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!
Love the influencer and Facebook and G Plus Group notes. Good money on them as I link to top bloggers thru all my posts – guest and to my blog – and see nice pop with every post I published.
I link to 2-3 or more successful bloggers through all posts I publish. This inspires said bloggers to share the post across their social networks, expanding my reach as I expand theirs, both parties helping one another.
As for Facebook Groups I spotted 20 plus Likes on a share thru the Blogging Boost Group the other day. I usually get 4 or 5 which is solid but sharing I’d been featured on Fox News and Entrepreneur created massive pop in the group for the post. Sweetness.
Thanks for sharing Kelly :)
Such a pleasure Ryan – and yeah – getting the mentions from those big Facebook sites – very handy!
Love this post Kelly, and super handy for me right now. I’d forgotten about Linked In and wanted to try medium too.
Do you recommend Outbrain or Taboola at all?
I don’t know about Taboola but I am unconvinced by Outbrain’s usefulness in this regard. I think Outbrain benefits more than the blogger xx
Promoting a blog post has always been a potential work to do. The bloggers need to understand the proper use of the social media networks.
Sharing the same post, again and again, can be good only if you choose the right time to share. I have noticed many users who just bombard with their numerous shares.
Using Facebook can be really effective.
Glad to read this article.
Yes, traffic tactics are important, but they in no way compare to understanding what’s going on in the minds of readers. Most of the bloggers think that they need to be a highly skilled designer to create an infographic, which is not entirely true. These days there are many online Infographic maker sites are there to help users to create Infographics for our blog post. I agree with your all beneficial keys they are really valuable to satisfy the subject. Eventually, thanks for sharing your worthy information with us.
With best regards,
Timing is very important as far as sharing of a blog post is concerned. It’s a great idea to repeat the social posts sharing with varying titles to grab attention. Thanks for sharing.
Timing is so important I am going to write a whole post on just that one :O)
The idea to re-share / retweet it a few times over the course of 2-3 days is really great. It doens’t take a lot of time and really expand the site’s reach!
I personally like to comment right on the post, but I can see where Copy Blogger was coming from consider they have such a HUGE audience and likely an impressive amount of spam. I do really like the idea of a LinkedIn discussion so that the comments are all organized.
I feel good that I have this read this amazing post this early morning. Crafting a nice post can be done by anyone but making it viral would take a lot of efforts.
Social media is an amazing place to distribute our helpful content and yes, it is essential to design an image that is pinnable by our followers.
I 100% agree with your viewpoints on the Infographics. I have recently published a detailed post with Infograph and I used Pictochart for it.
Blogger outreach is important to make our content viral and I’ll try to use the sources that you have listed in the post.
Thanks for contributing the wonderful blog post for us, I have bookmarked it for the future reference.
This is an incredibly useful post, thank you. However, can I be cheeky and ask why it doesn’t have an eminently pinnable image its own?
I have been wondering if resharing and retweeting posts several times over a few days was really a good idea, so thanks for validating that for me! I am always afraid of appearing spammy or over eager, but I know people will benefit from reading my posts!
Any tips for determining the best times to share?
It’s so daunting when first thinking about promotion because you don’t want to come off as a spammer, but everyone else is doing it, right? Plus, you should be proud of your work to the point of shouting it to the world. I message people and reps of places that I wrote about after publishing, and I usually get a great response. Even if it’s sometimes days or weeks afterward, I love seeing that notification pop up that my post has been shared by a tourism board or official page.
I honestly hadn’t thought about Slideshare, Kelly, and noticed that its built-into Linkedin now. I might give it a look. Thanks for the suggestion and great post here!
Hi Kelly, the post is really valuable to get people read our blog posts, but I’ve some questions –
1. So far I know that posting same thing again and again on Facebook may be considered as spamming. Is it right?
2. I’ve tested SlideShare, but they’re trying to give less exposure over time. I mean if you upload a presentation today, the view will be lessened gradually. Is it a problem of SlideShare?
3. How can I share on FB groups as most admins don’t allow promotional links?
Hope I’ll get answered soon.
Thanks in advance
One of the hardest things to do is to capture your readers to read your blog. Thanks for the great tips!
I keep following the timing also. Still suffering with the google ranking. Please suggest.
Fantastic reminders, thank you! I’ve been slack to publish on LinkedIn. So this morning after reading this I was motivated to log in and publish my first blog post there. I think I’ll probably write some posts unique to LinkedIn, though. And see how this goes.
Thanks for the push!!
Thanks blog author for posting such a excellent post, which would become new guidelines for newbies. Really timing is very important to enrich blog writing attention. Viral content definitely would be sharing at several social media sites. Right now social signal is too important to search engine giant Google.
thanks for all the tips!
Great Post. I believe, there are two ways to make your blog post go Viral – one is tough & other one is really easy. The tough one is to Write good & lengthy content. Trust me none of them would have ever done so. Easy is write something which no one would like to read. Don’t lie to your audience, Don’t manipulate, Don’t get biased.
Great post with really useful content. Will definitely incorporating these actions into our strategy. Cheers!
Nice article. Good distribution surely will take a lot of visitors in your blog. Re-sharing/re-tweeting you’re blog in as many in you social Medias is a very big factor. The more you expose it the more people in net will notice it.
great article.. Really useful. but can services be promoted by viral marketing?