You've heard it before: every business needs a blog. If you want people to find your website and care about your company, blogging is the trick. So business after business has started publishing content and maybe even hired writers or agencies to produce content of a high quality. Yet still the visitors don’t come.
The content is good. It answers your prospects’ questions and addresses their concerns. It’s well written and entertaining. But no one seems to be reading it.
If quality and relevance aren’t the problem, what could possibly be going wrong?
A lot of businesses, even ones that are pretty savvy about content marketing, skip the promotion step. Or underdo it.
You can’t just create a few social media profiles, link out to your posts, and be done with it. If you want people to see the content you’re creating, there has to be more to it.
Content promotion can take many forms. The list below leaves off paid promotion and blog optimization strategies that can both be important parts of the promotion puzzle. But the most important components to getting your content to a wider audience all go back to making and utilizing authentic connections.
Good content promotion is a mix of social media, PR and influencer marketing, and includes many activities that overlap between the three. In every suggestion provided below, authenticity and relevance are paramount. People are tired of seeing businesses and the people behind them fake it online to get more attention or publicity. Don’t be that guy.
Be willing to put in the time to make real connections with the people that matter in your industry and audience. It’s slow, but it pays off.
1. Use social media (for more than just direct promotion)
Your social media use can’t be all about you. It has to be interactive. Follow the 80/20 rule—make 80 percent of what you share about helping others and only 20 percent about promoting your own business. Your end goal shouldn’t just be about followers and traffic; you want people to see your name and think “Oh yeah, they’re always sharing something worthwhile.”
Sharing and interacting as a general rule on social media is good, but to be really strategic about it, you should:
Participate in communities
Relevant Twitter chats, LinkedIn Groups, Google+ communities and all the comparable groupings of people on the various other social networks you might participate in are a good place to get on people’s radar. Research the communities your target audiences are a part of and which ones the influencers in your industry frequent.
Keep an eye on what people are saying so you can join the conversation and contribute something of value. You can promote your own content in these contexts, but don’t make that all you share.
Interact with influencers
Identify the active influencers in your space (the people your audience is following and trusts) and create opportunities to interact with them. Again, be authentically. You can share their work, reply to their questions, or point out other articles you think would be of interest to them. You want them to see you as a helpful resource first, if you ever want them to see you (or your work) as something worth promoting later.
2. Guest post
The people who already know and trust your brand know where to find your content. It’s the people who could benefit from your products and services, but don’t know about you yet, you need to get noticed by. If you can figure out what blogs they’re reading and, more to the point, which of them accept guest posts, you’ll identify a great opportunity for bringing new readers to your content.
Now, guest posting isn’t easy. You need to research and familiarize yourself with the blog you’re targeting, figure out a topic that falls into the intersection of what they cover and what you know and, at the end of the day, you may still be rejected. But strategic guest posting can help raise your profile in the community you’re trying to tap into and bring you new readers, so the payoff can be worth the trouble.
3. Network in-person
Yes, we’re still talking about digital content promotion here, but in-real-life relationships often extend to the online space. If someone you’ve had a few drinks and bonded with launches a new business, you’re probably going to share the news, right?
Having a few online interactions with someone means something. But having a long conversation with that same person at a conference or getting into a playful argument at a local meetup—that’s more memorable. If there’s a shortcut to that larger goal of creating and nurturing online connections, it’s spending some time with them in person.
You may be surprised how many of the influencers in your industry take time to follow and respond to comments on their blogs. Any blog you follow that’s relevant to your industry or audience could be a good opportunity for making some new online connections.
When you have something meaningful to say, leave a comment. If you leave memorable comments often enough, people following the blogs you’re commenting on will start to recognize your name and might be inclined to check out the stuff on your site. One comment here and you won’t accomplish much—we’re playing a long game here, remember? Building up a body of valuable comments in different relevant places online over time is what will get you noticed.
If people start to see you as a valuable member of the larger community, they’ll be more likely to follow and interact with you online.
Content marketing is one of those rare areas in life where doing all those moral things you learned in elementary school are actually the best way to get ahead. Nobody wants to hear you talk about yourself all the time, but if you share a blog post someone in your community created (especially if it’s someone without a huge audience), they’ll notice and appreciate it.
If you help get a conversation going around a topic someone else wrote about on LinkedIn, you’re providing benefit to the community and giving a nod to someone else who’s been trying to get their content in front of a larger audience. There’s no guarantee that sharing someone else’s work will result in your work getting more attention – it’s not a direct cause-and-effect type situation. But all the work you do to help other people out won’t go entirely unnoticed.
Content promotion is a big topic. You may find other approaches that work better for you and your business than those listed here. At this point in time though, with the sheer volume of content vying for consumers’ attention, you won’t get far without doing something to make your content easier for people to find. The extra plus side of a promotion strategy that emphasizes connections is that while it’s meant to help you spread your content, it just may earn you new friends, too.
Kristen Hicks is a freelance content writer with specialties in content marketing and education. Check out her blog at Austin Copywriter, or follow her @atxcopywriter