One of the critical elements of any successful content strategy is promotion. Whether you are creating content yourself, or outsourcing it to someone else, one thing matters.
Getting it noticed.
So how do you go about developing a promotion strategy that makes a difference to your bottom line AND makes a difference to your traffic? This post examines some of the processes that you need to nail to really get your content performing on a global stage.
As it’s name suggests, outreach is the process of ‘reaching out’ to other bloggers, friends and influencers to ask them for their help in promoting your content. If the network of people you reach is large enough, the chances of your content spreading virally increases. Common sense. So how do you go about finding these influencers?
There are a number of ways to search Twitter with Google, this can be a godsend when looking for particular ‘types’ of people in certain niches. This post from Tamar offers answers to What gets an influencers attention? Using sites and tools like SocialMention.com, WeFollow.com, Topsy (Expert Search) and Alltop.com will also help you find top users in your niche.
Services like BlogDash, eCairn and GroupHigh – see this post for a review of blogger outreach tools can all help you group relevant influencers together from these tools and follow up with them later.
Export.ly can help you find more data about the users already following you on Twitter, and whether they follow you back (i.e. are in your sphere of influence). Rowfeeder allows you to follow hashtags that you know are in use within your industry, and report on who receives the most retweets and responses – and finally these masterful excel tips from John Doherty show how to properly analyse influencers inside different niches.
All of these techniques can help you build up a picture of who’s who in your chosen industry. Once you have that data, you can begin the process of getting on their radar.
There is however a right and wrong way to do outreach. Firstly, there is an element of intrusion into the inboxes of the people you target, so the tone and delivery of what you are asking for is important. This post from technotheory offers practical advice on how to compose an outreach email ‘Without being a kiss-ass or jerk’ and is an entertaining read in its own right. This older post on WebmasterWorld offers some firm practical advice on email outreach as well.
Making it personal and offering a way for those people to unsubscribe from future mailings from you is also a good idea. You don’t really want to piss people off in the process.
2) Influencer Networking
Once you’ve found an influencer using the above techniques, you are probably going to want to connect with them. There are a number of ways to do this, but one of the best ways to do this is to become valuable to them.
Hugo Guzman in his article, ‘how to engage with an influencer‘ suggests retweeting their content, putting in the hard work and time to get on their radar. Adding valuable comments to their posts, resharing their content, referring business – and finally meeting them and having a discussion in person makes the difference. One of the under valued techniques is simply picking up the phone and having a chat with the influencer in question, or simply sending a personal email to say you value their content can separate you from the crowd.
It’s important to not only concentrate on big fish influencers, instead connecting to a large number of smaller influencers with targeted interests in a particular niche can reap rewards. For blogger outreach this rings true as well, with the likelihood of multiple smaller blogs running with your PR being much higher than a single large entity – who in turn will likely pick up the story anyway if they are readers of any of the smaller blogs you’ve contacted.
Getting your message out via social networks is one of the common ways suggested to promote your blog. With the wide variety of multiple different kinds of social media platforms out there, it makes sense to not just blanket them with your message, but to truly understand the network before posting in them.
The below diagram highlights typically what you should be aiming your marketing sights at – illustrating why great content drives traffic.
Choosing the network that matches best with your content will result in increased engagement within that network and there’s only one way to learn that skill – become an active participant inside it to learn what types of content works. This should include learning what tone the communication takes and how you can shape your content to better fit with their existing audience.
There are obvious niche social networks that lend themselves to particular types of content, e.g. writing about jobs, and posting on LinkedIn – but if you look closer there are often micro communities within larger social networks that can see improved response rates.
If there are guidelines for posting. READ them. Don’t be selfish. Provide value first, ask for favours second. Gain the trust of the community, become a valuable part of it, and people will be attracted to you and your content.
Avoid the mindset that your content must be published only on your site and completely controlled by you. Making it easily shareable, embeddable and portable will increase the likelihood of it being shared as does social proof, visible evidence of social sharing and easy to find sharing buttons. With this variety of tactics you’ll be giving your audience all the more reason to share your content with others, and spread your message even further.
Email still plays a massive role in driving traffic online. Not convinced? Take a quick look at how Google have integrated it into the launch of Google+, and view the numerous email notifications within their application.
Someone adds you to a circle? You get an email. Someone tags you in a photo? You get an email. You get the picture.
As well as that, in the build up to the launch Google released numerous Google Doc spreadsheets to collect users details for later email marketing. (BTW in case you weren’t aware, you too can easily use a Google spreadsheet with a form to profile users, and email from it. )
You should be concentrating on building up a list of people to expose your content to as a part of your overall strategy at every opportunity. Newsletters offer your visitors an obvious reason to signup to your site, and if you haven’t already considered it, WordPress offers a cheap and cheerful solution for the implementation.
Bloggers have long been aware of the benefits of building a repeat audience using email subscription. Feedburner is one such service that allows you to email your visitors when new material is published. Doing so automatically gets your content out to an audience who will potentially share it further and improve your site reach. Dynamic signatures of your latest blog article implemented across your organisation can also drive traffic. Think about how much external mail you send in a typical week! SigFeed can handle automation process for you.
If I produce a really great article that I’m proud of, I’ll also typically ask for help promoting it from online friends whom I’ve helped promote in the past. It all comes back to building a network around you and your site.
5) Distribution Networks – other websites
Distribution networks offer a guaranteed source of both links, and exposure for your content. Most niches have low hanging fruit where you can post your link, and expose your content to the existing audience of that website.
I blogged a list of places to seed your content in the web design world some time ago, finding that a number of those website use similar software to allow submissions from their visitors. It’s a trivial task to fingerprint these and find more with Google, and you can use the same techniques to find similar sites in your industry.
Once you’ve posted your article, its important that you get your timing right with the promotion across the sites you’ve found. I tend to time things to coincide with the U.S. waking up, as that is where the majority of these site see their traffic coming from, and when the traffic arrives.
Guesting on other peoples blogs offers an opportunity to reach a new audience. If you treat it as such rather than an opportunity to just drop links, you’ll experience much greater return on your time investment.
If you are struggling to grow your traffic – consider a syndication strategy where you provide your content on third party sites, with the end result of links pointing back to you. The key here is to bring value to other sites on the web. Can you curate your content in a particular way that makes it extremely relevant to someone else? For example , providing hyperlocal content to local websites that compliments the existing information found on that site.
It’s the holy grail of every webmaster, getting picked up by larger blogs. With the millions of other sites out there, how do you go about getting noticed? There’s no magic wand for this one, just keep creating great content, keep promoting your site, and engage with the relevant influencers as mentioned earlier. You can however get an idea of who maybe reading by subscribing to your own site, then watching carefully for people ‘liking’ your post. William has been a reader of my content for some time and frequently shares it, so you should really follow him! (This is a thank you btw! )
I’ve followed back and engaged directly with my readers in this way for a while, and find it strengthens the community and engagement around your site.
So you’ve created some fantastic content, and want to get it in front of lots of people in a short space of time. Why not just advertise it directly? Google Adwords, and Facebook advertising allows you to significant reach volumes of targeted traffic on the cheap, and with the end goal of receiving backlinks to your site, its a guaranteed way of getting in front of other webmasters.
Other sites in your niche may also offer advertising, and there’s no reason why you can’t deep link to a great post on a short term advertising deal to drive some traffic to it.
Think about the keywords you’d like to try ranking for organically, and consider buying the traffic to your page to help seed it. This recent post on the Harvard Business Review blog highlights how creative thinking with Google Adwords can be a godsend for a variety of business scenarios.
7) Reaching Traditional Media
As much as I hate to admit it, there’s nothing quite like seeing your name in print. With newspapers and traditional media also being high in traffic, and rich in Google juice chances are your business and site will benefit immensely from a mention. There are three steps to achieving this goal. Firstly, finding journalists, secondly – pitching to them, and finally following up with a thank you.
If you are looking to reach U.S. media – muckrack offers an extensive list of journos to follow on Twitter. Media UK have a similar resource if you are in the UK. Failing that, the publications themselves are pretty much always a safe bet to find contact details.
Twitters speed of response and accessibility makes it a great candidate for the getting your story quickly in front of journos. RWW provide a great guide on the art of the pitch in 140 characters. For the more formal approach, Journalism.co.uk offers a great inside into writing a kick ass press release.
Content promotion isn’t rocket science, it does however, when done right, take almost as much time as the content creation process itself. With promotion often playing second fiddle to content, I’m confident implementation of at least some of these tactics will separate your site from 99% of the competition.