If you struggle to attract a steady stream of quality readers to your blog, you’re not alone. The good news is that your blog isn’t a lost cause.
There are many smart strategies you can use to create compelling, bite-sized content your readers will devour—and share like crazy.
The secret is to tap into the power, speed and instant accessibility of social media. Here are 5 simple, foolproof ideas you can put into action TODAY:
#1: Build instant rapport
Rapport happens when there’s a relationship of mutual trust between you and your audience.
Social media conditions lead us to expect meaningful relationships to grow quickly, based on interests, likes and other searchable snippets that instantly highlight what we have in common.
But we do the exact same thing in real life. We connect to people at networking events based on first impressions—age, appearance, business niche, and so forth.
We talk to people in restaurants who are rooting for the same football teams. In other words, it’s human nature. The question for you is how do you achieve this same instant rapport on a BLOG—especially in a virtual world that’s full of distractions?
You can’t be everything to everyone. But you should write like you’re talking to someone—preferably, to just a single reader. Who is that person? What does he or she want to know?
In the image below, Derek Halpern of Social Triggers shows how he addresses his blog readers.
Be friendly and direct, and never forget that your readers are individuals with interests, families, jobs, etc.
For example, to promote a recent blog post to my email list, I might start by saying something like, “Halloween’s almost here. We just got back from picking pumpkins. I can’t wait to carve mine. I hope you’re enjoying the cooler weather too!”
The first time I did that, emails came back to me—with colorful personal stories, anecdotes and even photos. Those relationships are priceless.
#2: Create relevance
After you succeed in building rapport with your readers, you’ve hooked them—at least temporarily. But how can you be sure they’ll come back?
The key is to consistently provide engaging, actionable and relevant content.
Focus on delivering added value to your core market at every opportunity. Deliver actionable takeaways. Cater to their interests. Remember to educate, entertain AND empower—no matter what topic you’re covering.
If you want to educate AND empower your readers, you’re going to need to give them evidence that what you’re saying or doing really works—and that’s where you can go above and beyond your competitors.
Statistics, infographics, research and quotes from experts (especially from a new interview YOU conduct) are great ways to add value and create truly unique content.
In the image below, Vistage International (a training agency for CEOs) created an in-depth infographic.
For another eye-catching example of a “meaty” post, check out crowdSPRING’s recent post on how small businesses are using social media. It’s jam-packed with data that really delivers a punch both statistically and visually.
#3: Provide instant gratification
If you’re really passionate about what you do, then chances are you’ve got a ton of ideas you’re itching to share.
But you might want to put the brakes on that instinct. One of the cardinal rules of social media is speedy delivery of good ideas. Remember: quality, not quantity.
Providing instant gratification is all about effectively delivering high-quality content in bite-sized pieces. It’s about making your blog readers’ lives easier.
Take a look at Seth Godin’s blog. He’s the undisputed master of instantly gratifying, bite-sized blog content. Even his post on Steve Jobs’ passing, “A Eulogy of Action,” boiled all of our complex feelings down into one simple, compelling, actionable idea—would we live up to Jobs’ example?
Instant gratification is also about restraint. Our fidgety readers are scoping out a ton of blogs, posts and feeds every day—you need to catch their eye and keep it in a short enough time to give them one main idea or action item that they’ll remember—and come back for more. Don’t indulge the urge to go on the “tangent train.” Stick to one idea, develop it, give it some meat and watch your blog engagement rise.
#4: Ignite shareability
Serious bloggers know how valuable their blogs really are. But most of us won’t see real business results from blog content until we take the next step and give our content wings.
Content with wings takes off—people send it to everyone they know, because they love it so much. To make sharing easy, provide the right mix of sharing buttons with each post. Put prominent share buttons where they’re easy to see, reach and click.
In the image below, Free Blog Factory uses the DiggDigg share buttons to encourage sharing on their site.
Another important component of shareability is harder to pin down—it’s about providing value in unexpected ways. And sometimes, that means thinking outside the box. A great example of this is a post Chris Brogan wrote, “The Practice Is the Reward,” where he manages to connect his workouts to social media, business, happiness and beyond.
Don’t be afraid to branch out and introduce a new concept or idea into your posts. Face it: we get so hung up on our business or niche that we all forget to put down the vacuum and look outside ourselves for a pick-me-up.
Talk about a book you think your audience will like, even if it’s not directly related to your service or product. Interview someone new whom readers will benefit from learning more about. Select ideas that matter to you and your audience—but in a new or challenging way. This will inspire YOU—and in turn, your readers.
#5: Make your closing count
Great content isn’t enough.
The final challenge? Getting your readers emotionally invested in you, your brand and your business. Invested readers comment, share and engage in higher numbers—and they’re also more likely to become future customers.
Don’t let readers just walk out on you. Instead, make every closing count. Ending a post with “Make sure to post a comment” is accurate, but it’s not a very effective way to close a blog post. (Full disclosure: we’ve all made this mistake, including me.)
Stop telling your readers WHAT to do. Instead, spark conversation—ask them to think, participate and invest in your content.
Better Content Leads to Better Results
Improving engagement on your blog is just one part of your content strategy, but I’d say it’s the MOST crucial—because you can then use your blog as a hub, driving traffic to and from your social media streams, email list and even YouTube channel.
Remember, the best blogs aren’t necessarily the best written, or the ones with the newest ideas. They’re not necessarily the shortest. (We can’t all be Seth Godin!) But they DO share one thing in common: meeting, and often exceeding, the expectations of content-hungry readers—who are happy to devour, share and come back for more.
Now it’s your turn. What do you think? What ONE piece of advice would you give a friend to help take his/her blog to the next level? Share your thoughts and comments in the box below!