As a blogger you should always be keen to get your blog out to a wider audience and this means getting your posts shared.
There are a few things you can do to increase shares:
Share it yourself on all relevant social networks
Add sharing buttons to your website so it makes it easy for other people to share
Join bloggers groups on Facebook, Google+ and Linkedin
Engage with others on Twitter and share content from people with a similar audience.
Comment on other blogs within your business area
If you are doing all these things already you might want to take a look at this weeks cool tool ‘Viral Content Buzz‘ to push your blog out even further.
Viral content buzz has two advantages:
You will find some interesting content that you might otherwise miss that you can share with your social media followers
You will be able to get your content shared further
What is Viral Content Buzz?
Viral content buzz is a sharing network that relies on social currency. Every time you share an article from the site you earn points. You can use these points to get others to share your content.
Here’s a quick tutorial to show you how it works:
Is there a downside?
I had stayed away from tools like this in the past as I wasn’t sure of the value of those shares. If you put a few simple rules in place you will get the most out of this tool:
Read the articles you are sharing on social media
Share content on the most relevant networks. You can share on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest or Stumbleupon. Make sure you are sharing content that is relevant to your followers on these networks. If you don’t you risk loosing your own following.
Thank people who share your content. Go out of your way to thank the people who are sharing your posts from Viral Content Buzz. Try to make a personal connection with them and you will buildnew relationships with content creators.
Would you use a tool like Viral Content Buzz to increase the reach of your content? What might stop you? Have you seen benefits from using it in the past? I’d like to hear your thoughts?
We spend a lot of time writing our blog posts. We come up with ideas, research, plan, write and edit. It always surprises me that we can devote so much effort to this process and yet neglect one of the most important parts of our post. The headline.
Why are headlines important?
You may have written the most eloquent, informative or entertaining post but unless you entice people to read it all that effort could be wasted. Your blog title, like the name of a good book or newspaper headline is what hooks people in to find more.
When someone finds your link either on a search engine or a social network there are two key elements that will attract readers:
1. Your headline
2. Your opening paragraph
These elements make a reader decide if they are going to click.
A good headline will tap in to the emotion of the reader. They need to feel that they are getting something when they click your link.
That something could be:
You have one chance to catch your readers attention so it’s worth spending time crafting a good headline.
How long should a headline be?
To display in full in Google search results a headline should not exceed 65 characters. See the example below.
What makes a good blog headline?
The first question you need to ask yourself is – would that make me click?.
My blog headline writing has improved as I have read more and more blogs. Every morning I scroll through over two hundred blog titles in my Feedly stream. I’m looking for good articles that will either educate me or will be of interest to my social media followers. From these two hundred posts I may only read ten to fifteen articles.
I’ve been doing this for years and as a result I know what entices me to click. I have picked up the habit of writing headlines that mimic the ones that capture my attention.
Here are six types of headline that work for me both as a reader and a writer:
1. Headlines that tempt:
Example “My Favorite Home Grown Tomato Recipes” from Evin OK
This headline promises a personal insight. It’s not just any old list of recipes. The title suggests that these are all tried and tested by the blogger.
When we hear the term ‘click bait’ it usually has negative connotations. Sites like Upworthy and Buzzfeed tend to use headlines that are so tempting that it’s almost impossible not to click. We are used to seeing these in our Facebook feed. They annoy so many people that Facebook has tweaked their algorithm to ensure they get less prominence in the newsfeed.
Despite this good click baiting can work. The example above from Tara Sparling’s blog is enough to peak my interest. It doesn’t tell me a lot about what I am going to read but it does suggest a post that will push some emotional or intellectual buttons. Unlike some of the websites using click baiting techniques when I click Tara’s link I find that I am entertained.
As long as your post delivers on the promise of the title, click baiting can be effective.
Alliteration is the repetition of the same sounds or of the same kinds of sounds at the beginning of words or in stressed syllables of a phrase. (Wikipedia)
Alliteration can be enjoyable to read, to say out loud and to hear. There is something about it that attracts our attention and will make us more likely to click. The example above is from True Romance Weddings. If you take a look through their blog you will find more pleasing Alliteration.
Writing a good blog headline is an art. It’s also a crucial part of getting people to view your blog. A good blog headline should be compelling enough to make someone click and read more and search engine friendly.
Here are three tools that will help you create better blog headlines:
2. Emotional Marketing Value Headline Analyzer. Tapping in to your readers emotions is a good way to get them to click. This tool will give you a score on how emotionally compelling it is and tell you what type of emotions you are evoking. ‘Intellectual’, ‘Empathetic’ or ‘Spiritual’.
3. Content Idea Generator. This takes a little more work. You need to answer a series of questions. You will then be given 360 possible headlines. You will find this very hit and miss but you are likely to find a few titles to help you get the creative juices flowing.
All of these tools can help you create blog titles but they will also help you come up with new ideas for blog posts. They are a great way to start to combat bloggers block.
I’ll be looking at some more tactics for creating good blog headlines later in the week.
Try out one or all of these blog headline tools and let me know the result. Did it help you overcome bloggers block? Did you find a set of new blog topics to play with?
Traditionally we may think of blogging as a written platform but imagery has become an important part of any blog post. Using a good image on your blog will catch the eye of potential readers and encourage them to click through when it is shared.
Visuals are processed 60,000 times quicker than the written word
People retain 80% of what they see compared to 20% of what they read
In this post I will discuss how you can optimise your blog images for social media, where you can source eye-catching images and show you some tools for creating your own.
Before you get started there are some simple guidelines to follow:
Don’t steal images. It can be tempting to scour Google for an images but if you use those you are breeching copyright. I wil show you how to find free images that you can use later on.
Name your images – Often when we choose an image or name an image it will be called something generic like Image001.jpg If you rename the image and include a keyword that you would like it to be found with you will see your post come up in Google image search and it will improve your SEO. So before you upload your image re-name it.
For example I have named the image I’ve used for this post as image blog-image-guide.jpg
Facebook updated the way that images share with links earlier this year.
Images used to appear as a small square thumbnail image but now links are accompanied with a large photo. These images are fully clickable meaning that if someone clicks anywhere on the image it will lead them to the web page you are linking to.
Take a scroll through your Facebook newsfeed and see which links have images that attract your eye. For me this one stands out.
Food always works for me and strawberries are a particular favourite. The colour is eye catching too. If you visit the blog post it links to you will see that the full image is much larger and would work when cropped to various sizes.
Of course this is subjective. I love strawberries, for other people a cat, a baby or a sports car may attract the eye quicker.
Remember images will be viewed on mobile devices so try not to use anything too intricate that will be hard to view on a smaller scale.
What size should your image be for Facebook?
The problem with Facebook grabbing the images directly from your site is that it will crop them where it wants to. You can’t change it even if it doesn’t quite work.
As you can see below this cute dog would be far more clickable if I could see his face. To avoid this happening to you it’s a good idea to size your image specifically for Facebook.
Whether Facebook grabs an image from your site or you upload an image it will display at 484 x 252 pixels in the web newsfeed.
In his Facebook Image dimensions infographic Jon Loomer suggests you upload a much larger version (1,200 x 628px) so that Facebook can scale it down. In reality any image over 484 wide that fits a 1.91:1 ratio will work. Anything smaller will show as a thumbnail image when the link is shared meaning that you will loose impact.
What to do if no image shows
Have you ever shared a link on Facebook and no image appears to accompany it? If there is a photo on the website Facebook should be able to find it but sometimes it needs a bit of help.
1. Attach an image – You can upload a photo or graphic to accompany your tweet. It will take up 21 of your 140 characters but it will help your post stand out.
The downside of using an image is that people often click the image rather than your link expecting to read more. The upside is that they are automatically expanded in the newsfeed more frequently than the second option.
The advantage of this is that people can click anywhere on that card and be brought to your post. The downside is that after much scrolling I couldn’t find an organic card (non promoted) in my feed that was automatically expanded. Instead they were hidden under the ‘view summary’ link underneath the tweet.
What size should your image be for Twitter?
As with Facebook if you upload the wrong sized image it can end up being cropped badly. You can’t choose which part of your image Twitter displays before it is expanded or clicked.
Take a look at this image from Monster Energy to see the problem:
You may wish to create a variation of the main image you create for your blog specifically for Twitter. The ideal size for this image is 506 x 253 pixels. You can include images up to 1024 pixels wide with an aspect ration of 2:1.
Pinterest images are different from Facebook and Twitter images in one key way. They are tall and skinny rather than long wide and short. This presents us with a problem when we create images for our blogs.
As you can see from the grab below. The wide images that share perfectly on Facebook look tiny on Pinterest. It is the tall thin images that display best.
The solution of course is to create two images for your blog post. One that will work well on Facebook and Twitter and another that will work on Pinterest.
However when I share it to Facebook I find that there is a version of the picture cropped to the correct proportions.
In this case the Facebook friendly image doesn’t display on the main post as it is a ‘Featured Image’.
Note that a featured image will appear in different places on your blog depending on the theme you use.
If your theme displays the featured image on the post it’s worth creating two slightly different images, one for Pinterest and one for Facebook.
Using Alt Text
I talked about the importance of naming your image above but completing the ‘Alt text’ of your image is also important, particularly for Pinterest.
In the example below you can see that the ‘Alt text’ box is blank. You should paste the entire title of your blog post into here. Now when someone shares your link to Pinterest the description area will automatically be filled with you blog post title.
The problem with stock photos
There are multiple stock photo sites where you can buy images to accompany your blog. The problem is a stock photo looks like a stock photo. You have seen them on multiple websites. A group of well groomed people sitting around a table or staring at a computer. If you want to attract people to your blog post and your website you need to stand out. Most stock images are way too generic to do this.
What’s the alternative?
There are lots of ways you can find or create eye catching images. Here’s some of my favourites.
Before I found Photo Pin I used to buy stock images or use my own. Photo Pin is a tool that scours ‘Creative commons’ licensed images from Flickr. These images are free to use as long as you attribute them. The nice thing about Photo Pin is that it makes it easy to include that attribute by giving you the HTML to include in the description when you upload your image.
Canva has to be one of my favourite tools of the year. It allows you to create really cool images for the web. It comes with some handy templates including Twitter and Pinterest posts. You can also input custom dimensions. You can include stock images from Canva as part of your design if you need them and they are very well priced at $1 for single use.
This weeks cool tool is CoSchedule. It’s a WordPress plugin that will help you keep on top of blogging tasks, be consistent with your blog posts and help you share social updates when you post.
Being consistent with blogging sends out some powerful signals to readers:
They will trust you. If you blog on a regular basis the chances are you have good time management skills and are able to sustain interest over a long period of time. These are the sorts of qualities people look for in those they do business with.
You know your stuff – You are able to blog on a regular basis about your topic, you must know a lot about it. One of the nice things about blogging is that the more you do it the more of an expert you become. Good blogging requires research and experience in the area you are writing about.
There are other clear benefits to consistency too:
Readers will begin to re-visit your blog. If you blog regularly people will check in with your blog, Facebook page or Twitter account on a regular basis. They will also be more likely to subscribe to your RSS feed or emails.
More posts. Any established blogger will tell you that most of their traffic comes from Google. The more posts you write the more likely you are to appear in multiple Google searches.
How do you stay consistent with your blog?
There are a few things you can do to keep your blog going:
Make time to blog
Set aside specific days and times of day that you will blog in your work schedule. If you don’t do this you will find that you will constantly put it on the long finger.
Keep and ideas diary
Whether you use a tech tool like Evernote or keep a physical notebook with you make sure you have somewhere to keep note of your blogging ideas when they come to you. Sometimes the very act of carrying a notebook will inspire ideas.
Is the visual content you share on social media branded? It’s great when our images are shared . It’s even better when they go viral and get shared over and over again. But when this happens you need to be sure people know it’s yours. You’ve spent ages creating this great image, you deserve the credit.
On Facebook for example, an image that pops up in your newsfeed attracts the eye, the small avatar hidden underneath or the ‘via’ often gets ignored. Make sure you are getting the most of these shares and brand everything you put out.
This weeks cool tool iWatermark is a quick and easy way for you to add your logo to your photos from your mobile.
Create multiple watermarks (logos, web addresses etc)
Add them to your content at the touch of a screen
Change the size and opacity of your logo or text
Brand multiple images at once.
To see how it works watch the video below.
I’m giving this cool tool five stars, it’s multi platform, it’s user friendly and it saves time. Give it a go and let me know what you think.
Facebook tracking pixels are a must if you sell either a product or service online. Once you set them up you can optimise your ads to be shown to people who take a specific action on your website. For example did they add something to a shopping basket? Did they sign up for your newsletter?
They are however quite hard to set up as you need to add the tracking code to a specific page on your website. If you are using WordPress and self hosting your website this weeks cool tool ‘Facebook Pixel Conversions for WordPress’ makes it easy to add this code.
What is a tracking pixel?
There are two types of Facebook tracking pixel:
Facebook website audience pixel
This is an easy pixel to install, you just add the code to the <head></head> section of your website and Facebook will start tracking the people who visit your website so that you can target an advert at them. You can add this to WordPress by editing the ‘header’ file. You do not require the plugin for this sort of pixel.
Facebook conversion tracking pixel
Here’s a video I made earlier in the year showing you how to create a tracking pixel
This is the most valuable pixel. This is the one that will drive conversions via ads to your site. Sadly it’s slightly harder to install, the code needs to be added to an individual post or page of your site and there is only one ‘header’ file.
How to install Facebook Conversion Tracking Pixels to WordPress
What page should you install your Facebook tracking pixel to?
When you set up a Facebook ad using your Tracking pixel it will be optimised to be shown to people who have in the past taken a specific action when following a pixel.
You can set up a pixel for the following goals:
Key Page Views
Adds To Cart
Other Website Conversions
If you want to measure the success of your pixel accurately you will need to install the pixel on the correct page. For example if your goal is ‘Leads’ and you want people to fill out a specific form on your page you should install the pixel to the ‘Thank you’ page that people reach after completing the form.
Have you used Facebook tracking pixels? Have you seen success? Leave me a comment and let me know.
Wouldn’t it be great if our customers created content for us? Most small businesses struggle to find the time and expertise to constantly create their own quality content. There are a few tactics you can use to plug the gap.
1. You can curate content from other sources that would appeal to your audience.
2. You can persuade your customers to share their own content.
Today I’m going to look at some techniques businesses use to get their customers sharing their own photos. Let me know if you’ve tried any of these or something else.
1. Run a contest
Before you run a contest on social media that requires people to create content for you you must have an active audience. If you do this could be a really good way to get more customer generated content. It can be hard to get the first few entries for a photo or video contest but once the first few are in you will find that others follow.
Pet Sitters Ireland (a client) are currently running a contest to appeal to their pet loving audience. ‘The Nose Of Tralee’ is a parody of the famous ‘Rose Of Tralee’ and asks people to enter their pets in the Ireland wide contest.
Paritcipants can encourage their friends to vote for their pet and a judging panel of expert will help choose the finalists.
This gives Pet Sitters a whole wealth of content to share. Their photo album ‘2014 Nose Of Tralee Competition‘ is updated twice a week with the latest entries. This makes for highly shareable content.
On Twitter the Eden Project encourage sharing by asking people to tag their photos with the #edenphotocomp. You will see signs displaying the hashtag when you visit. They re-share their favourite pics and there are monthly winners.
2. Reward fans
It’s not always necessary to run a contest to get fans sharing. Dublin Zoo encourage people to share their visitor images on the page. These images are added to a photo album that is shared regularly. They also use them for ‘caption this’ and other content.
Those who share the photos are delighted and as you can see from the number of shares on this photo album others are sharing too.
3. Are your fans sharing already
The Glasnevin Museum twitter feed is full of images from people who have visited the museum or the cemetery. Some of them are directed at the @GlasnevinMuseum Twitter account but others just mention Glasnevin in the text of the Tweet.
Whoever is behind the Twitter account using a Twitter search tool to find mentions of the town and local area.
Here’s how you can use Twitter search or Topsy to do this
Hashtags are huge on Instagram, users will add multiple tags. If you find that your customers are already sharing images on Instagram or Facebook give them a tag they can add. This is particularly useful if you are running an event.
Below you can see the #BlogAwardsIE tag was used extensively on Instagram at last years Blog Awards Ireland event. You can expect to see many more this year as Instagram gains popularity.
If you are running an event it’s a good idea to show a live stream of images as they are uploaded to Instagram and Twitter. I’ve been looking at Eventstagram, an app that allows you to easily display your live stream and am hoping to trial it at this years Blog Awards event.
When people see images appearing on the screen they will be keen to see their own work up there too.
5. Be photogenic
Is there something on your premises that people will want their photograph taken with? Maybe you have a quirky mural, an odd prop, an old street sign? Encourage those who visit to pose for a photo with your oddity, print them out and make a photo wall of them to encourage more to take part. You will soon find that people will come looking for the photo op when they visit.
The 1888 hotel in Sydney have taken this one step further with their ‘Instagram hotel’. Not only is it designed to be extrememly photogenic but they have a ‘Selfie’ space where residents can pose inside a frame for the perfect Insta selfie.
There’s always a dilemma when you leave the office for your holidays. You have finished off all the client work, set up your auto responder, changed your answer phone messages but what should you do with your social media and blog?
In the past I’ve scheduled blog posts to publish whilst I’ve been gone, I’ve even written posts whilst away. This time I decided that I’d take a blogging holiday.
I’ve been working hard on improving my blog all year and it’s been working. I’ve got lots of new readers and they do convert but I felt I needed time out. How could my blog be better? Maybe taking a break would show me?
Here’s what I learned from my 28 days of blog free holiday:
Review the frequency of blog posts
If I was going to schedule posts in advance for my holiday I’d have to be careful. I couldn’t write any ‘how to’ posts or even commentary. In the ever changing world of social media what I write today could be totally irrelevant next week. The sort of posts I could have scheduled would be curated posts, best of posts, fluffy posts. The problem with these is that they’d lack quality.
That old cliche is true. Quality is more important than quantity. At my prime I write four blog posts a week and although I strive for quality in each one there is no doubt that I won’t achieve it every time. It’s too heavy a schedule to allow me to give my clients the attention they deserve and write really great content.
Takeaway – Review the frequency of posting and strive for better quality posts.
Variety of content
Out of the four blog posts I write a week three are text based. One is a video. Variety of content is important. Not everyone can digest a large amount of text, video is often a better way to show people how to do things than a written tutorial.
This year I’ve also been looking at podcasting. Audio can help you reach people who may not usually digest your content. The nice thing about podcasting is that people can listen on the go or whilst doing other tasks. Podcasting is definitely finding it’s way to the top of my agenda.
Takeaway – Look at making one of my written blog posts a video post and one a podcast post.
Finding a niche
People tend to associate me with Facebook. I do love working on Facebook, it has so many quirks and tricks that I find it an interesting network to write about. It’s great to be considered as knowledgable on this topic but I don’t really want it to be my niche. I like to work with businesses cross platform. I’ve always seen my niche as working with Small Businesses on social media marketing.
Is small business a strong enough niche? I’ve learned I need to work harder at applying my posts specifically to small businesses. I need to tailor my social media marketing more towards this audience.
Takeaway – Make sure every post is targeted at a small business audience.
Use social media like others do
This is the most valuable lesson I have learned. I think it’s important for social media marketers to take a step back and use social networks like everyone else from time to time. It is only when we look at our Facebook or Twitter feed as a user rather than a marketer that we understand how they really work. Taking time out from marketing helps you do this.
Here’s an example:
When I was in Southend On Sea for the night a RNLI helicopter was circling over the pier. I did what any curious tweeter would do and typed #Southend and ‘Southend’ into the Twitter search box to see if I could find out what was going on. I didn’t find out what the helicopter was doing, I did find a restaurant that was actively tweeting about it’s food and re-sharing complimentary tweets from customers. This isn’t a tactic I’d have recommended restaurants to do in the past but it did make me want to visit. Time for me to rethink some Twitter tactics.
Takeaway – Take my marketing hat off every weekend and use social networks as a user.
I had ideas
Pretty much 24 hours a day 7 days a week I’m focussed on my work. My head is full of ideas and tasks and campaigns. This leaves little room for creativity. Taking a step back left my mind free to wander and think about other things. This meant I had new ideas and sitting down in front of my computer this morning I was fresh and ready to try something new.
Takeaway – Strive for better work life balance.
I missed important stuff
Some of the things that happened whilst I was away:
Twitter animated Gifs
Facebook psychological test
Facebook sidebar ads improved
I’m sure there is more so do let me know if there’s something I should know about that I didn’t pick up from my feeds this morning.
**UPDATE** There have been some serious issues reported using Gramblr for loading photos to Instagram including breaking your use of hashtags on Instagram. There are some good alternatives listed in the comments below**
If you aren’t using Instagram yet it’s worth taking a look. But what if all your photos are on your computer, what if you use an SLR to take your pictures rather than your phone? How can you post them to your Instagram account? In this post I’m going to show you two step guide using two cool tools to post Instagram photos via your computer.
1. Crops and adds filters to your photos so they look right for Instagram
2. Upload your photo to Instagram via the web
#1 Cropping and adding filters
Instagram is all about the filters. There have been and are lots of other mobile apps that offer cool filters for your photos, but the retro style that these filters add has become a signature of Instagram. A photo without a filter just doesn’t look Instagrammy.
I’ve talked about PicMonkey (affiliate link) before and it’s perfect for adding effects to your photos on the web.
Here’s how it works:
Upload your image and make it square:
Visit the PicMonkey (affiliate) website and sign up for an account
Click ‘Edit’ from the top menu bar
Select an image from your computer and upload it
Click ‘Crop’ from the side bar menu
From the drop down menu select ‘Square’
Pull out the edges of the selection area to select the area of your photo you want to use.
When you are happy with the selection click ‘Apply
Resize your image:
Click ‘Crop’ again
Change the proportions in the boxes to 650 x 650 and check the ‘Scale photo’ box
Pull the edges of the selection box out until it reaches the edges of your photo
Click on the magic wand icon on the left hand toolbar
Select a filter from the menu
When you are happy with your creation click ‘Save’ at the top of the screen to save to your computer.
#2 Upload your photo to Instagram
Although you can view your Instagram photos on the web you can’t as yet upload to the app this way. Gramblr is a tool that allows you to do this.