If you’ve spent one hour or ten hours creating a piece of content, then here’s the Golden Rule: Spend at least that same amount of time promoting it! What’s the point of creating great content if you’re not sure how your audience will find it? This isn’t Field of Dreams here people – if you build it, they will come – but only when you point them in the right direction!
Inbound marketing, the art of helping your ideal customers to find you through content, depends on two primary components:
- Genuinely useful content
- Promoting the heck out of it
Sure, it’s more complicated than that, with buyer personas and sales funnels and metrics. But without this foundation, you won’t get very far. Many businesses don’t have a staff writer (which this writer thinks is a shame!) and don’t have much time to create content. If you can create just two original, great pieces of content per month – you can leverage them for more page views and more leads. Here's how.
START BY FOCUSING ON QUALITY
If you only have to publish one piece of content every other week, then you can spend a little more time making each one high quality. High quality means that you are adding a new, vital piece of information to the conversation (not just regurgitating something someone else already wrote).
Why this works:
Focusing on quality, rather than quantity, means that you’re positioning yourself as a trusted expert in your field. With each post and publication, you’re building your reputation and forming a relationship with potential leads
How this works:
Use your expertise and experience as a topic guide, or if you aren’t an expert on your industry, interview those who are. Here’s a content recipe I like to use for fun, engaging blog posts:
Anecdote that tells the story of what the blog post will be about. Make it fun, make it personal, make it a story that leads into the idea.
Introduce your idea – a How-To, a 10-Step Guide, you get the idea.
Develop your idea, make your list.
A short, sweet sign-off, preferably with a call to action for your reader to follow your blog (or Facebook page, or Twitter feed) for more useful tips.
Of course, it’s going to be different for whitepapers, case studies, case use studies, and other downloadable assets, but what remains the same is this: Write what you know.
Develop Your Promotion Strategy
While we advocate a 1:1 time ratio of creating content to publicizing it, another rule many inbound marketers support is this: Spend 10% of your time writing content, and 90% of your time promoting it.
The central idea, we think, is the same: You’re probably not promoting your content enough. So let’s fix that.
The cheapest, easiest way to promote your content is through social media. But first you have to determine which social media your potential leads use most. Who are your Buyer Personas? Are they on Facebook? Twitter? LinkedIn? The answer depends on your industry and demographics. Use the social media channels that are most appropriate to YOUR CUSTOMERS – not just your favorite ones.
If you’re on Hubspot, sharing new content across all channels is as easy as turning “On” the auto-share function under the Social Media tab. Every time a new blog post comes up, it will be insta-blasted to your preferred channels (there are Wordpress apps that perform similar functions). But don’t stop there. You’ll want to schedule follow-up posts using your social media scheduler also.
Posting frequency varies between channels. As a rule:
- Post on Facebook 1-3 times a day, 7 days a week
- Post on Twitter 10+ times a day, no more than 1 per hour, less on weekends
- Post on LinkedIn no more than once a day, 5 days a week
- Post on Google+ twice a day, no weekends
That’s a lot of posting, but you don’t have to follow this “rule” to the letter. Just know that Twitter can take the most posts, Facebook a few posts, LinkedIn less posts, and Google+ is only read by Google. (Kidding Google! Don’t hurt me)
Now, posting content onto your social media channels is pretty straightforward – the first time. But when you’re heavily promoting a piece, you’ll be posting the same blog link multiple times throughout the week. For each subsequent post, switch up the messaging by mentioning something you found particularly useful, or surprising, or funny about the post. Engage with copy and with your audience. Have some fun with it!
Possibly the easiest thing you can do to get your content on social media is to simply add “Share” buttons to your blog posts (little Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ icons readers can click to share your post with their followers). This works best when you already have a lot of followers, but if you don’t, we recommend companies encourage their employees, interns, friends and neighbors to share content on their individual feeds – at least while you’re building your foundation of readers.
Once you have your social media list, let’s look at possible communities.
LinkedIn’s communities and blogging capability is a new way to reach professionals who may be interested in your services or products – but don’t try to sell anything outright. Social media in general, and LinkedIn in particular, isn’t the place for advertisements. But, nothing beats social media for relationship-building.
Does your industry, or the industries of your target audience, have forums? If your latest blog or whitepaper topic addresses a question someone has on these sites, then it’s usually okay to post a link to it. Do make sure that your content actually answers the question though – forum participants can smell marketing a mile away and they don’t like it! Many forums prohibit advertising in any form.
Other Promotional Opportunities
- Email Marketing is a great way to get readers’ attentions. But crafting effective email marketing strategies based on buyer personas and sales funnels is whole other post.
- You can also run a pay-per-click campaign if you have a piece of really great content that you spent a time perfecting, like an eBook.
- Newsletters are far from dead. In fact, in a recent “Ask Me Anything” with inbound thought leader, Lincoln Murphy, he defended the usefulness of the newsletter as a content promotor, saying:
"Most blogs that have a ton of traffic (and social shares) do so because they have a newsletter that they use to promote their content. Yeah, maybe they didn’t start out that way, but they used the blog (and still do) to grow the list, and then used the list to promote the blog. Circular. . . . And yeah, they tweet and share on Facebook or whatever. But that captive, owned audience on their mailing list is a huge asset for promoting their content. That said, the old school way of sending a monthly newsletter that’s all about me or our company is played out. But a monthly email that shares content and adds value is still super well-received."
- Guest posts on other people’s sites are one of the best ways to build your audience, but there’s a trick to making these posts even more effective. When you guest post, include a pertinent link to a post already published on your own blog within the guest post text. Ultimately, you want people looking at your site, rather than your words on someone else’s site.
By using content and social media together, you’ll generate traffic and increase qualified leads over time. Don’t expect immediate results or sudden rises in numbers – those happen, but usually it’s the slow-steady turtle pace.
THE MOST IMPORTANT THING
Don’t forget that your content has to do two jobs simultaneously, and equally well:
- Your content has to be informative/fun/interesting/compelling.
- Your content has to lead viewers further through your sales funnel.
With that in mind, end each blog post with a Call To Action, like this.
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