While it’s easy to imagine that social media has cornered the experiential market, blogging is well on its way to the top of trends. In fact, it far surpasses social media in its ability to connect personally and intellectually with audiences. Brands who opt out of blogging are missing out on an opportunity to expand their reach exponentially, develop stronger niche audiences, and connect to followers on a deeper level than even Instagram allows for. When you maintain and contribute to a blog, you’re not only letting your audience get to know different dimensions of you, but learning more about them. (Which helps you better meet their needs and stay on top of trends). Most importantly, you’re building the kind of meaningful, long-term relationships with your readers that makes a brand successful.
Successfully running a blog isn’t as simple as sharing your content, opinions, and experiences. But it doesn’t have to be rocket science, either. What does it take to successfully manage a blog? We’re sharing our top, research-based strategies to help you optimize your blog while managing your time.
Strategically Grow Your Network
Think of your blog as a networking opportunity. That means not limiting your posts and interactions just to your blog. In order to expand your audience (by thousands if you do it right), you should be uploading your blog posts to your social media accounts as well as highlighting priority posts on your website. Speaking of your website, it’s a good idea to link its URL to your blog bio, and vice versa. Along with a catchy blurb that describes who you are and what you do, your website should be one of the first things people see. The bio for your blog should also include a link to your landing page, which contains your email list. (We’ll talk more about landing pages shortly).
How can you optimize traffic on your blog? Openly invite viewers to join you on social media and participate in promotions that will only be happening on your social media platforms. Then go ahead and add social share buttons. Doing this makes your content easy for your readers to share on their own social media. For example, there’s a great Wordpress plugin called Social Snap that allows you to customize a unique image that will only be used when your content is shared on Pinterest. This helps give you a visual trademark that people will associate with you and your blog. You can also add a “click to tweet” button that allows you to instantly share your posts to Twitter.
While there are many popular social media platforms, the main ones to focus on are Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. If you have a favorite that isn’t as mainstream but is well-loved by your niche, go ahead and add that, too. But do avoid giving readers too many share buttons to choose from.
It may be tempting to upload a share button for every social media tool you know of- the more exposure, the better, right? But when most people are presented with too many options, they become distracted and move on to another page. A variety of share buttons may not seem to constitute an information overload- but on a daily basis, people are inundated with a much higher percentage of information than their brains can actually process. For this reason, attention spans tend to be on the short side. It’s much easier to choose from three or four options than ten or twelve. Besides, most social shares are occurring across Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
A final word of advice on social media sharing: Don’t let it get in the way of building your email list. Yes, engaging with customers personally on social media is vital to branding oneself in an experiential market. We would never minimize the importance of doing so! However, it’s easy for people to click on an interesting link and then be distracted by something else that catches their attention. But when people click on a link to sign up for an email list, they’re taken directly to that list. There are no distractions getting in the way of your call to action, which is to get people to join.
How can you make it so that your viewers aren’t distracted by social share buttons and content? It’s all about how your blog is designed. Put the link to your email list in your header, and your share buttons in your footer.
Identify Your Promotional Goals and Strategize Accordingly
Promoting your blog involves a lot more than just sharing it on social media. Depending on their niche and purpose, every blogger has different promotional goals. For example, if one of your goals is to reach a new niche audience, Instagram is a good place to start because its visual platform encourages self-expression and authenticity. In other words, Instagram influencers and their followers tend to have transparent discussions about personal and world issues that affect them.
Many Instagram niches are dedicated to various causes: mental health and chronic illness awareness, political and global issues that affect young people, feminism, spirituality and/or atheism, body image, and countless others. So ask yourself: What is my message, and where do I fit in? The goal is to contribute your own unique talents, perspectives, and experiences to topics other people care about.
Twitter is one of the largest news and media tools at our fingertips. So if your blog is focused on social issues, politics, or any other media and news-related topic, Twitter should be a key part of your strategy.
But before deciding where you’re going to promote, first make a list of what you’re going to promote. Even if it seems tedious or redundant because you already know what your blog is about, formatting your posts is crucial. You want to always remain consistent and thorough. Each post should contain some basic information. This includes a headline, post description, post excerpt, shortened URL, and the Twitter or Instagram handles anyone referenced in your posts.
Make a checklist of all the people, pages, and sites you want to share your posts with. As we mentioned before, always share them on your social networks. You’ll also want to email to subscribers. Once you’ve created your checklist, review it to make sure your promotions are being directed toward your niche audience. What social media platforms best suit your audience, goals, and purposes? That’s where you should be promoting your content most heavily.
Leverage Landing Pages
If you’re not familiar with landing pages, don’t sweat it- many bloggers aren’t. But they are invaluable tools because they’re designed to facilitate marketing campaigns. Essentially, a landing page is a call to action. For example, if your conversion goal is to increase sales of a new product, your landing page should compel visitors to make a purchase.
How will you sweeten the deal for someone who tries a new product? Do they get a complimentary gift item or half off on a future purchase? In order to be effective, landing pages usually offer limited time offers, sales, or even contests customers can win to get free or discounted items. Landing pages don’t contain many tabs or options; they’re focused on a singular conversion goal. Their purpose is to get people to take a specific action, such as buying products, signing up for an event, or joining a membership/buying a description.
Landing pages got their name because visitors “land” on them after clicking a link. Thus, the link to your landing page should be included in emails and ads on social media and search engines. Ideally, the link to sign up for your email list should be included as well.
Drive Traffic with SEO-focused Content
Speaking of search engines, let’s talk a little bit about SEO, or search engine optimization. Making your blog SEO-focused can feel a bit tedious and redundant at times. But it exponentially increases traffic- not just to your blog, but to your website and social media pages as well. The objective is to strategically use words and terms that are popular on search engines. It’s easy to find out which SEO words and terms are relevant to your niche and topics. All you have to do is search your topic on Google Ads, and you’ll be provided with a list of the most common SEO words and terms associated with it.
It’s a good rule of thumb to include one SEO term in your blog post’s title, and several in the first paragraph. After that, you’ll want to pepper the terms throughout your content. Blogs, websites, social media posts, and landing pages should all be SEO-focused to drive traffic and conversion.
Engage with Your Readers
It’s a well-known fact that millennials value quality experiences over material possessions. That means that promotions aren’t all about selling anymore- they’re about making meaningful, long-term connections with customers. Enter blogging, which is essentially tailor-made for experiential marketing. While social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter are too vast and crowded to sufficiently reach niche audiences on their own, blogs go into depth about specific topics and industries. They facilitate ongoing, meaningful discussions about things that are important to readers. It can’t be stressed enough: Making a personal connection with readers is the most important part of building your brand and audience.
Be Interactive and Contribute to Relevant Blogs in Your Niche
Part of connecting to your audience is reaching out and contributing to other blogs, especially prominent ones in your niche. Experiential marketing is all about reaching a massive yet specific audience. Those two things don’t have to be mutually exclusive. In a diverse market, almost every niche audience is massive to a degree. Connecting with your niche means being available and accessible. We know- you’re already spread thinly into a thousand different directions. Starting a business or building a brand is never easy, and entrepreneurs do the work of ten people in a day. That’s why it’s important not to put too much pressure on yourself. Everyone knows that contents burst under pressure, so your goal is to fit maintaining your blog as seamlessly into your schedule as possible.
Try taking two to three hours every other day to dedicate to your blog and social media. Even if you don’t post on a day that you had really wanted to, the time isn’t wasted. Respond at length to your readers and comment on other relevant blogs. Interact spontaneously with other blogs’ readers, sharing your unique perspective and helpful advice. Use that time to also check your contact page to respond to people who have been trying to get in touch.
Respond to emails in a timely manner, and even when you have to keep it short and sweet, be friendly and open. Although it can be easy to overlook, it’s important to keep clear lines of communication open. If you can’t respond at length to an email, shoot the sender a reply that lets them know you’ll be more than happy to talk with them at a later time or date. When that later date or time comes around, make yourself available.
The more engaged readers feel, the more loyal and invested they will be in your brand. So make them feel like a part of your blog, not merely a viewer on the outside. Ask them to participate in contests to win free items or experiences, share their stories on your blog, and even schedule a meetup if applicable. Engaging readers in a live experience strengthens the bond between you and them even more.
Also, take their feedback. Ask your readers what they’d like to see more of, and give them the content they asked for. You can also invite them to mini virtual events in which they can Skype or Facetime with you to learn new skills, discuss important topics, and connect to people with similar ideas and experiences. Host brief “Q & A” sessions once or twice a month, and invite readers to ask you questions and get answers.
No matter what your brand and content is about, always include an educational element in your blog. “How to” posts that convey strategies to accomplish specific things or deal with certain topics are favorites because they help people take action to solve problems.
Be Their Guest...and Invite Them to Be Yours
That brings us to our next tip, which is to join forces with other bloggers in your niche. Invite a popular blogger to be featured on your blog and contribute his/her unique knowledge, experience, and perspective. Even niche audiences tend to diverse, so variety is an important element of blogging. Introducing your audience to other relevant bloggers on a regular basis-or even from time to time- adds new interest and dimensions to your content.
The biggest mistake bloggers make when trying to partner with other bloggers? They make their pitch without forming a relationship with them over time. Think about it: Are you more likely to respond to someone you know and trust, or a person you’ve never interacted with who is already asking you for something? In order to know whether you have value to offer them, bloggers need to engage with you over a period of time. There’s no definitive rule of thumb for how long you should interact with someone before asking them to be featured on your blog (or to feature you on their blog). It really depends on the natural rapport between two people, and how compatible their immediate goals are. Once you know what others need, you know what you have to offer them, and vice versa.
How can you go about reaching out to bloggers and influencers to be featured on your page? The first step is to identify blogs in your niche with a moderate to massive engaged audience. To find out how big their audience is, take a cursory glance at their social shares and comments. If there are many, they have a high level of engagement, and could therefore be beneficial to you.
When you are ready to make your pitch, focus on how you can help them- not the other way around. That doesn’t mean the exchange should be one-sided- no way! It simply means that people are more receptive to hearing how you can help them fulfill their needs than what you need from them. After all, you’re the one who is proposing the joint effort. So take the lead and let them know what you have to give. What follows is usually a mutual exchange.
Give Your Readers What They Want
It’s not enough to know general information about what your readers care about or are interested in. The information has to be more specific. Monitor trends by tracking news and being the first to talk about it. Staying on top of trends can be time-consuming, but it helps you keep up with what your readers are doing, thinking, and feeling. Because Twitter is a media-focused platform, use its lists and trending hashtags to stay current. This goes without saying, but follow industry leaders and relevant blogs, especially emergent ones. Again, keeping up with trends means more than just following them- it means interacting with other bloggers and their readers on a regular basis.
There are many tools that alert you when people write about subjects you feature in your blog. Buzzbundle, Hootsuite, Google Alerts, Sendible, and Brand24 are just a few.
But you don’t have to break the internet to intrigue readers- at least not all the time. Sometimes you’re not going to be the first to cover news, and you might even be close to the last. When that happens, it’s enough to just put your own spin on it or share a fresh perspective. And don’t be afraid to incorporate a little humor into your posts- when it comes naturally, that is. Taking note of irony makes you more relatable, and being able to laugh at yourself shows humility. A down-to-earth approach is often winsome because it shows people that you relate to them in everyday life. If you are someone who expresses lofty ideals and abstract ideas, don’t stop- stay true to brand. Just ground your thought processes by tying them into daily life. When your topics tend toward the abstract or highly intellectual, featuring case studies or educational posts from guest bloggers can help people keep up with you.
Measure Your Engagement
There are many plugins that help you track traffic to your blog, website, and landing pages. These tools also give you valuable information such as the average number of comments per post; they can tell you who is posting your links and where. You can even track social media traffic by monitoring the amount of shares and tweets per post.
When you think about it, this information is priceless. Blogging in a competitive market requires you to know the specifics about which content people are responsive to (and which they aren’t).
Now that you’re armed with some surefire strategies, you’re ready to embark on your blogging journey (or vastly improve it). We know blogging is a lot of work, so don’t pressure yourself to be perfect- and don’t focus too much on your competition. Yes, it’s important to keep up with trends and gain inspiration as you go, but don’t compare yourself so critically that you become consumed with it. You have something unique to offer, and ultimately, that’s what readers want. So just be your authentic self, and readers will make a genuine connection with you, which is the most important part of blogging. Add our winning strategies to the mix, and you’ll expand your audience tenfold in no time at all.