When this whole internet thing started for me, back in 2001, I took a look around, threw my hands in the air, and wondered: “How the heck am I going to get people to my website?” There were only about a dozen companies in town that even had websites, and yet, even in 2001, people struggled to get noticed.
Can you imagine having the knowledge you have today at the time when you first started? Fast forward to 2015. We still hear the same message. Everybody still wants to get noticed, except now everyone has a website, a blog, a Facebook page and so much more. With so much clutter out there, how do you get people to read your stuff?
Today, I’m going to share with you a strategy that we use at Smashing Pixels to get the most mileage out of our posts. We call it our blog syndication circle.
You have probably heard of syndication from television or radio. When syndicating a show, a production company (or a distribution company called a syndicator) attempts to get the show aired on one station in each market or area, or to a commonly-owned station group, within the country and internationally. If successful, this can be lucrative.
Nowadays, many types of content are syndicated on the Internet. Millions of online publishers, including newspapers, commercial websites, and blogs, publish their latest news headlines, product offers, or blog postings straight to the web. I like to refer to these people as your competition … and your competition is good. Very good.
You need to think and act like your competition. No more putting out your blog and letting the world know by sending out a single tweet or Facebook link.
Roll up your sleeves, it’s time to get to work.
How to Build Your Own Syndication Circle
You will need to be on as many online feeds to get your information published to the masses. Forget about being organic; this is a numbers game. You need to get in front of as many eyeballs as possible if you want this to work.
The game is about creating interest with a topic, casting it out strategically, encouraging people to link to it. Rinse and repeat.
Seem easy? If it was that easy, then everyone would do it. You have to add in hard work, stick-to-itiveness, a catchy hook, great writing, with a splash of good luck and good timing.
Every successful blogger will tell you the same thing: “Blog today. Gone tomorrow.” That’s where luck and timing come in.
Step 1 – Have a great story to write a great blog
Great distribution combined with a bad story = Transformers 4. What gets traction? Something newsworthy with legs on it. If you are writing about current affairs, make sure it is timely. Sometimes, the first blog to the gate gets the most attention. It doesn’t mean it’s the best, but if you publish something three days after the fact, you might have people passing on it as if they had already read it.
Step 2 – Write a great headline
Sometimes great stories get horrible headlines. This is a big reason why people don’t end up reading a blog. If the headline is boring, it won’t pique the reader’s interest. If the headline is misleading, you’ll lose the trust of the reader.
Now that you have your story ready, let’s work on your circle. Try to get as many points of contact as you can. You never know where your next client might be cruising online. Never assume that all of your customers are on just one feed. A big mistake for many is assuming that everyone uses Facebook and/or Twitter, so you will get traction there. You need to stop thinking like that immediately.
Remember, this is about getting in front of as many people as possible. The more resources you can use, the better. Here are some tips to help you get the most out of your work.
Twitter is a great tool for driving traffic to your blog. Simply create a tweet around a link that compels people to click to learn more. Space is at a premium on Twitter, with only 140 characters, and it gets even tighter when you add in your URL. The Twitter URL shortener caps web addresses at 20 characters. Be succinct, but be very clear! Also, use a #hashtag if it is appropriate. #Hashtags are great search tools.
Facebook gets your message out to the masses, but the Facebook algorithm changes all the time. It is getting harder and harder to edge out the competition. However, we get great results in paid advertising there. You can get in front of the right people, fast, using specific targeting. Think beyond the boost button. Remember to add a strong visual element, too With Facebook, people decide what they click on almost 100% based on images.
Podomatic is an awesome podcasting tool. Podcasting is a great way to add another dimension to your story. You already have the written material; why not record a podcast to go along with your message? This allows you to add different voices to the mix. Have a special guest on with you as well. Not only will a guest add to your context, but they will also help share your message.
SlideShare is an easy way to create an online presentation with your message. SlideShare also has built-in traffic looking for experts like you. Use this outlet to create a lead generation form for potential clients to connect with you. Add in Targeting, Analytics, and Social sharing and you’ll wonder: “Why haven’t I used SlideShare before?”
HARO connects journalists with sources for a wide variety of subjects. H.A.R.O. (Help A Reporter Out), is the way your business gets in the news. The best benefit is having big news linking back to your site. Important links in big news builds clout, and helps with your Google ranking as well. Stop reaching out to news organizations on social media or via their websites. HARO brings customized requests right to your inbox.
Infographics are a great way to engage readers. They draw attention and result in social sharing. A well-thought-out, and well-designed infographic might even be shared across multiple social channels. Aside from the mass sharing benefits of infographics, they also do a great job at building brand awareness and getting your specific message out there.
Blog Commenting will get you noticed by other readers and the blog author. In addition to adding interest to someone’s article, if the article has legs and gets a lot of comments, you can draft off of it’s success (think NASCAR). Regularly engaging on blogs that tie in with your messaging will help build your brand, and your contacts too. Sharing something insightful makes other commenters curious to check you out.
Guest Blogging is the number one advantage to gaining traffic. The reason a lot of people are investing their time in guest blogging is for the quality traffic it sends to both parties. Not only does it send quality traffic to your website, but it also helps develop your brand, increase your authority ranking, and establishes you as an expert with like minded brands.
Newsletters and e-mail marketing are still top tools for driving sales but also have great conversion rates. Conversion for you means more people reading your blog post. Just like creating a great headline for your blog, be sure to create an equally great subject line that will pique interest. The people on your list are already your clients. Did I mention that your newsletter will help maintain that relationship? Go on, they want to hear from you.
LinkedIn let’s you get your blog post out to industry leaders. Sharing news and insight allows those that share in your industry to connect with you on a professional level. Using LinkedIn sets your blog within a professional newsfeed, differing from the traditional clutter of Facebook. This option wasn’t always available for everyone, so make your profile complete, and start connecting.
Those are just a few of the ways we get our message out there. There’s still Pinterest, Instagram, and Google+. You don’t have to release to all of them at the same time, on the same day, but you need to know your options, and learn how to repurpose the material that you spent time producing.
The point that I am trying to make is that it is no longer good enough to write a blog post and put a link on Facebook or Twitter. The web has become a hustler’s game out there. It’s time to post or be posted.
YouTube is the world leader for video distribution. Like podcasting, using video allows your message to gain depth using multiple senses: sight and sound. Your video needs to represent the production value you put on your business and services. The added value of YouTube is the ability to use both text and video. The description area allows you to post links to your site for more information. It is also the easiest way to host video that will be shown on your site.
There is nothing wrong with asking people (generally friends) to help share your content. To make it easy for them, I suggest you pre-write the tweet or post and then they simply copy and paste it into their thread.