The competition is fierce out there. There are 70 million new blog posts each month on WordPress alone. Everybody, in other words, has clued into this content marketing thing. How do you ever get your work noticed? Is it even worth it? A look at that same page I linked to above answers that conclusively. For though there might be a lot of posts, there are more than 400 million people reading blogs each month. And there have to be at least a few of your customers in there, don’t you think? What’s more, content marketing is generating $300 billion in sales as per a recent study. Now that’s a big pie and we all want to get our fingers in there!
The trick is, how do you get noticed? After all, you don’t want just an average share of that pie – because that would be only about 6 and 2/3rd people viewing your blog per month. Now unless you’re selling airplanes and you’re absolutely certain to convert one of those people that just isn’t worth your while. And so you have to promote your blog correctly.
But how do you do that?
Or, at least, they can’t appear to be. People can smell that a mile away. Instead, your blog truly has to be designed to educate, entertain, engage and inform. It has to feel like – rather than there being a business trying to push through a poorly concealed sales agenda – that there is a person or a team of people who want to help by offering valuable information and insights.
Only in this way can you get other bloggers to share your page. After all, they’re intensely sensitive about their reputation and don’t want to run the risk of tarnishing it by linking to sales-pushing content, even if that site does occasionally have good content. And they are the gatekeepers to becoming part of the established industrial conversation. Now this doesn’t mean you can’t use SEO and keyword research tools. It just means you should take the time to make certain it isn’t blatant or jarring.
A common mistake made when people use social media is to not share their content enough as they don’t want ‘to be a bother’. This is a shame, as most social media sites do not actually show all of your contacts your adverts. For this reason it’s always a good idea to share what you’re doing more than once. A good strategy is to share your content three times within the first week. So the first day, the second day and then a week later. Repeat on different channels or sites that can bring you qualified traffic for free.
This will mean far more eyeballs will see your unique content, which means there is a far greater likelihood it will get liked, shared and talked about. And that is ultimately the point of a post, isn’t it?
Provide Social Proof
This is especially true if you’re selling directly to the public, but even if you’re B2B this bears thinking about. We like what other people like. It’s not a pretty side of our character, but it’s nonetheless true and you can either uselessly rail against it or embrace it.
What this means is that we have to appear to have a following. This can be established by having people comment on the content we’re producing, having a large number of likes on social media or having testimonials. Basically we just want to show off that other people are paying attention to us and are liking what we do.
So in the beginning, when you’re just starting out, it’s important to push hard to get that social proof sorted. Consider putting up some testimonials (with pictures), getting staff to comment as outsiders and pushing your initial social media campaign hard. Also, don’t put up the number of comments and likes pieces get until they’re starting to rise. A big fat ‘zero’ in the comment box will make people believe your content isn’t any good, even if it has nothing to do with that.
Create Original Content
Yes, it goes without saying. You’ve got to have new content. If you’re constantly just re-writing what other people are saying your blog posts will not get any serious traction in the community. The bigger question is, how do you do that? What can you possibly do to actually find new content?
First of all, you should get the tools in place so that you can find the right content before it’s been beaten to within an inch of its life by other bloggers. If you can regularly get the drop on new trends and new ideas you don’t have to find as much new content, as most users won’t be able to spot the difference anyway.
To get new content, on the other hand, you need to look elsewhere. A good way forward is to regularly be in contact with experts in the field simply in order to allow them to express their opinions. The experts will appreciate this (we all like to be listened to) and if you’ve got a good editorial team working on your blog, you might well be able to pick up some fantastic nuggets before anybody else does that could be good for your blog and your business.
Besides, reaching out to the experts in the name of your blog is a great way to network. First you listen to them and write about them and when they feel suitably grateful, you can always work on getting something, like a testimonial, for your business as well.
Another good place to look is in your internal statistics. We’re all looking for new trends and with big data being as hot as it is people are always interested to learn how things work. So if you’re collecting data, take a look at it and see if there’s anything interesting to write a story about. You’ll appear more transparent, more interesting and you might just create some of the buzz you’re looking for.
Have a Red Thread
There has to be a central theme to what you’re writing about on your blog. You have to have a character, as it were, or at least a character to your information. That way you can create a simple association in your reader’s mind: Blog A = Information about X. Then, when they’re looking for information about X, they know exactly where to go.
It is far better to be outstanding in one niche than to be pretty good in many for the very simple reason that there are already a huge number of pretty good blogs out there. And when you’re just one of many, you’re likely to be drowned by all the noise. So focus your topic and stick with it.
Most writers don’t appreciate how much people like video. And yet they do. Last year, the number of videos shown on Facebook per day hit 10 billion. That’s an astounding number and that is something that you have to take advantage of. Therefore you need to occasionally create video content and then share it far and wide across the social networks to draw more people to your site.
Now, this doesn’t mean you only need to use video. Once they’re on your site and the rest of your content is good enough, some will stick around. But nothing works quite as well as video to get them to come there in the first place. And that has to count for something.
Content marketing is rarely a short-term, quick-fix thing. It takes time, patience and dedication. Only if you’re willing to put in the hours to make it work will you actually get the returns that you’re looking for. So don’t expect it to work out immediately. You’ve got to keep plugging away and wait for it to take off before you’re going to see the returns that you’re looking for.
That said, those returns will be impressive if you can stay the course, stay consistent and produce high-quality material. If you’re on the inside and your blog is a site people regularly refer to, you will barely have to push your content as people will be pulled in by other websites making use of it. What’s more, it will actually be fun, as we all like to have a mouth piece for our views and our ideas. And yes, that might not be what you’re after but should be a nice bonus. And besides, it might be useful if you ever decide it is time to reshape the industry.