I’ve encountered a lot of marketers in this industry who are skilled at creating useful content, but lack the skills to get it in front of people. Too many in this industry rely on the belief that good content promotes itself. The reality is that it doesn’t; it only makes promotion possible. The truism “you can’t promote bad content” is what we should be telling people instead.
So how can you promote your content? (And I mean besides publishing guest posts.)
Well, instead of giving you a handful of ideas, I want to give you something you can keep referring back to so that there is always something fresh for you to try. That’s why I have put this list together for you.
Take a look.
1. Guest posting
Yes, guest posting. Let’s move on.
2. Don’t neglect your archives
For all of the strategies that follow, one of the most common mistakes marketers make is to promote the content once and then forget about it. If your content is intended to be evergreen, and at least half of it should be, then there is no reason not to revisit your old content and promote it again. Even, perhaps especially, the content that is already doing well.
The more you can get the momentum moving on one piece of content, the better your site as a whole will perform. It’s not uncommon for one single piece of content to become the defining feature of a successful blog that becomes central to its branding. So don’t be afraid to continue promoting material from your archives or to place your most useful content in a prominent place on your site.
3. “Comment” marketing
A natural place to find your audience is on blogs that cover similar topics, perhaps more natural than any other location. Aside from guest posts on those blogs, the comment section can sometimes be a very active place where a community starts to develop, and if you can become a part of that community, you can start to earn referral traffic to your site. Comment marketing should be focused on personal branding, not linking.
4. Join social media groups
Social media groups focused around specific topics are far more likely to take an interest in your content and allow you to post links to it than more standard social media outlets, since they are already looking for this kind of content. Facebook and LinkedIn groups are especially effective.
5. Use original images and make them easy to share
Most blogs use stock photos and stock images to keep up with modern design expectations, so including a genuinely original image, as long as it is either beautiful or informative, is likely to attract sharing activity. Make it as easy as possible to share your image with attribution by including snippets.
6. Contribute to a niche network
Niche networks are hangouts your audience uses. Some examples include Meetup, Care2, Gentlemint, CafeMom, thirdAGE, and Athlinks. The idea behind this one is that there is someplace on the web, probably multiple places, where your audience is networking with itself. This is different from social networks, which aren’t topically focused. Find these places and become a part of the community.
7. Content bookmarking networks
Sites like Reddit, Inbound.org, and GrowthHackers exist for people to publish links to content, which is then voted on by the community. If the content gets voted up rather than down, sites like these can send massive amounts of traffic, sometimes so much that it can crash your server. But be weary. These sites are also extremely averse to self-promotion and many will ban you and links to your site if you come across as even slightly spammy. Be sure to respect the rules and culture of these communities, label your links as [OC] for “original content,” and do not post to sections of these sites that don’t allow for self-promotion.
8. Use attention-grabbing headlines
The overall lesson of six studies I looked at in a post published at SEMrush was that the headlines that get clicked are the headlines that give people a very clear expectation of what to find on the other side of the click, but without giving away the punchline. In contrast, the headlines that get shared seem to be more emotional and promise a more personal impact, using phrases like “X will make you” or “this is what.”
On the whole, “forward-referencing” headlines seem to combine the best of clarity and shareability. These are headlines like “How X Are Using Y To Z,” which indicate something very specific on the other end of the click, while at the same time inciting curiosity.
9. Join a roundup
In some industries and topics of interest, there are a few blogs and publications that like to publish occasional roundups of things others have published in the industry. If your content is up to their standards, contact them to ask if they are interested in including you in a roundup, especially if you have something proprietary to share.
10. Create a roundup
Creating your own roundup can be just as effective a way of promoting yourself as asking to be included in one. Brands and influencers appreciate being included in a roundup and are likely to share the roundup with their audience, particularly if you get in touch with them to let them know about it.
11. Mention influencers you cited
Any time you mention an influencer in your content, contact them after you publish the content. Depending on your industry, you can do this by mentioning them in a tweet or social media post, emailing them, or all of the above. The point is to make sure they know you mentioned them in the content and to use this as a context for further discussion.
12. Ask influencers for quotes
Contacting an influencer, or a list of influencers, and asking them for a quote to include in a blog post, is likely to result in a response, since influencers are looking to promote themselves the same as anybody else. After publishing your post, and letting them know it’s been published, they are likely to promote your post, since it is self-promotion.
13. Otherwise involve influencers in the content creation
Mentioning influencers and asking them for quotes are by no means the only way to include them in the process of producing a piece of content. Find other, more innovative ways to collaborate with influencers and they will inevitably want to help promote the end product, since cross-promotion is self-promotion.
14. Publish your post to Medium
You know, Medium. And Tumblr, Blog Engage, and Triberr. As well as any other blogging platform that people are actually using to discover content.
15. Q&A Sites
Like social media groups, Q&A sites allow you to address topically relevant information. Answering specific questions that include links to specific pieces of content tailored to answer them is a powerful way to earn evergreen traffic.
Same idea here as social media groups and Q&A sites. Discussions are taking place here that revolve around specific topics, and the right forum is an audience hangout. Many forums also allow you to include a link in your forum signature. So long as you are contributing to the discussion, this can be a good way to earn exposure and pickup referral traffic.
17. Post at the appropriate frequency for each social network
While posting frequency isn’t set in stone and will vary from industry to industry and from audience to audience, CoSchedule found that, based on 14 different studies that looked into posting frequency, the ideal frequency is 1 to 2 posts a day for Facebook, roughly the same for LinkedIn and Instagram, twice on Google+, and 15 tweets between 2am and 10pm for Twitter.
18. Join a content promotion network
Networks like Viral Content Bee and Quuu exist to let you submit your content for promotion. Viral Content Bee consists of others who want to promote content, and Quuu provides users with hand-curated content suggestions. Few places actually encourage you to promote your content, so take advantage of those that do. Sniply, Brand24, Flauntt, Issuu, and Spokal are other good examples of networks worth trying.
19. Send an email to your email list
Yes, it is definitely worth doing this, at least to that segment of subscribers who joined your email list to get a hold of a lead asset or indicated that they want to receive emails about blog post updates. You’re at least six times more likely to get a click-through from an email than a tweet. If you want your content to get shared, you need to start with your own audience.
20. Add it to your email signature and other email promotional techniques
Include a link to your most valuable content in your email signature, your email signup thankyou pages, in your email drips, and as a footer call-to-action in your email campaigns. Use behavior-triggered segmentation to send automated emails to users who have not visited the content. The sky is the limit as long as you’re tactful. Remember, your subscribers are the only people in your audience that you have a direct line to.
21. Always use a call-to-action for your content
Assuming you are using a platform where a promotional link is allowed, you should always include a call-to-action with your link, rather than just posting the link as a citation. Most readers won’t take an action unless you directly give them a reason and ask them to. Simply mentioning that a piece of content exists and relying on the reader to take the hint is a bad idea.
22. Link from your popular content to your new content
Content definitely obeys a power law in terms of the traffic it attracts, with a small number of posts tending to bring in the vast majority of traffic. Linking to new, topically related posts from your most popular older posts could be a great way to give your new content the boost it needs to reach a larger audience.
23. Send out a press release
So long as you are using press releases only when you actually have something newsworthy to say, they can be a great way to pick up press from legitimate media outlets, including actual news stories and opinion pieces that are more than just duplicates of your press release. Press releases should be announcing something more than a blog post, however. The subject of the blog post needs to be something a media organization would be interested in discussing and that would fit into their larger narrative framework.
24. Paid promotion
It might sound like cheating, and it might sound like a way to throw away money, and if you aren’t careful that’s exactly what it is, but the advertising industry has expanded far beyond the AdWords model. Networks like Taboola and Outbrain now exist specifically to promote content by recommending it on other content sites. Prices here are far more affordable than networks where you have to compete with product advertisers. StumbleUpon ads and Reddit ads are also great places to pick up loads of cheap traffic, and Facebook ads can be quite cheap if you target the right topics and demographics.
25. Paid search
“Wait, didn’t you just call out AdWords as a waste of money for promoting content?” Yes, but there’s one area of content marketing where paid search can still be valuable: as a way to send traffic to lead magnets. Unless you have money to burn, I wouldn’t send paid search traffic to a landing page that isn’t already converting visitors into subscribers, but if you know your landing page performs well, and you know the lifetime value of a subscriber, paid search can have a positive ROI here.
26. Retargeting ads
Since ad retargeting only shows ads to people who have already visited your site in the past, this can be a powerful way to draw people back to your site who enjoyed it but might otherwise have forgotten about it. Like all paid promotion strategies, it’s not something you should be doing for every blog post, but it can be a powerful way to take one piece of content to the next level and transform it into a solid pillar of your content marketing strategy.
27. Native advertising
Buying a content placement on a major media organization’s site can be a good way to get your content in front of a lot of eyeballs, but it’s important to make the effort to transform those visitors into a portion of your audience for the long haul, or the money will go to waste.
28. Make a Flipboard magazine
Sign up for Flipboard, use their browser plugin to publish your posts to a magazine, and use their other promotional tools to enhance sharing on the platform. Attract readers to your magazine by sharing unique content from special places on the web that most people won’t discover on their own.
29. Contact people who have linked to similar content
Using a backlink tool such as Ahrefs, identify sites that have linked to similar pieces of content in the past, such as other pieces of content that show up for the same search queries, and let them know about your content. Always be sure to give a context for contacting them, such as “I noticed you shared this and I thought you might like this.”
30. Thank people who have shared your content previously
If an influencer is present on at least two social networks, and they share your content on one of them, mention and thank them in a second post on a different social network. Since they’ve already shared your content, they’re likely to do it again, and even if they don’t, this can strengthen your working relationship for the future.
31. Meta promotion
There’s nothing wrong with a “Wow, this blew up: [url]” tweet or something serving a similar purpose, depending on your audience and industry of course.
32. Send direct messages on LinkedIn
Contact relevant influencers on LinkedIn using the direct messaging feature, especially if you are in the B2B sector.
33. Include snippets in your content
Blog posts don’t really get shared on social media: blog post titles and snippets from them are what get shared. Make this easy by including social media embeds in your blog posts that people can easily reshare by clicking a button. Snippets can be facts, data visualizations, helpful tips, strong opinions, or images. Remember, social media is built for bite-size shareable pieces of content.
Load your blog posts with them and make it easy for people to share. Click to tweet is a great way to do this for Twitter. Use Facebook’s tool to get an embed of a Facebook post, or just select “embed post” from the top right corner of your Facebook post. Your snippets should be carefully chosen for maximum shareability: which typically means including a statistic, a quote from a prominent personality, data visualization, visual instructions, jokes, or emotionally impactful or controversial statements.
34. Share your images to social media and add them as snippets
Instead of posting your images directly to the blog post, post them to your social network of choice, then embed that social media post in your blog content, and finally do some cross promotion by including a link to your blog post with the image post. Image posts tend to capture more attention and get shared more than links to blog posts do. Using this method, the blog post promotes the social media post, and the social media post promotes the blog post.
35. Pin your images to Pinterest
Pinterest is one of the biggest drivers of referral traffic on the web, so any original images you create should be published there, as long as they make sense on their own. Using images that hint at more and include a link are especially effective.
36. Use HARO, “Help A Reporter Out”
HARO is a place for journalists to find experts to quote in their news stories. So long as you approach this with the mindset of helping the journalists first and promoting yourself second, this can be a powerful way to earn press.
37. Email journalists directly
Provided you have an expertise and something newsworthy to say, contacting journalists can be a useful way to earn press, again as long as you are thinking about the news story first.
38. Make your social sharing buttons prominent
While social sharing buttons aren’t typically as effective as snippets, they should still be placed in a prominent location so that it’s easy for visitors to share your content to their social network. Make sure that you use social sharing buttons as opposed to mere “like” buttons. “Likes” play virtually no role in what people see in their social feeds, while people are much more likely to see something if the link was actually posted on a friend’s account.
39. Follow influencers on twitter shortly after publication
Influencers who check their followers will also check what those followers are publishing, and if you time things appropriately so that you follow somebody interested in a specific topic shortly after you publish content on that specific topic, you are more likely to get them to follow you and share your content. I wouldn’t advise using this as the only method of promotion or interaction through Twitter, but it can give your Twitter strategy a boost.
40. Use hashtags
Hashtags should be used to join an existing conversation, not as keywords, not as ways to launch a Twitter campaign, and always, always, always make sure you know what the hashtag represents so that you don’t end up mistakenly representing something you abhor.
41. Likewise, join Twitter chats
Here’s a useful guide regarding how to do this.
42. Schedule your Tweets and other social media posts
Doing this allows you to post tweets regularly, promote your archives on a regular basis, post all day without being on Twitter all day, and keep your content fresh in your follower’s feeds. Avoid scheduling your tweets to go out exactly on the hour, half-hour, or fifteen-minute increments, since many others will be doing exactly that. Scheduling for odd times means you’re more likely to show up before or after a surge in your followers’ feeds.
43. Post late at night or during off hours
This is something you should test rather than take as gospel, but posting when fewer people are posting can increase your visibility, so long as the decrease in the number of people available to see your post isn’t as significant as the decrease in posts.
44. Pin your most successful posts in your social feeds
Much of content marketing relies on keeping the momentum going for the pieces of content that accomplish the most. Pin your most successful content to keep that momentum going. This is similar to the idea of digging into and promotion your archives, but in the shorter term.
45. Make a video out of your content
Videos appeal to a very different kind of audience than written content is, and it doesn’t take a great deal of work to transform a blog post into a “talking head” YouTube video. Videos that do well on YouTube tend to pick up views and can send referral traffic for a very long time.
46. Made a slideshow out of your content
Slideshare is one of the top 150 sites on the web according to Alexa, and like video, it targets a very different kind of audience than written content. Like YouTube, if a slideshow finds the good graces of the platform’s recommendation engine, it can send traffic for a long time.
47. Make a pdf out of your content
You can get a blog post transformed into a professional pdf or e-book via a site like Microlancer, and upload pdfs to sites like Scribd and DocDroid to reach new audiences. Since pdfs can be classified as Whitepapers or E-Books, especially if they are design friendly, they are usually much easier to promote, and can also be used as lead magnets to build a subscriber list which will help you promote your future content through sharing.
48. Make a podcast out of your content
Same idea as video and slideshows here, and if you submit your podcast to the right platforms you can once again pick up that evergreen traffic.
49. Contact social media influencers
Using tools like Buzzsumo and Followerwonk you can find influencers on social media who have shared your content, your competitor’s content, and topically similar content in the past. This makes it easy and natural for you to reach out to them or respond to their posts and build a rapport. Use @mentions and replies or just send them an email, or all of the above. Just make sure that you’re contacting them with something they’ll actually be interested in hearing, not spamming them.
50. Email influencers
As I hinted in the previous point, emails are, in many cases, more likely to result in a positive result than social media messages in isolation. Most people don’t “clear” their social media “inboxes,” but most people do at least see the subject lines of every email they receive, even if they delete most of them before reading them. If your subject line is relevant, an email is likely to capture more attention, but you better have something useful for them.
51. Get syndicated
One possibility is to get syndicated by an influencer or platform as a result of your outreach. This is typically only possible if you already have a decent audience of your own, and you may need to have an agreement that the content is published to their platform exclusively for a set period of time before you publish it to your own, but if their platform has a large enough audience this effort is very much worth it.
52. Become a regular columnist
A halfway point between syndicating your content and guest posting is becoming a regular columnist for an online magazine, newspaper, or multi-author blog. You will need to demonstrate a lot of value and reliability if you hope to become a regular columnist for a site like this, but the repeated exposure will do a great deal for your brand, referral traffic, and backlink profile.
Putting your content where people will find it is an absolute must if you want to make the most of your content marketing efforts. Keep a link to this page handy and keep referring back to it whenever you run out of ways to promote your content. Remember, this cycle never ends.
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