How To Create A Facebook Personality Quiz With AgoraPulse

How To Create A Facebook Personality Quiz With AgoraPulse

Have you ever taken a personality quiz on Facebook? You know the kind, the one’s that ask what Historic character you are? What Dr. Who Character you are? What your true age is?

They have huge viral impact, people love taking them and love sharing the results.

Creating this sort of quiz can help your business in a couple of ways:

1. It will increase brand awareness. As long as you brand your content so that when it’s shared people know where it’s coming from and as long as it’s relevant to your target market this can be a great way for getting your business in front of people.

2. You can collect email addresses from participants and add them to your email marketing list. This gives you the opportunity to sell to them in the future without relying on Facebook.

A personality quiz won’t suit every business. They are fun and light hearted so make sure that this tone fits your brand personality before you create one.

How to create a personality quiz

Facebook Personality Test from AgoraPulse is a really easy way to set up and launch a personality quiz on your Facebook page.

You will need to sign up for their free 15 day trial to use this tool, this allows you to collect 20 entries. If you sign up to one of their paid plans you can extend this. Get your quiz right and spending the minimum €29 for a month will be well worth it for the leads you collect.

Here’s a quick walkthrough:

 

In this video I didn’t customise any of the images. This is a must if you are running a quiz. You also need to think hard about the questions you ask and the personality types you create. Be careful to amuse and not insult your audience.

Your Turn

Do you love or loath personality tests? Would you set one up for your business?

If you have, or if you do after reading this post leave me a comment and let me know how you got on.

 

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20 Facebook Competition Ideas To Inspire
20 Facebook Competition Ideas To Inspire
photo credit: Transformer18 via photopin cc

It’s easy to rush into launching a Facebook competition on your page but for the best results you should spend some time planning your contest. One key question you need to ask is what sort of contest you want to run.

In this post we will look at 20 Facebook Competition ideas that should help get your creative juices flowing.

Before you start:

Set a goal – I know you are probably tired of hearing this from marketers but the best starting point for any campaign is to set a goal. What is the intention of your competition? What results do you expect and how will you measure them?

How much your followers will do for you – What size is your Facebook audience and how much do they interact with you already? If you find it hard to get them to engage with your content you should start small. Make entering your contest as easy as possible.

If you have a more interactive audience you can be more creative and run a contest that requires user generated content. A photo or short story contest can work well here.

Choose your prize – You don’t always have to give away a huge prize. If you are asking a lot of your audience and if they are providing valuable information in return you may want to splash out on something impressive. In most cases you can give away a voucher or small prize that will appeal to your audience and still achieve good interaction.

Should you run an app based or Timeline contest?

Timeline

These are contests run via posts on a Facebook business page. According to the Facebook promotional rules you can ask for a comment, a like or ask users to upload photos or videos as part of a contest. You cannot ask for a share or for someone to tag ta picture unless they are in it.

Timeline contests are quick and easy to set up, attract lots of entries and will increase your page interaction meaning that people will see more content from you in the future.

App based:

These are contests run via a third party app. They will appear as a separate tab on your Facebook page that you can link to. These applications require users to complete a form as part of the entry process. They are great for capturing leads, email addresses, phone numbers as well as additional information that can help qualify them as customers.

There are lots of apps you can use to set up contests including:

Shortstack (affiliate link)

Woobox

Rafflecopter

Competition Ideas:

Sweepstakes

Sweepstakes is generally an American term. Here in Ireland we tend to refer to this style of contest as a ‘draw’. People will enter some basic information to enter and a winner is picked at random.

You can include a simple question as part of a sweepstakes if you want to add a more competitive element.

When should you use them? – Barrier to entry is reasonably low so if you have a small following or a following that doesn’t tend to interact with your content very often this is the ideal type of competition to get things moving.

App based:

1. James Whelan Butchers

This is a simple but effective giveaway. Entrants just need to enter contact info to have a chance of winning a voucher. Vouchers are good prizes as you are attracting a new customer or tempting back loyal or existing customers.

Not every customer will shop with you again but once they have bought from you once they are more likely to return. In this case James Whelan Butchers is capture email addresses. He will be able to update all entrants with new products and offers encouraging repeat custom and brand awareness.

20 Facebook Competition Ideas To Inspire

2. Huff Post Tech

This is the simplest competiton you can run via an app. Just fill in your details to enter. They run these promotions monthly and the prizes are always spot on for their tech audience. It’s a fantastic way to build an email list.

20 Facebook Competition Ideas To Inspire

 

3. Shortstack

I love this idea from ShortStack. I guess they have to be clever as they make the software that helps you run apps. The prize is  $500  to spend at Amazon. Instead of giving away vouchers part of the entry process requires you to link to the prize you want to win on the Amazon website.

20 Facebook Competition Ideas To Inspire

Timeline based

Ask people to Like a post or comment on a post for entry. If you are asking for a comment make it simple to participate so that it doesn’t discourage entries.

It’s also a good idea to ask something that will either:

  1. Be memorable to those who enter. This means they are more likely to remember your business
  2. Be valuable to you. Ask a question that will tell you something about your customer and you can use this information to target customers later.

4. Loughrey’s Pharmacy

Fun and relevant. This competition from Loughrey’s pharmacy is giving away a hamper that any mother would love as a gift. Asking what our Mammy’s used to say to us will make us smile both when entering and when we read the entries. A perfect way to build positive sentiment around a business.

20 Facebook Competition Ideas To Inspire

5. Westminster Abbey

This is one of my favourite Timeline contests. To be in with the chance of winning a family pass to the Abbey you have to answer one daily question correctly.

I like this because people have to think before they enter. Participants will either know the answer already or have to Google to find out. The advantage of this is two fold.

  1. Westminster Abbey knows that those who enter are really interested in what they do.
  2. People who enter are more likely to recall the brand and information about it that they can pass on. I can imagine people passing on those facts in conversations over Christmas dinner or in the pub.

20 Facebook Competition Ideas To Inspire

Photo contest

When should you use them? – The barrier to entry for photo contests is higher. People need to think about taking a photo and enter it. This means you will get less entries.

The benefit is that you can share the entries you get both on social media and elsewhere (make sure you let people know that you intend to do this in your T&C’s to avoid any issues).

If you have a medium to large interactive community on your page this could work well for you.

App based

Contests run via an app allow people to upload their photos and you can capture contact info here. This gives you the opportunity to stay in touch with those who enter after the contest is finished.

Running a ‘voting’ contest via an app allows the public to have their say. You can either allow them to determine the winner, the finalists or just give some weight to the judges decision.

6. Sports Direct

In this example from Sports Direct entrants were asked to post a selfie wearing an England shirt. To win you had to get the most votes on your photograph. It’s bang on brand and by asking the public to vote it’s spreading brand awareness way beyond the people who enter.

20 Facebook Competition Ideas To Inspire

 

 20 Facebook Competition Ideas To Inspire

Timeline based

The Facebook competition guideline changes last year mean that you are now allowed to ask your audience to upload their photos to your page to enter. If you want to allow voting you can ask people to click ‘Like’ under the photo that they want to win.

7. Blenheim Palace

Your contests don’t have to be exclusive to Facebook, you can promote contests and allow people to enter on multiple platforms. By using a hashtag you can find entries on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and more.

What’s nice about this is that you are widening your audience to those who may not want to share on Facebook but enjoy other networks.

Take a look at this contest form Blenheim Palace asking people to share their Blenheim Palace moments using the tag #BPMagicMoments on either Facebook or Instagram.

20 Facebook Competition Ideas To Inspire

Caption contest

When should you use them? – This style of contest would fall somewhere in between Sweepstakes and photo contest. The barrier to entry is reasonably low but people do need to be creative.

This style of competition could be a really good way to increase interaction on your page if run via the Timeline.

App based

You can run this contest like a sweepstakes via an app. Make sure you share some of the entries you get in order to encourage others to participate.

8. Chicago Bears

Fans can enter a caption to accompany the photo displayed at the top of this page. Sports fans will love this and there are some interesting entries. The public can get involved voting for their favourites too but this is ‘just for fun’ the winner will be picked by the sponsor.

20 Facebook Competition Ideas To Inspire

Timeline based

9.  Dublin Zoo

It’s not always necessary to give away a prize for this sort of contest. Some people like to take part for fun.
Look at this example from Dublin Zoo

20 Facebook Competition Ideas To Inspire

Instead of a prize consider rewarding people by choosing your favourite captions and adding them to the image.

Survey contest

Do you want to get to know more about your followers? Maybe you want to get more responses for a survey you are running. It’s easy to set up a survey on Survey Monkey or Google Drive and offer a prize as an incentive to enter.

This isn’t technically a Facebook contest as you are running it off site but you can make it exclusive to Facebook users to get a better insight into what makes them tick.

When should you use them? – It is sometimes quite challenging to get people to leave Facebook. Links also get seen by a smaller portion of your audience than other types of update. If you really want to know more about your Facebook community this is a good approach but be prepared to promote the hell out of it.

App based

10. Hazelbrook Farm

In this example there’s an eye-catching image that tells you what you need to do accompanied by a link.  HB is a big brand so smaller businesses may find it harder to collect entries this way. Here’s a couple of things you could do to improve it:

  1. Share the competition as a link rather than a photograph. Facebook have recently changed their algorithm and should be showing more links posted as links to those people who like to click them. By sharing a link the traditional way, rather than attaching a photo you will ensure that wherever someone clicks on the post they will arrive on your survey page.
  2. Ensure that your image covers no more than 20% of the space with text. To reach more people you may want to advertise your contest. Using more than 20% text means that your ad will not be approved.

20 Facebook Competition Ideas To Inspire

Timeline based

Asking questions as part of a Timeline contest can also be good customer research. You could find out more about your page likers and tailer content for them in the future based on this or you can use it as an opportunity to find out what they want from your business.

11. Blind Pig Speakeasy

This is a perfect example of quick market research. By asking for favourite cocktails they will know what to stock their bar with as well as get lots of entries. You don’t always have to offer a prize when you ask these sorts of questions, customers are often quite willing to tell you what they think.

20 Facebook Competition Ideas To Inspire

Story contest

Asking people to share story is a good way to gather testimonials and user generated content about your business. You can ask them to share their experiences with your product or service and how they have helped you.

When should you use them? – The barrier to entry is quite high but if you have an enthusiastic audience who like sharing their experiences and leave good reviews this could work really well. Remember to let people know that you will be res-haring their entries for marketing purposes in your terms and conditions.

App based

Long text comments are not the ideal way to collect entries in a story contest. The best way to run a story contest is via an app. Typing large amounts of text into a Facebook status is hard work. Using an app gives people longer to ponder their entries.

12. Renault Ireland

This competition asked entrants to share their back to school blues for the chance to win an iPad. Although not directly related to their brand it is a good way to engage a large segment of their target market. Parents.

20 Facebook Competition Ideas To Inspire

Timeline based

The advantage of running a story contest via the Timeline is that people can enter without having to leave the Facebook newsfeed. You will get more entries but it will be harder to manage and the quality of submissions may not be as high.

13. The Cliffs Of Moher

One of Ireland’s top tourist destinations the Cliffs of Moher celebrated their millionth visitor by asking people to share their Cliffs stories. This is great for re-igniting customers and getting them to re live their experiences. The prize or a pass to the attraction means that entries will be limited to those who are likely to visit.

20 Facebook Competition Ideas To Inspire

Video contest

A video contest has the highest barrier to entry. You could collect some really cool content this way though.

When should you use them? – As the barrier to entry is high you need to have an existing interactive audience. Ideally they will have participated in contests on your page before or have uploaded photos and other content without you asking in the past.

If you want to run this sort of competition give people very specific guidelines for what you want them to do. For example if you were an interior designer it could be to shoot a short video of a room in your house you’d like to do up. Like the other user generated content contest types it’s important to let entrants know how you intend to use the content they submit in your terms and conditions.

App based

You can collect more info about the video and let people leave a description when they enter via an app. You can also request more contact information and permission to add them to an email list.

14. Lego

In this example from Lego they are asking you to upload your video and encourage your friends to vote for your entry. Parents are a good audience for video contests, it gives them a project to work on with their children that is fun and could result in a trip to Legoland.

20 Facebook Competition Ideas To Inspire

 

20 Facebook Competition Ideas To Inspire

 

Timeline based

Running this type of contest via the Timeline is easy, people are able to upload their videos the same way they upload their photos. It makes the process easier so you should get more entries.

15. Coca Cola

Coca Cola ran a series of video contests on their Facebook page to tie in with their sponsorship of the Winter Olympics. Each challenge was related to an event within the games.

Here they challenged Likers to film themselves sliding a coke up the bar and called it ‘Coke Curling’. You will also notice that they are linking to the contest rules as part of the post which is a requirement of the Facebook promotional guidelines.

20 Facebook Competition Ideas To Inspire

Bringing offline online

If you hare a bricks and mortar business you can use contests to combine online with offline.

16. A&A Pharmacy

This is a clever way to promote an in store contest. Participants don’t have to do anything on Facebook. Instead they bring a photo of their mum or gran into store for a special Mother’s day window display. It’s a lovely idea but I think it could be made better if people were able to submit their photos via Facebook.

Most of us don’t print our photos anymore so uploading would be easier and they would get more entries. Participants would still be sure to visit the store once the window is revealed to find out if their photo made the cut.

 

20 Facebook Competition Ideas To Inspire

Other clever ideas

Not all the competitions I looked at fit neatly into categories. The following examples are either fun or clever and do a good job of engaging their audiences.

17. Nutella

I love the Nutella page, it’s always full of interesting and entertaining content. They have an extremely engaged audience who already seem to enjoy sharing content. If you scroll through their posts you will find fan photos in almost every comment thread.

They keep this engagement going with frequent contests. Although some of them are a bit random they always include a brand mention. I love the example below, although it’s an easy puzzle to crack it does entertain me for the 10 seconds or so it takes to find the answer.

20 Facebook Competition Ideas To Inspire

18. Studio 93

I like this contest because it’s a bit quirky, I’m not sure it has anything to do with their brand unless they are just showing off their creativity. It’s a twist on the ‘How many sweets in the jar’ style contest. In this case you have to guess how many sweets land in the jar.  There’s a video to accompany it.

20 Facebook Competition Ideas To Inspire

19. MKFM

This one from a radio station asks a question that many of their audience will be able to answer immediately. I love the simplicity of this.

20 Facebook Competition Ideas To Inspire

20. Pigsback

I admire this competition for it’s quirkyness. To make it interesting they have asked people to comment and the first comment that has no Likes on it at the end of the week wins. I can see it getting quite heated as the deadline approaches.

Although this is a clever idea I’m not convinced that Pigsback are gaining anything from this contest. They will get a lot of comments but you’d have to be a pretty hardcore competition fan to get involved. These people often aren’t the right audience for your brand and are less likely to be interested in you in future.

20 Facebook Competition Ideas To Inspire

Your Turn

There are lots of types of contest you can run on Facebook and each time adds different value to your business. It’s always worth putting some time into planning a contest that will entertain your target market and will make them remember you.

Have you seen any creative contests on Facebook recently? Do you get tired of seeing ‘Like & share’ competitions in your newsfeed? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

 

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Get More Buzz For Your Social Media Contests With Rafflecopter

 

Get More Buzz For Your Social Media Contests With Rafflecopter

Many businesses are lazy when they think about setting up social media contests. They resort to the obvious and set up a rule breaking Like & Share contest on Facebook.

To run a successful contest you need to think beyond Facebook and if you really want results you need to plan. As with any plan the first step should be to decide what you want to achieve.

Do you want:

  1. More social media followers?
  2. More interaction?
  3. To broaden brand awareness?
  4. To gain email subscribers?
  5. To get leads?
  6. To gather user generated content?

If your goal is 1-5 above it’s worth taking a look at this weeks cool tool Rafflecopter for setting up your social media contest.

Here’s how it works:

What I like about Rafflecopter:

People can enter multiple times. You can add lots of entry conditions giving people extra points each time they enter. This promotes more sharing from users.

It’s not just for Facebook. Rafflecopter contests can be embedded in your blog or added to a Facebook page. If these options don’t work for you Rafflecopter will create a page on it’s site for your contest that you can direct people to.

It helps you pick a winner. Rafflecopter has an inbuilt random winner selector. If you prefer you can view all entries and pick a winner manually.

It takes minutes to set up. Many of the full featured contest apps I use take a big chunk of time to set up. As you can see in the video above you can have your contest ready to go within three minutes.

What I don’t like about Rafflecopter:

The sharing options are what really makes this app but I have some reservations. Are we gaining valuable social media followers or are we just attracting people who like doing contests? When we ask people to share a tweet or pin an image are we encouraging people to share quality content or are we encouraging people to spam their friends?

The verdict

Rafflecopter is a neat little app for setting up social media contests. I prefer the email subscriber and social follow options than the sharing options. This way I’m gaining leads but avoiding encouraging spam.

Your Turn

What do you think? Are social sharing contests spam? Would you use this app?

Leave me a comment below.

 

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3 Apps For Choosing Your Facebook Competition Winner

3 Apps For Choosing Your Facebook Competition Winner

If you run Facebook competitions on your business page it can be hard to select a winner. Since the rule changes last year Facebook has allowed us to choose a winner from people who leave a comment on a post or Like a post. The problem arises when a competition is successful. If we get hundreds of comments how can we ensure that we are fair when we select a Facebook contest winner?

In the video below I show you three free apps you can use to select a winner from your Facebook contest entries.

1. Fanpage Karma’s Good Luck Fairy – This is the easiest app to use. You just need to paste a link to your post into the app and it will select a winner for you. It selects four winners from people who have Liked or commented on your post:

  1. From people who like your post
  2. From people who comment on your post
  3. From people who like and comment on your post
  4. The comment on your post that got the most Likes

2. Woobox - This is an app that allows you to create custom apps and competitions for Facebook and it comes with a free Facebook competition winner picker. You will need to set up an account but it’s free and only takes a couple of minutes. The app will import all your recent posts and allow you to pick a winner from those who have interacted with them.

3. Contest Capture - This works slightly differently to the other apps. Instead of picking a winner for you it allows you to download a CSV file (that you can open in excel) containing information about the people who have interacted with your post.

This includes:

  • The type of interaction: Like or Comment
  • The user ID of the Facebook user who interacted
  • The link to the profile of the user who interacted
  • The name of the Facebook user who interacted
  • The date and time that the comment was left

You will need to pick a winner manually from this data.

See how they work in the video below:

Picking Facebook Competition Winners Manually

If you don’t want to use an app you can choose a winner manually.  The traditional way is to put names in a hat and picking a winner. For photo / video or contests you might get them judged by a third party.

To add validity to your selection process you can film the draw being made.

Your Turn

How do you pick winners for your Facbook competitons?

Have you tried any of these apps?

Leave me a comment below

 

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like-gating-blue
Are Facebook Competitions Dead? The End Of Like Gating
photo credit: louistan via photopin cc

On November the 5th Facebook officially removed the ability to Like Gate custom pages.

When I first heard that Facebook was getting rid of Like Gating, I like many other marketers sighed. Like Gating had always delighted me. I loved being able to offer something special to people who liked my page.

After giving it some thought I realised that there was a good reason behind removing the Like Gating option. Facebook has evolved in the last few years and Like Gating is just out of date.

What was Like Gating?

Like Gating was the ability within a custom page app to show different content to people who liked your page to those who didn’t. It was most commonly implemented on app based competitions. It ensured that people liked your page before they could see the competition entry form.

See the example below from IBHT. When the Like button was clicked the entry form would be revealed.

Are Facebook Competitions Dead? The End Of Like Gating

Why is Like Gating out of date?

You’ve heard it before, you’ve probably even heard it from me before. Being successful on Facebook isn’t about getting likes. It’s about getting the right people to like your page and engaging them with relevant, informative, educational or entertaining content.

The problem with Like Gating competitions

Before Facebook advertising came of age it was hard to get people to Like a page. We employed all sorts of tactics to attract people and running competitions was one of these.

Competitions often attract a large following of the wrong people. Even if you select a prize that is relevant to your brand and audience you will find that you attract a lot of entries that are irrelevant.

There are communities of people on Facebook who love entering contests and will set up multiple and fake profiles just to do so. There are others who love the idea of your prize but have no interest in seeing your content in their newsfeed.

If these people have no interest in your business they will quickly unlike your page or hide posts from your page.

Why does that matter?

1. Decreased reach:

Facebook monitors what it calls ‘negative feedback’ on your page. This refers to people who:

  • Hide your post
  • Hide all your posts
  • Unlike your page from a post
  • Mark your posts as spam

If a large number of people unlike or hide posts from your page this signals to Facebook that you are posting low quality content. This will result in them showing posts from your page to less people in future.

Of course you are not necessarily posting low quality content. Facebook just assumes you are as people seem uninterested in your posts.

To find out if you are receiving negative feedback go to your Facebook insights. Click ‘Posts’ and select:

“Post Hides, Hides Of All Posts, Reports Of Spam, Unlikes” from the drop down menu (see below).

Are Facebook Competitions Dead? The End Of Like Gating

2. Facebook Ads

Facebook ads are far more effective when they target your existing Facebook audience. These are the people who have already shown an interest in your business by liking your page. They are more likely to buy or take the next step towards buying.

If you have forced people to like your page as part of a competition that wasn’t highly targeted you could find that your Likers consist of:

  • People who have little interest in what you do.
  • Fake profiles set up just for entering contests.

When you advertise you will be paying to reach these people. That’s money that could be better spent reaching potential customers.

Why don’t we need Like Gating anymore?

You don’t have to run a contest to get people to Like your page anymore. Instead of splashing out on a big prize you can spend that money more effectively on promoting your page to the people you want to reach.

Facebook advertising has become the best way to get page Likes. Not only is it effective in getting the numbers but the targeting options mean that you get exactly the right people to Like your page.

Are Facebook competitions dead?

Facebook competitions are still valuable but you need to re-asses why you are running them. Instead of chasing page likes think about what other value you can get from your contests;

1. Increased interaction – Timeline contests, when done well, can drive more interaction on your Facebook page. This will boost your page reach and build relationships with customers.

Always aim for valuable conversation as part of your contests. This means you will become more memorable to those who take part.

I love this example from The Blind Pig in Dublin. Not only are they building a conversation they are also getting some valuable customer research whilst they are at it. They’ll know what to stock the bar with now.

Are Facebook Competitions Dead? The End Of Like Gating

2. Lead capture – For me this is still the most valuable reason to run a Facebook competition.

When you run a contest via an app you can capture information about the people who enter. This could be an email address, a phone number or even information about where the participant lives or the products they buy.

The more you ask the less entries you will get but you will also be able to qualify and segment the lead that you are capturing more accurately.

Your Turn

  • Did you use the Like Gating feature?
  • Do you run competitions on Facebook?
  • What value do you see int he competitions you run?

I’m talking about competitions all this month so leave me a comment and I may include you in further posts.

 

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9 Ways To Find Blogging Inspiration
9 Ways To Find Blogging Inspiration
photo credit: the measure of mike via photopin cc

Where do you get your blogging inspiration from? There are times in any bloggers career when we get stuck for content. Sometimes we loose the impulse to blog. Maybe we have other tasks that get in the way. The worst part of bloggers block is running out of ideas.

In this post I will look at 9 techniques for finding blogging inspiration.

1. Read blogs

Reading other blog posts should be part of your daily routine. This can teach you a lot about style and content and inspire ideas. Reading the top blogs in your industry will keep you abreast of changes and trends.

Feedly is an easy way to keep on top of the blogs you read. It is like getting a customised, daily virtual newspaper full of useful content that will get your mind ticking over. It’s quite straight forward to set up and they are always introducing new features to make subscribing easier.

2. Google Alerts

Google alerts is a tool that searches the web for you. You give it the keywords or phrases you want it to search for and you will get an email everyday full of mentions from across the web.

Although by default it sends you an email it is far more streamlined to send your alerts to Feedly. Here’s how:

 

3. Customer questions

Your customers are a wealth of blogging content. I pick up lots of tips and content ideas when I train businesses. Delegates will often present me with a problem that I haven’t encountered before. Finding the answer provides me with plenty of blog post fodder.

If you don’t meet people face to face use tools like Twitter search and Quora to discover what questions and problems people have. If they are asking Twitter or Quora a question they are googling the answer too.

 

4. Ideas diary

Inspiration can hit at the strangest times and if we don’t grab it, it can disappear. Using tools that can help you capture inspiration will mean that you have a constant stream of ideas ready for development.

I use Evernote to collate my ideas. I like it because no matter where I am I can jot them down. If I’m out and about or if inspirations strikes in the middle of the night I can pick up my phone and quickly add an idea. I can then open Evernote on my PC or tablet to work on it further.

Other people prefer pen and paper or voice memos. They all work, the key is to have something in place to capture your inspiration flow.

5. Mind mapping

Mind mapping can inspire ideas even when you are in the midst of bloggers block. There is something about the discipline of mind mapping that helps you focus.

Whether you do it on paper or use an app it will help you plan out content with a purpose.

Here’s an article for mind-mapping beginners to help get you started.

6. Headline tools

I wrote about headline generating tools recently. As well as helping you create clickable headlines they can be a great source of inspiration.

Here’s a video showing you the sort of results you will get from headline generation tools:

7. Keyword tools

Researching keywords for SEO can always seem like a dull and dry process but it can also be a source of inspiration. The key words and phrases that Google Keyword Planner or Uber Suggest come up with can spark new and interesting ideas.

8. Take a break

Blogging consistency is important but unless you are able to deliver on quality you could look at taking a step back. Instead of stopping altogether think about creating a different type of post to fill the gap.

Try these:

1. Interview posts – Are there people in your industry you can interview? Do you have happy customers that may want to share their story?

2. Roundup posts – Can you curate your top reads of the week in to a blog post? What about putting together a post showcasing your favourite blogs or a selection of blog posts on a specific topic? These types of post are simple to write and can be a great resource for your customers.

3. Guest posts - Getting guest posts for your blog can be a time consuming process but it can be worth it. If you find the right people they will provide quality content for your website taking the pressure off you.

9. Use a content schedule

My blogging was haphazard until I implemented a basic content plan. Now when I sit down to blog I already have the idea and a rough outline of what I will be writing about. Spending an hour or so once a month to plan content is a really efficient use of time.

Try the content schedule template I work from.

I’ve recently started using Co-Schedule for blogging and am still loving it. Here’s how it works

Your Turn

How do you find inspiration? Do you use any of these techniques?

What do you do when blogger block hits?

Leave me a comment and let me know.

 

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How To Find Blogging Inspiration and Key Phrases With Uber Suggest

How To Find Blogging Inspiration and Key Phrases With

We know that we should be optimising our blog posts for SEO but where do we find out what phrases and keywords we should be using?

I find Google Keyword Planner an excellent tool for finding key-pharses but it has limitations. Although it is useful in finding search volumes and suggestions results it can be quite limited.

This weeks cool tool Uber Suggest is a good alternative and it will also give you blogging inspiration.

What is it?

When you type a search phrase into Google you are presented with a drop down menu of suggestions based on your search. Uber Suggest uses this information to provide you with key-phrases from any search term you give it.

How To Find Blogging Inspiration and Key Phrases With Uber Suggest

It expands the suggestions by following your keyword with an ‘a’, a ‘b’ etc until it has exhausted results.

This gives you a huge set of key phrases that people are actually searching for. The suggestions are hit and miss but amongst them you will find three or four that will work well.

Here’s how it works:

I used Uber Suggest to research key phrase ideas for blog posts about Facebook competitions. I did find some interesting suggestions that have inspired good ideas.

When we use tools like Uber Suggest and Keyword Planner for SEO it’s also important to bear two things in mind:

1. Don’t be generic

If we rely on key phrases too much we may become too generic with our posts. Yes we are creating content that people are searching for but it is good content? Does it really answer the questions people have?

Make sure that in the quest for better search engine optimisation you are not alienating your existing readers.

2. Don’t forget the competition

Just because we have used tools to find keywords it doesn’t mean others haven’t. Before you optimise for a word or phrase do a Google search yourself. Who is coming up at the top of the search results? Will your post rank better than theirs? If not try a different key phrase.

Your Turn

I recommend you give Uber Suggest a go. It will only take a couple of minutes and you may find inspiration from it. If you do leave me a comment and let me know what it came up with.

 

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A Beginners Guide To SEO for Bloggers
A Beginners Guide To SEO for Bloggers
photo credit: chase_elliott via photopin cc

Back in 2007 when I started blogging I didn’t pay search engine optimisation (SEO) any attention. I just started writing and hoped that my online networks would help me gain readers.

Seven years on I have stopped ignoring it. Google is the biggest referrer to my website and from this traffic comes customers. There is no doubt that SEO for bloggers is crucial.

If you don’t think about SEO when blogging you are limiting your reach. You can strike it lucky with a post but the more effort you put in to appearing in search engine results the more traffic you will get.

In this guide to SEO for bloggers we will look at:

  • Why you shouldn’t write for SEO
  • How to find out what key terms people are using to find your site
  • Basic keyword and keyphrase research
  • Where to include key words
  • Using the Yoast SEO plugin
  • Writing longer posts
  • Optimising images for SEO
  • Use internal linking

Why you shouldn’t write for SEO

It’s obvious when you land on a blog post that has been written for SEO. The title may have promised a lot but the resulting article is a mess of words with keyphrases crowbarred in. The sentences don’t flow and the post seems to have no purpose except trying to game a search engine. We tend not to stay long on these posts.

You have to think about the SEO when you are blogging. You should research your key words and key phrases in advance but when you write you should just write. Concentrate on the flow of your post. Make sure it is making the points you need it to. When you finish go back and edit. See how you can add your key phrase to your opening paragraph and other areas of the post.

Action: Write your posts first then add keywords

How to find out what key terms people are using to find your site

Knowing how people are finding your site already will help you choose topics to write about that will attract more readers. For example I know a lot of people find my site when looking for information on Facebook competitions. The more I write on the topic the more people I attract to my site.

For me it would be a mistake to just write about Facebook competitions. I offer lots of services so need to cover a lot of bases. I do make sure that I write about competitions reasonably frequently.

You can no longer see what search terms people use to find you via Google Analytics. This data is still available in Google Webmaster tools. If you already have Google Analytics on your site (and I recommend you do) it is straight forward to set up Webmaster tools.

Here’s how:

A Beginners Guide To SEO for Bloggers

  • Click the ‘Alternate methods’ tab
  • Check the ‘Google analytics’ box and then ‘Verify’

A Beginners Guide To SEO for Bloggers

It can take a while for Webmaster tools to analyse your site.

To access the search terms people are using to find your site click ‘Search traffic’ and ‘Search queries’ on the left hand side.

http://youtu.be/M62VIN7gKhk

Action: Check which search terms already work for you and create posts on similar topics

Basic keyword and key phrase research

There is no point optimising your blog post for a keyword or phrase that no one searches for. Google Keyword Planner can help you discover search terms and phrases that people are actually using in their searches.

Here’s a video that shows you how it works:

Action: Use keyword planner to brainstorm key phrases related to your topic.

Adding key words to your posts

Once you have identified your key words or phrases you need to incorporate them in to your post. You need to aim to include them in:

  1. Your headline
  2. Your opening paragraph
  3. Sprinkled throughout your content
  4. In your blog post URL

Using the Yoast SEO plugin

Yoast is an SEO plugin for WordPress. It helps you ensure that your keyword is included enough within your post. Once you have installed it an SEO box will appear underneath your blog composition box.

Input your desired keyword and complete information on your blog title and opening paragraph. Yoast will count mentions of your keyword in each section and assign you a red, amber or green light dependent on it’s frequency. This is a useful way to ensure you have enough mentions in the right places of your keyword.

The example below shows that I need to work on working my key phrase ‘SEO for bloggers’ into my opening paragraph and the body of my text.

http://youtu.be/M62VIN7gKhk

Action: Add the Yoast SEO for WordPress plugin to your blog

Writing longer posts

For search engine optimisation longer posts are better. According to Orbit Media 1,500 is the optimum length. This gives us more opportunity to prove our key phrase relevance to the search engines.

According to MOZ Longer blog posts are more likely to get linked to. The more inbound links you have to your site the better authority it has.

Writing longer posts takes time. Be careful not to waffle to fill the space. Try increasing the length of your posts over time.

Action: Write posts that are over 1,500 in length.

Naming images

When you upload an image to your blog there are a few ways you can optimise it for search engines:

1. Name your image

Before you upload your image name it something that describes what your post is about. Include your key word or key phrase as part of the title.

For example the image at the top of this blog post is called seo-for-bloggers.png.

2. Alt tag

This is the text that will appear if your image fails to load. Again this text should include your key word or key phrase.

Google will index your alt tags which should help your SEO. The image will also appear in Google image search for the key phrase you have included.

http://youtu.be/M62VIN7gKhk

3. Image size

Avoid uploading images that are larger than you want them to display on your site. Large images will slow down the loading time of your page and this can effect your Google ranking.

Resize images before you upload them using a tool like PicMonkey (affiliate link).

Action: Re-size and re-name your image before you upload it. Use keyword rich alt text to accompany your image.

Use Internal linking

Linking to other content within your post that is relevant to your topic will help the web spiders crawl your content. The easier you make it for the crawlers to navigate your site the better indexed it will be.

You will see above that I have linked to a previous post on Google keyword planner. That link is showing the search engine spider a related post and guiding it through my site.

Action: Link to at least one previous and related post in each blog post you write.

Your Turn

Do you think about SEO when you are writing your blog?
Have you tried any of these techniques? Have they worked for you?

I’d love to hear your experiences. Leave your thoughts in the comment box.

 

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How To Use Viral Content Buzz To Get More Shares

VCByoutube

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:

  1. You will find some interesting content that you might otherwise miss that you can share with your social media followers
  2. 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:

  1.  Read the articles you are sharing on social media
  2.  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.
  3.  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.

Your Turn:

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?

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A Quick Guide To Writing Clickable Blog Headlines
photo credit: dno1967b via photopin cc
photo credit: dno1967b via photopin cc

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:

  • A story
  • An experience
  • A tip
  • Inspiration
  • Information

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.

blogheadlines

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.

2. List headlines:

Example “5 Cardboard Halloween Costumes That Won’t Cost A Fortune” from Gimme Digital

As much as we may think we don’t like them, list headlines do work. The promise that we are going to learn five things when we click this post reassures us that it will be worth it.

3. How To:

Example “How To Make Pom Pom Hedge Hogs” from Molly Moo

People love tips, they love learning how to do things and they like sharing that information with others. Writing a ‘How to’ headline taps in to this positive emotion.

A quick look at my Google analytics tells me that three out of my top four blog posts have a ‘How To’ title:

  • How To Post To Instagram From Your PC In 2 Steps – Cool Tool
  • How To Add Maps To Your Facebook Page – A Trick And Some Alternatives
  • How To Share Facebook Posts On Twitter

If you haven’t written a how to post yet give it a try.

4. Click Bait:

Example “Is Funny A Gender Thing?” from Tara Sparling Writes

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.

5. Ask A Question:

Example “What is Accidental Damage Cover?” from the Chill Insurance blog

What questions do your customers commonly ask you? By posing these on your blog and answering them you could:

  • Attract new prospects from Google searches
  • Establish your expertise
  • Reassure prospects that you know what they want

6. Alliteration:

Example “Super Steampunk Wedding Ideas” from True Romance Weddings

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.

Tools

If you are stuck for inspiration there are lots of tools that you can use to kickstart your writing. Here’s three that I have tried.

Split testing using Twitter

Twitter is a great medium for testing variations of a headline. Instead of writing one headline, try writing two or three and alternating between them when you post your link to Twitter.

For example if your main headline was:

“A Quick Guide To Writing Clickable Blog Headlines”

You may also choose to share tweets including an alternative headline:

“Are You Ignoring The Most Important Part Of Your Blog?”

“How To Write Blog Headlines That Get More Readers”

Take a look at your Twitter Analytics to see which version gets the most clicks and engagement. This will help you write better titles in the future.

Practice makes perfect

The real key to writing great headlines is practice. The more you write the easier you will find it. Once you have honed your skills you can go back to older posts and rework their headlines too.

Over To You

Do you spend time working on headlines? What tips and tricks have you used to make them work? What has been your most successful headline to date?

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