Can You Promote A Blog Post Automatically
I get this question a lot, particularly after someone reads through all of the steps I recommend for promoting a new blog post. And I understand. To promote a new blog post thoroughly takes a lot of time. Time to do the promotion, of course, but even more time up front establishing all of the tools and accounts and the receptive audience that you need to make it worthwhile.
And at the same time, you're supposed to be running your business and focusing on your day-to-day tasks.
So how can you speed things up? How can you automatically promote a new blog post?
Frankly, I think my answer is going to disappoint.
If you review my blog promotion checklist, you'll find social media, email, and other techniques for spreading awareness of your latest post. It looks like this:
Let's walk through the important aspects and see what can and cannot be automated.
While you have lots of choices in tools... Hootsuite or Buffer, SocialOomph, SocialQuant, MailChimp... the list goes on and on. You will still need to take the time to evaluate and sign up for each tool individually, and connect whichever profiles and services you wish to use.
Hootsuite, for instance, will require a few minutes to set up your initial account, and a few more minutes to connect whatever social profiles you have.
The good news is that, in most cases, once you get through the initial setup, you can then proceed to simply use the tool and there will be little to no maintenance time required.
Similarly, you're going to have to go through the process of creating profiles and pages yourself, manually, one at a time. There's no way to automate the creation of Twitter profiles or Facebook Pages.
Now, you can take steps to speed up that process.
First, define which platforms you want to focus on, and what your needs are for all of the platforms on which you want to have a presence.
Next, create a standard Bio in a Google Doc that you can refer to and copy & paste each time you're creating a new social profile. Every platform is a little different in terms of text allowed, so you might go so far as to create short, medium and long versions of your Bio. Taking the time to craft an excellent Bio that grabs a prospects attention is time well spent!
Finally, use a tool like Canva to create yourself a set of social media profile images and cover photos. This will ensure that you have a consistent, branded message and image across platforms. You'll find all of the image dimensions and requirements here.
Unfortunately, here too, there's no shortcuts to getting started. You will need to take a few minutes to evaluate available options (i.e. MailChimp or Aweber), sign up for an account, and set up your initial list.
And that initial setup might be the most time consuming part of all.
In order to be effective, your Email Marketing needs to:
- Provide incentive for someone to subscribe
- Provide ongoing value and funnel movement
- Provide consistent branding and user experience
What does all that mean?
First, while every website should allow visitors to subscribe to a mailing list, that's generally not sufficient to see real growth. Instead, you need to offer a targeted piece of information to use as incentive for signing up. Think about a common question or target audience has, address it in an article, and offer that article in PDF format to new email subscribers. This gives them a reason to sign up, and by nature of the topic, tells you that a new subscriber is interested in that area.
Next, once you have a subscriber, you need to keep them interested, and if you have products or services to sell, keep them moving through the sales cycle. This could be in the form of regular newsletters, or perhaps automated emails that you would set up in advance to 'drip' out to new subscribers over time. The more time and creativity you put into setting up your email marketing, the more effective it will be.
And finally, you're going to want to make sure that your email marketing continues your brand and messaging, which includes initial signup, opt in email, confirmation page, and ongoing email messages. That means you'll need to spend a little time customizing the appearance and messaging of those elements within your email marketing provider.
The good news is that, again, once you've taken the time to set all of that up, it can work somewhat automatically. Your lead generation content and forms will feed subscribers into your list, and your automation will provide them with desired content.
So, once you've got your tools, social profiles, and your email marketing set up, it's time to actually promote the new blog post.
Sorry, not too much to automate here either.
If you're like most bloggers, your blog and website is based on WordPress, and there are quite a few plugins which offer automated sharing of new content to Facebook, Twitter, and so on.
DON'T DO IT
Automatically posting new content to social media like that is nothing more than broadcasting, and that's just a step above spam. There's no investment there, no call to action... no invitation to engage. Just, "here's my new blog post, go read it." And that doesn't work.
Instead, as I discuss in Blog Promotionology, the key to successful social media marketing is to create an interesting commentary for your new content. An introduction that entices a potential reader to click through.
Automated posting also precludes you from using Hashtags, Mentioning others, and any additional formatting or styling you might have chosen to add to the post. Not to mention the fact that if it fails to post, how would you know?
One difference is when you use a plugin like CoSchedule to schedule social media shares of a new blog post in advance. Suppose that you finish a blog post late one evening and schedule it to publish the next morning. With a plugin like CoSchedule, you can also schedule some of your social shares, and customize them as though you were sharing live. If that's the kind of automation you're looking for, you're in luck!
But ultimately, you're still writing custom introductions and crafting individual shares, so the time spent is the same as if you were doing it live. And that's a good thing.
If you go through each and every one of the promotional steps I outline, it's likely no more than 30-45 minutes, after which you will have shared your latest post to many, many social networks and directories. And that's a wonderful thing!
Now, the one step here that you might be able to automate is email. It's easy to set up an RSS Feed delivery system that automatically emails your list a title, image, teaser and link to your new blog post. It's something I encourage you to test. Your audience might appreciate the timely delivery of your new posts... or, on the hand, they might prefer a more personal message. Give it a try and monitor your Open and Click rates for improvement or decline, and then adjust accordingly.
Back To You
If you've made this far, and are disappointed I wasn't able to offer some neat time-saving tricks, I don't blame you. You spent all that time creating a piece of content, you're probably sick of it and just want to publish it and move on.
But here's the thing. I promise you that if you take the time to promote your new blog posts as I outlined, if you become a dedicated student of Blog Promotionology, your content will perform far better, and your reach will grow. I think that's worth the additional investment of time.
Disagree? Have some wonderful tool that you use to automate that you think I need to consider? Let me know in the comments below.
(And if you haven't yet, be sure to read and grab a copy of my blog promotion checklist!)
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."Follow @Mike_Allton