"This client has such rich content, I don't understand why they don't have any shares on their posts"
"They should really be promoting their posts, I couldn't find one spot where they actually promoted their content apart from simply publishing and posting a link on their social channels."
This is more common of a conversation than I would like to admit. People think about content in a one-dimensional way more often than not. "If I publish, they will come" is a terrible shot-in-the-dark strategy to content marketing. If you're not proactively planning how to promote your content, it's not going to gain quick traction and will honestly fall by the wayside unless you're in a very un-competitive space.
The above quotations were from an internal chat on Slack that our team was having as we were doing a thorough content audit for a new client. The client has over 40 blog posts published, but the traffic and shares on them were completely sub-par. The reason being? They were taking that same shot-in-the-dark approach.
"Publish and pray." It doesn't work, and they are in a very un-competitive niche building grade-a quality content that should rank.
So, for anyone else in this position I want to lay out the quick, high-impact tactics that we immediately recommend to anyone in this position to get their content rolling.
5 Quick '80-20 Principle' Tactics to Post Promotion
1. Tap into communities
My favorite, and fastest way to boost up immediate interest is by tapping into communities that are low barrier to entry, and easily accessible. What do I mean by this? Every major social media outlet (Google+, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn) has their own form of communities that you can easily join and start interacting with immediately. These are absolutely invaluable.
"Communities" on Google+
"Groups" on LinkedIn
"Groups" on Facebook
And even create "Lists" on Twitter with people who are "influencers" in the space, or that you know would share your stuff.
Head to the "communities" page first.
I'll use "surfing" as the example for this one. If I were building content for a surf board company, a surfing team, or a surfing destination, I would be all over Google+ Communities looking for "surfing" communities to share my content to, to find content to share on my page, and to +1 other's content to get them to check out my page.
As you can see, immediately you can join all of these networks and have access to over 35,000 people's newsfeed. I'm trying to sell stand up paddle boards specifically though, so let's check out that community first.
Once you join you can publish whatever you want, and you can +1 other's content, which will give them notifications and get them interested in who you are and why you +1'd their content. The same goes with sharing the content, except now it's on your feed too, so you're able to give your followers something else interesting to see, and provide more value, for free.
Obviously the more professional of the groups, but that's the exact kind of thing you're looking for, very targeted groups that are more likely to share.
Start by sorting by group, and just searching your terms again.
It's pretty straight-forward but no-less powerful. Join the groups, start engaging with their content the same way you did on Google+ and post the content from your blog that is most relevant to their corresponding groups.
Of course, with Facebook's nearly creepy amount of data, they will get very specific on the location and mutual relationships you have to others in your network as it pertains to your searches. Simply enter your search, and use this dropdown to find your groups, join and interact the same as the other networks.
Always make sure every community is very targeted to the content you're sharing. Never make it look like spam, and the real key is to actually engage in these communities to build followers and fans from these communities, and share their content on your own page as well. Play the notification game, if you're in their head-space, you have a better chance they will investigate you and follow you if they're interested. All of this will help build your network and make promotion that much easier, beyond the simple benefit of pushing content out to highly targeted communities with thousands of followers.
A Twitter List strategy is just kind of the icing on the cake. If you set up multiple lists that are very targeted and segmented towards people you really like, when you write a certain kind of post you can reach out to them and let them know they would really enjoy it. The kicker is they will get a notification that you've invited them to the list, so make sure you name it something appropriate and not off-putting to them like "People who share my stuff" or something of that ilk, I'd go with generic names, or ego-flaring names like "Awesome Surfers" or "Fantastic Journalists" etc.
First go to your Twitter lists
Then build out the lists that you want to have and start adding people to them.
I've created a lot of lists to segment some of my favorite designers, developers, and writers. Most of which are now following me as well because they want to network and realize we are pretty alike in our style and values. I'm also subscribed to some lists that I want to filter great content from to re-share to my community, as soon as they publish. I'm not doing this from a purely promotional standpoint on my personal profile, but you can see how it can work for that purpose from a company profile.
2. Paid Social Promotion
Promote the bigger more valuable pieces through Twitter and Facebook using promoted posts. This might sound like cheating, but it's not. Simply stated Twitter and Facebook's promoted posts are very cheap, and you can get an insane amount of impressions, shares, followers, likes, and re-shares from using them. You can read everything you need to know about promoting posts on Twitter and Facebook from those respective links. You can also do this through LinkedIn, StumbleUpon and Pinterest (best for visuals), as well as Google+ and many other networks, though I honestly think the biggest bang-for-your-buck is through Facebook and Twitter. The key is to go with whatever your niche is, and where you have the largest audience already established.
The way most social networks are posing their ads is that you have limited organic reach with your customers, and through promoted posts you reach all of your fans. For example on Facebook if you publish an organic post, you only reach about 6-8% of people who have liked your page. If you promote the post, it will reach all of them. This is a fantastic way to quickly generate a ton of buzz around one of your new blog posts, and get your customers sharing and doing the organic reach for you.
Using paid social promotion will help you spike that initial burst of shares to rapidly increase the reach of your posts.
3. Paid Content Promotion
Use Outbrain and services like it (Outbrain is our favorite) as a way to drive CPC (cost per click) traffic to your content and create shares that way.
The beautiful thing about Outbrain is, you set up your budget, you set up your URL and title, and it shoves you in front of potentially millions of viewers with content lists hosted on publications like BBC and CNN,
Outbrain is simply a no-brainer to quickly push people to your content and get eyes on your content, if it's valuable to them, they will share it.
4. Mentions, notifications, and interviewees
When you're publishing, try to @mention on Twitter, or tag specific people on other networks who would benefit from the post, or who were somehow involved with, mentioned in, or contributed to the article. This can quickly get them to re-tweet or re-share your post and quickly gain you a far larger reach than you would have initially had on your social promotion.
If you can wrap people in to your post from the beginning (preferably people with large social audiences), having them contribute quotes, mini-interviews, or sections of content they will be far more likely to share the post with their network when you hit publish and follow up with them. This also helps to get more links pointing towards your content if you get well regarded people in the industry contributing original content to your posts that others might find interesting.
5. Niche content sharing communities
This one is pretty straight-forward. There will almost always be niche communities that you can submit content to.
Here are some for example:
Inbound.org for marketers
Designer news for designers
Pinkbike for mountain bikers
Hacker news for developers
Growth hackers for marketers that also like buzzwords
There are communities like this for every niche, and if there isn't one in yours, create one (like layervault did for designer news) on a subdomain – it will be an invaluable source of links, social shares, traffic, and content amplification opportunities.
Simply speaking, post your content to these niche communities, and ask your friends and internal team to up-vote it and share the links out from their profiles.
Bonus. Syndication with viral loops
This one is so little used, yet so powerful if done right. Certain networks have powerful "viral loops" which basically just means an internal mechanism for discovery that can compound the amount of viewers and shares you get on your content dramatically. For example Medium has their own leaderboard for the day, where they show the most recommended posts for that day on Medium. If you can get your post on this board you will easily get 2,000-3,000 views in a few hours.
LinkedIn blog posts have the same sort of loop. There are other networks that do as well, you just have to look for special opportunities to get more views and shares out of your content on a syndicated forum like these.
Syndicate your post to these networks and give a trace-back link to the original article, claiming the one on your domain was the original. A lot of people will click through and share the original, or at least view your site if they enjoyed the article.
This all comes down to writing great stuff too that is worthy of being shared, or else good luck getting anyone to share it. Which brings me to the next point before we wrap this up.
Always use the basics as well
1. Your own email lists
Send the content to your own email lists immediately after publication, and if you want to go above and beyond and add more value (which those who would subscribe to your email list deserve) add something special to the post as well. A downloadable attachment, an extra note, or even added links to other information.
2. Networks you control, any communities on the networks we listed above
If you own a Google+ community, make sure you share there first. If you own a LinkedIn community, a Facebook Group, or any other community, share there first. Obviously share to all of your own profiles organically after posting as well.
3. Your own inner-circles
As we touched on above with the Twitter lists, build out your own "inner circle" list with high-impact sharers who have large audiences who could share and comment on your content, and even proof it for you before you publish. Make sure you're giving them value as well, and helping them as much as possible.
Read this fantastic post from the Groove blog about how they used an inner circle list to get 1,000 new subscribers in 24 hours.
4. Re-share your content after time has passed
Belle Beth Cooper makes a great case for why re-sharing content after a bit of time on social media is so important in this thorough write-up on the Buffer blog. Basically you're not going to reach everybody on most networks when you first publish and share out your content, especially when a Tweet only has a half-life of 24 minutes.
You have to set up a post to share the next day, a week from that day, 2 weeks from that day, and a month from that day as well. Then don't forget to go back and re-share old-gold pieces as well.
5. Make sure your site is set up well for social sharing
Image sharing enabled
Mobile social sharing & share buttons well optimized
Cards & meta data set up properly
All of these are pretty simple to get set up. I use and recommend SumoMe to set up their "Share" tool which will add easy functionality to share images from your post on social media sites like Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, etc. as well as to set up a beautiful and effective scrolling social bar on desktop and a perfect mobile share bar.
If you're using modern CMS technology like Wordpress, Squarespace, Shopify or anything of the like you'll probably be pretty well set on Open Schema for social sharing, whereby it will automatically pull in social images and headlines / descriptions for your posts when people share your URL – but just to make sure you're well set up, use this structured data testing tool, set up Twitter Cards, and make sure your Facebook Open Graph meta data is set up properly.
There are so many ways to promote your blog posts, don't just post and pray that it will pick up steam. It won't, unless you actively promote it.
These are just a few of our highest impact promotion tactics that we recommend you use!