I am a relative newby when it comes to blogging, tweeting and gaining acceptance in the social media fraternity. I have been blogging and tweeting on and off for well over a year and, because I was seeing so little traffic to my blog, had convinced myself that I was wasting my time.
However, not being someone to give up, I decided that I needed a plan in order to become successful. After all, I am enjoying a successful career and my success isn’t an accident. I decided on a strategy, built a plan and then executed against it. It has been tough at times but right now, I am seeing the results of my efforts come to fruition.
Before building my social media strategy I spent hours researching and experimenting. Here’s what I have learnt:
It may seem obvious but, if your blog is going to attract a good following, you need to focus your posts on a narrow set of subjects. If you are passionate about one particular subject then stick with that. Since I focused my blog on Leadership I have seen my following on Twitter, the number of visits to my blog and the volume of comments received increase steadily
Well written, neat, uncluttered blog sites are more likely to be revisited, time after time. Messy, colourful, sites with poorly formed content, spelling mistakes and grammatical errors are a big turn off. Let your opinion and passion shine through but make sure you present your position in a clear and constructive, well structured missive.
My initial foray into blogging saw me publishing very erratically. I would see something that interested me and I would write a blog post detailing my opinion on said subject. Sometimes I would blog a couple of times a day, other times it might be several weeks before I gained inspiration. Everything I have read leads me to believe that regular posting is vey important and to never post more than once a day. I now go out of my way to research topics that I can opine on and have at least 6 articles queued up to post. I schedule my posts to automatically publish at 11:30am UK time / 6:30am EST so that I hit most of my UK, European and East Coast US readers at times when they might see them announced in their Twitter feed and have an opportunity to check them out.
There is a lot of research on Search Engine Optimisation and even more people out there that are willing to take you money in the pursuit of higher rankings in the search engines. I have never found anyone that will give me a guarantee of success! I have found a few simple rules that seem to help:
Blog titles are important. They need to engage the imagination of the reader but also need to work with the search engines. The advice is that a blog title should be between 2 and 20 words and 20 to 65 characters long. There should be an overlap of one to two words with both the custom SEO description and article body.
Custom SEO Description
There should be an overlap of roughly one to two words in the description with the article body. The description should be five to 30 words long and between 80 and 150 characters.
The Article Body
Word count should be between 50 and 1,500 words. This has to do with readers ability to read X number of words per minute and average time on site. Readers who finish an article feel better and are more likely to return.
But! Does Any of the above actually move the needle?
Sure, it all helps but without building a community around you of like minded, interested people, blogging can be compared to wetting yourself in a dark suit… It gives you a warm feeling but nobody really notices!
I experimented with a number of Twitter tools and with auto generating tweets. I found auto-tweeting to be a complete waste of time. I learnt that tweeting is immensely personal. The people you follow say as much about you as the people that follow you. Your tweets need to be aligned with the focus of your blog. It’s that consistency thing again! Wherever possible you need to tweet and retweet consistently. Most important, however, is to “connect” with your network on a personal level. Follow their links, retweet with a comment, add value. If you give, you will receive.
Moving the Needle
I reached a point some six weeks ago where I had built a small but effective following on Twitter with some recognised big hitters in my target space (Leadership) actually tweeting and retweeting some of my content. Readership of my blog had climbed to an average 20 reads a day (not a huge number but significantly better than the one or two I had been seeing) and I even saw the occasional comment on my blog.
I felt that if I couldn’t do better than this I was still wasting my time. I needed one further effort to make a measurable difference. To move the needle!
My first strategy was to devote time to commenting on the blogs I was reading. Curiously this had a big effect. It allowed me to connect on a more personal level. It increased my Twitter following and showed a measurable increase in traffic to my blog.
Then I discovered Triberr!
Really Moving the Needle with Triberr
Triberr is a cloud based tool that helps you build your social media network, your tribe. The concept is that you gather a group of like minded bloggers around you and you all agree to publicise each others content. Since I could see the value, I quickly signed up. I have to say that I was initially baffled by the new set of terminology I was confronted with (Bones, Bonfires, Chiefs, etc.) but I quickly got past that hurdle. My biggest problem was, how to join a tribe? I was the chief of my own tribe but I really wanted to join a successful, already functioning tribe.
My strategy was to search for other members of Triberr from the big hitters in my Twitter following. I initially tried tweeting a general request for invites to Triberr tribes and received an invite to join a small and fairly general tribe. I was grateful for the invite and joined. However, I really wanted to join a bigger tribe that focused on my passion, Leadership. I then found three big hitters (Lisa Pertilli, Ted Coine and Shawn Murphy) that were also members of Triberr. I made a personal request to each of them, received answers from all three and received an invite to join the New Era Leaders tribe.
Since joining the tribe, my Twitter following has climbed to over 300 people, I have an average of over 100 people a day reading my blog and the incidence of readers leaving comments is steadily increasing.
As usual, it is all about giving without expecting to receive. I spend time reading, commenting and recommending the posts of all member of all the tribes that I am now privileged to be a member of.
I am especially grateful to everyone that reads, comments on and recommends my work. It makes it all worthwhile and I always respond to their individual comments.
Clearly I still have a long way to go and, in the end, it is all about content quality and focus but I really do have a sense that I have started to make significant progress. I would like to connect with other tribes discussing Leadership so if you are a Tribal Chief please consider sending me an invite on Triberr. I am also happy to engage in conversation about the content of this posting. What are your experiences? How might I help you? Add your comments below and lets start a meaningful dialogue.