You created a blog — now what?
I teach a lot about the importance of social media and platform and networking.
I talk about values of self-marketing and using tools such as a blog to meet people and make connections.
But then sometimes, a conference attendee will raise their hand and stop me, saying, “That’s all well and good, but how do we get people to actually read our blog?”
The question is so basic that it can be glossed over when I’m teaching, so I want to address it here in this post — and share a few social media tips that will assist you moving forward.
Although my specialty is publishing and I typically teach writers and novelists, these tips can help you in any area of blogging. All you need is an active Twitter account and a little creativity.
Offer a clear incentive to click
So you just hit “publish” on a recent blog post and want to spread the word. A simple thing you can do to promote your post is use your own social media channels — namely Twitter, and also possibly Facebook.
If your own social media channels are still small or new, then you won’t be spreading the word to too many people, but that’s OK. Your network will grow over time, and your Twitter and Facebook mentions of your own posts will gather more shares over time.
The goal is to mention to your network that you just created a blog post. They’ll then click through to absorb the material, and maybe even leave a comment or interact.
If you create a great post that can help people, feel free to share it multiple times — once a week for several weeks, for example. Especially on Twitter, where people tweet a lot, there is no rule or law that says you can’t share good information multiple times.
Incentives and clarity: that’s what it’s all about. Give people clear incentives to read your blog posts.
This means 1) Realize that people will not do anything unless they understand what’s in it for them, so give them an incentive to click through; and 2) Make it perfectly clear what waits for them on the other side of that hyperlink, so they don’t pass up a click-through simply because they’re puzzled about what you’ve posted.
In practice: Offering a clear incentive on Twitter
Let’s examine examples from my own life.
Recently, I spent a lot of time researching literary agents who were actively seeking children’s books and novels with diverse characters. Compiling the post took me days of work and a lot of emails. It was a special post that I wanted to share.
Let’s examine three different ways I could share it through my own social media networks:
Examine tweet possibility 1:
In my opinion, status updates like “Check out my latest blog post” or “New blog post is up” are the worst. They’re lazy, and don’t offer a new connection any reason to click. They’re lazy, and show someone who wants to exert no effort in gaining new followers.
Let’s try again with tweet possibility 2:
At least with this second tweet, you understand a little about what the blog post covers. But still, the tweet is scant and doesn’t provide absolute clarity on what lies on the other side of the click.
And did you notice the grammatical mistake? Those extra words are a sign I was rushing through the composition of the tweet, and not sculpting it carefully. Poor proofreading reeks of unprofessionalism, and will turn off prospective followers.
Let’s try again with tweet possibility 3:
The tweet is optimized from top to bottom to gain the most shares and attention. Look at what it does well:
- It provides absolute clarity by explaining exactly what the blog article is about.
- It includes simple tricks to add sexiness, like a numbered list in the title and a capitalized “NOW” to show the post is important and timely.
- I added Twitter handles for users who may enjoy spreading this information. You can also use hashtags to loop in new groups of people.
- I added images. People love images with blog posts and social media status updates. Images bring a post to life.
Seventy-seven retweets for this tweet is great, especially considering I had already mentioned this post several times before on social media
Let’s look at another example. Notice the evolution in incentivizing, and how each version is superior to the last.
Tweet possibility 1:
Tweet possibility 2:
Tweet possibility 3:
The third tweet works so well because it doesn’t just reach out to writers. It specifically reaches out to the types of writers this agent wants to meet.
The specifics here help the tweet, and if you happen to be a writer who is composing one of the types of book I mentioned, then this post is like a lightning bolt that says, “Click me, I have value, click me, I have value.”
Advanced strategy: Form a Twitter power crew
When you mention your blog posts on social media, what you really seek is reach and amplification through sharing.
If 2,000 people share your post and it goes viral, it reaches many readers and thus its amplification is great. Meanwhile, if you only have 50 followers on Twitter, and you tweet out news of your post, it may not get very far.
So why not work with others? Find other people and groups and form a Twitter power crew. You can all tweet each others’ posts and everyone’s amplification rises together.
You scratch the backs of others, and they return the favor.
Create valuable posts that will naturally get shared
Promoting your own work isn’t enough — you need others to share it, too. When a blog post gets shared on social media, you get more people to read the post, and turn some of those new readers into consistent followers who get to know you and your brand.
Ideally, your columns will spread organically from people you don’t know sharing your post. The best way to do this is to create a post that has value.
Most blogs never achieve success because the blogs provide no true value. A good blog post can make your life easier, inform you, entertain you, make you laugh, show you things or places you want to see, or cull information into a single source.
Creating a valuable blog is difficult. It takes a plan, time, and hard work. But if you spend the time to create something unique and valuable, then people will share it. Make posts for others, not for you. The example I use commonly is this:
If I took my three-year-old daughter to the park, would you care? In other words, would you read a blog post about how I took her to the park? No.
But what if I spent a month taking my daughter to some small, out-of-the-way parks, then composed a blog post called “The 5 Best Family-Friendly Parks in Cincinnati You Didn’t Know Exist (and Where to Park the Car).”
If you live by me and have kids you would take note of it — and it’s because all of a sudden the post has value for you, not me. The post took me time and energy to create, but it pays off when parents share the post with their friends.
It’s very simple. If you create something that’s just plain good, people will share it.
What tips would you add for connecting with potential blog readers through social media?