Many companies began to adopt content promotion as part of their overall social media strategies. However, the growth of content promotion brought many negative connotations to the name of ‘promotions.’ The biggest problem with most content promotion strategies is the push for quick results, instead of an investment in a long term plan.
Yes, content promotion can provide quick boosts and great short term results. Unfortunately, those results appear as quickly as they can sublimate into the sunset. If you plan on investing in content promotion, then you shouldn’t waste successes; instead use them to build your network, social media assets, and brand.
You finally create a perfect piece of luscious linkbait and promote it; it does incredibly well, bringing in thousands of social users to your site. Unfortunately you did not build a long term strategy, so the only benefit you saw was traffic and links to one article. You did not gain any more subscribers to your blog, new Twitter followers, or Facebook fans, because you didn’t make it simple for them to add you.
A long term strategy should not only build traffic and links to one piece, but should be used as a medium to draw in social traffic, to help build out social media assets (Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, etc.), and lead you to the overall goal of “Natural Content Promotion.” A promoter should use social traffic to build a base of social media users that will come to the site naturally, find content, and share it in their networks.
By building exposure to your brand through initial content promotions, you can drastically decrease the cost of content promotion, and increase overall ROI in social media promotion. Below I will review a few methods to help you craft a long term content promotion strategy.
Making Your Blog Social Media Friendly
Most content promotion efforts revolve around a blog or a microsite. Since this will be a front-facing facade for social media users, it needs to be easily shareable, easy to navigate, and visually appealing (especially the content). Social media traffic is very different from organic search traffic or targeted paid traffic. Social media users come to the site for one reason and in most cases will have the highest bounce rate. Social users want to find content quickly, review it, and move on.
Sharing With Share Buttons
Do not use every share button under the sun. No site needs social share buttons for 200 social networks. It clutters the layout, and it confuses the user. I can’t count the number of times I have gone to a site, tried to share the content, became frustrated, and just backed out. I may have enjoyed the article, but it was too much of a hassle to share it. Stick to the basics; start with a Twitter button, Facebook Button, and a ShareThis button. Using your analytics, see which sites send the most users. If you find a site like Tip’d is sending you a lot of visits, consider adding their button to your site.
Control what the buttons are sharing; you can leverage this to your advantage. Facebook and Twitter are cluttered with shares, and sometimes it’s very hard to make your share stand out over the others. You can set specific images for Facebook shares, and crafted tweets for Twitter. This will allow you to choose the perfect title and thumbnail image for your site.
Remember for social submissions sites, like Digg & Reddit, it will automatically scrape the page for a thumbnail image under a specific size. If you are promoting an IG, consider adding a thumbnail version on the page so you can control what the site pulls in as its shared image.
When you layout your linkbait content, make sure it:
- Is easy to consume
- Is visually appealing
- Makes the user enjoy consuming it
- Uses header tags to separate sections
- Uses images to break up long paragraphs
- Uses bullets to quickly convey points to the reader
When the user lands on the site, their first impressions will be the content that lead them there. If it’s unappealing, they will have that feeling for your entire site. Like this section, your linkbait should be skimmable.
Types Of Content
Fight the urge to fill your entire site with linkbait-type content. Social media users aren’t dumb, and will realize that the sole purpose of your site is to build links or sell ads. Consider covering various types of content, evergreen, linkbait, and trending topics.
You should always be posting filler content that is interesting and will keep your readers happy. An easy trick is to use Google News to find stories to rewrite on related trending stories (giving credit to the source), and post them to your site. This will allow your site to look active and alive, instead of like a linkbait factory.
Consider creating resources around your niche. While they many not be social-friendly (depending on your niche), you can use the link juice built from your social promotions to help organically rank content. These will help to make your site an organic resource for users and provide organic traffic, which will lead you down the path of natural content promotion.
Don’t reproduce the same old social content you see all over the web (unless you can do it better). Be willing to experiment; try new mediums, and see what will work for you niche. Below are some resources for creating great social content:
- 7 Alternatives To Top 10 Lists
- Turning Writers Into Linkbait Ninjas
- DIY Guide To Creating Infographics
- 5 Ways to Brainstorm for Creative Content
One way to combat the high bounce rate is to use thumbnail images for posts. In most instances, a user will see the thumbnail before they read a title. In that split second they decide weather they will stay on the site and look at more content, or back out to the social media network that sent them there. Consider using thumbnails in the right column on blog posts and in the footer, so once the user looks away from the original content, you can entice them to click some more articles.
Using Big & Bold Images
Use IMAGES! I can’t stress this enough. Content creators undervalue the importance of images chosen for a piece of content. An image can help convey the authors point quickly and efficiently. It can help break up the content so it seems like it is an easy and quick read. Make sure the images you are using are big and bold. You don’t want to use blurry images that are tiny.
Don’t over-do it with ads. Yes, in order to maintain the site you are going to need a revenue stream, and in most cases that involves using an ad network. Social users hate being tricked into clicking off the page, or accidentally mousing over an ad that engulfs their entire stream. You can easily kill traction of content promotion if your site uses those methods. Be careful with your placement, and make sure the content is still the main focus of your site.
Building Your Social Media Assets
Leverage social media users that are coming in from content promotion to build-out your social media assets, such as Facebook fan pages or your Twitter account. Most social media users are on Facebook, Twitter, or Tumblr. You should be using the exposure you gain to grow assets in order to build a long term relationship with that user.
For example, adding a simple message to end of the post, directing users to various assets is a simple way to build them out. Consider adding a Facebook fan page box to the right side or adding a stream of active tweets. Make the social traffic provide you with more benefits past that initial burst of traffic and links.
Data Is King! So Why Aren’t You Listening?
The biggest discussion we have with clients is how they should be tracking their content promotions. Besides tracking the number of links and views, you should be tracking comment sentiment for content, referring traffic from social media networks, referring traffic from forums/blogs, and organic traffic from SERPs.
Content Comment Sentiment
Whenever we review a content promotion results, the first thing we will do is pull the actual submissions to see what users are saying. This data should be included in any decisions you make for social content creation. You can find flaws in an article, impressions of your website, and get feel of what your demographic is looking for in terms of your content.
We also use the same method when deciding on a content strategy. If a concept has already been done, the first place you should look is the comments. The comments will provide you ideas on what the competitors content did not cover, and what you should consider including. So while you may be covering a topic already done before, you have the upper-hand by having feedback from the demographic your are targeting.
Tracking Referrals from Social Networks
If you haven’t read “#1 Mistake Marketers Make with Tracking Social Media,” then you should take break from this article and do it now. The biggest issue with content promotion is determining ROI of the promotion. How do you determine the value of the promotion if you have no data to make that inference? You just can’t; you end shooting blindly into the sky hoping something hits.
A large majority of social network users who use sites like Facebook and Twitter use it from a mobile device or desktop application. Most of the time, that data is shown as direct traffic to the content. With the growing use of social media sites during the work day, many companies have moved to ban them, forcing users to browse via mobile phones. With this trend, you can’t accurately judge which network is providing the best return.
Another issue is tracking aggregate traffic from sites like PopUrl.com, JimmyR, etc. For example, a front-page on Delicious will bring a decent amount of traffic, but the value it provides is huge. Many large social aggregates use Delicious as a feed on their main page. So a front-page on Delicious also results in front page exposure on many popular sites. In most cases, you aren’t tracking that, so you have no idea where that additional traffic is coming from. Since you are not seeing this, you may (wrongly) decide Delicious isn’t worth time and attention.
Tracking your submissions URLs will also allow you to determine which sites provide the most exposure. For example, you may be better off sharing content on Twitter using a specific hash tag. That hash tag might be seen by a power user on related forum. That forum then sends high quality traffic to your site. Without tracking, you are only going to see the referral from the forum, but have no idea how that person found the content. You may try to seed your post the same way the next time and end up failing. With analytics, you can determine a post was seeded because of a specific social network, and be able to hone in your efforts.
Starting with a social media-friendly blog will help to build an initial foundation for natural content promotion strategy. With various aspects in place, such as easy sharing, a visually appealing content/blog, and a method for building out social media assets, you can convert the short term benefits of social success into a long term benefit.
By tracking your efforts, you can re-focus strategy based on the results in order to achieve your goal. Tracking will help you determine the best places to find users interested in your content. With the concepts above, you can create a blog that people will want to visit on a daily basis, and want to share with their social network. It will bring you closer to the goal of natural content promotion.
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