25 simple tactics to maximize reach of your great content
This article was originally published on Thinkdigital.dk, but has now found a new home here.
You have already discovered that pushy sales copy on your website is becoming less effective at attracting visitors and converting them into customers. As a consequence you have asked your staff to spend more time on content marketing.
Recently one of your bright employees published an informative and very helpful guide on your website.
You were expecting the guide to become an immediate hit and drag in scores of visitors and potential customers.
But it didn’t.
In the below guide Nikolaj Astrup Madsen, Mikael Rieck, Morten Vadskær, Henrik Bondtofte and I will give you 25 examples of what you can do to get your company’s great content reach your target groups. Pay attention to the word “great”. These tips will only work if you actually invest time and effort into producing content that is truly relevant and valuable for your target audience. Most of the examples are relevant regardless of whether your company is selling physical products or professional services.
I have grouped the examples into two categories:
- Items 1 to 14 should be done BEFORE you publish your content
- Item 15 to 25 should be done AFTER your have published your content
Do not try to implement all 25 ideas in one go. Pick your favourites and start with them.
1 – Build a strong network yesterday
Good relationships with other industry stakeholders (such as suppliers, industry media, experts, educational institutions, private associations, public organisations and even your competitors) will often prove very valuable when you want people to learn about and read your great content.
Make sure to nourish your industry network at any given opportunity. Like your suppliers’ Facebook pages, share the expert’s new blog post, promote the industry association’s events and provide input whenever the public organisation needs it.
Chances are high that your favours will be returned when you have good content to share.
2 – Identify stakeholders that share interests with you
When you have decided on the topic of your new guide, blog post, article or video I suggest that you identify industry stakeholders that share interests with you.
You sell high-quality FSC-certified wooden floors and have decided to write a guide that explains what FSC means and why FSC-certified products carry a premium price.
Your supplier that imports the timber is an obvious stakeholder, but so is your country’s branch of WWF (World Wildlife Fund) and the politician that talks a lot about environmental issues as part of his or her re-election campaign.
Try to incorporate their input and quotes into your material. If you do it right, it provides value to your audience and you make new friends that have a direct interest in sharing your content.
3 – Ask industry experts for their contributions
Most industries have one or more experts that are known for their extensive knowledge about a certain topic. It will boost the quality of your content if you can persuade one or more notabilities to provide input for the piece of content that you are working on. Unless their contribution takes a lot of time to prepare and hand over to you, such work is often free of charge. You are indirectly paying them by promoting “their” content and strengthening their expert position.
Your links to their website or social media profiles are also valuable for them.
If you have a hard time finding an industry expert that knows more about the topic than you, then others are hopefully already approaching you for input. If not, draw up a plan for how to claim the “expert” position within your line of business through a steady flow of great content.
4 – Write for humans and optimize for search engines
In the past few years search engines such as Google have become better at recognizing valuable and trustworthy content and therefore the importance of keyword analysis has decreased.
Even in 2014 you, however, still need to consider your choice of words. Fit the exact words and phrases that you would like to found on neatly into your content. Pay special attention to your page title and subheaders. Catchy page titles are great, but make sure that it makes sense for both Google and your target audience.
The title “5 great reasons for buying FSC-certified wooden floors” is better than “Save the orangutan” if you want your FSC guide to be found by people searching for information about FSC-certified wooden floors.
5 – Get your best headline on
Successful Danish Internet marketer Mikael Rieck from Antphilosophy.com has extensive experience with promotion of online content. Mikael reminds us of the fact that people will never read your content and start sharing and linking to it, unless your headline is so compelling that people cannot resist clicking on it.
Writing successful headlines is an art, which can be learned and mastered. Mikael recommends this free e-book on writing great headlines.
6 – Add alternative media formats
In addition to the online version of your content, you should consider converting your content into other media formats.
If your guide or blog post contains a lot of tables or data, consider including a downloadable Excel sheet with all your data. This makes it possible for people to easily view and edit your data if they want to. It’s definitely not always relevant, but sometimes a PDF, Excel or .CSV version of your content makes a lot of sense.
Make sure that the download file includes a link back to the source URL (and add Google campaign tracking to the link so you can see that it actually brings in traffic).
If you have made a long article without too many visuals, you could also consider having a speaker turn it into a podcast or audio format. That might also attract a new audience, mentions and links.
7 – Remember those links to other websites
Many established companies are hesitant about linking out from their website to other websites.
Surely the visitor that you pass on might forget to return to your website, but the majority of your visitors will actually appreciate that your care more about their information need than your immediate desire to retain the visitor.
Make sure to link out to content on other websites when it makes sense for your reader. This will likely benefit you in at least three ways.
- Your visitor thinks more positively of you.
- The other website might return your favour later on.
- It’s easier for Google to understand the context of your own content and show your page to the right Google users
8 – Place your social buttons with care
Even people that like your content are unlikely to share it on Facebook, Google+, Twitter or another social media unless you make social sharing a breeze:
- Make sure to place your share and like buttons in carefully selected positions. Optimal placement varies so you need to experiment with different positions and calls to action and then use your web analytics data to identify the winning combination.
- A good starting point is placing a set of social media buttons at the end of your content, so they are seen when people are done reading your article.
- Rather than using “Share this article” as the header for this section you should think along the lines of “Help your friends by sharing this article now”, “Do you like this article?”, “Want us to write more guides? – Show us that you like this one”.
Read more about how to set up and customize social media buttons in this article.
9 – Add a collection of links
While researching for your new content masterpiece, you have likely surfed the web and bookmarked several interesting websites along your way.
Articles or guides that contain a list of links to related content or other websites of interest to the audience are more likely to become linked to and bookmarked themselves.
If your guide or article contains a curated list of links to other high-quality information about the topic then chances are high that visitors will bookmark your URL and return later.
10 – Add a bit of bling to your content
Morten Vadskær (founder of the lean e-commerce platform Shoporama) encourages you to make your content really stand out and gives you this example of simple but awesome content – http://i.imgur.com/9pqy9pZ.gif
11 – Calculators attract links and visitors
Another great way to attract links and visitors is to include an interactive “calculator” in your content. Morten mentions this Martingale system probability calculator (in Danish) as an example.
12 – Skip your sales pitch
You have always been told to make your website’s “call to action” very clear and explicit to make sure that potential customers buy your product, call you or fill out your contact form.
If your content is great, then I would advice you to cut away all explicit pledges at the end of your article begging people to buy your great product.
The goodwill that accumulates while people read your great guide would rapidly start to deteriorate if you decide to openly reveal your real intentions for “helping” your readers.
Also your visitors are considerably less inclined to share or link to your content if it closes off with a sales pitch.
13 – Google Rich Snippets, Facebook Open Graph and Twitter Cards
When people share your great content you want to maximize the rippling effect. Make sure to optimize sharing by taking advantage of Google Rich Snippets, Twitter Cards and Facebook Open Graph. Also remember to have your web designer find or create an awesome image that encourages sharing and clicking.
The below post on Twitter is likely to catch attention and clicks.
So is this Amazon.com post on Facebook
Whereas this low-quality image and random excerpt is not doing anything good for this Danish school that tries to attract website visitors from Facebook.
Skim through your own Facebook, Google+, Twitter and LinkedIn feeds and the Google search results. My guess is that you will find plenty of examples where the selection of preview image and social sharing meta tags can be vastly improved.
Read more about Google Rich Snippets at https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/99170?hl=en
Read more about Facebook Open Graph and Twitter Cards at http://www.quicksprout.com/2013/03/25/social-media-meta-tags-how-to-use-open-graph-and-cards/
Read more about the Open Graph Protocol at http://ogp.me/
14 – Prepare a rollout plan
If you have a background as a media planner, then carefully timing the rollout of new content is natural to you. Personally, I’m still struggling with orchestrating the optimal rollout of new blog posts across various digital channels. Usually my personal master plan for rolling out new content looks roughly like this:
- Compile a list of close business connections (usually my nearest colleagues or close friends) whom I can rely on a 100% to share my content with their online networks
- Give them a heads-up on when I’m going to publish my content and how they can help me optimize reach if they do their social sharing more or less according to schedule defined by me. This only works with your closest network and if you’re very polite
- Prepare draft newsletter
- Prepare the teaser text that will I include when posting links to my new content on my social media profiles (you might not notice it, but I really try to find the optimal wording for each social channel)
- Press “publish” on the main piece of content
- Check that the published version looks just as great as in preview mode
- Check (again) that all internal and external links are alive
- Send out the newsletter (including a short note that the reader is among the very first to read this content, as this usually prompt several shares on social media)
- Push the content out through Think! Digital’s Google+ page (as we have a desire to give our presence on G+ an extra boost)
- Tell my closest business connections that the content is live and remind them of the plan
- Wait another while (anything from a few hours to several days) and then publish it on Think! Digital’s Facebook page
- Wait another while and then share the Think! Digital G+ post with my personal network
- Share the content with my LinkedIn network. I usually include a remark that so and so many people have already read or liked the content, in an attempt to cut through the clutter in the LinkedIn news stream
- Allow anarchy to kick in again
Depending on your line of business the optimal plan for rolling out your content can look very different. The key point is that you shouldn’t push the “publish” before you have planned your subsequent moves.
15 – Ping!
Nearly all social media platforms allow you to “ping” people. If you reference a specific company or person in your content then you should always consider “pinging” the social media profile of that company or person. This will ensure that the referenced profile becomes aware of your mention. Maybe they want to share your content themselves? Quite often they do.
Usually you “ping” by writing @ and then the handle.
I have attached an example below:
16 – Piggyback on popular hash tags
Whenever you promote your new content on social media you should consider adding one or more #hashtags. This will increase the reach of your post as quite a few people explore new content by browsing through hashtags. If large players within your industry are using a specific hashtag for their social media posts you should consider piggybacking on those.
17 – Don’t be afraid to push your content more than once
My fellow Dane Nikolaj Astrup Madsen from Ateo.dk recommends sharing the same piece of content more than once on your own social media channels. There is a lot of content in most people’s streams and it drops out of view fast. Nikolaj sometimes follows a strategy of posting before noon with a repeat around 10 p.m. and then again the following day. Each time the wording of the post gets twisted a bit to potentially attract a new audience.
18 – Write something nice
Morten Vadskær has improved his own reach by posting positive feedback about companies and individuals on his own social media profiles. If you tweet something nice about a company, make sure to “ping” the company to increase your odds of a retweet. Most companies, even the large ones, cannot resist sharing a positive testimonial. If you twist it correctly you can include a link to your own content.
19 – Be kind to other webmasters and you might get a reward
When your new content is online and the amount of social likes and shares proves to everybody that it’s actually great content, you should consider expanding your search for people who might share or link to your content.
Do a Google search for related keywords or topics (you should consider using advanced search operators). Identify webmasters who already link out from their website to websites like yours. Check their website for dead links. If you find a dead link then you have a golden opportunity to write or call the webmaster and make him or her aware of the dead link. Use the occasion to mention your new guide, article or video. Often you will get a link. Even if you cannot find a dead link on the other website you might get a link anyway, if you ask politely and your content is great.
20 – Hire a PR consultant
Mentions and links from well-reputed online media can bring in loads of traffic and give your content a boost in the search engine results pages. Getting the attention of busy journalists can, however, be a pretty tricky task. I have managed to attract some great links from large Danish websites, but 90% of them were pure luck or obtained with the help of a PR consultant.
When you set your budget for your next content marketing project you should consider setting aside money for hiring in a PR consultant that can help you find the optimal angle and give you access to the journalists or editors that decide which stories to run.
21 – Link building
Even though your content is so great that it will attract incoming links by its own merits, Danish SEO wizard Henrik Bondtofte from Bondtofte.dk suggests that you still do some initial link building yourself. You want a quick boost to your content’s search engine visibility to get more of those natural links. Your own “not-so-high-quality” links can be removed later on when you have acquired sufficient natural links.
22 – Boost your content with Facebook Ads
Stop allocating most of your Facebook ad spend towards your very sales-focused posts that link directly to your current offers. Try boosting your least pushy posts. Those where you share your great content that focus on building trust and educating your customers rather than selling.
Facebook and other social media are NOT about selling here and now. It’s about building a loyal audience and turning fans into ambassadors. That pays off, not today, but in the long run.
If your target audience is active on Facebook and you have spent 10.000 EUR on producing a great piece of new content, then set aside say 1.000 EUR for boosting that content on Facebook with Facebook ads.
Online expert Henrik Bondtofte suggests that you try out interest-based targeting when setting up your Facebook campaigns.
23 – Use banner or display advertising
Henrik has also boosted reach of his own content using traditional online banner advertising on niche websites visited by his target group. Setting up a targeted display campaign on the Google Ad network is also a relevant option.
24 – Leveraging social media monitoring tools
If two people are having a conversation, it would be rude of you to interrupt their dialogue with a irrelevant comment. However, if two or more persons are using their social media profiles for semi-personal discussions it is usually considered OK even for a commercial business to chip in with a comment, IF the comment adds value to the conversion.
If you sell FSC-certified floors you should consider using a social media monitoring tool (for instance Meltwater and Komfo.com) to identify on-going online conversions where you posting a link to your new FSC-guide would add value.
25 – Remind people to like and share your content
If you have put considerable effort into producing great content, many people will find your Like or Share buttons by themselves. However, don’t be afraid to suggest visitors to like or share your content. Asking for a bit of social love is only a sign of despair if your content is crappy.
Remember what I wrote about great content?
Mastering the above 25 techniques for improving reach of your content will help you grow your online business. Fiddling with Open Graph protocols or researching popular hashtags should however never take priority over producing great content that attracts and engages your target audience. Do not try to embrace all 25 tricks at once. Pick the ones that are most appropriate for your line of business. Your successes will motivate you to return to this list and take action on the remaining ideas.
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