How to Effectively Use Marketing to Gain Traction on Your Blog
the business model for S#!t We Don’t Talk About
“Your blog is very Web 2.0” our professor told us at the beginning of this semester. Wait, was she commenting on the content of our blog? Who cares about that? Three months prior to this we started a blog for the sole purpose of determining how much traffic we could gain by publishing articles with interesting titles and humorous pictures. As marketing students, we strived to put our skills to the test to see how large of a following we could gain.
After joining a social media class this semester, our aforementioned professor pushed us to think more about the content of the blog, rather than the traffic we reached. Could we make the blog’s content set it apart instead of just actively promoting our sub-par posts? After what has now been 9 months of blogging, we’ve realized that there are 7 key rules to managing a successful blog.
- Know your audience.
In Likeable Social Media, Dave Kerpen argues the importance of building and knowing your audience on Facebook. He talks about targeting one person and targeting thousands depending on what advertisement he needs to run. Targeting through a blog can be very similar to targeting through ads on Facebook.
“Find out what they are looking for..[and] build a relationship with your audience”
– Dave Kerpen
The blogger or company can help dictate who it wants its reader to be by adding engaging content to a blog or adding tags and interests to each post. Is your target a 35-year-old mom in the suburbs who owns a bakery and is looking for new recipes for her game nights? Or, is it a 20-year-old college student looking for an article to read to procrastinate their homework? For a blog, you can decide if you want an article-specific target or a blog-specific topic, but keeping your targeting allows you to create a following of people who continually read your blog because the content continues to pull them in.
- Timing is everything.
Once you know who you want to target, think about the content they want to read. Then think about when they want to read it. For instance, if you are posting an article about a frustration you are having with your commute, post that article in the morning so that your readers can see it during breakfast or on the metro. Your traffic will increase if you are strategic with your post’s relevance.
- End with call to actions.
Getting someone to read your blog is only half the battle. A successful blog inspires readers to engage with the content and to share with their friends. Ending your article by calling your readers to perform a certain action is very powerful. For instance, if you write about a highly debated new law, ask your readers to comment with their own opinions. This gets readers involved and it gives them the power to have a voice on this opinion. If they formulate a comment, they will likely share it with their friends as well. What do you think of this idea?
- Don’t exhaust your networks.
The internet is an addiction that isn’t disappearing. People are online just to check emails for about 6 hours a day, but that doesn’t account for social media or anything else done online. Tony Schwartz writes about being “Addicted to Distraction” and even says that “nearly everyone I know is addicted in some measure to the Internet.” Schwartz has to consciously distance himself from the digital world even by making one vacation a year “digital-free.” But, even if people are on internet cleanses, there will always be a reader for a post. When you promote your articles online, you don’t have to exhaust your network every time you post. If you feel compelled to post an article on your Facebook wall one day, post the next article somewhere else. It’s important to keep your friends interested in your blog but make sure they aren’t annoyed by the amount of posts per week or day. The addiction to internet keeps enough people engaged to deliberately post some articles on Facebook walls and some articles elsewhere.
- Promote your articles.
After you write a blog post, it’s all about promoting it to the right group of people. This group of people can unite over topics ranging from university majors to their favorite outfit at Coachella. Finding a group to accept your article makes the article more powerful. For one of our past articles, we found a community that loved Christmas as much as we do, and we posted on their Facebook page. These little promotions can bring in a whole new audience to your blog!
On a more serious and important note, the #BlackLivesMatter movement has embraced communities within Twitter, Instagram, and other outlets, uniting people over a common thread. The movement has expanded from talking about what has happened to implementing change. The cohesion of just one topic in a group has made #BlackLivesMatter and so many other subjects even more powerful.
- Use all platforms differently.
Social media and the way people interact with others over different channels is constantly changing. As a blogger who is interested in marketing your blog across channels, make sure to understand what each channel is used for. Also, keep in mind what your readers are looking for on each channel. In Spreadable Media, author Henry Jenkins shares,
“Success in creating material people want to spread requires some attention to the patterns and motivations of media circulation, both of which are driven by the meanings people can draw from content.” (Jenkins 198)
This attention that Jenkins discusses is the intentionality behind understanding the needs of your readers. To gain a better understanding of what your readers truly want, conduct a simple test. For instance, if you identify Twitter as a promising channel for your blog but you don’t know what type of language to use, conduct an A/B test on your language. Post a more emotional tweet with a link to the article, and also post a tweet with very direct language. Keep other variables like time of day, article, and tweet length the same and see what your readers react to better. Once you optimize your presence on all of the different channels, your blog will truly have the potential to be more spreadable.
- Interact with other bloggers.
Blogging is, in it’s purest form, a freedom of speech. In the blogging world, there are countless mediums in which you can blog from. Of course there’s the giants like Tumblr, WordPress, and Medium, but there are also other options for bloggers. The beauty of blogging is that it isn’t as restrictive as other platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. For bloggers, there are less rules. But, in “An Open Letter to Mark Zuckerberg: Is Facebook a Human Right?”, scholar Jen Schradie points out that, “there exists a substantial social class divide between those who produce online content, whether for blogs or YouTube, and those who are not.”
While there is little research done to support or deny Schradie’s claim, it certainly is true to see the world of blogging as siloed. To combat this division and so bloggers can continue to use their freedom of speech, bloggers should carry on posting content they want to post and interacting with other bloggers. This form of freedom of speech gives bloggers access to an entirely new audience and results in the symbiotic relationships that blogging was made to inspire.
In the last 9 months we’ve learned how powerful blogging can be. It’s connected us with other bloggers, individuals on our campus, and activists who want to continue conversations we started. While at first the key to our success was our marketing skills, it quickly became our focus on the 7 key rules to managing a successful blog. This, combined with our newfound focus on content, drives our blog to new heights. Where will our blog take us next? You tell us.