LEARN HOW TO GET HUGE RESULTS USING SOCIAL MEDIA

Donald Trump’s recent ascent to the White House caused shock waves of disbelief around the world. Over in New Zealand, another unlikely aspiring politician also caused a stir — albeit on a much smaller scale – by placing third in the race to replace Len Brown as mayor of Auckland.

The politician in question is Chloe Swarbrick. If the name is unfamiliar, you may be curious about her background. Well, she’s not a seasoned local-body politician, a well-known businesswoman, or a celebrity.

Chloe Swarbrick is, in fact, a precocious 22-year-old who, up until October’s elections, no one had heard of.

Now, to you, third place may not sound all that impressive. However, consider this: Chloe collected around 5,000 more votes than the previous election’s main contender and one-time reality-TV personality John Palino. The two who finished ahead of her were ex-Labour Party leader Phil Goff (he won the mayoralty) and ex-Xero managing director Vic Crone.

She’s got to be rich

Perhaps surprisingly, Chloe didn’t have a bottomless ‘war chest’ to draw from – she had about NZ$9,000. As a result, her face was absent from the thousands of billboards that littered Auckland’s streets – billboards that were much too expensive. And, predictably, mainstream media showed little interest in her.

So, how did she do it?

While everyone else used the dusty old strategy of putting up billboards and posting pamphlets – which most of us never read – Chloe took a 21st century approach.

You see, by day, Chloe is a social media strategist. So, knowing too well that traditional media would gobble up her funds before she had a chance to say ‘down with Len Brown’, Chloe stuck to what she knows.

Social media lets me, as it does with all candidates, create my own content. What social media and the internet did was democratise informationpeople can ask questions and get answers in real time,” Chloe told the New Zealand Herald.

Five social media tips

Of course, just being on social media isn’t enough. To be successful, you must:

  1. Add value – don’t create content for the sake of it. Make sure what you produce is informative and answers your audiences’ questions.
  2. Be relevant – stay on message. Being an expert baker doesn’t mean that talking about chocolate cakes will help your cause.
  3. Choose the right medium – what type of content does your audience prefer? Chloe made a lot of videos; however, you could write blogs, create memes or run competitions.
  4. Be consistent – set a publishing schedule and stick to it. This shows you are active and keeps audiences engaged.
  5. Be responsive – one wonderful thing about social media is that it enables you to engage with your audience in real time. So, be around for the conversation; when people comment, make sure you respond.

What can we learn from Chloe?

Most of us hold no political ambition. However, if you are reading this post, you probably run a business or a not-for-profit organisation. To achieve your goals, you need to reach out to your target customers or donors.

Before social media, ‘reaching out’ usually meant buying expensive advertising – something that is much easier for big organisations.

Incidentally, during the recent US election, as of late October, Hillary Clinton spent US$141.7 million on advertising; Donald Trump, on the other hand, spent just US$58.8 million.

What Chloe’s campaign demonstrates is that social media evens out the odds – ‘David really can challenge Goliath.’

“The Great Barrier Reef is in grave danger” – David Attenborough

 

Larger than the Great Wall of China, and the only living thing on earth visible from space, the Great Barrier Reef almost escapes description. Its scintillating beauty, whether photographed, filmed, or for those lucky enough, glimpsed up-close and underwater, is a testament to the vast diversity of life with which we share our planet.

And now we face a future without it.

It probably won’t be news to you that the Reef’s destiny hangs in the balance. Whether it’s reports of the potential impacts of coal mine developments, 2016’s global coral bleaching event, or UNESCO’s admonishment of Australia’s efforts to protect perhaps our best known World Heritage area, there’s a lot to keep up on.

Here’s a rundown of three key recent developments:

Legal challenge to Adani coal mine relaunched

A well-publicised court case, led by the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF), has sought to challenge a huge coal mining development proposed for Queensland’s Galilee Basin. The basis being that burning coal and climate pollution is inconsistent with international obligations to protect the Reef.

Adani’s Carmichael mine, if built, would be one of the largest coal mines in the world and would release more CO2 emissions annually than Bangladesh with its population of 160 million.

The ACF has argued that then federal environment minister Greg Hunt failed to consider the impact of emissions and climate change on the Reef when making his decision to approve the mine.

The ACF has redoubled its efforts after their case in the Federal Court was dismissed in August 2016, lodging an appeal against the decision in September 2016.

Threatened ‘In danger’ listing by UNESCO World Heritage Committee

Coal developments proposed by the Queensland government led to a warning from UNESCO in 2012 that the Reef risked being listed as a World Heritage site ‘in danger’. The UN body urged Australia to reconsider a coal terminal and port developments proposed on the Reef’s doorstep.

UNESCO has been closely monitoring progress since their initial warning, including an official visit to Australia. In 2015, UNESCO decided against listing the Reef, but said it would closely monitor conservation progress over the next four years.

On 26 September, Queensland Deputy Premier Jackie Trad met with UNESCO officials in Paris to discuss how the state government has progressed in protecting the Reef Amendments to tree-clearing laws that failed to pass parliament. The amendments were intended to reduce polluting land and agricultural runoff, one of the major ongoing threats to Reef health. Tree clearing has more than tripled in Queensland in recent years.

UNESCO said the status of this promise to strengthen land-clearing laws would be reflected as “significantly delayed” in future reports on the Reef. The commitment forms part of the Federal and Queensland government’s Reef 2050 plan.

Worst coral bleaching in history

Adding to pressure on the reef from development and pollution, a strong El Niño heralded what is widely regarded as the worst global bleaching event ever recorded in 2016. Ninety-three per cent of the Reef has been affected, with almost a quarter of its coral killed this year alone.

Some scientists believe it may now be too late for the Reef.

Others hold onto hope, but with the cool pragmatism of those who comprehend the scale of the task ahead. As Attenborough has said, “the resilience of the natural world gives you great hope really. Give nature half a chance and it really takes it and works with it. But we are throwing huge problems at it.”

Attenborough has seen first-hand the impact of these problems. The Reef he first visited 60 years ago was a very different place to today, having lost around 50 per cent of its coral cover in the 27 years between 1985 and 2012 alone.

Current efforts are not enough to save the Reef. More needs to be done, and quickly. Climate change is happening faster than predicted, and other human threats to the Reef like pollution and development continue to grow.

 

A brand is more than a logo and signature style for communications. It’s also what people think about your organisation. In this way, a brand is alive. It’s constantly being recreated in real-time based on people’s perceptions.

For your organisation to succeed, you want to ensure that those perceptions align with your own beliefs about who you are and what you stand for.

Your brand voice plays a key role in achieving this. But how do you finesse your brand voice? And what is brand voice anyway?

Identifying your brand’s personality

Your tone of voice helps your brand become memorable, meaning that how you say something is just as important as what you say — and sometimes even more so.

But how do you make sure you’re consistently using an authentic and effective tone of voice?

Start by thinking about your brand voice as an extension of your organisation’s personality. If your brand were a person, how would you describe them? Humble and wise? Cheeky? Direct? Friendly and approachable? Compassionate?

Establishing personality traits helps you set parameters. If confidence is one of your company’s main traits, then your tone of voice may be bold, assertive and direct. If you consider your organisation to be visionary, then your tone may be uplifting and aspirational. A bit lofty even.

Guiding questions for refining your brand voice

Clearly personality and tone go hand in hand. But there are other factors to consider as well.

As you continue to refine your brand voice, here are some guiding questions to consider:

  • What type of language will resonate with your key audiences? Casual language, including slang? Or more formal language?
  • How do personality and tone impact the cadence of your written communications? Are sentence fragments ok to use? Or are you more academic?
  • Are you conversational in your content, using ‘we’, ‘our’ and ‘you’, for example? Or do you strictly write about your organisation in the third person?
  • Do you use contractions in written communications? (This links back to your target audience as well as the level of formality you’re aiming for.)
  • How do you/your employees naturally speak about your organisation? How can this organic approach be captured in your written communications?

Making your organisation distinct through your unique brand voice

Finessing your brand voice means delving deeper than questions of style, such as punctuation preferences. It’s about communicating in a way that helps you effectively connect with your target audience and stand out from the crowd at the same time.

Although spring has just arrived here in Australia, winter is coming for our friends in the northern hemisphere.

“I’d never get anything done if I worked from home”.

People say that to me a lot. And to be honest, it’s how I feel all too often. There are sooooo many other things I could be doing around here, instead of hitting my desk and tapping out a thousand words on the inner workings of superannuation.

And it’s never harder than in winter.

It’s comfy, warm and cosy in bed. It’s so chilly out there that I don’t want to move. Seriously, where’s the incentive to get up and write? Especially when I could get away with leaving the work for another day.

But as any freelancer knows, drag your heels today and suddenly you don’t have time for the lucrative, urgent job that comes in tomorrow…

So here (from one reformed procrastinator to another) are five pro tips for freelancers on winter productivity.

  1. Work to your own rhythm

Possibly the best thing about freelancing is that it doesn’t matter when you do the work, as long as you get it done. Instead of forcing yourself to keep conventional hours, you’ll be most effective if you tap into your body’s tempo and work when you’re most alert – whenever that is.

So if you’re not a morning person – or you’re only a warm weather morning person – go ahead and have that lie-in. Work from midday until 8 pm. Work late into the night, when all your nine-to-five friends are tucked up in bed. Working with The Copy Collective lets you do whatever suits you best – but do make sure you’re getting enough sleep.

  1. Do something first to get you going

The chillier it is, the longer it seems to take to get the brain firing. Some winter mornings, it can feel like you just don’t have a coherent word in you.

Doing something else vaguely productive (like house chores, paying bills or hacking at something in the garden) can help wake you up and give your brain – and your confidence – a boost before you sit down to work.

  1. Get active

I’m very sorry, but I’m going to use the ‘e’ word. Every motivational post you ever read will tell you how much ‘exercise’ helps with body and brain function ‘blah blah blah’ – and that it’s especially important in winter (when you’re more inclined to hibernate).

But wake-up exercise doesn’t have to mean sweating. Getting outside for a half hour walk (even if you’re bundled under numerous layers of wool and a waterproof sheet) really can help to clear out the cobwebs. Honest.

  1. Make yourself comfortable

Fact: cold fingers don’t type well. And it’s pretty hard to focus on work, when you are shivering. So before you start work each day, put the heater on, dig out the old-lady lap rug and make sure your office is a comfortable place to work.

Oh, and don’t forget to compensate for the shorter, grey days with some extra lighting so you don’t feel like you’re working in a cave.

  1. Tool up

If you’re really struggling with motivation, there are some great apps out there to help you form better habits and stick to them (I love Habit List for iOS).

Obviously an app can’t generate willpower out of thin air. However a good tool can help you track how you’re doing, build a more productive lifestyle and keep the inspiration flowing on those chilly, darker winter days when your bed looks so very inviting.

 

It can be daunting. That blank screen glaring, the blinking cursor taunting you and a deadline looming. Returning to work as a writer after a break is a bit like getting back to the gym after an indulgent holiday. You may need a few extra minutes to get out of bed, but you know you’ll feel better once you’ve just done it.

So, whether you’ve been on a globetrotting getaway or taking time off for parental leave, here are a few pointers for sharpening your copywriting skills when you return to work.

  1. Allow some extra time.

    Give yourself plenty of time to warm up. Plan extra time for assessing your brief, conducting any necessary research, brainstorming, writing and reviewing. That way if your writing muscles seize up, you have a bit of a buffer.

  2. Ask for input.

    Just like grabbing a spotter for the bench press, ask someone you trust to read your copy before you submit it. A second opinion can be invaluable (regardless of whether you’re returning to writing after a break or not).

  3. Reprioritise reading.

    You’ve heard it here before – reading is essential to effective copywriting. Especially if you’ve been reading nothing but tourist websites (or in my case, stacks of rhyming baby books!), then carve out a few extra minutes each day to read. It could be the newspaper, industry magazines, fiction – anything to stir up the stagnant words in your head and help you find your rhythm again. Even reviewing the TCC Style Guide can help.

  4. Get back to basics.

    Focus on the fundamentals of good writing. Who is the intended audience? What is the goal of the communication piece? You won’t feel overwhelmed by the task at hand if you keep best practices in mind.

  5. Trust yourself.

    Hey, you’ve done this before! Every experience enriches your writing, so leverage that time you spent away from the screen while reminding yourself you’ve got it covered.

Sometimes a break from the gym can be just the thing you need to push yourself harder when you return. And the same can go for writing. So, if you’ve taken a hiatus, whether for family, work or play, follow the above tips to fire up your writing muscle memory. You’ll be back in top copywriting shape in no time.

 

Navbars

Remember that every element on a web page needs to be considered for copy that assists users. Forms, FAQs, drop downs – there is research on the words to use for all of them. We all want users to find our site, find what they want and engage with us. Every element needs to work.

Overflow

You might want your cup to runneth over but never your copy. Clear, concise, crisp – that’s what we need from copy. The best user design is one that respects the user. On the internet, no one reads. Say what you need, then go home.

Page scales to topic

For complex or unfamiliar content, leave more room for copy.

Questions, quizzes and queries

User testing via A/B sampling, user questionnaires, or quizzes all help ensure that copy is user focused. Also spend time questioning the client about what they think the user wants. Try to write copy that achieves what the user wants and the client will pay for. Have fun!

Resources

Brand position papers, style guides, content checklists, dictionaries, existing marketing collateral and digital assets. All go to providing the copywriter the preferred style and tone of voice for a site. Combined with great research, it really kick-starts copy creation.

Story telling

Users connect with stories. How can we tell the story of this site? What is the best way to tell the story? How can you make copy visual?

Typos

We love designers – they are so talented and creative but how many of them can spell? Users, particularly of sites aimed at older readers and the literati, hate spelling and grammatical errors. Typos are your enemy and most of them will be found in the graphs, text-on-images, and other pictorial elements of a website.

Ensure that you have a good relationship with your designer so that you can point out all their idiosyncratic spelling without them feeling that they are being attacked.

User experience

Content-driven user experience includes clear wording, prominent CTAs and a strong value proposition.

Videos

See W3C below. Videos need captions, and content and copy need to meet W3C WCAG level AA, at least. You can read all about our accessible guidelines including our 2-hour video course on how to make videos – and other static and timed media – accessible.

W3C

The World Wide Web Consortium lays down guidelines for web content accessibility – which includes stuff related to copy. We usually tell designers that adhering to Level AA guidelines helps with SEO. Then you don’t have to explain yourself. If you don’t know how to meet these standards, see Videos above for what you need to know.

XML site maps

Site maps – every website should have two. The XML sitemap for search engines and indexing, and the HTML site map for reader/user accessibility. Reader-first design helps all users navigate their way around, makes content more accessible and helps with SEO. Win, win, win.

You

The most important word in the language for copywriters. Ensure that the copy is written for “you” the audience and not “me” the client or writer. This will increase readability – the No 1 aim of a writer.

Zen and the art of…

One upon a time it was motorcycle maintenance that merited a book on Zen wisdom; since Steve Jobs, it’s been user design. Elegant simplicity; effortless effectiveness – that’s what we seek for user experience. While you may not be able to incorporate all seven Zen principles, simplicity and naturalness are key.

 

Audience

Who is the audience? Write for your primary audience. Ensure the design and copy are aimed at the same audience. Work with the designer to achieve this.

Do you want the user to feel that they’ve found the right website? If so, reflect them in the visual and textual elements of the site. Don’t write copy that needs most people to visit Urban Dictionary to understand it and then show images of grey-haired individuals. Similarly, don’t depict Millennials on sites aimed at older users.

Bridge the gap

Copy cannot stand alone, so be prepared to bridge the gap between designers and copywriters. As a writer you may know that “Join Now!” is more impactful than “Register here” but does the designer know that? Can you explain why you need descriptive URLs, unique call-to-action buttons plus sub-heads and bulleted lists?

Create user personas

By creating user personas, you can keep the reader/user at the forefront of design and copy. The US Government has an excellent site on usability and a simple guide on persona development.

Design for copy

Does the design leave any space for copy? How many words are needed to describe the product/service/event? Copy should enhance the design. Consider:

  • audience appeal
  • style, and
  • tone of voice

Beware the concrete pour (a thick slab of text that is so dense that no one can – or wants to – penetrate it). Ensure that your designer understands why you need text treated like graphical elements (see bridge the gap).

Embed labels in descriptive language

Labels – links should tell you what they do and not just “learn more” or “read more” or “sign up”. Also, make links longer – so people with limited hand control can click on them.

Fonts

Be prepared to talk x-heights and readability. There’s little point in writing peerless prose if the font is unreadable for your 60-years-plus audience.

If the designer really wants Proxima Nova, explain why it’s unreadable on cheap monitors by old people (and lots of old people have cheap monitors). Proxima Nova does look gorgeous on a 27-inch Mac but the subscribers of the local library probably bought a $400 laptop from Officeworks that has Arial and Times New Roman installed.

Guidelines

Sometimes clients have brand guidelines, user guidelines, and style guides – if they do; great. Otherwise, you will need to write a style guide for the site. Base it on materials provided, their existing site and/or stakeholder meetings plus user research.

Ask the client what dictionary they use – the Macquarie (Australia), the Oxford (UK), Merriam Webster (US). If they neither know nor care, research similar sites and see what spelling they use. Stick to the one spelling (users and readers like consistency – they may not know it but their behaviour tells us that they do). Make sure the designer knows the guidelines – create a design cheat sheet if necessary.

Home

There’s no place like home and no page like the home page. Make it accessible and relevant. So many sites make users work to find information – click this, open that, swat that pop up. Collaborate with the designer to ensure the home page copy gives the user what they want – easily, immediately and relevantly.

Just because the designer loves the infinite scroll, ensure the user is remembered and write the copy for them. See how we rank digital copy at The Copy Collective.

Information Architecture

Use information architecture hierarchy to let users know what’s important. Write copy accordingly – longer copy is not better copy (as you know). You need to strike a balance between copy for the user/reader and copy for Google.

Just do it

It’s a great tagline for Nike but doesn’t work for copy. It’s important that copy is considered as part of the design from the beginning. Giving copy to a junior or a designer juggling multiple roles isn’t going to get to the heart of things.

A designer who’s written copy has penned a useful blog on the subject. It should be noted this designer uses US spelling and confuses complimentary and complementary and past and last – apart from that it is v helpful for designers and copywriters.

Keywords

Focus on personas – who uses the content, what are they looking for.

Content needs to be readable, scannable and informative and the keywords should stand out. The reader is the main user not Google but Google is our secondary user.

What questions are our readers/users seeking to answer? Google will reward you if you know.

Logic

Have the copy follow an internal logic. For example, if you use bulleted lists or other hierarchies ensure they follow an easily identifiable schema.

Alphabetic order is the simplest schema and everyone recognises it instantly. You could also consider geographical schemas or topic or theme related (females/males, fairies/elves, Northern Hemisphere/Southern Hemisphere, city/country, modern/historical). By ordering content in a way that users recognise, you make it easier for them to absorb and find the information they want. Remember, users aren’t heroes and they don’t want to be taken on a monomythic journey where they overcome obstacles. They want information presented to them in a logical manner and they want the stuff they are looking for found easily.

Mobile

How many of your visitors are on mobile devices? By using a mobile-first strategy you can ensure that you keep content simple. It also means shorter navigation titles (join, search, home, login).

 

Part two will be published next week – stay tuned for N to Z 

Our south-west France based writer, Clare Wadsworth, shares her thoughts on wines and winemaking.

 

In his poem Wine and Water, G.K. Chesterton wrote: “And Noah he often said to his wife when he sat down to dine, ‘I don’t care where the water goes if it doesn’t get into the wine’.”

 

I called on my white wine guru, Cedric Garzuel of Plaimont this afternoon to ask how the vines are doing and what kind of a year it would be. All he wanted to talk about was the contribution Australia has made to French wines in recent years.

 

Over the past generation the great innovators in wine, especially white wine, have been Australians and New Zealanders, using heat and cold, oak chips and yeast. For years the French remained conservative, sticking to the classic methods of winemaking. For example, in France oaking wine was once considered taboo, whereas in Australia the strong taste was appreciated.

 

Then wine growers in the Languedoc and Roussillon regions realised that their soil and weather were similar to Australia’s. They, admiring the success of winemakers in the Southern Hemisphere, decided to import Australian technicians and oenologists. They also modernised their labels and marketing and raised the quality of their wines – all the while keeping their prices low.

 

It wasn’t until after the Prohibition era that wine in the US began to be defined by brand and variety of grape. In Australia, this means of labelling was not adopted until the 1980s. Whereas, in France it has always been the name of the region, the ‘terroir’, the village or château that one looked for and relied on when buying wine.

 

Years ago, French wine experts would go to Australia to offer counsel and recommendations. However, for a long time now it has been the other way around. Today, all the young oenologists studying in Bordeaux, Dijon, Toulouse, Montpellier and Rheims try to do a stint in the New World before completing their studies.

 

One of the significant innovations started in Australia was the use of refrigeration in the early stage of winemaking. A further advance was the use of stainless steel vats. A number of French winemakers travelled to Australia to learn about Australian methods of manufacture.

 

The French wine qualification Appellation d’origine controlée – AOC for short – was a factor in the success of exports of cheaper Australian wine, particularly to the UK. The marketing of French wine placed emphasis on AOC with the accompanying inference that if a wine were not AOC, it was inferior. AOC wines were, therefore, significantly more expensive in the UK than Australian wines of similar quality. This resulted in the volume of Australian wine sold in the UK around the year 2000 actually outstripping the French. It was a bit of a wake-up call to the French, who then introduced new labelling, which also stressed quality, while retaining AOC.

 

Ten years ago the fashion was for California and Australian-style Chardonnay – oaked and strong. That was the wine everyone, everywhere wanted to make. Nowadays, tastes seem to have changed to favour a more citrusy, acid and less alcoholic, and more thirst-quenching white wine.

 

Grape varieties go in and out of vogue too – in the UK pinot grigio and riesling are the trend now. In France, more than 80 per cent of wine sold is of French origin and it is the region that becomes fashionable not the grape varieties.

 

Screw Cap Wines

The Swiss have successfully used screw caps since the 1980s. Also, in Australia and New Zealand screw caps have overtaken cork to become the most common means of sealing bottles. As long as the cap seals the bottle there is no oxidation and the bottles are easier to open.

 

However, France has a centuries-old tradition of using cork; although, it must be admitted, sometimes plastic corks are used. The French tend not to accept anything but cork in the bottles they buy – although the same wines may well be exported with screw caps.

 

It is said that there are five reasons for drinking wine: the arrival of a friend; one’s present or future thirst; the excellence of the wine; or any other reason.

 

 

To be a successful freelance writer, discipline is required. Lots of it. You must steer clear of everyday distractions and work as efficiently as possible. Thankfully, there are ‘squillions’ of apps available for freelancers. I highlight five of the best of them in this post.

1. Toggl

‘Time is money,’ as they say. So, manage it wisely. Toggl makes time management easy and it is suitable for most devices. Just type the name of your task into the ‘What are you working on’ box and press ‘Go’ to start timing. Once you’ve finished, you can assign it to a project. For time tracking only, Toggl is free. However, for more advanced features, like setting your hourly rate and creating reports, prices range from US$9 to US$49 per month.

2. Evernote

Evernote enables you to download files, take photos and record audio. It is cloud-based, so you can collaborate with colleagues from anywhere you like. For example, if inspiration strikes while you’re travelling on the bus, use your smartphone to write notes. Then, at the office, use your laptop to continue what you started. Evernote is free.

3. MP3 Skype Recorder

Thanks to apps like Skype, you can meet clients without actually meeting them. It is ideal for interviews and because you can see a person’s body language, better than a phone. I used to record interviews on my smartphone. However, MP3 Skype Recorder enables you to interview and record all on the same device.  It is free to use but only suitable for Windows operating systems.

4. Dropbox

Dropbox is perfect for collaboration. At The Copy Collective, we use it to share files between freelancers all over the world. Dropbox is cloud-based and will sync to all your devices, which means you can access files anywhere, anytime. And if your laptop is stolen or breaks down, you won’t lose important information — it’s all up in the cloud. The basic version of Dropbox provides 2 GB of space and is free. You can get more space and features by paying up to US$15 per month.

5. Hootsuite

For many, myself included, social media is useful for self-marketing. However, if you’re not careful, it can gobble up time like there’s no tomorrow. Hootsuite enables you to manage social media activity more efficiently. It offers a multitude of functions, however the number available depends on whether you are using a free or paid version. These include posting across several social media sites simultaneously, scheduling posts, creating reports and tracking topics of interest.

Work smart

Freelancing is ideal if you can’t or don’t want to work standard hours or like variety in your work. The trade-off is you have only yourself to rely on. You must work smarter, not harder. Thankfully, the apps featured in this post and many others, will help you do just that.

 

There is no doubt that blog writing done properly can be great for business. However, it’s pointless putting in the time and effort if you are bereft of readers. In this post, The Copy Collective’s Andrew Healey explains three simple steps for building your blog audience.

1. Know your audience

Blogging is an integral part of content marketing. And like any marketing, it pays to know whom you are marketing to.

The founder of Copyblogger, Brian Clark, says this about blogging:

“Don’t focus on having a great blog. Focus on producing a blog that’s great for your readers.”

He’s right on the money, so be clear about who your audience is.

  • What do they want to know about your products/services?
  • What problems do they face?
  • What kind of language do they use?
  • How well-educated are they?

This kind of information will guide the content and style of your blog writing.

2. Call to action

Blog posts shouldn’t be ‘salesy’. However, there’s no harm in including a call to action. What do you want your readers to do?

Types of calls to action

  • Subscribe — ask readers to subscribe to your blog. This way they’ll receive an email notification every time you publish a post. Another way to gain subscribers is by offering free giveaways, like e-books and white papers.
  • Share — ask readers to share on social media if they like your post. There are plenty of plugins available. A personal favourite is Social Warfare, which enables you to include social icons throughout your post.
  • Comments — asking for comments encourages engagement and demonstrates to visitors that you have a real audience. Social media maven Mark Schaefer says comments let you know what people think within your community, rather than other places on the internet. Make sure comments add to the conversation. There are still lots of spammers out there.

3. Promote on social media

Creating a post tailored to your audience is just the beginning. The next step for building your blog audience is the promotion.

Social media

For most bloggers, social media is highly effective for promoting their posts. Be sure to use the right sites. There are a multitude to choose from, so you can waste a lot of time. Does your audience use LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook? Do they avoid social media altogether? If you know your audience, this should be easy to figure out.

How to use social media

Social media is not a forum to ‘blow your trumpet’. Rather, it’s about sharing and adding value. Don’t be that person at a party who talks only about themselves and never listens. Social media is about a conversation.

Simple steps

  • Promote your blog post — on LinkedIn, for example – you can do this by copying your post’s URL and pasting it in ‘update status’. LinkedIn, and Google+ also enable you to publish on their platforms. However, to build your blog audience and your website’s search engine authority, I recommend publishing on your website and using social media as a tool to drive people there. When you get to managing several social media assets to promote your blog, you may need to use a tool like HootSuite or Buffer.
  • Read, share and comment — read posts by your connections that are relevant to your business. Then, share and comment. This enables you to start a conversation and encourages your connections to reciprocate with your posts.
  • Reply to comments — as I’ve already said, social media is about a conversation. If someone posts a comment or question on something you’ve posted, make sure you reply.
  • Make connections — this could be with potential clients. However, connecting with businesses that deal with the same people you are targeting is an effective way to generate referrals.

Keep it up

Neil Patel, co-founder of KISSmetrics, says this about blog writing:

“If you want to continually grow your blog, you need to learn to blog on a consistent basis.”

So, on a final note, remember that building a blog audience takes time and determination. Keep it up.

 

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