Plenty of people will tell you the hardest part of being a content producer in the digital age is coming up with an original story or angle.
Everything’s been covered already, they say.
But they’re missing the key point: You can have the most original content on the Internet, but if you don’t market your work effectively, no one will read it.
Yes, the trickiest part of writing online is actually getting your voice heard by real people without paying for artificial users. Luckily, the Internet has some great content marketing solutions.
Let’s get the obvious ones out of the way first:
There are more than 1.39 billion monthly active Facebook users worldwide, so theoretically it’s one of the biggest avenues for traffic — if you use it correctly.
- It’s important to upload a cool photo before adding your link. Facebook will add more weight to your post if it’s based on a direct photo upload rather than just a link from another website.
- The trick is to make sure as many people as possible see your work. Make sure your update’s visibility is set to “Public.” (Don’t worry, you can always change it back to “Friends Only” for your personal posts.)
Then search for pages related to your subject. Target the biggest pages. If you’re writing about Cristiano Ronaldo, for instance, choose his official Facebook page, which has more than 107 million likes.
Once you’ve found a suitable page, tag it into your post. This will increase the likelihood of people seeing your post through Facebook’s trending feature. You can also post a link to your work directly onto that page’s wall, giving yourself more visibility.
Twitter can be even more of a black hole than Facebook is if you don’t use it right. After all, you’re more likely to have your mom as a Facebook friend than a Twitter follower. Luckily, Twitter is much easier to use than Facebook for getting exposure.
If you have plenty of followers already, then great: You’ve got a head start. But to make the most of it, you need to:
- Keep it short. Just because you have 140 characters to play with doesn’t mean you need to use them all.
- Use hashtags and keywords. Search for similar tweets first, and see which keywords and phrases are resonating with users.
- Ask a question. Give people a reason to interact with your tweet, particularly if your content has a controversial angle.
Once you’ve got those basics covered, you can explore ways to reach potentially millions of users. The easiest way to do this is by finding relevant accounts that might retweet your work.
Like Facebook, you’ll want to target those with a large fan base to make the most of potential retweets, which means thousands (or millions) of followers.
These could be major personalities related to or mentioned in your story, or fan forums/accounts. For instance, this tweet about football club Sheffield Wednesday was retweeted by Owls Talk, the club’s fan forum, which has more than 15,000 followers.
You’ll also want to look out for accounts that actively retweet other users’ content. When you’ve found a few, you can target them through direct or indirect mentions. This means tweeting directly at a single account, perhaps asking for their opinion on a subject, or simply mentioning a few accounts at the end of your tweet.
It’s also a good idea to tweet your content multiple times over the course of a few days (depending on how timely the story is – evergreen pieces can be tweeted indefinitely, for example), as many people will miss your original tweet.
Reddit can be an absolute goldmine for traffic, but it’s a tricky one to get right. It has a massive community, with 174 million monthly unique visitors – not quite as large as Facebook but arguably far more engaged. It can also be targeted more effectively.
Unlike social platforms, content is organized according to interests rather than social connections, which means your content will be judged on its merits, not your social worth. The key is to post links in the correct subreddit (category), which means finding a subreddit that is relevant to your content and has a sizeable number of active users.
Here are some key things to keep in mind with reddit:
- Make sure you follow the guidelines of each subreddit. For instance, r/soccer is generally for more serious football stories, while r/football allows for lighter and more humorous links. Each subreddit should be treated as a separate, distinctive website, each with its own rules and audience.
- Your reddit post title can be just as important as that of your article. The reddit community generally favors longer, more explanatory titles, so don’t be afraid to get as much of the story into it as you can. Pull out key facts and statistics which will grab your audience’s attention.
- While reddit’s audience is engaged, it can also be extremely fickle (though this also means you shouldn’t be disheartened if one of your links doesn’t generate much reaction).
- Reddit requires much more work than other avenues; if you sign up to reddit and only post your own content, you’ll likely be banned as you won’t appear to be using the service naturally. It’s a good idea to also post links to other websites alongside your own work. Generally, around one in five links should be your own content.
Reddit can take a lot of work to get right, but when you do, it can make a world of difference to your traffic and get people engaged with what you’re writing about.
Once you’re familiar with all of the above, using forums to promote your content will seem natural. Simply search for forums related to your subject, sign up and post links. You’ll probably have found a handful of forums during your Twitter promotion, so your research at this stage will be minimal.
This will work best if you’re already a respected member of an online community, but it’s good to post in new forums too, if you can. In many ways, forums are similar to subreddits, though they can be more useful where niche subjects are concerned, as they’re likely to be more fleshed out, with a larger user base.
And, as with subreddits, you’re likely to have more hits from specialized sites than general discussion boards, as these will take a more active interest in what you’ve written. Forums are plentiful on the internet, so you shouldn’t struggle to find one that’s relevant to your story.
If you remember these four simple avenues for promoting your content, you shouldn’t have too much trouble getting traffic to your work and making sure everyone knows about that cure for cancer/funny cat post.
Which websites do you use to promote your traffic naturally? Let us know in the comments below.
(Photo by Victor Hanacek / CC BY)