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Five ways to tell a visually compelling story online (Sponsored Post)

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3d person holding a megaphone forming the word blog.

SNAG_Program-0665 In today’s digitally focused world, it can be hard to break through all of the clutter. This makes it increasingly important to stay on top of trends. As part of the Army Marketing and Research Group, we constantly think about how we can bring our target audience the information they seek, in the best possible way. As we look to where digital and social media will go in the next few years, one thing is for sure – visual storytelling is imperative for getting your message across online.

Below are five ways you can tell a visually compelling story online that will help you reach and engage with your audience:

1. Think Mobile First
For the first time in history, people are now using the internet more through their mobile devices than through their desktop computers (Business Insider). And with more than 61 percent of mobile phone users in the United States using smartphones (Nielsen), adapting your site(s) for mobile consumption ensures a seamless user experience regardless of device and allows for more interaction online.

2. Develop a Web Content Series
Web content series are a medium still growing in popularity and open to a broad array of multimedia. The Starting Strong program is an original content series that follows young men and women as they are immersed in the U.S. Army experience for three days, ultimately making the decision on whether or not to enlist. A fully integrated marketing approach is key to not only driving viewers to watch the content, but also to keep them engaged with your digital properties.

3. Multimedia Blogging
Now more than ever it is important to include video and photo elements in traditional text blog posts to keep your audience interested and engaged. More and more, photos, videos and GIFs are driving the bulk of online engagement as you look at sites that have achieved mass popularity. Consider embeddable videos, compelling photo visuals and other free tools to easily engage your audience online.

4. Infographics
Data is important. But most times, data can be hard to digest. Infographics can add valuable context to existing stories by using visuals to represent numbers, relationships and facts that might otherwise be overlooked. For example, our signature Soldier blog, ArmyStrongStories.com, houses an incredible amount of information such as how many Soldiers contribute to the site, which countries they’ve posted blogs from and how many comments their blog posts receive. An easy way for the Army to package this information is through a robust infographic that tells our blogging story in a visually appealing way.

5. Include Paid Social to Support Your Content Syndication Program
This year, widely used social networks, namely Facebook and Twitter, made design and layout changes based on imagery. In addition, the fast adoption of Instagram, Pinterest and Vine shows just how important visual storytelling is in social media marketing strategies. Using quality visual content, as well as allocating spend to paid social, are growing in importance to reach your core audience.

 

For more information on the social/online strategic media outreach programs at Army Marketing and Research Group (AMRG), check out www.goarmy.com, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

5 Foolproof Ways for Advanced Bloggers to Get Noticed by New Readers

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Print You’ve been blogging a while. You have a decent following. And you’re already doing all the obvious things to build traffic, from promoting on social media to utilizing a plugin for SEO. So are there more things you can still learn about building traffic? What additional steps can you take to draw in new readers? Is your best tactic at this point to just keeping chugging away, or could there be more that you should do?

The good news is it’s never too late to build your blog audience, particularly if you think strategically. And with that in mind, here are five foolproof ideas to try.

1. Raise the Bar on Your Content

Plain and simple, the best way to draw new readers is to create better content—and, while it may seem obvious, this is a strategy you never outgrow. Even when you think you’re doing the best you can, there’s always a way to push higher. Take better photographs. Write more meaningful posts. Look around at the competition and see what they’re doing better than you. Then, work to make your blog the best in the industry. Don’t settle for being one of the many; shoot to be the one at the top. Keep improving and improving. The better your content is, the more shareable it becomes, bringing new readers to your site.

2. Spend Time Making Friends

According to Derek Halpern at Social Triggers, there’s no better way to draw new readers than by convincing other bloggers to send readers your way—Bloggers offer a great deal of influence, and tapping into that influence is one of the best ways to make your blog grow. So give yourself time to build relationships with other bloggers, and go about it the same way you go about building relationships anywhere else. Be friendly, responsive, generous, and kind. Pay attention to what other bloggers are writing about, and be the kind of person who remembers what they say. When you show other writers you care about them, you make meaningful connections that create valuable relationships over time.

3. Invite Prominent Bloggers to Guest Post

A surefire way to get bloggers to send you new readers is by asking them to guest post for your site. When people write posts for your blog, they will be quick to promote them on their social networks and to their audiences. As they do, they bring floods of new readers to your site. So reach out to bloggers you have relationships with, whose work you already like, and ask if they’d be willing to contribute a post.

4. Team Up for a Big, Cross-Promotional Giveaway

Two are better than one—and that’s as true for blog promotion as for anything else. When you pool your promotion efforts with other bloggers, you set your site up for greater success. Look at the example of what 15 lifestyle bloggers did, teaming up for a $200 Anthropologie giveaway. By working together, they divided the financial investment each blogger had to put in. What’s more, each person promoted the other 14 people in her post about the giveaway, exposing new readers to new sites.

5.  Begin Writing Somewhere Else, Too

Play off another site’s traffic by contributing to its content, along with a clear link and mention of your own blog. Whether you write a monthly column for your local newspaper or a one-time guest post for a huge blog in your industry, doing so exposes you to an entirely new audience of readers. Many of those readers will like what you say and go to your blog to learn more, expanding your read.

After you’ve been blogging a while, it’s easy to fall into a rut. It’s easy to coast along on your average amount of traffic, wishing for a fluke promotion to come and boost your readership someday. But you don’t have to wait. If you’re serious about growing your blog, implement some of the above strategies now—New readers are out there; you just have to find new ways for them to find you.

The #1 Way to Get Targeted Traffic to Your Blog

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targeted web traffic When I first started blogging, the idea that people I didn’t know were reading my posts freaked me out. It was hard to believe that anyone other than my mom could care about what I had to say!

But today, like most bloggers, I care a great deal about traffic numbers and what I can do to increase them.

All traffic is good traffic, but some traffic is better traffic. I will never turn readers away, but the the techniques I use to get new readers need to fall in line with my specific niche and blog goals, simply because there are only so many hours in each day. One of the most common mistakes I see new bloggers making is going for the easy traffic instead of going for targeted traffic.

In other words, getting 100 new readers from Facebook who actually subscribe to your mailing list is better than getting 1000 new readers from StumbleUpon who hit the back button after 5 seconds on your blog.

The best way to get targeted traffic? You may not like it, but here’s the answer: pay for it.

Paid Targeted Traffic: Wait…You Need to Read This Before You Say “No Way!”

When I tell people that paying for traffic is the best way to get more targeted readers to your blog, most people don’t want to hear anything else I have to say. But let me break it down for you and tell you why you should embrace paid traffic!

For our example, let’s measure by number of subscribers to your mailing list. And, for the sake of the example, let’s also say that you’ve figured out that each of your subscribers is worth $3 over the course of six months.

If you go for organic traffic, most of the people who land on your site aren’t going to be interested enough to sign up for your mailing list. That’s just the nature of traffic from search, social, bookmarking sites, etc. In our example, let’s assume that you get 10,000 visitors to your blog over the course of a week and hat 10% of them are engaged enough to sign up for your mailing list. That means your week was worth $3,000. Not bad.

But instead, let’s say you spend $1,000 on getting the same amount of targeted traffic with Adwords, Facebook, and other means of getting traffic from people who are extremely interested in your blog, based on researched demographics and search behavior. Instead of 10% of the traffic signing up for your list, you double that rate and 20% sign up. That means your week was worth $6,000 instead. Once you subtract the $1,000 you spend on traffic, you’re still operating at a gain, having made a profit of $5,000 instead of just $3,000.

Paid targeted traffic isn’t looking so bad anymore, right?

Paid Targeted Traffic is About Testing and the Long Game

Of course, in my examples, my numbers of arbitrary. You might spend $1,000 and see only a 1% difference in sign-up traffic, which means that your overall profit would be $2,300–not nearly as good as your results with organic traffic.

It’s all about testing. What ads should you buy? How can you optimize them not only to get the top number of clicks, but the top number of highly targeted clicks? Who exactly is your target audience, not just for your free blog content, but for whatever you’re selling?

Testing never truly ends. There’s always something you could be doing better, and an ad that performs well today might not perform well a month from now. Until you get some base testing done, however, you might not see much profit…or any profit. What’s important is this:

Before you start paying for traffic, come up with a plan and budget for testing and optimizing your campaigns.

Paid traffic rarely works if you simply run a burst of ads for a week. You need to be able to afford to test ads over the course of time, knowing that you won’t see a return on investment at first. If you can’t afford to do that, paid traffic isn’t your best option right now.

Yes, Free Targeted Traffic is an Option

If you don’t have the budget to pay for ads at the moment, you can still get targeted traffic to your blog. Like with paid traffic, it’s all about testing. You want to spend your time on the promotion activities that give you the best returns.

Bounce rate alone doesn’t tell the whole story, but this is a start. Look for traffic sources that have a low bounce rate. This will change based on your niche and your specific content. For some bloggers, Pinterest performs well, well other bloggers have more luck with SEO and still others see the best results with Twitter. Test, test, test!

Look beyond bounce rate. Use Google Analytics to set up a goal and track conversions. This allows you to see which traffic sources get you the most new subscribers. Sometimes, your bounce rate might be extremely low (which is a good thing), but the subscriber rate is also very low (which is a bad thing).

Want more ad clicks? You need more traffic. Want to sell sponsored posts for more money? You need more traffic. Want to sell more affiliate products? You need more traffic. Do you see a trend here? Better traffic is your first step to making more money, whether you do that with a mailing list or another form of monetization. Adding paid traffic to your strategy is ideal, but at the very least, start thinking more about how to spend your time promoting your blog to your target market, not just to anyone who will click your link.

Do you pay for targeted traffic? What have your experiences been with this kind of traffic versus non-paid (organic) traffic?

Do Bloggers Need to be on Google+?

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google plus The principle behind the founding of Google is quite simple: Some webpages are much more important others. How do they decide which are the most important? Basically, importance is given to content that Google believes answers questions users have about a particular topic better than other webpages.

The face of internet search technology was completely changed by Google webpage evaluations. They evaluate each link pointing to a particular webpage according to the quantity, as well as how much Google trusts the sites the links come from.

However, in 1998 things changed even more. That’s when Google also began judging the popularity of a webpage based on the amount of likes it receives through social media sharing. Social sharing helps to increase the search engine rankings of a particular webpage. Yet, Facebook and Twitter still aren’t exactly cooperative with Google. The webpage itself was always the focus of the story, until recently. Thanks to Google+, the writer is now a central part as well.

How to Increase Your Google+ Audience

Google+ profiles serve as verifiable identities for bloggers. Your reputation on Google+ is influenced by several factors:

  • The actual number of Google+ followers you have.
  • The actual number of reshares for your content.
  • The actual number of +1’s you receive.
  • Your Google+ activity: regular posts, comments, reshares and +1’s you’ve given others.

Thanks to Google+, your content is not the only thing users can vote for to grow your reputation. Today, when you get a +1 on your content, you, personally, are also getting a +1 vote. Many users say that Google+ profiles appear to grow much faster than on both Facebook and Twitter.

So, what are some effective ways to build your Google+ audience? Just keep in mind that G+ is a social media platform made up of groups of like-minded people, called communities. Therefore, that’s exactly how you should treat it.

  • Create a Great Bio – Effective Google+ bios include your actual name or pen name, a summary describing who you are, what your business does, why you’re using Google+ and the type of content you plan to share on G+. Make sure that there are keywords included in your places, education, employment and introduction sections of your Google+ bio.
  • Build Relationships – When you first begin, follow people you actually know. Then, simply search for more people to follow and get to know. Google has also implemented Google+ Hangouts, which gives users a more unique way to interact with other G+ users.
  • Share Content – Create original content for your blog posts. These can be video, photo or text posts. Then, share links to your content on G+. Be sure to create an attention-grabbing headline and add a brief though about the content. Also, end your post with an intriguing question to encourage user comments.
  • Comment, Comment, Comment – Leave relevant, interesting comments on photos and posts, asking thought-provoking questions. You can also refer (or tag) other users by typing “+” and their name to get a display of results to choose from.

Using Google+ for Social Media Marketing

Your blog must contain interesting content that’s relevant and valuable to the lives of your target audience. Social media marketing is one of the most effective techniques for getting the word out about your blog and its great content.

Are you using Google+ to interact with your target audience? If so, what are some of the methods you use to lure readers to your blog posts using Google+?

Get More Long-Term Readers with the Soap Bubble Approach to Blogging

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getting more long-term readers

Traffic spikes can be exciting. It’s fun to watch a post go viral, especially if those new readers are also leaving comments. But when those people leave your blog, they often don’t come back. Getting more long-term readers is a lot harder than getting more traffic.

Ten long-term readers who will become a part of you blog community are better than 100 readers who read one post and never come back, though. It’s hard to grow your blog if you don’t build a solid foundation of readers who are addicted to your posts. One of the techniques I use to convert first-time readers into long-term readers is what I call the soap bubble approach to blogging.

Blog Structure for More Long-Term Readers

The net time you work up a lather in the bathtub or splash some suds on your dirty car, take a close look at structure of the soap bubbles. You’ll notice that it typically isn’t a collection of air pockets that are all the same size. Instead, you’ll see mostly small bubbles that make up the foam with occasional mid-sized and larger bubbles. The small soap bubbles are what creates the sudsy power, though. Without them, your larger bubbles aren’t very effective.

I find that a lot of bloggers are obsessed with creating epic content. I’m a firm believer that every single post you write should be your best work. However, not every post your write has to be a “big bubble.”

Big bubble content is typically long, evergreen content that is highly sharable and often a comprehensive list or guide to a certain topic. An example of big bubble content is this post: 58 Ways to Get Noticed as a New Blogger

But “small bubble” content is just as important. This kind of content is still high quality, but aims to teach a single tip or skill or cover a single topic. An example of small bubble content is this post: The #1 Best Way to Understand Your Audience—And Why This Matters for Your Content

Whenever you write a big bubble type of post, you should be able to link back to at least five other supporting posts on your blog. Think of your big bubble content as a hub for the small bubble content you’ve written in the past.

Why This Leads to More Long-Tem Readers

In general, I’ve found that if someone reads three posts from me, they are likely to come back and read my posts again and again. In many cases, people who read at least three posts are so hooked that they read several posts on your blog. They’ve discovered your content, and they can’t get enough.

Internal linking encourages them to read more content, but this isn’t just about making sure you link to previous posts in every blog post you write. It’s about making sure that you have related posts to support the epic content that is going to get the most attention. Super relevant posts that first-time readers can visit to learn more is going to be extremely enticing. Again, if you can get someone to read at least three posts on your blog, they will be much more likely to become a long term reader. A lower bounce rate definitely leads to a bigger community.

So, the next time you sit down to write a list post or an ultimate guide or another type of post that you know is going to bring in lots of traffic, ask yourself this question: Do I have a small bubble (supporting) post to go with each point I’m making?

If not, write one before you publish so any post that goes viral encourages people to read more instead of bouncing on to the next website.

Small Business Blog Tune Up: Turbo Charge with SEO

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SEO turbo charge for your blog

Let’s face it: small businesses blog for one reason: to get noticed and eventually lead to some sort of sale. Whether demonstrating expertise on a topic, promoting your services or brand, or interviewing someone in the industry, you are encouraging people to come to your site, share your content, and ultimately do business with you. Paying attention to Search Engine Optimization (SEO) can fuel your blog with more horsepower for relatively low effort.

Surprisingly, many small businesses have never heard of SEO or are intimidated by the acronym and what it means. But in reality, basic SEO takes little time and budget–you just need a little extra TLC every time you publish a post. I’m a big believer in the oft-repeated mantra, “The best SEO is good writing,” but imagine if you enlist the powerful combo of great content and some SEO tricks? Unstoppable.

Start Your Engines (Search Optimization that is)

Getting your site to rank high and often on search engines like Google and Bing is considered both an art and science, but still remains a mostly mysterious formula that mere mortals like us don’t control or understand (unlike Google). To make matters more confusing, search engines change and update their algorithms often, like the much-talked about Google Panda. But there are regular, basic steps you can take to increase the chances of your blog getting noticed early and often on search engines.

Get into Gear

If you have a WordPress.org site (that you pay to host the content), there are all-in-one SEO Plugins that will help guide and do the work for you out of the box. (Important and sometimes confusing distinction: Many small businesses use the free version of WordPress.com, which does not offer SEO plugins).

For the many small businesses on WordPress.com, the company stands behind its SEO in that “80 to 90%” of SEO mechanics is done automatically, which builds confidence, but we can can top 100% with just a little extra work.

Blogger.com is generally not considered particularly SEO-friendly (and ironically owned by Google) but has a page devoted to the practice. You can also find some tips here and other resources on the web about SEO on Blogger.

Move into the Fast Lane

For the majority of bloggers that are on WordPress.com, take these easy steps before publishing each post. The order you do them is a matter of personal preference: planning up-front versus optimizing at the end, just so long as you do it.

  • Use keywords for turn signals.

Once you have your topic and content nailed, think about potential keywords for your  post. For instance, if you’re writing about mortgage trends in your local real estate market, include all associated words at least once and think about other ways to say them sprinkled in your blog, typically this will happen organically anyway. The Google keyword search tool offers a comprehensive view of how your chosen keywords will fare. Be aware that there are different schools of thought on keyword density and “formulas” for the best results,but I advocate authenticity above all, meaning your post should sound natural, like a human communicating, not  a word-repeating robot. In fact, search engines have sophisticated tools that route out black hat seo practices like keyword stuffing and mark as spam.

  • Move the headline to front seat.

Sometimes in our quest to be clever or get attention (myself included) blog post titles can be obtuse for search. As with keywords, take the time to make  your headline  searchable. For instance I recently did a post on outdoor billboards and the headline was “Sex, Religion, Politics (and a Hitler teapot): Controversial Billboards Revisited”. Not exactly SEO-friendly. So I at least changed the “slug”, after the date, to “controversial-billboards-2012”. That earns me a more regular hits and I can still maintain my self-proclaimed witty headline.

  • Images ride shotgun.

As bloggers, we know the value of adding images and graphics to tell our story and it’s also a proven fact that content with images get more hits that those without. In a few easy steps, graphics can be a powerful SEO tool by reducing the file size (search engines dislike slow loading sites), renaming the file name to something specific and meaningful, and adding a title. There are other steps you can take.

  • Make Pit Stops for Categories and Tags.

Even if you’re pressed for time, “Categories” and “Tags” is worth the effort to do some of the SEO work for you, especially knowing the difference between the two:  Think of “Categories” as the bucket of content type versus “Tags”, which are more detailed words and phrases about the post. For the outdoor billboard piece, the Categories might be “outdoor billboards” and “advertising.” Tags would be more specific, like “Hitler teapot” or “J.C. Penney”.

  • Create your own traffic.

As a standard practice, linking to your own related posts, other blogs, or external content add value and insight, and also work to boost your SEO. As with keywords, link strategically and where it makes sense. No stuffing allowed!

  • Honk Your Own Horn

Most bloggers use their social network to get the word out for each new post. This is just good old self-promotion, but a reminder you can also increase your SEO with every share and reaching your extended network. A quick way to do this each time is by using the WordPress publishing feature that automatically sends to all social media outlets, or you can manage this process yourself. I opt to share manually to target different messages to my audiences, but nice to know I can use publishing in a hurry.

… Never Hit the Cruise Button

Once you’ve taken these primary steps to SEO-ize your blog, keep the wheels in motion for long-term good habits and practice. And remember, it’s not just good content that helps build organic SEO, but posting on a regular basis is just as important. Last but not least, pay attention to your stats: what are people searching on to find your blog? Use that data to fine tune your content continually.

What SEO practices work best for your blog?

17 Brilliant Bloggers Talk About Hosting Webinars

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Brilliant Bloggers is a bi-weekly series here at NMX where we look at the best posts from around the web all surrounding a specific topic. Every other week, we’ll feature a brilliant blogger, along with a huge list of more resources where you can learn about the topic. You can see more Brilliant Blogger posts or learn how to submit your link for an upcoming edition here.

This Week’s Topic: Hosting Webinars

When people talk about content marketing, they typically mean blogging, podcasting, video, ebook publication, and social curation. However, content marketing is really any kind of free informational or entertaining resource you give away in order to highlight your own skills and products/services. It’s selling without really selling.

One often-overlooked form of content marketing is the free webinar. Webinars can be recorded or live, but in both cases, they are an online presentation or class given at a specific time, usually in order to capture leads (i.e. people have to give you their email address and other information to attend).

This week’s Brilliant Bloggers is all about the art of hosting a great webinar. They can be a lot of work if you do them well, but the reward is great, since they can attract thousands of attendees without you having to plan a live event. And lest you think webinars are only for business, you can also consider hosting one if your a blogger or podcaster, as they can drive traffic and help you become known as an expert in your field. You can even sell access to a webinar as a way of monetizing.

Brilliant Blogger of the Week:

aliza sherman by Aliza Sherman

Some webinars I attend are great, but I identify with this post by Aliza Sherman because most of the webinars I’ve attended are pretty horrible. What separates the good from the bad?

Aliza outlines several tips in this post that can help you ensure your posts are beneficial, not a chore for people to attend. If your webinars are good, they can solidify you as an expert, promote your products/services, and help you capture leads, so definitely check out her tips before you host your next webinar! (And don’t forget to follow Aliza on Twitter at @alizasherman.)

Even More Brilliant Advice:

  1. 6 Tips for Hosting a Successful Webinar by Sharon Dunigan
  2. 8 Ways To Boost Your Business With Webinars by Lewis Howes (@LewisHowes)
  3. 10 Steps for Planning a Successful Webinar by Chris Peters and Kami Griffiths (@TechSoup)
  4. 18 Tips on How To Conduct an Engaging Webinar by Olivia Mitchell (@OliviaMitchell)
  5. A Five-Step Process for Hosting a Webinar That Generates Sales by Greg Digneo (@GregDigneo)
  6. Be the Webinar Host with the Most – 4 Tips! by Jill Bastian (@jillieb3)
  7. Hosting A Webinar – Equipment You’ll Need by David Crawford
  8. How to Host a Great Webinar in 6 Easy Steps by Dan Taylor (@mountaindan)
  9. How to Host a Successful Webinar by Kelly Noble (@Stellar247) and Paul Serwin (@LeverageSuccess)
  10. How to Host a Webinar by Marketing Zone (@marketingzone_)
  11. How to Setup and Promote Your First Webinar by Ellie Mirman (@ellieeille)
  12. Public Speaking Tips for Webinars by Patricia Fripp (@pfripp)
  13. Running a Successful Webinar: 10 Presentation Commandments by Deborah Sweeney (@deborahsweeney)
  14. Seven Tips for Hosting Webinars that Rock by Carol Tice (@TiceWrites)
  15. The Advantages of Hosting a Webinar by Marissa Buie (@marBuie)
  16. Which is the One ‘Free Meeting Webinar Service’ to Rule Them All by Natalie Sisson (@suitcasepreneur)

Did I miss your post or a post by someone you know about hosting webinars? Unintentional! Help me out by leaving a comment below with the link.

Next Brilliant Blogger Topic: Video Podcasting

I’d love to include a link to your post in our next installment– and if you head to the Brilliant Bloggers Schedule, you can see even more upcoming posts. We all have something to learn from one another, so please don’t be shy! Head to the schedule today to learn how to submit your post so I won’t miss it.

24 Brilliant Bloggers Talk About Writing Viral Posts

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Brilliant Bloggers is a bi-weekly series here at NMX where we look at the best posts from around the web all surrounding a specific topic. Every other week, we’ll feature a brilliant blogger, along with a huge list of more resources where you can learn about the topic. You can see more Brilliant Blogger posts or learn how to submit your link for an upcoming edition here.

This Week’s Topic: Writing Viral Posts

We all dream of waking up one morning to find that a post we wrote exploded over night and drove millions of new readers to your blog. Heck, forget millions most of us would be happy driving thousands or even hundreds of new readers to a post. We all cross our fingers that one of our posts will go viral, but the fact is that this isn’t common no matter how good your content may be.

Viral posts spread like an infection – fast and to many people. But what exactly defines a post as viral? And how do you replicate this success again and again on your blog? This week’s Brilliant Bloggers is all about how to write posts that set you up for this success. There may be no silver bullet formula you can follow that guarantees your post will go viral, but you can at least nudge things in your favor as much as possible!

Brilliant Blogger of the Week:

leo widrich What Makes Content Spread: The Anatomy of a Post that Got Over 500,000 Likes by Leo Widrich

If anyone knows a thing or two about viral posts, it’s the guys from Buffer, who see people sharing certain posts (and not sharing others) every day. In this post from Buffer’s Leo Widrich, the entire process of going viral is broken down into chunks, using a specific popular post as a case study. If you’re writing great content, but just can’t seem to reach that viral level, this is a post you need to read.

Also, make sure you follow Leo on Twitter at @LeoWid and check out Buffer as a content-sharing tool. Disclosure: they’ve exhibited at our conference in the past, but I wouldn’t recommend Buffer if I didn’t think this was an amazing tool.

Even More Brilliant Advice:

  1. 7 Steps to Create a Viral Blog Post by Jason Delodovici (@jdelodovici)
  2. 11 Tips to Write a Killer Blog Post that Can Go Viral by Nandita B. (@nanditaSEO)
  3. Create Powerful Viral Blog Posts With This Ten Point Plan by Scott Dudley (@ScottDudley)
  4. Five Easy Tips To Write Viral Blog Posts by Gary Lawood (@lawmacs)
  5. Forget SEO: Here’s How to Write a Post That Goes Viral by Neil Patel (@neilpatel)
  6. Go Viral: How To Write A Successful Blog Post by Josh Ebsworth (@CW_JoshE)
  7. Going Viral: Analyzing the Shared Characteristics Behind Viral Blog Posts by Tom Ewer (@tomewer)
  8. How I Used Twitter to Attract 34,771 Unique Web Hits by Derek Halpern (@derekhalpern)
  9. How to Go Viral with Your Blog Post by Terri Lee Ryan (@TerriLeeRyan)
  10. How To Plan And Write A Blog Post To Go Viral by Francisco Rosales (@socialmouths)
  11. How to Write Articles That Go Viral by Daniel Zeevi (@DashBurst)
  12. How to Write Copy that Goes Viral by Seth Godin (@ThisIsSethsBlog)
  13. How To Write For Viral Marketing by Chris Lentzy (@chrislentzy)
  14. How to Write Posts that Go Viral by Onibalusi Bamidele (@youngprepro)
  15. How to Write Posts that Go Viral in Social Media by Leslie Anglesey
  16. New Blogger? Create a Viral Post in 5 Simple Steps! by Greg Digneo (@GregDigneo)
  17. No More Blah Blogs: Let’s Go Viral by Hannah Kaufman for Savvy Panda (@savvypanda)
  18. Our Viral Blog Post Formula by Caitlyn Muir (@scribblinghappy)
  19. The Simple Secret Behind Writing Viral Blog Posts by Srivathsan G.K. (@dangerdiabolick)
  20. The Truth About Going Viral: What I Did After 1 Million People Stopped By My Blog by Jeff Goins (@JeffGoins)
  21. The Ultimate Guide to Creating Viral Content by Neil Davidson (@WEBPRESENTER)
  22. Who Else Wants to Write Viral Blog Posts? by Jasmine
  23. Why Content Goes Viral: the Theory and Proof by Carson Ward (@carson_ward)

Did I miss your post or a post by someone you know about writing viral posts? Unintentional! Help me out by leaving a comment below with the link.

Next Brilliant Blogger Topic: Hosting Webinars

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Is Removing the Dates from Your Blog Posts a Good Idea?

Author:

dates One of the defining characteristics of a blog is that they’re updated instead of just being a static website. Over the past few years, however, more and more bloggers are opting to remove the dates from blog posts, so if you land on a single post/page, you have no idea when it was actually published.

Here’s why some people are doing it:

  • People will judge a post because it is older, even if the content is completely evergreen.
  • People hesitate to share older posts, even if they enjoyed the content.

Advocates of removing dates from their blog posts point to their traffic. When tested, bounce rate decreased and pageviews increased for many bloggers, so it seems like a really great argument for at least trying this out on your own blog.

I’m not sold, though. Just because something is good for your stats doesn’t mean that it is good for your readers. This is the same argument we see with pop-up advertisements. Time and time again, bloggers who use them point to the fact that their stats show that pop-ups work. However, people hate them so violently that you’re also potentially driving away your community if you use them.

Here’s why I’m not sold on removing dates:

  • Readers should be allowed to make the decision about whether or not a post is evergreen.

When you remove the dates from a blog post, you’re not allowing a reader to make the decision about whether or not a post is relevant. As a reader, that annoys me. I should have the ability to think, “You know what? Even though the blogger thinks this post is evergreen, I don’t want to read advice from 2008. I want to read advice from 2013.” I actually make a point to stop reading blogs that no longer include dates and I will rarely link to them. It just makes me feel like they don’t value me as a reader. I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels this way.

  • Evergreen content is rarely actually evergreen.

I don’t know about you, but my opinions shift over time as I learn and grow. I also like to link out to other posts, which might not be as evergreen as the post I’m writing, and whenever possible, I like to use examples and data in my post, which both get outdated pretty quickly.

  • Few of us only write evergreen posts.

Removing dates might sound great for your evergreen posts, but what if you want to write a post that is dated? In this case, you’re doing a disservice to your readers if the post doesn’t have a date on it. You also have to stay away from saying stuff like “recently” and “yesterday” in your posts, since readers will have no concept of what that was. Syed Balkhi wrote about how removing the dates hurt his community because so many of the posts he writes are not evergreen, even though so many large blog have opted to remove their dates.

  • The comments could be non-evergreen.

One of the great things about blogging is that your community can add to a post by leaving comments. Sometimes, the comments have a better discussion than the actual post! But your commenters can say stuff that is dated, even if the post is fairly evergreen. I’ve seen some bloggers keep dates on comments even though they are removed on the post, but that seems a little counter-productive. However, once you remove the dates from comments, you’re risking giving future readers outdated information by mistake. As a commenter, I would also worry about looking dumb if I left a comment and someone read it three years later when it was no longer relevant even though someone might assume I said it last week.

  • Sometimes we don’t realize that what we’re writing isn’t evergreen.

The world changes. New services pop up. Platforms’ popularity waxes and wanes. Scandals happen. Having a post dated is almost like protection against a changing world. For example, I might do an awesome evergreen interview with someone today and a year from now find out that the person is scamming people. If my post is dated, anyone who comes to it can clearly see that I sang my praises for the person before they were outed as a scam artist. Or as another example, I might give people advice based on the face that Facebook doesn’t have certain features. If Facebook introduces those features next year, my advice would sound stupid or incomplete.

Even though there might be traffic benefits, I truly believe that removing the date is the wrong choice for most blogs. Notice I said most but not all. Ultimately, you have to make the decision that’s best for your content. I just encourage you to not only look at your stats when testing, but also to think about what your community of readers really want and need.

Do you have dates on your blog posts? Why or why not?

What Happens to Your Traffic when You Stop Writing at Your Blog?

Author:

I taught a Marketing with Social Media MBA course at a fully accredited university in Silicon Valley earlier this year. The class ran from Feb 9 – April 28. There were 73 students enrolled. Just over 50 survived to the end.

During the last day of class I asked my students, “How many of you have been angry at me some time during the past 11 weeks?”

They all raised their hands. Some raised both hands and waved them violently. Thank goodness there were no single digit waves … I think. But it was clear the students had had enough of blogging no matter what I called it – marketing with social media, content marketing, inbound marketing, whatever. They were done.

Indeed I was curious to know what would happen to the traffic to their sites when they stopped writing.

Now I know.

Take a look.

Aggregate After

This screen shot reflects the aggregate traffic to all the students’ sites.

It is clearly visible that the traffic is increasing overall.

Increasing?! When most of them had stopped writing?! And all of them are writing less!

Indeed. The traffic continues to grow.

And be sure to take note where the traffic is coming from. Organic traffic is far outperforming the biggest social network on the planet.

Case Study – Info-Nepal

A look at one of the student’s stats is particularly enlightening. Her site is dedicated to Nepal. It would be a great complement to a travel agent site dedicated to Nepal as a destination.

Not a couple of days AFTER the class was finished, look what happened.

After class

I wrote to her, “Very sudden and very nice jump in your traffic! What’s going on?”

Her reply:

“Yeah it all started about 3 weeks ago. All of a sudden I am getting a lot of traffic. It increased from 40-50 per day to almost 300 per day. I am excited. I need to write more frequently. Thanks for keeping and eye on it.

In other words, she did nothing special. Just plugging away, and even writing less than during the class.
We can see where her traffic is coming from.

Lesson Learned

The crystal clear message: Creating good content results in good residual traffic, sometimes known as the long tail.
When traffic is purchased (think adwords) or pushed via social networks and social bookmarking sites (think referral traffic from other sites) traffic will come as long as it is pushed, driven. But when the buying and pushing stops, so does the traffic.  Not so with good content that is on topic and created at the home site. It’s the content that keeps on giving, um, pulling.
Content marketing is inbound marketing. And it can’t be beat long term.
What is your experience with creating content compared to buying traffic by hook or by crook? Got case study? Wanna share? Feel free to read the students’ firsthand experiences at BillBelew.com. And by all means, reach out to me if I can help you see similar results at your site(s). See you in the comments.

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