Once you have discovered that “secret sauce” that provides you with the fuel and horsepower necessary to provide that energy, it becomes easier to then create the plans and then continue to build and maintain the blogging momentum, which we covered in part one and included the three initial steps that you need to take to build a strong foundation.
Step One: Identify your Passion and Innate Abilities
Step Two: Creating a Plan and Marketing Strategy
Step Three: Building the Blog and Blogging Basics
So passion, a plan and learning the blogging basics is just the start of the journey, you then need to come up with the ideas and then create the content that engages your audience.
Ideas or content can lie undiscovered for years in the vain hope that some one will stumble across them with a Google search. The most vital step after content creation in the blogger’s journey is to then learn the art of marketing.
The new social web provides that all important leverage of “world of mouth” to reach and engage with a global audience.
In this article we will look at
Step 4: Creating content that engages your audience
Step 5: How to market to a global audience with social media
Step 6: Maintaining momentum
These final three steps will assist you in building a global and engaged audience for your blog.
Step Four: Creating Content that Engages Your Audience
The foundation for any long lasting engagement on the web that will keep people coming back is content that educates, inspires and solves problems.
Essentially there are 3 steps you need to consider in the process.
1. Come up with ideas for content consistently
2. Write headlines that will compel the reader to read
3. Structure the article so that they will keep on reading
The Ultimate Guide to Blogging for Small Business
1. Ideas for Content
Coming up with ideas for content is a challenge for most bloggers.
So here are 17 Tips to help you assist you in coming up with ideas to create and develop content for your blog
17 Tips for Creating Content
- Read other top blogs and develop content on industry Trends – where is the industry going, what are the emerging hot segments
- Find out who your customers are and where they hang out and write and develop content that is then written in their language and publish it to those platforms. If you are writing for Gen Y then you will need to write in their language and publish to platforms like YouTube and Facebook. For more on this read “9 Questions To Ask Your Customers When Creating Content“
- Write about customers successes – Write up a case study about a clients successful project, they will often let you publish their name
- Publish content on what not to do! – highlighting where something hasn’t worked (the names shall remain anonymous of course)
- Create a video blog post by interviewing a successful client – this can a powerful providing authentic evidence of authority and credibility for both you and the client. On how to do this check out “How To Create And Promote Your YouTube Video In 8 Simple Steps“
- Write articles for the different types of customers that are relevant for each of your vertical markets
- Brainstorm blog post topics with colleagues and management and create a list for future reference and planning
- Subscribe to the top industry blogs in your market, both company blogs and personal blogs for ideas
- Look through your latest news releases for ideas
- Sign up other staff to write on topics in your industry or market that they are passionate about
- Video interview successful people in your industry. Check out “Social Media and The CEO: Video Interview With Greg Savage Of Aquent“
- Turn the “how to” blog posts into short videos
- When you have a great idea, go straight to your “add new” button on your post section of your WordPress blog and write the headline and save it as a draft or write it down before you forget it. ( I also use my notes feature on my iPhone to catch those moments of inspired thought)
- Include a great iconic image at the start of the blog that catches the eye
- Case Studies are always popular to write about and not just your own
- Upload your Powerpoint presentations to Slideshare and then embed them in your Blog post this will allow people to view your PowerPoint presentations on the web anytime and anywhere
- Run polls and surveys on your blog
You have the ideas for creating the content but how do you get them to read it? The short answer ….”write a great headline”!
So what are the important elements in creating and writing a “great headline” and why is it so important?
Why is a headline important?
- Tests have shown that you can increase your conversion rate on a website or a link by 73% by the use of a compelling headline.
- Did you know that on average, 8 out of 10 people will read headline copy, but only 2 out of 10 will go on to read the rest of the copy. This is the secret to the power of the headline, and why it so highly determines the effectiveness of the entire piece
- Another test revealed that a good headline performed 259% better than the worst headline.
This means that up to nearly 3 times as many people would read your web page or view your video just through having spent some time ensuring that the headline is optimized.
So what are the basic requirements for writing that headline that will get people clicking and reading, viewing your content and copy whether that be video, presentation or text.
6 Headline Formulas
One way to start is to use a formula, so here are 6 headline types and examples from Authority Blogger to get you started:
1. Get What You Want (In Health, Wealth, Relationships, Time and Lifestyle)
Example: “The Secret To Getting More Money For Your Property!”
2. Crystal Ball and History
Example: “10 Predictions on the Future of Social Media”
3. Problems and Fears
Example “Get Rid of Your Debt Once and For All”
4. Fact, Fiction, Truth and Lies
Example: “Little Known Ways To Make Money On The Stock Exchange”
5. How To, Tricks Of The Trade
Example: “How To Plan The Ultimate Holiday”
6. Best and Worst
Example: “The 10 Worst Mistakes Made by Bloggers
For more from the Authority Blogger blog here are 102 Proven Headline Formulas
Another very effective headline strategy is to use is ‘list’ headlines and these are some examples that I have used.
- 50 Ways To Optimize Your Blog
- 30 Things You Should Not Share On Social Media
- The 7 Secrets to Ford’s Social Media Marketing Success
You will notice that it is a ‘list’ format and includes numbers. A mega list headline is a large list such as the 50 Ways To Optimize Your Blog or the 102 Proven Headline Formulas and can be very effective. I have experimented with these types of headlines and they have produced some of my best blog traffic results.
Learning to get the basics of headline writing will make a big difference to your website and blog traffic especially when used in your online marketing such as email and Twitter.
So how are your headline copywriting skills?
3. Structuring Your Content so it Begs to be Read
The reality though is that the headline is just the start!… you want your visitor to stay and read the whole article rather than bounce out to another website in an era of ‘click and go’.
We live in the era of ever decreasing attention and the art of keeping the reader engaged has now become an ongoing creative and scientific experiment of verbal and visual seduction.
The Age of Skimming
So writing that awesome headline has made the reader turn up but then you have to continue to entice, tease and intrigue the reader with the promise of more information, possible entertainment or a solution to the problem so that they will read on.
Skimming the article is the norm and with so much information competing for everyone’s attention, honing those writing skills is required to ensure that the information your post promised in the headline is transparently and readily available as your readers eyes scan the page.
People are Seeking Answers
Readers are seeking solutions and answers to their problems. They are asking questions.
- Will this video embedded in the article deliver the information I crave?
- Will the embedded slideshare presentation provide content that will help me with my next corporate boardroom meeting that will impress my customer and my boss?
- Will the rest of the article enlighten me or bore me?
The headline is important whether it is a Facebook news update and especially if it is on Twitter. Twitter has made the art of the headline more important than ever before because you only have 140 characters to tempt the potential reader to take action and click on the link that is embedded in your Tweet.
The Headline is the Start of the Seduction
What you need to realize is that the headline is the start of the seduction and your reader needs to be continually visually arrested to keep them on your page.
Here are a variety of tips and tactics to continue to lure the reader deeper into your article beyond the headline so that they will not just click away to somewhere else.
The introduction is maybe the next most important element after the headline. This is an art rather than a science but there are some good tactics to ensure that you don’t lose them in the first sentence or paragraph. Mastering the art of copywriting can be arduous and the master copywriter Eugene Schartwz often spent days crafting the first 50 words of the sales copy and as a blogger you are in the business of selling your article one post at a time.
When writing the introduction these are some ideas to keep in mind.
1. Pose a Question
Challenging the reader to think engages their mind and makes them want to find out the answer.
2. Open with a Quote
This may inspire the reader to continue to read in the hope of finding out what lies beyond the next paragraph
“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever” – Mohandas K . Gandhi
3. Provide a Personal and Powerful Story
The story teller has captivated people since fire was created and a personal or powerful story can be the honey to keep the reader and listener engaged whether that be around the campfire or within an article.
4. Quote an Enticing Fact or Statistic
If you are writing about Facebook it could be the fact that “One in every eight minutes spent on the internet is on Facebook” to draw the reader in.
5. Create Context
Lead into the main part of the article by creating the context for the rest of the story. Provide some background to the argument or solution you are about to put forward. It could be the condensed history of the topic or the facts and figures or the stating of the problem that needs solving.
6. Create a Mental Image
It could be a sentence opening with phrases such as ‘imagine this’ or ‘do you remember when’.
7. Analogies and Other Tricks
It could be a phrase such as “A writer without a blog is like a salesman without a telephone” that tempts and captures the readers attention.
Include Key Words
This is one thing you should not ignore. What are the key words people will be looking for when they turn up. You also need to remember you are writing for two readers your audience and for the 1 million Google computer servers that are crawling and indexing your words, headlines and keywords. The challenge is to still write naturally but you need to be mindful of ‘Lord Google’.
Subtitles are your mini headlines that entice your reader to continue reading, they are teasers that may offer questions that promise more intriguing and inspiring content to follow.
Images with screen shots with arrows and circles showing key points can be worth a thousand words and make learning clear and easy to follow through on. Make the solution a ‘no-brainer’.
Consider A Video
Sometimes a short 2 minute video can offer the reader a quick way to explain a concept or idea or solution that 500 words cannot convey. This could be embedded half way through the story. Remember you are writing for the web and rich interactive media is expected and demanded.
This is quite often overlooked and in a digital interconnected age the article that has hyperlinks promises a depth and a breadth of information that makes the reader want to explore. Links or additional resources at the end of an article that list valuable posts from your blog that are relevant are also valuable and encourage the reader to read more of your valuable blog content. I also recommend setting up the the links so they open up in a new browser window ensuring that the original page is still open and visible and waiting on their return.
Format For Scanning and Skimming
There is nothing more confronting than a wall of text that says to the reader..”If you want the information… good luck in finding it, because it may be buried here somewhere!”
So break it up into chunk sizes that is easy to digest and doesn’t create visual constipation.
This can be done in a variety of ways through
- Call out box or block quote
- Short paragraphs
- Bullet points
- A short numbered list
Don’t Forget the Call to Act
This might be a phrase such as
“What is one thing that you can do do today that you have learnt from this post?”
Closing is important and the main thing to remember is to close the loop by tying it back to the beginning. It could be a statement or a question.
Step Five: How to Market to a Global Audience with Social Media
Social media marketing has at its core the foundation of valuable, shareable content in all the various forms of rich media whether that be text, video or images.
People watch YouTube videos because they are entertaining, educational or just plain funny. Viewers turn up to your Slideshare account and take the time to view a PowerPoint presentation because the content is compelling. LinkedIn works well for personal branding because you are providing answers to your peers to questions in the Q&A section and providing updates that answers problems, informs and educates.
Twitter teases you to click on links that are engaging blog posts or news that is topical and timely. The knowledge economy is all about the content. Facebook is where most of your audience is online so content needs to be posted and updated to the social giants ecosystem.
Social media marketing is the most efficient way to spread your content and ideas to a global audience. The secret sauce is to allow you to create a ‘social media synergy’ that totals a sum far greater than the individual parts. Most people think that Facebook “is” social media but I would encourage you to use a multi-channel social media marketing approach.
This approach is to guide you to go beyond being just ‘Facebook Centric’ and provide substance, endurance and longevity to your on-line presence and digital assets. This will assist you in optimizing and integrating the multiple social media platforms listed below
Some of these tips are basic for some but this is a checklist that may assist you in synergizing your online presence and bring traffic and viewers to your global digital properties.
50 Social Media Marketing Tips and Tactics
- Produce inspiring, educational and awesome content that is so compelling that people want to share it, this is the foundation of your marketing. All media is about good content and social media is no different
- Write regularly and consistently, people will then come and visit regularly and keep coming back because they know it will be new and topical (that is why magazines have regular publishing time frames)
- Learn to write a headlines that make people want to read the rest of your article
- Use ‘list’ posts (eg 50 Fascinating Facebook Facts and Figures) regularly. They may be a bit passe for some, but they work and tend to get passed around online
- Place a Retweet button on your blog at the top of the posts (WordPress plugins make this really easy to do)
- Place a Facebook share button at the top of all posts
- Include a Facebook ‘like box’ near the top right side of the blog so people can ‘like’ your Facebook page even while they are on your blog
- Place a LinkedIn share button on your blog (LinkedIn has over 100 million users and they are typically high earners and influential)
- Comment regularly on other bloggers in your niche
- As you grow your traffic and followers, highlight this on your blog and demonstrate some ‘social proof’. This could even include the number of Twitter followers you have or awards you have won or your website grade or even your Twitter grade
- Make it easy for people to subscribe via email (email marketing may be perceived as old school but it works big time!)
- Offer to guest post on a another influential bloggers blogs and provide a link back to your blog as part of the agreement
- Provide subscribe buttons so people can follow you on your other web properties (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn etc)
- Provide a subscription button via RSS so people can have your posts pushed to them in their ‘Google Reader’ account after they are published
The blogger should think of Facebook as an extension of their blog. It is a another distribution point to place your content that makes it easy for people to share. Facebook provides bloggers with an audience of over 750 million people and this is equivalent to one in every 13 people on the planet.
So publishing to Facebook and engaging with your audience there is vital in your social media marketing plans. So here are 8 tips to market your blog on Facebook
- Update your Facebook ‘Page’ with your blog posts straight after publishing
- Provide content and links on your Facebook page that will make them want to share and like your updates
- Include Twitter in your menu (This is available as a standard setting on your Facebook fan page)
- Run polls using the standard Facebook ‘Question’ feature (above the ‘Write something’ box) to engage your audience and involve them
- Link to your Facebook page in your email newsletter
- Run a competition on Facebook
- Use a reveal tab that is set up as your landing page that provides access to unique content, this could be a video a content or even a voucher
- Respond to all comments on your Facebook page in a timely fashion
- Acquire Twitter followers – quantity is important
- Engage and develop Twitter followers within your niche using Tweepi (Tweepi.com makes it easy to follow followers of influential bloggers on Twitter) or Twellow.com (Twellow provides a tool that enables you to find powerful Twitter follower lists in your niche) – this is the quality part of the Twitter equation
- Share the content of influential Twitter people and let them know by including their Twitter name eg @Jeffbullas
- Automate the tweeting of other bloggers content that you trust and add value to your followers with other peoples articles and content
- Tweet regularly and consistently the posts of other influential bloggers in your topic category
- Automate the retweeting of your great content so it is not forgotten and buried in the archives (SocialOomph professional can be setup to do this)
- When tweeting your posts include # tags that deliver the Tweet to # groups/lists eg #SocialMedia
- Interview influential people in your topic category on video and post them to YouTube
- Include your website/blog link in your profile
- Automate sharing after posting (available under ‘Account settings” then ‘Activity Sharing’ , then choose the social accounts and as a minimum select Facebook and Twitter (Reader, Orkut and MySpace are also able to be enabled)
- Write a headline that is ‘keyword’ rich for your industry and niche
- Write a tempting and teasing headline that makes the potential viewer want to ‘hit’ the play button
- Place a link to your blog at the beginning of each description for each video and make sure you write a description that includes keywords and inviting description
- Include keyword tags for each video
- Use all three website or links that LinkedIn allows in your profile (these can point to your website, blog and Facebook)
- Make your LinkedIn profile ‘Public’ in your settings
- Pose questions in the Q&A section of LinkedIn with links to your possible answer as a post link
- Setup a LinkedIn profile for your blog (not just your personal profile)
- Integrate your Slideshare into your LinkedIn account using the ‘Add an Application’ button at the bottom right of your home page
- Integrate your Blog post feed into your LinkedIn account using the ‘Add an Application’ button at the bottom right of your home page
- Add your Twitter feed into your LinkedIn account using the ‘Add an Application’
- Turn your posts into PowerPoint presentations and post them to Slideshare
- Write a good headline both on the presentation itself and the Title area
- Include keyword tags that would be used to find the presentation
- Promote your presentations on Twitter
- Allow viewers to download your presentation to assist in making it easy for people to share
- Post them to your Facebook page
- In choose a license make it CC (Creative Commons) License so people can use your content and then attribute and link to your blog
Apply some of these tips and you maybe surprised in the journey that unfolds as you and your company are discovered and shared and your goods and services are purchased because you were ‘found’.
Step Six: Maintaining the Momentum
Maintaining momentum in any sphere of your life is a challenge whether it is a business, a relationship or as a blogger and there are no easy answers.
What I have discovered is that if the combination of innate ability and passion that you discovered and drove you from day one are true to your purpose then maintaining momentum will not be difficult.
What I have also found helpful are 3 key activities to maintain the energy and the forward motion
Reading – It doesn’t matter if it is offline or online reading this provides new ideas that will keep the inspiration flowing
Sharing – Talking to your tribe of like minded people whether it is on Twitter or over a coffee or lunch will provide you with new insights and fuel to maintain the blogging momentum
Disrupting – Push your self into new areas that will challenge you and will keep you learning and motivated
Starting the journey is the easy part but true success is the found in persistence that will bring true self discovery and maybe a life that becomes a masterpiece.
For those of you which want to read the first in this two part series: How a Blogger can Build a Global Audience from Zero: Part One
Image by Jorge Quinteros