S.S.T.S. That’s the four things. You need a super sonic transport system that will enable all your brand messaging – across multiple channels – to emanate from your blog. Yes. We’ve talked about this before. Your blog is your content hub. It’s the essence of you and what you do. But it’s not something that has meaning separate from the rest of your marketing communications efforts. It won’t get you anywhere if you don’t put the wheels in motion. And since things are fast, fast, fast these days — let’s get you in motion super sonically!
You must promote your blog. (Tweet this). I’ve just engaged in a lengthy discussion with folks in the “Marketing Professionals” group on Linkedin about what’s more important: content, engagement or promotion. Content seems to be winning. But I just can’t agree. Not that I don’t’ think it’s super important. Who cares about promoting dreck? But all three must work together. They’re three legs of a three-legged stool; unstable if any one leg is missing. Without promotion your super-de-duper content just sits there. Dead. In. The. Water. That’s just sad.
Forget your troubles, come on get happy. In the R.C.A. Series we learned about creating a blog worth sharing. Now we’ve got to take it to the next level and actually – you got it – share! That’s the first of the four reasons your blog promotion strategy just may suck:
- SHARE: A blog doesn’t share itself. You’ve got to give it a kick in the pants.
- SHAREABLE: If you don’t make it easy for folks to share, they won’t do it.
- TALK: Sharing is online word-of-mouth. You must get folks talking about you.
- SEARCH: You must be easy for folks to find when they search.
If a blog post falls in the forest and no one reads it, does it exist? Once you understand the four principles of S.S.T.S. you’ll be able to create a flow of dialogue – from you to your constituents and back again. The more the love flows back and forth, the more real you become (a bit like the Velveteen Rabbit). Nice.
We’re doing things in fours today, so let’s look at four ways to share your posts:
1. Figure out where your constituents hang out; share there.
To share meaningfully means to deliver your content at the right time through the right channel(s). Otherwise you’re simply engaging in “spray and pray.” Trust me; if your strategy is to throw everything at the wall to see what sticks you’ll quickly exhaust your resources – not to mention your poor little self.
2. Optimize your social media strategy.
You need one. But you don’t need to be everywhere. Check out 3 Essential Building Blocks to Kick-Start a Successful Nonprofit Social Media Strategy: Website, Email and Something Else to learn that it’s okay to build your sharing plan in phases. It may seem counter-intuitive, but you’ll actually move faster – and get more traffic – if you choose one channel and do it well than if you choose all channels and do them poorly.
Don’t forget that before you can optimize your social media strategy you’ve got to build a social media following. Otherwise, who are you going to share with?. In Is Your Blog a Deadzone? Maybe You Forgot to Do This the marketing manager at Fourtopper, Michael Adams, reminds us of the importance of systematically and patiently building your list by beginning with friends, colleagues and family. Then you can move on to industry contacts, people you know who are active in social media and press.
Remember that sharing is a two-way street. If you want to build a community of folks willing to share on your behalf (which is what we’ll discuss in Part II of this Series) it’s nice to do something for them. You must begin by being an active listener. So read and share some of their content. Get involved in discussions. Let them know in advance what’s in it for them if they share your posts.
3. Assure you have working follow and share buttons.
For every channel where you want to connect you’ll want to have: (1) follow buttons and (2) share buttons on your blog. The former are to help build your following. The latter are to help you and others easily share your posts to your chosen platforms. Again, you do not have to be everywhere. I cannot stress this enough. Less is quite often more for most nonprofits. If you don’t have a supergeek on staff, or an entire team of people dedicated to nurturing your different networks on a daily basis, don’t spread yourself too thin.
But do spread yourself somewhere! If you’re interested in trying out some different channels, take a look at How to Promote Your Blog With Social Media by Marc Pitman on Social Media Examiner. It’s a great step-by-step guide that provides a “how-to” for sharing posts on Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and G+. And note that sharing is different on different platforms. You’ll want to learn best practices for each platform (for example, one uses hashtags on Twitter; on Facebook or LinkedIn, not so much). Take a look at Platform Counts! The Differences between Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn Writing and How to Promote Your Blog Posts with Social Media Writing.
To get the share buttons installed on your site, WordPress has a number of plug-ins that are easy to install. There are also a number of blogs out there that will walk you through installation (see Spice Up Your Blog which tends to have instructions for both WordPress and Blogger). You can also go directly to the social media websites themselves and install their ‘official’ buttons directly from their sites (they won’t necessarily match one another, but this may not be an issue if you’re only using one or two social media platforms). Hint: Once you get them installed, test them to make sure they work.
4. Spread the news – and forget about social media for a moment.
I’ve little doubt you already use email. And you probably even have an e-newsletter. Share your great blog content via email. In fact, one of the easiest ways to create an e-newsletter these days is to simply link to several of your past month’s blog posts. Add a sentence or two to entice folks to click the link. Maybe add the announcement of an event or two to your newsletter, sprinkle in some photos or a video, and voila! The work you’ve done creating your blog content is suddenly doing double duty.
Even if you don’t have an e-newsletter, you can use email to send a link to your post to your email list. If you send a link to your blog to 1000 folks on your email list, and 20% (200 people) click on it, and of those maybe a dozen share with their friends on their email lists, or Twitter, or Facebook, or Pinterest… and so on… then you just might find yourself with another 100 visitors. Ask them to subscribe to your blog. And ask them to share with their networks.
You can also use your blog email list to create a monthly (or quarterly) email that lets folks know what’s coming. Or you can create a summary of a series of posts on a particular subject area that alerts folks that “This may be of interest to you; we’d very much value your feedback and opinions.” Some great resources for launching emails and managing your subscription list are MailChimp for Bloggers and Aweber.
You can also share the link to your blog URL in a bunch of creative ways: (1) on your business cards; (2) from your email signature; (3) on your event registrations; (4) on event nametags (it’s helpful to give your blog a name so folks will remember the URL); (5) in your hard copy communication materials, and (6) in footers to Slide Share and Power Point presentations.
And don’t forget to feature your blog prominently on your website. The best way is to have a tab at the top of the page. Ideally, the look of your blog should match the look of your website so that the user never knows they’ve gone to a different site. Your blog will drive more traffic than your website (we’ll talk more about this in Part IV of this Series), so it’s a great idea to freshen up your website with your blog’s content.
What’s your top recommendation for promoting a blog? Tell us what’s worked for you!