One of the on-going themes and challenges I hear from my clients is how do you write a blog post that drives traffic. There is an underlying sense of frustration by many corporate bloggers that they are writing blog posts that are rarely read. Add to this list the pressure from corporate management to show the effects of web marketing initiatives and many company blog writers are oftentimes left with feelings of falling short.
We’ve put together some simple tips and strategies that we have seen a number of successful corporate bloggers use that we think can be of value to you and your social media writing.
As painful as it might feel at first try to keep an eye on how many views your blog posts are receiving and also the amount of time that users are spending on your post. Ideally you want to gauge if they are actually reading your content or bouncing off the site. Remember that to accurately measure this you need to make sure to push your readers to the full-post page. We’ve seen a few clients who went the Tumblog format realize after the fact that the very nature of this format means that you are going to underreport your readership since all your content could be on the home page.
This is one of the areas where I tend to struggle the most. Remember to Keep It Simple and avoid overly technical language. This can be tougher in some industries than others, but keep an eye on your readability scores (drop me a note to learn more about this) and adjust your copy as necessary. You really should try to strive to write at a fifth grade level. This is nearly impossible for me, but try to make it your goal. Keep it short and easy to understand. This can also make it much more compelling when it comes to social media sharing where attention spans are even lower.
Use the word “you.”
Successful blog posts and social updates gives the reader the impression that they are writing directly to you. It’s all about connection, so make sure to use the word “you” and try to build the bridge to your audience. Social media and blog writing is much more personal, even if it’s coming from a corporate perspective, so try to focus on avoiding “we” and instead include more “you”. If this becomes difficult imagine you are writing your blog post to an individual versus to a website. Think of how you would write and try to keep it conversational.
Write how-to posts.
People want useful information that they can put to work. I have found this to be a huge help on our Zephoria Facebook posts. We continually receive positive feedback when we include information that can enrich the lives of our readers/fans/friends. This means focusing on information and less upon being promotional. No on wants to be sold, but everyone wants information, plus this informational approach can help you build your reputational authority.
Create substantive posts.
Unfortunately there is no short-cut to engaging content so don’t hesitate to focus on developing content that has details and substance versus superficial surface content. This is tough because writing takes time and detailed posts can take a considerable amount of time to compose. The positive side is that the more detailed posts will get higher readership as well as have a greater chance to be shared. When possible also try to add graphics and photos, but don’t let the lack of these visual aides stop you from writing.
Develop engagement hooks to your readers.
When I hire a copywriter I look for someone who can not just write a create article, but also someone who can create an engaging headline. The headline is what will drive a click, while great body copy is what will keep their attention. I suggest that you look for headlines that focus upon the following:
- Offers Something Unique: I love Lifehacker and think they do a perfect job at delivering on this promise
- Useful Promise: A headline drives results when it is able to promise some specific benefit or usefulness to your readers. Look for ways to deliver upon a specific promise that meets your readers needs.
- Get Specific: Add numbers or statistics to a headline, but do this carefully. This is a personal pet peeve of mine because if you overuse this technique it will make your blog appear to be “gimmicky”, but with that said look how often this is done on Mashable, TechCrunch and Lifehacker.
I feel the best headlines will use at least two of the above, but don’t stop with the headline. The first few sentences are absolutely critical to keeping your readers engaged. once again Google Analytics will allow you to see how well you are delivering on this promise. If you see that time on site is dropping to under a minute you may need to look at the structure of your posts as well as how quickly you are providing them with your compelling content. Remember – Google Analtyics is a corporate bloggers best friend.
To help readers continue to read your posts make sure you also use subheads in your copy. This is also a great way to use those all valuable H-tags to also help to boost your SEO exposure. So not only are your guiding the user, but you’re also communicating valuable information to the search engines.
I find that writers tend to fall into two camps. Either they feel overly confident about what they have to say and they begin to talk at their readers or they are not as confident as they should be so they write tentatively. Readers want to sense your passion. You’re writing not because it’s the means to a pay check, but you’re writing because you feel passionate about the topic. Passion is contagious so don’t feel you have to temper your zeal for your topic. Passion is supported by your reptuational authority so include examples that you feel help to support your claim. Make it personal and passionate and leverage it with your authority. Ironically it is sometimes the person who has the least reptuational authority who can sometimes write with the greatest passion so help to correct this mistake by using your knowledge, education, experience to help support your writing and when appropriate use your internal company knowledge base to provide you with additional authority.
Care and compassion.
I love working with author and marketing professionals that genuinely love and care about their company, products, and services. Know that your writing can make a difference not just to your company, but also to your users. You can make a difference! When you take time to personalize your audience and care about them as people it can transform your writing. Noted author and motivation speaker, Zig Ziglar once said “You will get all you want in life if you help enough other people get what they want.” Have care and compassion for your readers and watch your blog posts and social media efforts excel.
I’d love to learn from you and insights you have on creating great blog posts. Drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.