the idea here is that you have an image above or very near the top of your blog post that helps communicate what your blog post is about. It should be an interesting, related, thoughtful image. And it should have text, at least the title of the post. Ideally, the styling of the image and some of the content of the image will be consistent and branded.
Look at this blog post's image as an example.
I have a very specific style that I've developed over the years for my blog post images that incorporates my blog colors, fonts and graphics. I always use a screenshot or compelling background image for the graphic, with a colored overlay filter and text that describes what the post is about. My images are branded and informative. Are they the best blog images out there? No, but I'm OK with that. I use these as an example because I am not a graphic designer, so if I can create images like this using Canva, so can you. For examples of incredible branding and imagery, check out Manly Pinterest Tips or Dustin W. Stout or Rebekah Radice.
05. Social Sharing Icons
If you don't yet have a good-looking and high-performing set of social icons on your blog posts, stop what you're doing and add a set immediately.
Social sharing icons don't just make it easier for your readers to share your content, they encourage it. The existence of the icons is a reminder and a prompt to spread your post to their audience, which is essentially crowdsourced blog promotion.
But wait, there's more.
If you include top-notch social sharing icons with share counts, those share counts serve as social proof. When someone sees a brand-new post that already has a bunch of shares, that helps verify in their mind that the content is good and deserves to be further shared.
Now, there's some debate over which social platforms you should include. Many publishers only have Twitter and Facebook icons. Some marketers will say it's good to only have two choices, but that those choices should be limited to the two platforms that best fit your target audience. While others prefer more choices. That's something you should test extensively yourself.
Personally, due to my topics and audience, I prefer to offer all of the major social networks plus an "other" option that lists many, many other networks. Like this:
Depending on the platform of your blog, you may have built-in social sharing options, or you may need to add a third-party widget. My site's on Drupal so I use and prefer Shareaholic. I like the great configuration options they have, including the ability to have multiple social sharing icon locations. I have sharing icons above my content, below my content, and floating to the left. And all of the buttons are customizable to match my blog's style and colors.
If you're on WordPress, my top recommendation is the Social Warfare Plugin [affiliate link]. It's inexpensive to add and has a gorgeous set of icon choices. And most importantly, the plugin supports current best practices with regard to social sharing, like the social proof I just mentioned, or advanced features like dedicated images for platforms like Pinterest.
06. Multiple Images
Speaking of images and Pinterest, another area where you can improve the sharing and promotion of your blog and blog posts is to use multiple images per blog post. Generally, you'd have just one "branded" primary image for the blog that appears at the top, but throughout the blog copy, you might include screenshots, quote graphics, memes, graphs, diagrams, and so on.
When you include additional images, not only do they help to break up the text and explain your points, those are also very specific items that can be shared individually. You can pin a blog post a bunch of times if you have different images to pin each time, and so can your audience.
Pinning additional images is fun, but what works extremely well for Twitter is to share quotes. The quotes may be famous quotes related to your topic, or perhaps quotes from you personally! What sets both apart from your regular text, and is a subtle indicator to share, is to actually format them differently.
"In quoting others, we cite ourselves." ― Julio Cortázar
By putting the quote on a new line and adding some basic formatting, it stands out. If it's a powerful quote, some of your readers might choose to highlight it and share it to social media.
08. Click To Tweet Quotes
To take that idea to the next level, make those quotes clickable and tweetable. Using Click To Tweet, you can add a link on or after any quote or bit of text so that, when clicked, the reader has a new Tweet window opened, pre-populated with that text for a tweet, along with a link to the post.
"Inserting Click To Tweet quotes within blog posts encourage readers to share your best points." - Mike Allton <click to tweet>
It doesn't take long to add a Click To Tweet link to a post - you just need to make sure that your quoted text is about 110 characters or less, to allow room for a shortened link back to your post itself. For a more detailed explanation of how to create tweetable links, click here.
Depending on the length and topic of your blog post, you should probably limit yourself to no more than two Click To Tweets per post. By the third or fourth one, generally, the actual usage of the links drops dramatically.
09. Mobile Friendly
Shifting gears for a moment, let's talk about a topic that, at the moment, may seem inappropriate coming from me. And that is mobile friendliness.
Yes, yes, I know. The Social Media Hat is not mobile friendly. But that's for good reason... as I mentioned earlier, the site is on Drupal and we use a 100% custom design and theme. We do plan to implement a full responsive design, but that is going to take a while, and our mobile traffic has continued to be relatively low.
For the rest of you, though, this needs to be an important decision. You need to evaluate where your traffic is coming from, and whether it's likely that your target audience might be consuming content like yours on mobile devices.
Presenting your content in a way that's easily readable no matter what device your readers are using is a requirement for encouraging readers to stick with you, sign up for your mailing list, and of course, be willing to share your content further.
10. Easily Readable and Scannable
Along those same lines, there are things you can do to the content itself to make easier to read and scan, like using short paragraphs of just one to two sentences, bullet points, and so on.
Make sure that your blog theme uses a highly readable font, and avoid overusing bold or colors. While a dark grey font on a light grey background might seem contemporary, it's actually a strain to read, and it's important that your readers are focused on the points you're trying to make.
When it comes to making content 'scannable' - that refers to allowing a reader to quickly sift through your articles and glean what they're about. Some people are looking for a particular piece of information, while others want to get the gist of your post before taking the time to read in more depth.
You should employ section Headings to break up your article into logical pieces. Typically, that means using a Heading 2 (H2) or Heading 3 (H3) style on a title for each section, as I've done within this article.
And for longer articles like this one, it's a great idea to employ a Table of Contents (ToC) that tells the reader up front the topics you're going to be talking about. If you know how to insert HTML anchors and link the Table of Contents items, that's good, but not a requirement.
While many of my articles will develop as I write them, it's not uncommon to start with an outline of points or topics to discuss, and that outline is usually what needs to be used as section heads and perhaps a ToC.
Weaving these techniques into your writing will make it far easier for your readers to digest what you're talking about and appreciate it. And all of that will lead to further sharing and promoting of your work.
11. Provides Real Value and Information
Of course, none of that matters if your articles aren't providing real information and value. The more you're able to pinpoint specific problems and challenges that your readers face, and help them to overcome those problems, the more popular and trafficked your blog posts will be.
But here's the thing. Many will just say that to have a great blog you need to write great content. And while that's true, this idea of "great content" and what it takes to create it is often left vague.
You can write articles that are profound but I think most of us might find it challenging to be asked to create something profound on command, right? And frankly, it's far harder to establish an audience using this kind of content. Ted Rubin and Seth Godin can publish incredible and motivational pieces, but they have established audience.
You can write articles that are personal, and of course that's where blogging got its start - as a kind of personal journal published online. But here again, it's going to be hard to build up that audience unless you already have an established audience offline.
Or, you can write articles that are practical - posts that provide information and insights that people can actually use. This is clearly my preferred style of blogging.
When you answer people's questions or teach them about something they didn't know about before, they're appreciative. When I told people about Facebook Authorship, something they hadn't even heard of, let alone understand, they loved it! It's been my most popular post and topic this year. (Incidentally, if you haven't yet, take ten minutes to set up Facebook Authorship for your site. It, too, will help with branding and blog promotion.)
My point is, while it might be fun sometimes to try to be motivational, or to share some personal stories, you may find that those posts are far less popular, and therefore shared less, than your helpful and informational posts.
12. Start Collecting Email Addresses Today
We're going to talk more about why this is so important later on, but suffice to say, you need to make sure that every visitor that every comes to your site has the option to sign up for your email list. The more compelling you can make that offer, the better.
What works incredibly well for blogs is to create a great piece of content (like a PDF Checklist, perhaps?) that compliments an article or post, and then offer that download for free in exchange for an email address.
Other options include eBooks, email courses, private communities, access to a knowledge base, templates and other digital resources. The key is to be creative, and offer something that is very valuable and which tells you something about the person downloading it.
There are quite a few tools that I've already mentioned, and others that I'll be talking about momentarily. While you may not need those tools specifically to get the job done, it's worth taking a moment to introduce them and review what they do, what some alternatives might be, and so on.
If you're already comfortable with your Blog Promotion Toolbox, feel free to skip on down to "How To Promote Blog Posts Like Mike Allton" for the play-by-play.
AgoraPulse is an excellent social media management tool which will empower you to remain active on multiple social channels, including Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn. If you haven't already, please consider using my affiliate link to sign up for a Free 15-Day Trial of AgoraPulse, after which it's just $29 per month.
Sprout Social is a great alternative.
Depending on how you want to integrate Buffer into your promotional activity, you might do well with the free version. If, however, you want to queue more than 10 posts in advance, you'll need to sign up for Buffer's Awesome plan at just $10 per month.
The idea behind SocialOomph [affiliate link] is that as your blog content accumulates, you'll have more and more posts that are evergreen and can be shared over and over to your social channels. Here, you can create one or more queues and populate those queues with updates. For instance, I have 400+ evergreen articles in my archive, so I use SocialOomph to tweet them out a few a day. When it gets to the end of the queue it just starts over again, but of course it took weeks to get through them all so it won't seem so repetitive. Those with fewer posts to share should share less frequently to keep them spread out.
AgoraPulse is a great alternative, as it also offers the ability to set up queues to schedule content.
As a self-professed non-designer, Canva is my #1 choice for graphic creation. You can use a free account, or consider a Canva for Work account if you want to make use of saved styling, templates, and other features. For each blog image that you create, you can download it for free, and use a variety of templates and graphical elements. Some elements and stock photography are a one-time $1 fee to use, making it extremely affordable to create professional-looking images.
PicMonkey and of course PhotoShop are great alternatives.
05. Email Marketing
I use MailChimp and like recommending it, particularly for new bloggers. Rather than having to pay for an email program right from the start, even with no subscribers, you can build your list and begin to pay as you ramp it up. While there are other options you might consider, if you'd like to try MailChimp, please consider using my affiliate link, which actually gives both of us a credit (win! win!).
AWeber is an excellent platform as well. [also an affiliate link]
Finally, you can download the free BlogPingy app from the App Store. There are no doubt a multitude of alternative apps and plugins to consider. The basic functionality is to notify blog networks and aggregators, like Technorati or Yahoo, that you have new content.
Now that we've laid the groundwork, let's talk about what happens each time you publish a new blog post.
Let me just be clear for a moment: I do not consider myself the best or greatest blogger. I have titled this section "Like Mike Allton" just to make it clear, this is how I promote my blog posts. If you want to skip down to the full Blog Post Promotion Checklist, feel free! This is just my list and my explanation for where/why for each technique.
This is what I do for virtually every new blog post.
Immediately Upon Publishing
00. Clear Cache, Run Cron, Debug
This is section 00 because it may not apply to you. As mentioned, my blog platform is Drupal. I have it tweaked to run at a very high performance level, and part of that means storing content and settings in server memory (cache) for faster loading. When I publish a new blog post, it's always a good idea to "Clear Cache" to force the site and server to refresh everything and ensure the most up to date content and images are being displayed.
Earlier I mentioned the importance of using an XML Sitemap. Within my site, my sitemap will automatically update and notify Google when there is new or changed content, but that only happens on a periodic basis. When I have a new blog post, I like to let Google know right away, and so I force that update by running a Cron Job.
And perhaps due to my caching, or perhaps something else, whenever I have a new blog post, Facebook struggles a bit to display the correct image and article information within shares (link previews). But that's easily fixed by going to the Facebook Debug tool, pasting in the URL for my new blog post, and scraping it a few times until the display is perfect.
I do these three things before sharing the article out.
Now that that's out of the way, let's get to the sharing!
01. Share to Pinterest
Pinterest is my first destination. Due to the format of the Pinterest stream, tall, profile images stand out best. If I think there will be sufficient interest from my Pinterest audience in a topic I've written about, I'll take a little extra time to create a taller graphic just for pinning. Now that Canva for Work has added the ability to resize my blog graphics, this is becoming far easier.
If I have an image just for Pinterest, I'll go to www.pinterest.com and add the image there manually, typing in a description, selecting a board, and then editing it after pinning to paste in the blog URL.
If not, I'll use the Pinterest button on the blog itself to pin the blog image. (If you're using Social Warfare, you can upload and specify a Pinterest-specific image to the actual blog post, which means that both you and anyone else who chooses to pin the blog post will be able to pin the larger image. Alas, Shareaholic has no such option yet.)
Either way, I keep the new pin on Pinterest open in a new tab so I can grab the pin's URL. When you've saved your pin, watch for a button on the confirmation window to View Pin and click it. If you miss that opportunity and the window goes away, just go to pinterest.com in a new tab, click on your profile, and then your Pins tab, and you'll see your new pin at the top.
02. Share to Google+, personal profile
Google+ continues to be my most important social profile and presence, so this is where I take the most time.
- I click the Google+ Share button to bring up the sharing dialogue.
- For the description of my post, I always use a bold title by putting an asterisk before and after the title text. Once posted to Google+, it's automatically set to bold. (You can also use an underscore to make words italic or a dash to strikethrough, for additional formatting.) The title helps introduce the post, makes it stand out in the stream, and provides a meaningful bit of text in people's notifications for that post.
- I then add a meaningful commentary or introduction. Generally, this isn't just a copy and paste of the opening text from the blog post. Rather, it's a thoughtful explanation and teaser for the post that gets people interested in it and talking about it. Sometimes, these commentaries result in 'mini-blog posts' themselves. It can be just a couple sentences to several paragraphs. The Google+ culture and community has no problem with long-form posts.
- I'll add no more than 2 - 3 hashtags. These should be relevant to the topic and hashtags that other people are likely to be clicking on other people's posts. However, this is not rule... they're more like guidelines, really. I'm not afraid to use more than 3 hashtags on a post if warranted.
- If I've mentioned any brands or influencers within the post, I'll +mention them within the commentary or CC them at the end so they know I'm talking about or quoting them. (If you're intending to use this as a deliberate influencer marketing strategy, be moderate in your use. I prefer to do it as a courtesy to those mentioned.)
- Below the description field is your Audience field. First and foremost, make sure that you're sharing to Public. If you want the widest reach for your posts and content, you must choose Public. Without Public selected, your post will only be viewable by any Circles or Individuals you have selected or mentioned.
- In addition to Public (and any individuals you mentioned in the post), I always select my Blog Notification Circle. This is a circle that some of my readers have opted into, stating that they want to be notified when I share my latest content. It's a nice list of about 500 interested readers. With this circle selected and added to the audience, then and only then do I select the Also Send Email checkbox. This is what generates a notification for those that I'm sharing with.
- Hit Share!
- +1 the post on Google+. That's right, I plus my own posts.
- Add a new comment that says, "Pin it for later" and paste in the URL for the Pinterest pin. There are many who like the organizational aspects of Pinterest for bookmarking, so it's nice to make it easy on them.
If Facebook or a different network is where you prefer to focus, that's fine. You can start there and put this level of attention onto that share.
At this point, I will select the entire text of my Google+ post and Copy it for later use. (Just CTRL-C so it's in the clipboard.)
03. Share to Twitter, personal profile
Next, I share my first tweet of the new post. I usually tweet the post title here, the default when using one of the social sharing buttons, and will include the 2 - 3 hashtags I've selected for this post.
Since I'm using Twitter Cards, my expanded tweets include my blog image and description. However, it's still important to share an image with some of your tweets, particularly for new content. So either with the first tweet or with one of the successive tweets, I'll make sure I'm including some images. More on that in a moment.
If there's someone prominently mentioned or featured in the post, I may @mention them here.
04. Share to Facebook, personal profile
While I tend to use Facebook for personal connections and interests, I do have a number of great friends who are peers and colleagues. Also, thanks to Facebook Authorship, I am gaining more and more followers of my Public posts. So it's important that I share my latest blog posts to Facebook.
For the share itself, I will often use the text, or at least a portion of the text, from my Google+ post. I already spent a lot of time working on it, so I might as well use it.
I use the Facebook button in the social sharing icons and paste in (CTRL-V) the text I copied from Google+. I'll then remove the title, hashtags and mentions, and further trim the post if necessary. Facebook tends to prefer posts that are under 200 characters.
I generally don't mention people again on Facebook if I already mentioned them elsewhere.
I double-check that the Who Should See This field is set to Public. Remember that whenever you share a post or link to Facebook, you can limit the visibility. However, whatever you choose then becomes your default visibility for the next post... until you choose something different. It's a nice way to make sure that your personal posts are somewhat restricted, but it's also an easy way to accidentally lose out on some audience, so check it before sharing.
Hit Share Link.
05. Share to Facebook Groups
Depending on the topic of the post, there may be any number of Facebook Groups appropriate to share it to.
Now, I only share posts to Groups that I'm a member of, and only if A) the post topic relates to the Group topic, and B) sharing links is permisable by the Group.
You can use the Facebook share icon to choose a Group to share to, but here's an easier method:
- Open Facebook.com
- Look for Groups in your left sidebar and click on More to bring up a full list.
- Right-click the name of a Group you want to share to and open in a new tab.
- Use your pre-written introduction or something more appropriate for Facebook Groups.
- Add the full URL for your blog post at the end.
- Copy the new introduction and the URL.
- Click on Share to post your update.
You can now close that tab, open the next Group in a new tab, and paste in your update. I am a member of a bunch of blogging and blog promotion Groups, so there are usually a dozen or more places I can share a new post.
06. Share to LinkedIn, LinkedIn Groups
The default selection when sharing to LinkedIn is a public update to your personal profile. I'll typically add my pre-written commentary, without the title and hashtags. However, LinkedIn does limit status updates to 600 characters, so you may have to trim your intro a bit.
Next, go to the Groups section enter one or more Groups in which you are a member. Just as with Facebook, you will need to make sure that you're sharing content appropriate for each Group, and that the Group accepts linked posts. And, as with Facebook, you may want to tweak your introduction to be even more customized for LinkedIn and focused on starting a discussion. If you're in many LinkedIn Groups as I am (you can join up to 50!), start by typing "A" and then "B" and so on, one letter at a time, and allow LinkedIn autocomplete to suggest your available Groups for each letter, and select accordingly.
PRO TIP: Review your LinkedIn Group membership routinely. If you are not sharing content to a group and are not participating in discussions, you should consider leaving that group and replacing it one that has more value to you.
(Note: I have seen an alternate LinkedIn share dialogue recently where you could only choose to share to your personal profile OR groups, and if you chose groups, you could only select three. This just adds some extra clicks to the process as you'll need to share to your profile, and then share to three groups, repeating as often as needed.)
I often ask a question or start a little debate, offering my linked article as more information on my own position. As with any social share, it's important to be offering value, and to be participating in a way that's appropriate for the venue.
In addition to Blogging, SEO and Social Media topical Groups, I also belong to local St. Louis groups for networking opportunities.
07. Use Buffer or Hootsuite to Share to Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, company profiles
Personally, I have "Mike Allton" profiles on Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn and Twitter, but I also have branded accounts for The Social Media Hat. But because I'm focused more on my personal brand, particularly on Google+, my company profiles are mostly for sharing and broadcasting new and evergreen content.
I will usually use Hootsuite to AutoSchedule simple shares of the new blog post to my company profiles.
One fun alternative is to use Buffer. I can then schedule additional pins at the same time, which is particularly useful if I have multiple images, or a blog post that would be appropriate for multiple boards.
08. Share to Reddit, Digg, Google Bookmarks, Delicious, StumbleUpon, and Others
Remember earlier when I mentioned the Other button within the social sharing icons? This is where that comes into play. Within the Other button you will find dozens and dozens of other social networks and social bookmarking sites.
Bloggers should take the time to explore all of these options. While these will almost certainly represent third tier networks, there may be a few that you can share to regularly and get a nice residual amount of traffic coming in.
Personally, I continue to share new posts to Reddit, Digg, Google Bookmarks, Delicious and StumbleUpon. The traffic has never been great, but it takes just a few seconds to click Other, select StumbleUpon, and complete the share.
This is a section that you should expect to change over time. Some services will stop allowing links to be shared, or just go away, while new ones will pop up. I used to share to Orkut, Bebo, Posterous, Quora, MySpace, Viadeo and more, but have phased them all out over time for one reason or another.
09. Share to Scoop.it -> WordPress & Tumblr
Scoop.it is first and foremost a tool for curating content. But, when you create a Scoop.it topic and begin to save content to it, if you do a good job you'll gain followers. So I make it a point to share all my new posts to my Content Marketing topic.
For that, I have the Scoop.it bookmarklet installed so it's a click of a button to save my post. And, like other social networks, there's a place to add your pre-written commentary. What's cool is that if you've copied formatting and links and hashtags from your Google+ post, that formatting is retained here. Even links to +mentioned people.
While saving to Scoop.it, you can also choose to share to other social networks, or even Buffer. While I don't need that for my new blog posts, I do take advantage of the options for WordPress and Tumblr.
Like Scoop.it itself, I use WordPress and Tumblr to curate content. I mix in my own content with articles from Content Marketing Institute, Copyblogger, Problogger and others.
10. Share to BizSugar
BizSugar is what I might call a Content Aggregator site, and there are many out there like it. BizSugar specifically is focused on Content Marketing, allowing members to share their latest posts and articles.
BizSugar has a small but avid number of content consumers and continues to generate small amounts of traffic. Just as with the third tier networks above, it's worthwhile to spend 30 seconds adding your content to BizSugar if the topics match.
11. Create an Empire Avenue Mission for Engagement
Empire Avenue, if you haven't used it, is a gamified social network. Members represent themselves as businesses and invest in other members. Share values go up in response to those investments, as well as a member's social media connectivity.
One fun aspect of Empire Avenue is the missions, where you can task other members to go do something for you. While it's not intended to be used to artificially inflate social signals, it is a great way to get a few more eyeballs on your content.
I will typically run a mission that asks members to check out my latest blog post. What they do from there is up to them, but many will leave comments and share to social networks, further promoting the content.
You can refer to my guide on running Empire Avenue missions if you're interested in exploring this promotional method.
12. Utilize JustRetweet
JustRetweet [affiliate link] is a "Reciprocal Sharing" network. Members earn seeds by retweeting other member's tweets, and use those seeds to promote their own tweets.
I will open Twitter, copy the text of my blog post tweet, and paste it into JustRetweet. I typically offer 35-40 seeds and budget for 35-40 shares. This generates a nice amount of tweets and mentions, and a moderate amount of traffic.
13. Utilize ViralWoot
Similarly, ViralWoot is a Reciprocal Sharing network, though instead of Twitter this one is for Pinterest.
Like JustReweet, you earn and use seeds to pay for other people to repin your pins. But you don't set a budget per pin. You simply have a credit of seeds built up and your pins can be repinned for as long as you have seeds, or leave a pin set to Promote.
However, I've found that most repins will happen within the first 24-48 hours, as other people add their new pins.
If you're interested in trying ViralWoot, you'll find more detailed directions here.
14. Utilize Triberr
While it may be listed far down the promotional ladder, Triberr is really one of my most powerful blog promotion techniques.
And this is where my RSS Feed comes into play again.
With each new blog post, Triberr uses my RSS Feed to import it and share it in the feeds of my tribemates. You can join as many tribes as you want, and each tribe is focused on a particular topic so you'll be joining tribes of similar bloggers.
That means every time I publish a new blog post, it is potentially shared by hundreds of other bloggers who all have audiences interested in the same kinds of articles.
Once my new post is live I log into Triberr and make sure that it has been imported. I also take that opportunity to find and share post from my tribemates that my audience might be interested in.
For more information, read, "Super-charge your Blog Reach as a Triberr Power User."
15. Ping the Blog
WordPress sites come with a utility that can automatically ping certain networks and directories when you have a new post. It's similar to the XML Sitemap for Google in that it submits the latest URL.
But Drupal has no such utility so I started to use an iOS app called Blog Pingy. It pings 27 networks, but the most important ones are Yahoo and Technorati. This results, again, in very small amounts of traffic, but more links and visibility for your blog.
16. Share to Instagram
While on my iPhone, it's time to share to Instagram! I usually don't have an image specific for Instagram. I'll open my latest blog post in my mobile browser, tap and save the image to my Camera Roll, and then upload to Instagram.
There are a number of techniques, including making sure that you have a trackable link in your Bio, which you can read about in the Bloggers Guide to Instagram. Do make sure that you describe the post, include LOTS of appropriate hashtags, and direct them to tap the link in your bio to get to the post (since you can't include a working link in the image description).
17. Schedule Additional Tweets, Pins
Finally, it's important to share that new blog post multiple times to Twitter and perhaps Pinterest.
My favorite technique is to highlight quotes or questions or good statements within the post and right mouse click. I can then select Share with Hootsuite because I have the Hootsuite browser extension installed. I can choose one or both of my Twitter profiles and AutoSchedule multiple tweets the first and second days.
If a post looks good for multiple pins, I'll set this up now using Buffer.
18. Buffer Future Shares
As I just mentioned, Buffer can be used to pin other images from your post, spreading those images out over the course of a day or a few days. Buffer can also be used to set up additional shares to other social profiles.
Personally, I use Buffer mostly for making sure that all of my social profiles have at least one evergreen article from my archive shared out each day. It's therefore a great idea to continue to populate that by adding new content to my Buffer queue.
Now, this does take some sense of how many posts are in your queue, and whether the content you're adding will still be relevant by the time it rolls around. You see, if you're sharing 1 post per day to your Facebook Page and have 30 posts in your queue, your new content won't be shared again for a month, as it will automatically go to the "end of the line" and be shared on Day 31.
If it's evergreen content, or at least, you know it will still be relevant, that's great. But if it's "breaking news" that will likely have wained in interest in a month's time, I'd skip this step. If it's important enough to share again, use Buffer's scheduling utility to actually pick a specific date and time. You can even use the Power Scheduler to select and visualize all of your re-shares cross-network.
Later That Day or The Next Day
01. Re-share to Google+
I almost always publish articles early to mid-morning so that I can do my initial share to Google+ around 10am - the optimal time for me and my audience. But that means that by the time people who tend to come online later in the day open Google+ and look at their stream, the post is long gone in their feed.
So I share it again.
In this case, I typically do an In case you missed it... share of the original post to Public. This never fails to result in more activity and interest in the article.
I find the post near the top of my Google+ profile, click the Share button, and add _In case you missed it..._ to the description (which makes it italics on the share). This retains my original commentary, and if anyone else shares the new post, they'll be sharing the original post and commentary.
02. Share to 2 - 3 Google+ Communities
Just like in Facebook and LinkedIn, I belong to quite a few Google+ Communities, with topics ranging from Social Media to Blogging and more. However, unlike Facebook and LinkedIn, Google, and the culture within Google+ Communities, severely frown on sharing a post into all of your communities.
Since the last thing either of wants is for Google and our Google+ audience to consider us spammers, we have to be considerate and limit our shares to communities. At least initially.
Rather than share my original post into a Google+ Community, I use a similar approach as Facebook and craft a new post specific for communities, or even for a particular community, depending on the topic and audience.
Within the first 24 hours after publishing, I'll typically share into just 2 - 3 communities. I have a Content Marketing community that I own and maintain, and will usually find just one or two other communities that seem to be the best fit for my topic, or where I'm already fairly active, like Plus Your Business!.
Remember, these are communities not broadcast outlets. Always do what you can to be a good community member. Read other people's posts and engage with them. Answer questions, and be respectful of the community owner and other members. That way, when you share your own content, it will be better received.
03. Add to SocialOomph Queue
When you share a tweet to Twitter, the half-life of that tweet is just 18 minutes. That means that, by tomorrow, it's likely no one will see the tweet you shared today. That's why it's so important to share your latest blog posts many times over the course of the first 24 - 72 hours that it's live.
But that also means that you can and should share evergreen content to Twitter over and over. For that, I use SocialOomph.
With SocialOomph, I can set up one or more queues and fill those queues with one or more updates (tweets). I have an archive of more than 400 posts and articles that are still current and evergreen. I've created queues for each of my Twitter accounts and filled them with links to those posts, as well as other tweets I like to share regularly (invitations to sign up to the newsletter, etc.).
I recommend making sure that at least 30 days go by before you share the same tweet again, that way it's unlikely too many of followers will feel like you're repeating yourself. With my current number of updates, I can tweet a dozen times a day and go over a month without repeating.
Each time I publish a new blog post where I know the content will continue to be valuable weeks and months later, I make sure that gets added to my evergreen queue.
- Log into SocialOomph
- Go to Posting -> Create New Update
- Paste in the title of the article, or some other variation
- Paste in the URL of the article, after the title
- Click on the Shorten URLs button
- Click on "Don't schedule, just add this update to my queue reservoir(s)."
- Select one or more queues
- Click Save
You'll want to make sure that you've set up your queues to automatically rotate all updates. For more detailed instructions, click here.
04. Add to Buffer Queues
While SocialOomph is great for maintaining a constant presence on Twitter, for my other social networks, I use Buffer.
Buffer's interface is gorgeous and exceedingly easy to use. You can connect Facebook profiles and pages, multiple Twitter profiles, Google+ pages, LinkedIn profiles and company pages, and Pinterest profiles. For each profile, you can create a completely different schedule for updates, which means you might tweet twelve times a day but post to Facebook just twice. And at completely different times.
This allows you to customize each posting schedule depending on each network's unique audience and optimum times to post.
As you fill your various Buffer queues and your posts are shared, you can monitor which ones resonated and which ones did not, and easily drag and drop past updates onto social networks to share that update again. Of course, you're going to want to make sure that you've queued up enough posts so that it's at least a few weeks before you share the same post again.
About once a month, I'll review how the past month or two has gone and look for posts that warrant sharing again.
So, each time I have a new blog post that should be shared again in a few weeks, I'll use the Buffer browser extension to 'buffer it.'
Clicking the Buffer button opens a Buffer share dialogue where I can select one or more social networks, and adjust what gets shared. I can attach an image or, when I select my Pinterest profile and a board to pin to, select from one of the images on the blog post.
If a Facebook profile or page is selected, you'll see a separate field to manually enter a description of the link. Otherwise, Buffer will pre-populate the title of the post and a shortened link.
Of course it's definitely a good idea to customize what you say to each network to be appropriate for that network and audience, such as including hashtags on Twitter shares, or formatting on Google+.
If you're unfamiliar with Buffer, you should read, "The Complete Guide to Buffer for Entrepreneurs."
05. Email to Subscribers
While this may be one of the final steps in promoting a new blog post, it's actually one of the most important! It just happens to be near the end of my personal timeline.
21% of all business bloggers send posts through a newsletter to their subscriber base at least weekly: 39% of best practitioners do this weekly. (Curata) <tweet this stat!>
Your subscribers should have been building up over time. As each new post and article is published, more and more people should be finding you via social or search, and be interested enough in what you're writing about to want to sign up to your email list.
Which means, of course, you're building an audience of readers that want you to let them know when you've written something new.
Because I tend to publish 2 or more articles a week between The Social Media Hat, SiteSell's blog, and LinkedIn Pulse, I prefer to send an email newsletter approximately every week, containing images, summaries and links to everything I've written since the last time I sent an email.
Within MailChimp, I've taken the time to customize the appearance of my emails to closely resemble my website so that there's consistent branding and style. Each time I'm ready to send a new message, I...
- Start a new Campaign
- Select my List
- Use a previous campaign as a template
- Replace all images and links with my new posts
I also try to include an introduction that typically is a short blog post of it's own... some information of interest or value which makes my newsletter unique and special for my subscribers.
So every time I publish a new post, I think about when my last email campaign was and what I've published since then, and begin thinking about when that next email campaign will be.
I used to automate the delivery of my latest content by using MailChimp's RSS feed feature. However, you're really limited to a single RSS feed, which means that if you're publishing to multiple places like I am, you'd have to pick one. And of course with that level of automation you have no option to include any custom content.
One alternative way to use your email list is to emulate Stephan Hovnanian, a great email marketer. Every time Stephan publishes a blog post, he let's his RSS subscribers and email subscribers know about it immediately, but doesn't share it to social media or promote it until the next day. Such a technique adds additional value and incentive to your email subscribers. But it does require that you either have a set publishing schedule... or the patience to hold off on following all the great promotional ideas in this article for 24 hours.
You've likely heard about "Backlinks" which is in reference to other sites linking to your content. You may have also read about "Deep Links" which is when you link to other articles and content within your site in a blog post, giving readers an opportunity to go 'deeper' into your archives.
But have you ever heard of "Forwardlinking"? I'm guessing not.
It's essentially the reverse of Deep Linking. When you have a new blog post, it's likely to be on a topic that you've touched on in the past, in other blog posts. You may have even created some of those deep links to those posts within the content of the new post.
But in this step, what you're going to do is go back and edit those old posts and insert links to the new posts. You might simply link some text that is on topic to the new post, or perhaps add a new sentence at the end of the old post that says, "For more information on this topic, please read..." with a linked title of your new blog post.
This is particularly true if, as in the case of this article, you're publishing a new post that's an update of an old post. Make sure there's a link there... perhaps right at the top... so that visitors can head over to the new content.
If you're using the SBI! for WP plugin in your WordPress site and have a targeted keyword for each of your posts, you can also use the Keyword Usage tab to easily see what other posts you've used that targeted keyword and edit them to forwardlink. For more information on this topic, you can read my post on Forwardlinking (written after this article was published, and forwardlinked to!).
Weeks, Sometimes Months, Later
Only time will tell how much interest there really is in a particular blog post. We all see an initial bump in traffic due to all of the promotional activity above, but the real measure of the success of a blog post depends on:
- How much more interest was there in this post initially as compared to your other posts?
- Have you noticed ranking and referral traffic from Google / Organic in your Google Analytics?
- Are there additional spikes in referral traffic due to other people sharing the post to social media?
You can determine all of this by logging into Google Analytics and navigating to Behavior -> Site Content -> All Pages in the left side menu. This will call up a list of your site's content that has received traffic during the given timeframe. You can edit the timeframe in the upper right corner (be sure to select a date range that starts with the date you published this blog post). Next, find this blog post's URL in the reported list of content and select it. You'll now see total traffic to this post since it was published.
If you add a Secondary Dimension of Source / Medium (by clicking on Secondary Dimension -> Acquisition -> Source / Medium as shown above), you will be able to see where that blog post's traffic is coming from. You can check one or more boxes next to referral sources (up to 6 total) and click on Plot Rows to update the chart to include the pattern from those sources.
This is how you can determine if you're starting to see more traffic from Google or other sources.
If you are, you can:
- Update & Optimize the post to further improve Google ranking and traffic.
- Schedule more social media shares, particularly to the networks where there is consistent interest.
- Keep the post in mind when writing new blog posts and look for opportunities to link back to it.
This is something to keep a close eye on. Sometimes content that wasn't a big deal to you ends up ranking very well, and these posts present terrific opportunities to leverage traffic into leads or sales.
While the above destination platforms and techniques are what I've found to work for me, those aren't your only options! Depending on your industry, style and/or audience, you might have far more success than I do or did on other networks.
For instance, Quora is a vibrant community of users and a platform where many have found success promoting their content and the answers they're providing. Perhaps my topics weren't a good fit, or perhaps I just wasn't using the platform in the best way (very likely!) - whatever the reason, it didn't work for me, but that shouldn't stop you from giving it a try.
I will also be candid about the fact that I'm in St. Louis, U.S.A. and am therefore immersed in what some might call US-centric social networks. But the fact is, there are many social networks more popular in other countries and regions which you can and should consider, particularly if that's where you'll be able to reach your target audience.
Here are an assortment of additional options to consider:
- Blog Engage
Check out your regional social networks. You can also take a look at the "Other" button on most social sharing tools to see a long list of networks and platforms, some of which might be of interest to you.
When you have a particularly interesting post, especially one that carries a digital download and email opt in, consider using SocialOomph to auto DM it to new Twitter followers - just do it in a helpful, non spammy way and you'll be fine.
If you know in advance that you're going to publish a blog post the following day, you can tease it out to social media. Create a post that says just enough about what's coming. People may comment or even sign up for updates (this works great in conjunction with your Blog Notification Circle). Then, when you publish the post, leave a final comment with a link on the teaser post.
Along the same lines, why not try taking advantage of the growing live video audiences and announce your new blog post on Periscope or Meerkat, Hangouts or Blab? Certainly it would need to be an important post or perhaps a newsjacking topic to be of interest. But you could talk about the topic, why you wrote it, and answer questions. Of course, being sure to tell people where to go to read the full post.
And don't forget, one of the most powerful techniques for promoting a blog post is to provide a link to someone who is searching for exactly that information, at that exact time. This might be in:
- Comments from readers on your other blog posts
- Comments from readers on other people's blog posts (but be careful with this one, as not everyone appreciates other authors dropping links in comments)
- Social Media discussions
- Emails and Phone calls with readers and prospects
These are common instances where I'll see people talking about a topic and asking questions, and I've already written an article answering that question. In fact, one of the great ways to come up with new blog post ideas is to listen to these conversations and answer the questions in your articles. The questions will continue to come up, and you'll be able to share a link to your blog post over and over. And each time, making a very positive impression.
Virtually all of the above promotional techniques were free, or very inexpensive. But one option to consider is Paid Promotion. This includes:
Social Media Advertising
- Facebook - Boosted Posts
- Twitter - Promoted Tweets
- Google+ - +Post Ads
- LinkedIn - Sponsored Post
- StumbleUpon - Paid Discovery
- Pinterest - Promoted Pins
- Newsletter Sponsorship
Of course this is far from a complete list, but if you're interested in spending some money to get your content in front of a wider audience, this will get you started. In nearly every case, you will be working within the Pay-Per-Click model which means your content will be introduced to X people and you will pay X every time someone is interested enough to click through to the full article.
How much you're able to leverage this option for blog promotion will depend largely on your budget and target audience.
One blog promotional technique that was never considered in my original post, and which you likely won't see too often in other "How To Promote A Blog" articles either is "Influencer Marketing."
Influencer Marketing refers to the deliberate identification of and engagement with influencers - experts with an audience - in your niche and industry. It is done with the idea that, if you engage with these influencers, they'll be interested in engaging with you in return. That might be a conversation on a blog post or Google+ share, or it might be sharing and re-sharing of each other's content.
But here's the thing. If you go out and comment on blog posts or retweet a bunch of tweets simply in the home that some influencer will take note and reciprocate, you're doing it wrong. There's nothing wrong with those activities in and of themselves, and in fact, they're a necessary beginning. But it's the motive and goal that needs to be changed.
My friend Wade Harman talks about this extensively, and has become known as an expert in Relationship Marketing. Rather than just trying to gain the attention of an influencer in the hope that they'll grace you with a tweet, why not make the relationship the goal?
I didn't know Wade when he first started to engage with me online. But I noticed him sharing my stuff and we started to have the odd conversation on random posts. But over time, those comments turned into real discussions, and those discussions resulted in getting to know each other better. Over time, we became friends and have worked together and collaborated on a number of projects.
Wade and I share each other's content all the time, but more importantly, we've developed a relationship that is mutually beneficial in many ways.
So in the short term, successful influencer marketing will lead to additional blog post shares and re-shares. But in the long term, be open to the opportunities that relationship building will bring. That might be collaboration, referrals, partnerships or, even better, friendship.
One general technique with many options and platforms is the idea of repurposing a blog post.
Essentially, you take that initial written blog post and use it somewhere else, often turning it into a completely different medium, like audio or video.
I'll be honest, this is not an area that I use extensively. The exception is when I start with a Google+ Hangout On Air (HOA). That's a live video broadcast where you and potentially others can talk about a particular topic. I hosted a very popular series in July called "SiteSell Presents" that featured 4 topics and 12 amazing guests.
Each time you do an HOA, it exists as an Event Page with embedded video on Google+ and is simulcast to your YouTube channel, giving you a video that you can download. From that, you can create a blog post, audio podcast, video snippets, quote graphics, and follow-up blog posts.
If you're starting with a blog post, perhaps on a topic that has demonstrated extensive interest, you have a lot of options:
- Create a presentation and share to SlideShare
- Create a video and upload to YouTube, Facebook, Vine or Instagram
- Create an infograph and share to Visual.ly
- Create an audio recording and share to Soundcloud or iTunes
- Create a PDF Article from your blog post and share to article directories or use as a email list incentive
- Create a Webinar based on your article
And that's just the tip of the iceberg. There are many other ways that creative bloggers have found to repurpose their content in other forms and for other audiences. If that's you, feel free to leave some ideas in the Comments below!
Finally, I would be remiss if I didn't mention syndication and its potential when it comes to promoting a blog post. When done right, it has the potential to greatly increase the number of people who read your content and learn about you or your brand.
But it's not without risks.
The idea is that once you've published a blog post on your own site, at some point, that entire blog post will be republished on a different site. That other site has an audience of its own, so your content gets in front of different people - often more people than your own blog.
The problem is twofold.
First, the syndicated posts are not housed within your own site, and therefore lack the ability to directly warn you ad views or other sidebar benefits. Any ad revenue generated goes to the syndication site.
Second, and most importantly, it's possible for syndicated content to rank higher than original content within search results. Sometimes completely replacing the original result.
That's what happened to me, and my search engine traffic was pathetic until I stopped syndicating. However, it's still a powerful promotional method, and there are ways to ensure that your original content is recognized by Google.
Now, there are a couple different ways that you can syndicate your content: Automatic and Manual.
If you can be assured that the priority of your own original post is retained, automatic syndication to sites like those is fantastic.
Manual, on the other hand means that you or someone else (with permission) decides to reprint one of your articles.
One of the most common examples I see is when a blogger takes one of their existing articles and reprints it on LinkedIn or Medium.
While I won't go into depth here about the pros and cons, or methods for such reprints, I will issue caution. Generally, such platforms are better used as outposts where you routinely publish unique content, rather than reprinting content your audience likely read already.
And with that, we've covered all of the currently available blog promotion techniques.
That's been a lot to take in. Rest assured that learning and implementing all of these techniques will take longer than the actual day-to-day promotion. As I mentioned in the beginning, I really do spend just 30 minutes on average to promote a single post.
Of course, that requires an easy way for you remember and work through each of these techniques.
What I've done for you is put together a PDF Checklist that combines all of the above techniques into a streamlined checklist. There'll be a section for items to check off once (laying the groundwork), and the rest are for each individual blog post.
Rest assured, I don't spam my lists. I will simply be sending you more great articles on how to improve your blogging and social media. About one email per week. And if you're not interested in the content I share in the future, you can always unsubscribe.
Just as with the original post, I will continue to keep this checklist updated with the latest techniques. And as suggested earlier, I will be working with Jeff Sieh to release the next level of Blog Promotionology. So stay tuned!
By Mike Allton, Content Marketing Practitioner
Mike is a Content Marketing Practitioner, Blogger and Author in St. Louis, and the Chief Marketing Officer at SiteSell. He has been working with websites and the Internet since the early '90's, and is active on all of the major social networks. Mike teaches a holistic approach to content marketing that leverages blog content, social media and SEO to drive traffic, generate leads, and convert those leads into sales.
Mike is the author of, "The Unofficial Book On HootSuite: The #1 Tool for Social Media Management", "The Ultimate Guide to the Perfect LinkedIn Profile.", and "Blog Promotionology, The Art & Science of Blog Promotion."