By Dan DelMain
So you wrote a captivating, keyword-rich blog post. You used some gorgeous, relevant photos and capped it all off with an enticing headline.
But no one seems to care. So far your blog post has...13 views.
Why did I waste so much time? you think. Clearly blogging doesn’t work.
What no one tells you is that you’re only halfway done when you publish a blog post. Then you have to spend an hour or two promoting your blog post. (In a perfect world, you’d devote more like four hours, or however long you spent writing and researching the post, but let’s start small.)
Think of it like selling your house. It might be the most breathtaking, light-soaked mansion, but no one’s gonna come check it out if they don’t know it’s for sale. You have to spread the word about your open house, and then people will flock to it.
So how do you get the word out? Three main ways:
Owned media (your own social profiles)
Paid media (paid promotions on other sites)
Earned media (free coverage from news outlets)
I’ll walk you through each of the main ways to promote your blog below. Then you’ll know what to do every time you publish a new blog post. Here’s what to do.
When you’re thinking about how to promote your blog, start in your own backyard: your company’s Facebook, Twitter, and other social profiles. Starting with owned and paid media can lead to more earned media. For example, if you tweet about your new blog post and an influential person on Twitter retweets it, their followers might click on the link and read your post.
Here are a couple tips to keep in mind: When you’re writing the social media update about your blog post, end with a question to encourage people to respond. For example, “Check out our new blog post about interior design trends for 2015! Have you seen black subway tile anywhere yet?” (Don’t forget to reply to people if they comment.) And check out this infographic for the best time to post to each social network.
Here’s how to promote your blog post on all the main social networks:
Facebook: Post the link to your blog post. Facebook automatically pulls the headline, description, and photo from the URL, but you can change these -- make sure you pick the most interesting photo. Write a compelling snippet to make people want to click, or copy and paste a good line from the post.
Twitter: Write a tweet about your blog post, include the link, and use a few relevant hashtags. Add “Please retweet” -- it works! (And it works better than “Please RT.”) Ask sparingly, though, so people don’t get sick of seeing it.
Google+: Like Facebook, Google+ will pull the title of your blog post and a photo when you past in the URL. Add some intriguing text and about 5 hashtags. Then change the post settings so you’re posting to Public, All Circles, and Extended Circles -- that’ll get the post in front of friends of friends.
LinkedIn: Post the link to your blog post with a description, and make sure an image shows up.
Pinterest: Pin the images in your blog post to Pinterest (another reason to use high-quality photos and diagrams). Put the blog post link in the description of the image, and use applicable hashtags.
Newsletter: OK, technically your e-newsletter isn’t a social network, but it’s still a great place to promote your latest blog posts. Include a photo, link, and description with a strong call to action to pique readers’ interest and get them to click.
Once you’ve done these things on your company’s social media profiles, don’t forget to like and share the updates through your personal profiles as well.
One of the best ways to promote your blog post is putting money behind it. People are bombarded with content online, and spending a few bucks can help get your post noticed. Once you’ve gotten the ball rolling, it may start gaining steam on its own. Here are three key ways to use paid media to promote your blog post:
Facebook: Boost Post
Recommended budget per post: $10-$25
It’s no secret that Facebook only shows a company’s updates to a small percent of its Facebook fans. You can pay to get more visibility. Facebook’s “Boost Post” option can get you more traffic to your blog post, as well as more likes, comments, and shares on that post. The blue “Boost Post” button is in the lower right of every post:
Once you’ve clicked Boost Post, Facebook will let you choose your audience and budget based on how many people you want to reach and how long you'd like your boost to run. You can also change your payment method. Here’s what it looks like:
Although “Boost Post” is easy and straightforward, some industry pros say it’s a waste of money -- more of a firehose approach than fine-tuning your target audience within Facebook. However, AdWeek wrote in 2014, “If your audience is solid and you’re just wanting to nurture them over time, boosting is a lightweight, powerful option.” If creating a Facebook ad sounds overwhelming or too time-consuming, try “Boost Post” -- if it doesn’t get you the results you want, you don’t have to use it again.
Twitter: Promoted Tweets
Recommended budget per tweet: $5-$25
Promoting one of your tweets will make it show up near the top of people’s Twitter streams. Promoted tweets are on a cost-per-click (CPC) basis, so you only pay if someone clicks on your tweet, favorites it, replies to it, or otherwise interacts with it. Here’s what a promoted tweet looks like:
Once you go to ads.twitter.com, Twitter asks what your goal for your promoted tweet is:
Specify a goal, choose a target audience, and then set a budget. Spending can vary. “Depending on your keyword and the size of your target audience, you could easily go through $100 in less than an hour,” writes Kristi Hines on CrazyEgg.
Setting up a promoted tweet will vary based on your objective. Twitter has detailed walk-throughs for each one:
You can also simply promote tweets that are doing well that you want to amplify.
Promoted tweets may seem a bit complicated, but they’re worth experimenting with. Make sure you check out these best practices for promoted tweets, like including a photo and hashtag.
StumpleUpon: Paid Discovery
Recommended budget per post: $10-$20
People use StumbleUpon to kill time and find interesting things to read and look at. Sounds underwhelming, but huge brands like Nike, BuzzFeed, HBO, and Red Bull all use “Paid Discovery” to get their content in front of StumbleUpon users. You don’t have to create an ad -- your blog post is the ad. StumbleUpon’s Paid Discovery feature can get traffic to your blog post and build brand buzz. Plus, you pay by number of unique visitors, and it’s really cheap compared to Facebook!
Here’s how. Create a StumbleUpon advertising account. Create a new campaign, and specify the target URL (your blog post). Enter how many visitors you want to reach every day, or your maximum daily budget.
Then specify your budget, audience, and scheduling. Make sure you take advantage of their targeting features to reach the right audience. You can target by demographics, location, even device (mobile vs. desktop).
This is the big leagues of how to promote a blog post. Earned media means getting the attention of journalists, bloggers, and influencers in your industry. Of the three content promotion strategies, this one takes the most time and persistence. Be patient. Once your blog post earns an audience on a small site, ideally it’ll have a snowball effect, getting picked up by bigger and bigger sites.
For example, the joke site Ship Your Enemies Glitter first got noticed by Product Hunt, a site that highlights the best new products. Then larger media outlets caught on. Within days, sites like Huffington Post, Business Insider, and Washington Post had all written about it. That’s what you want to happen!
But it takes some strategy. The online news cycle is fast and hungry -- writers and bloggers constantly need a stream of the newest and hottest stories. They want something both timely and fascinating. By posting your blog post on the three sites below, you have a chance of getting earned media coverage.
Sites like Gawker regularly get their stories from what’s popular on Reddit. (Here’s a good intro to Reddit if you aren’t familiar with the site.) But wait! You can’t just paste in your blog post URL and hope for the best.
Reddit users are a tough crowd. To succeed, you have to do more than promote yourself nonstop. Make sure you take time to upvote other people’s posts, leave comments, and generally provide value. Answer questions if you can. Redditors are very skeptical of businesses and self-promotion, so they’ll probably look at your profile to see if you’re just tooting your own horn or actually being a valuable part of the community.
Once you’ve added some value, find a few relevant subreddits where you can post a link to your blog post. For example, if you run a small accounting firm, you might drop in a link to your blog post “10 Secrets About Taxes” in the personal finance subreddit. Make sure you give it a good title and include a picture if possible. If people leave negative comments and downvote your post, don’t lose heart. Delete it and try again in a different subreddit. And use what’s popular in relevant subreddits to help you figure out future blog post topics.
Tumblr has a young, hip audience. The goal is to get Tumblr users with a lot of followers to “reblog” your post, which shares it with all of their followers. Amusing, awe-inspiring, and emotional topics are ideal for Tumblr.
Post an image or excerpt from your blog post to Tumblr, and include 7-12 tags so people can find it. (Tumblr users are constantly searching for things using tags.) Set your blog post as the content source, set the image to link to your blog post, and include a link to your post in the text below the image.
You can post something as simple as a product image or photo of your team in action -- anything that’s eye-catching and beautiful. And don’t forget to engage with others on Tumblr. Follow your customers if they have profiles!
Ideally, a StumbleUpon power user will see and like your content. Explains Social Media Examiner, “When an influential user stumbles and likes your content, it lets the StumbleUpon algorithm know that it’s quality content. It’s very similar to Google +1s. Your content can take off when you get 1-5 stumbles from influential users.”
One way to reverse-engineer this is to go to the “Follow” section of the StumbleUpon homepage and find users with a lot of activity. See what type of content they like, and then use that to inform your blog post content strategy going forward.
To encourage people to do more than just read your blog post, include calls to action at the end and halfway through. Thankfully, StumbleUpon makes it pretty easy for users who like your post to share it on their social networks. That’s the goal: getting more eyes on your post.
Another way to get earned media is reaching out to bloggers directly...but that deserves its own blog post!
The Bottom Line
Overall, thinking about how to promote your blog starts with creating excellent posts. Then owned, paid, and earned media become so much easier. Think about what your audience wants and what will be the most useful and helpful to them. Get that information across in an aesthetically pleasing, simple, concise, and emotional way. Then promote the heck out of your blog post!
Don’t be discouraged if it doesn’t immediately go viral, though. It will take you a while to hone your blog promotion strategy, and what works best will vary based on your industry and audience. Keep at it and eventually you’ll be rewarded with a burst of traffic.
Still not sure how to promote a blog post? Ask me questions in the comments section below or shoot me an email. We’re happy to promote blog posts for you, by the way -- we do it for clients all the time and they’re always impressed with the results.
Dan DelMain has a history of helping businesses realize their potential through online marketing. Before developing DelMain Analytics, Dan DelMain managed the marketing department for an e-commerce company. He left that company to form DelMain Analytics in 2009, where he could share his digital marketing talents with multiple businesses. A graduate of University of San Francisco with a degree in International Business, Dan enjoys being active indoors and outdoors, traveling abroad and playing bagpipes.