This is a guest contribution from ProBlogger Expert Kelly Exeter.
So you’ve written an AMAZING blog post; one you know contains everything it needs to go viral:
- Irresistibly magnetic headline
- Compelling hook
- Content that addresses a genuine pain point for your readers
- Powerful storytelling
You put it out into the world and the response is … underwhelming. It completely fails to get any traction.
So where have you gone wrong?
Is it that the post isn’t as good as you first thought?
Well, maybe. But the reason is more likely to be this: distribution.
Or rather, lack of distribution.
What is distribution?
Distribution is your ability to get your amazing post in front of as many eyeballs as possible.
Why is distribution important if you want your post to go viral?
(And please note, when I say ‘viral’, I don’t necessarily mean millions of views. I simply mean a post that gets great traction and lots of shares – much more than the average post on your site.)
It’s because the more eyeballs you get on your post, the more likely that either:
1. A very influential person is going to see it and share it with their followers and/or
2. You’ll reach that magical ‘tipping point’ where your share count suddenly starts to tick over at a mad rate.
So how DO we get more eyeballs on our posts?
Glad you asked. These eight strategies are a great place to start!
1. Share it many times across your social media properties
We tend to share a blog post only once on social media because we don’t want to ‘bombard’ our followers. The problem with this is, if you get the timing wrong it will quickly fade into oblivion and no one will see it. The other reason for posting the same post several times is that followers of yours might see it at a time where they’re not able to engage with it … but the second or third time, they might be in a better position to do so. Also, posting several times allows you to experiment with different hooks and headlines as some will work better than others in driving traffic.
Take this Copyblogger post by Brian Clark. It was shared on the Copyblogger Twitter account eight times over the course of three days (using different hooks and headlines as you can see below). The first time it was tweeted, it got three retweets and one like. By the time it was shared eight times, the retweet number was up to 44. The difference in eyeballs between three re-tweets and 44? Thousands.
ACTION ITEM: If you’ve written a post you know is really solid, make sure you share it several times across all your social media properties over the course of 2-3 days.
2. Give the post an initial boost on Facebook
Sometimes you share your post on Facebook and, because the timing is ever so slightly wrong, it fails to gain immediate traction. (We all know how crucial it is to get immediate engagement on Facebook otherwise it quickly disappears from the newsfeed.) If you have a post that you KNOW is killer, keep a close eye on it when you first post it on Facebook. If it doesn’t get immediate engagement (and you know you’ve posted it at a time that usually does), then Boost the post to your followers.
Sam Jockel did just that when she shared this article to the School Mum Facebook page. She knew the article was both good, and carried an important message – one that would (and should) be shared widely. But when first posted it didn’t get traction. So she boosted it and only a few dollars were spent before the article took off as expected. As you can see from the image below, the post reached 197,000 people and the paid reach (the dark yellow part of the line) was a tiny fraction of the organic reach.
ACTION ITEM: Share your post to Facebook in a timeslot you know usually allows for immediate traction – but keep an eye on it. If it doesn’t take off, boost it … and then keep a further eye on it for a few hours. You should only need to spend a few dollars to determine if the post is as good as you think it is.
BONUS TIP: If you’re convinced your post is killer but it doesn’t take off after a boost, try sharing and boosting it again, but with a different headline.
3. Send the post to influential people (outreach)
When Em Hawker shared her kidney health story on her blog, it got traction, but only on par with most other posts on her site. Then she shared it with Kidney Health Australia. They tweeted it and shared it on their Facebook page and from there it was shared widely by hospitals, doctors and patients in both Australia and the US.
When Digital Photography School (dPS) was in its infancy, Darren Rowse often shared his posts with influential blogs in the hope they’d share it with their followers or link to it in a post. In 2007 he pitched this one to Strobist who was, at the time, a fellow medium-sized photography blog. After Strobist linked to him, Darren pitched the same post again, this time to Lifehacker (pointing to where Strobist had linked up for extra credibility). As a result of both those sites linking to his post, Darren noticed it started getting traffic from Digg.com, StumbleUpon and Delicious
He went on to repeat this strategy over the course of that first year and a pattern emerged: he’d get a link or two on medium sites, then larger sites, then social bookmarking traffic (Digg.com etc) would follow.
ACTION ITEM: You do have to be careful with this method – you don’t want to be annoying. But let’s say you write a post talking about how Gretchen Rubin’s book changed your life. If you share that post with Gretchen you never know … she might just share it with her 200,000 followers.
You might also notice a popular blogger or personality has recently written about the same topic you cover in your post. You can drop them an email and let them know that your post expands on, or was influenced by, the topic they’ve just written about. And again, you never know, they might just share it with their followers.
4. Summarise your post in an infographic
If you’ve written a long and detailed post why not try summarising the main points from it in an infographic? Infographics are brilliant for Pinterest and they’re also great for outreach. They’re something visual that people can quickly and easily share from both their blog and social properties, and those shares should drive people back to your blog to read the more detailed information (if you’ve made sure the url of your post is also on the infographic image).
ACTION ITEM: Infographics might seem like scary and expensive things to produce, but they’re not. Simply pull out the main points of your post then engage someone on Fiverr to arrange them in a visually appealing way. (You can even do it yourself). Then reach out to people whose communities might benefit from the information in the post and see if they want to share your infographic with their followers.
5. Create a Slideshare presentation
In the same way you can summarise your post in an infographic, you can also summarise it in a Slideshare presentation. I did this with a post of mine that was quite popular and it got some really strong views plus sent some good traffic back to my site. Learn from my mistakes however – I basically gave away the entire post in the presentation so there was no real reason for people to click through to my website to read it in full! Just give the highlights of your post so the person flicking through your presentation feels compelled to head to your site for the more detailed version.
ACTION ITEM: Create a visually appealing Powerpoint presentation where the slides outline the key points from your post. Ensure there is a link back to the full post at the end of the presentation, and then upload to Slideshare.
6. Make sure the image in your post is attractive to pinners
Pinterest is second only to Facebook when it comes to driving traffic to websites worldwide and quite often a post only goes crazy after the image in it goes nuts on Pinterest. This post of mine started to get heaps of traffic a few months after it went live thanks to the image at the bottom being shared 5000 times on Pinterest.
The image from this Merrymakers post has been pinned 7000 times and helped contribute to the massive 44,000 shares that post has received.
ACTION ITEM: If you’ve taken the infographic route mentioned in point number four above, then you’re covered. If not, simply open Canva, create an attractive image that is taller than it is wide, and embed that in your post. You don’t have to be super fancy about them.
7. Re-post on Medium and LinkedIn
We’ve all become so frightened of duplicating our content – fearful that Google will slap us with a big penalty for doing so. But Google is smarter than that you guys. It’s very safe to repost your content on Medium and LinkedIn (so long as your name is attached to that content) and those two platforms are a great way of getting additional attention for your words – especially if you catch the eye of the people on those two platforms who decide which content gets highlighted.
On Medium, it’s really important to get picked up by one of their publications (curated lists of articles under a particular topic umbrella). On LinkedIn, getting the attention of the right people might see you featured on the front page of the site or featured in one of their Pulse categories.
ACTION ITEM: This post goes into amazing detail about how to get noticed on Medium so all I can say is read it, then choose an existing post of yours that you think would benefit from republishing there … and make sure there is a link back to your original post at the bottom. (Something like ‘This post first appeared on My Website Name. For more great articles like this make sure to visit myweburl.com’.) On LinkedIn – many people I know have had great success posting the first half of their post, or a pared down version of their post and then pushing people to the post on their site for the full version like I’ve done here.
8. Share your post in Facebook and LinkedIn groups you are part of
This is another one where you need to be very careful else you could be perceived as being spammy. But most Facebook groups I am part of allow people to share blog posts in the group that are genuinely useful to the rest of the community. In fact, a friend of mine often gets on the front foot with this by asking members of various groups she is part of for thoughts and ideas around a topic she is writing about. That way, once the post is written, she knows there will be genuine interest around her post in those groups since many of the group members feature in them.
ACTION ITEM: As I said above, please don’t be spammy with this. But if you’ve written a post that would be genuinely useful to a group you are part of on Facebook on LinkedIn, share the post with that group (so long as that kind of sharing is within the guidelines of that group). You might get lucky and not even need to share the post yourself. I’ve heard of a few instances where a Thermomix-related post was shared in large Thermomix groups on Facebook and went ballistic. Same with certain Thermomix recipes. (In fact, maybe there’s the secret to going viral right there – just write about Thermomixes ☺ )
The final word: It’s never too late to start
Remember, just because your awesome post hasn’t gotten traction straight away, that doesn’t mean it’s dead in the water forever – especially if its topic is an evergreen one.
Most of the strategies I’ve outlined here can be applied to any post and once you’ve worked your way through the above, you can safely say you’ve done everything in your power to get as many eyeballs on your post as possible.
If your post is as awesome as you think, those eyeballs should take care of the rest!