3 Steps to Get (and Engage) a Content Audience
You create great content. It’s insightful, exclusive, new and professionally done.
But you’re still struggling for readership. Still struggling for engagement.
You’re not alone.
This article will give you 3 tips to get and engage readers. I’ll discuss the two main strategies I use to increase content reach, and follow it up with the best tactic to encourage that readership to act on your behalf, and share your content across their own online communities.
1. Marketing yourself to Influencers
This is a distinction that I think is important: You don’t market your content to influencers. You market yourself.
I mean, of course your content has to be of a certain standard before many influencers will respond, but after that standard is reached it’s all about the way you approach those influencers - and what you’re asking.
Here’s Forbes’ Top 4 Influencers from late last year (have you approached any of this list?)
Here are a few guidelines you need to follow:
1. Don’t cold-call influencers: Don’t start your relationship with an ‘ask’. Instead, find ways to work your way into their social community:
Follow them on social and see where they’re engaging.
Comment on their own blog articles.
Be active in the discussion/Q&A period after their webinar.
Approach them with a guest posting contribution (if they’re bloggers themselves).
Include them in a ‘favorite blog articles of 2013’ list or ‘top quotes from thought-leaders’.
2. Don’t send them an automated email: They’ll know. Instead, send them an email that shows you know who they are, have read what they write or say, and have engaged with them before (for instance, try something like “you may remember my comment on your blog article from last week, in which we discussed ___”). This provides context and increases the chance they’ll respond.
3. Don’t ask too much: The ‘ask’ of your chosen influencer should, at least initially, be something that doesn’t require too much (a social share, a quote, etc). Remember influencer marketing isn’t about the end goal, it’s about creating a mutually beneficial relationship.
4. DO be specific: Make your request a specific thing. Don’t ask them to generally ‘share’ your stuff. Instead, talk about how you see this interaction as being mutually beneficial.
5. DO be friendly: Influencers are people too. Absolutely be respectful (you’ll get nowhere antagonizing these people) but don’t be intimidated. Be authentic and (like your content) put your personality into your interaction.
If you want to learn the top ways to find your industry leaders, check out ‘ How to Find Your Industry Leaders on the Wishpond blog. To learn more about influencer marketing as a whole, check out ‘ How to Amplify Your Content with Social Leaders’.
2. Syndication and Guest Posting
If you expect your readers to come to you, you’re missing a beat. You need to spread the word as far and as wide as you possibly can.
Syndication : Some of you may have heard that syndication no longer works to increase your brand’s reach, as the links you build with syndication sites are worse than useless in SEO.
Here’s how I understand it: Yes, syndicated links are, increasingly, being punished in Google’s Search. The links you generate from those sites no longer increase your content’s SEO. However, neither do those links hurt your content’s SEO. And the traffic you generate from those sites is still valuable.
Here are the sites we at Wishpond use regularly:
Guest Posting : Perhaps you think it’s counter-intuitive to write for another blog site to generate an audience on your own.
You’d be wrong.
Guest blogging not only allows you (usually) to link back to your own content, website or social profiles, it also increases your own reputation as a writer and is far and away my favorite format of influencer marketing.
Consider this: Every time you blog for someone else, that person is (by definition) endorsing what you’re saying. Anyone who publishes what you write is essentially saying ‘I trust this person as an authority on this subject’. It’s public influencer marketing!
3. Social Media Optimization
Sharing your own content is well and good, but it only gets you so far. You want readers who are also brand ambassadors.
When I talk about content that’s optimized for social I’m talking about content that’s easily share-able, easily comment-able, and easily endorse-able.
Let’s think of it another way: social sharing is the new ‘word of mouth’. It is, essentially, a person finding something and then telling their friends, ‘Hey guys, it’s me. I’ve just found this awesome thing and I think you’d like it too.’
And, as you most likely know, ‘word-of-mouth’ advertising has always been the most effective strategy available. This is why I promote customer testimonials so intensely when discussing landing page optimization. This is why, when I talk about content marketing best practices, I talk about social shares (it’s not just about the SMO).
Here are 6 tips to generate social shares:
Put some energy into creating an eye-catching header image - and use this image whenever posting on social.
Come up with two titles for your blogs: one which you use to promote them on social platforms (something short and stimulating, like a question), and one that is optimized for SEO ( long-tail keyword, for instance)
Don’t mess up the details: Make sure your links work (seriously, guys, you’d be surprised how often I see this). Edit for grammar and punctuation. Use a link shortener (like bitly), and keep your share text concise to encourage re-shares.
Ensure each and every one of your pieces of content has a hook that engages a reader immediately and a call-to-action that tells them how to act on their interest
Encourage (and reply!) to the comments your content generates
Social media optimization is becoming increasingly essential for the spread of your content. Google’s search algorithm has started to count social shares and endorsements (comments, Likes, Tweets, etc) as votes in your content’s favor - much like they do for links. So focus on creating content that people love and want to show their friends.
Hopefully you have a better understanding of these three essential parts of content marketing strategy.
These best practices aren’t particularly complicated. Some of them can be time-consuming (don’t rush an influencer, for instance) but none of them are overwhelmingly difficult. They’re simply the top three strategies which you need to keep in mind on a daily basis.
I recommend you ask yourself these questions at least once a day:
Have I done something today that furthers my relationship with an influencer?
Have I made sure my most recent piece of content is reaching as far as it can online?
Have I done everything I can to optimize this content for social engagement?
Have I pushed my own content marketing limits today?
Let me know how your content strategy has changed in the past year. Have you found success with influencer marketing or social shares? Start the conversation below!
By James Scherer @ Wishpond