We are currently in the midst of an incredible era of entrepreneurship and online content. People are building brands that are going to be the examples we use ten years from now. While some folks are focusing on products, others are building communities (or as Seth Godin says – Tribes). Leadership and vision is one thing and I hope these keys will help get the eyeballs onto your content…and keep them there.
If you are looking to build an audience for your blog, stop it. You don’t want an audience; you want a community. An audience is passive – it reads and watches and goes away; a community is active – it reads, gets involved and gets social.
So, how do you capture that community? Certainly not by doing what every other blogger does. That involves producing posts that you want to write because you like the topics and because you think they are important. And somehow you expect a magical community to appear and think you are better than the latest video of a dog and a deer playing in a backyard. (Seriously, I watched that video and it was cute). You will have to do things differently, and you will need to get creative about two things – how you package your blog content itself and how you promote your blog on social media.
Here are a four things to chew on while you are creating content and building your blog community.
1. Your content – it’s not about you
One of the common pieces of advice is to craft blog content based upon your audience’s needs and problems. And this is absolutely true. You have to do the research, and you have to know what is important to the community you hope to capture. You also have to be aware that a lot of other people are trying to capture your community too, and they are doing the same research you are. They are looking for topics in the same places you are. If you are a startup, moreover, you are trying to play content “catch-up” and will be in a hurry to get some posts up there quickly. And pretty soon, if you have a blog on fishing, or gardening, or motorcycles, or vacuum cleaners, you and all the others are sounding very much the same. You will have visitors and readers just as they do, but you will never have a loyal community that grows.
Getting a Community through Your Content
To get a community, you have to find a voice and a tone that is uniquely yours and that will resonate enough so that people will stay, enjoy, and share. You have to package your brand message differently. Most blogs are supposed to be informational and educational, and that’s fine. But if that is all they are, they are dry, dull, and boring. There is no rule that says education cannot be fun and inspiring and not allow people to be actively involved in that learning. And here’s a new flash: every blog post doesn’t have to be educational. Sometimes, you can have fun too, and write a post that has nothing to do with your brand message other than that you, as a business, are human and enjoy a good laugh.
Example: I think that Dollar Shave Club does it just right. Evidently, a lot of people agree, because their business has grown in record numbers since its founding in 2013. Granted, they began with a great idea – a subscription-based razor delivery system, so that no one would ever run out of blades. They knew their brand message – convenience and low price. Now to package a boring product in a creative way. Here’s their homepage:
If you have not yet watched this video, you must. All of the other content on the site speaks to the main message, even humorous descriptions of the three subscription options customers have.
Do they have a blog? Yes, of course. It carries the same tone and voice. First, it is titled “Bathroom Minutes.” Second, it does provide information on personal grooming topics, problems and issues (e.g., stinky feet), but it is done humorously just as everything else on the site. Here are a couple of their most recent posts.
These posts have a great mix of information and humor – perfect. It should also be mentioned that their social media pages are along the same vein, and that there are long conversation threads on Facebook between followers and company staff. And any of these posts can be promoted on any social media platform, to drive people in.
Here’ the bottom line on content: You can promote that blog or individual posts all over social media, but if you disappoint when readers get there, you have fired a dud.
2. Headlines – the first promotional step
Now that you have the content stuff nailed, it is time to think about headlines. It’s also time to understand that you don’t have to use the same headlines to promote your blog posts on social media. Asking a question may attract a certain visitor; a list might attract another; headlines that say “ultimate guide,” “step-by-step,” or “how to” will attract still another sub-group within your target. But over-riding all of this is the fact that you have to get really creative with your title. You want something that is going to intrigue or excite.
If you want to see great examples of titles, look at Upworthy’s Facebook page. Every title makes a reader want to read more. Of course, the content itself has to be exceptional too, but those titles get the horse to the starting gate.
Just as an additional note: Upworthy has over 9 million followers on Facebook. Each of these posts could be packaged into a blog, just as you could do. You can use a title and a picture or a still shot of a video on your social media platform and easily get people to click through to your blog.
3. Visuals – upgrades, yes please
Speaking of Upworthy, they seem to be able to tell stories, inspire, educate and entertain without much text. They use original photos and videos, and these things capture interest as much as the titles. If you are using stock photos in your posts or in the promotion of those posts on social media, you have to upgrade. Here are a few things you can do:
- Overlay your blog post titles on top of a cool image
- Be inspirational by supporting a cause. Show photos or video snippets on social media and drive people to a blog post to get more information and participate in the cause.
- Post a related photo and ask a question (to be answered when they click-through to your post)
- Post a contest with a great prize(s)– they have to go to a post to get the entry details
- Post a meme with a creative saying/title with a link to your related post
4. Consistency – meat with potatoes
There are two pretty important aspects of consistency.
First, if you are growing a community that is liking what you have and is sharing what you have with others, then you cannot disappoint them. You need to give them what they want on a regular basis, or lose them. It’s really that simple. This is the meat of your blog – consistent posting of great content, according to the schedule you have promised.
Second, you have to stay consistent with your voice and tone. You have attracted this community because of it, and you will keep them and attract others like them because you maintain that same voice. Even when you have guests posting, you need to be mindful of this.
One final note
Every content marketer who must maintain and promote a blog has a challenging job indeed. And there are choices to be made every day – in packaging those posts and in fining unique ways to promote them on social media. There are always new ideas and new methods, and there are bloggers who are doing this really well right now. Take the good ideas of others and keep that creative side of you active.