If you are just starting up a blog for your business website, you may be itching to get visitors to read and share your content. But ask anyone who has ever built a successful following online and you’ll get the same advice: building a loyal audience and relationships with key online players in your industry who will be interested in your business and the content you produce, takes time. You really need to budget at least a year of consistent effort before you can expect to see some significant results.
This year long window is even more likely if you are running a business that primarily requires a lot of off-line work. You’re online marketing, while important, may not be at the very top of your priority list. But does this mean you have to sit on a quiet website till that magical year is up? Or go out begging for visitors? Not at all!
Over the past few years, the Internet has really changed. As the noise level has increased, so has the need to get your content both seen and promoted by a targeted audience. In response to this demand, there has been a burgeoning of sorts of sites and services designed to give newer bloggers a chance to get their name out and reach thousands of potential readers. You can use the networks below to generate traffic and promotion instantly- and I mean the day you actually post, even if you are literally starting from scratch and no one knows who you are.
But first, here are…
Three Vital Features to Look for in a Platform to Effectively Amplify Your Message
Simply spaming these platforms with your content won’t get you very far. As you look for how to position yourself on each network, keep the following essential qualities in mind:
- Targeted to your niche. Where ever you send your content it must be targeted to your market niche- i.e. the people and organizations most likely to benefit from your content and your business.
- Reach and active participation. Even the most targeted group or site will mean nothing if there is no active membership or the reach of this group is seriously impaired.
- Quality of submissions. Before moving into a group, check out your potential neighbors. Make sure your submissions are in good company with other quality content.
What You Need to Be Bringing into the Mix
Some things have to be in place, however, for this effort to work. Here are some pre-requisites:
- You are very clear about who your target audience is. Almost none of the tips below will help you much if you are not crystal clear about who your intended readership is.
- Your content has to be good. Now “good” is a relative term. I’m referring to content that strays as far as possible from the spun, watered-down dribble that’s been polluting the Internet as of late. It has to offer readers something of value, and it has to be readable.
- Work on your titles! Realize that at the beginning, often your title alone will have to entice new readers to check out your content and your business. For some inspiration, check out this classic series of articles on writing effective headlines over at Copyblogger.
- You need to be posting something new at least once a week. To get the most out of the platforms mentioned below, people have to repeatedly see your submissions and activity. If you’re not showing up in the activity streams, if you’re not literally putting yourself in front of people’s faces with some kind of regularity, then you’ll be quickly forgotten. Now this doesn’t mean you have to post 3 to 5 times a week, either. Do what you can. One you’re producing at least one post a week then the most important factor is not how often you post; it’s about the quality and usefulness of your content.
- You have to make at least a minimal effort to engage the people who visit or promote your content. You have to show new visitors to your site that the light is on and someone’s at home. This means taking some time to respond to at least some of your blog comments, acknowledging the people who share your stuff on occasion, and being at least minimally active on the platform you’re using to amplify your message.
- You have at least 1 to 2 hours a week to dedicate to this effort. This is on top of the time you spend on your content creation.
8 Sources of Instant Quality Traffic and Social Promotion
That said, here are several places where small business owners and self-employed professionals can go to instantly drive quality traffic to their site and get significant social sharing right from the start:
1. LinkedIn Groups. So many people and businesses are on LinkedIn, but not everyone takes full advantage of the site. One great service, is LinkedIn Groups. The first thing you need to do, after making sure that you’ve completely filled in your profile and have added an RSS feed of your content, is to join some quality groups. You are looking for groups of both peers (for networking) and potential customers (for promoting your business). Realize that you can narrow down which groups to join based on several variables, such as group topic/industry, the group’s size, and the makeup of its membership. You also want active groups where participants comment and share, not spam-fests. Once you’ve been accepted to a few targeted groups, whenever you put up new content, make sure to send a link to it. Just make sure it’s relevant to the group’s theme (you can selectively send out links to only specific groups), and make sure you’ve got a killer title attached to it.
2. Just ReTweet. I’ve been using this social sharing service for just under a year, and I have watched it grow and blossom. This site is amazing, and if you use it properly it can generate a lot of traffic and a whole bunch of social sharing- for free. These days, the name is a bit misleading because you can promote your content via Facebook and Google + as well. When you get on the site make sure you actively share other people’s stuff (even if you plan on buying credits) because this will get people used to your avatar and the kinds of content you put out. Make sure you also offer enough incentive for other bloggers to share your content. Don’t bother offering 5 credits per social share; you’ll get more of a response with at least 15 to 20 credits. And again, titles are extremely important, here. Ideally, you don’t just want social promotion, you also want the users of the service to take an interest in your post and click through.
3. Triberr. Here is another social sharing service. The key to success on Triberr is being a part of targeted tribes with active participants and a strong reach. Also, as mentioned above, make sure that you are actively sharing other people’s content.
4. Facebook Groups. Active and targeted Facebook groups are another potential source of traffic and social promotion. The key to success with Facebook is finding the right groups to join and share your content with. That’s not such an easy task, because, similar the situation on Linked, not all groups are created equal. So, do a little research. Just make sure you also check the group’s participation requirements. Not all groups allow you to promote your own content.
5. BizSugar. Aside from the big, well known social bookmarking sites, such as Reddit, many niche social bookmarking sites fail to generate and sustain the community effort needed to keep them going. BizSugar is an exception. BizSugar is geared towards small business owners. Though there is a decided emphasis on online marketing and ecommerce, practical, “brick and mortar” issues also get into the spotlight. Another plus to the network is that it is owned by Anita Campbell, who also owns the very popular Small Business Trends. Often, posts submitted to BizSugar are highlighted on the site, giving your business even more exposure, as well as quality traffic and authoritative backlinks.
If you can tailor some of your content to a small business audience, and you can make it good, then this platform is for you. If you make an effort to participate with voting and commenting, the moderators will take notice. Also, pay attention again to your title and that 300 word summary that shows up below to it.
6. Bloggers.com. Bloggers.com is a very big online community of bloggers that can generate a lot of traffic to your site. Many people wonder, however, how to quickly build a following. Here’s what you should do at the beginning to start to drum up interest. Do a search for any blogs that are within a similar topic to yours, but that are not direct competitors. Ideally, you want a list of about 10 to 15 to start off with. Take a look at those sites and leave a quick review, become a follower, and then leave a message on the blog owner’s wall just letting the person know that you were there. Don’t beg for a reciprocal response. You want these bloggers to come over on their own since these are the kind of people will be active followers of your blog. Then, head on over to the “Talks” section and pick 5 active questions that you can answer or start a talk of your own. This will get the ball rolling.
Aside from the 6 platforms mentioned above, there are two other ways to drive instant traffic and social promotion…
7. Strategic commenting. Pick 5 popular blogs in your niche (bonus if they have the CommentLuv plugin installed), and make it a point to leave a quality comment on at least two posts a week. But that’s not all. If you are looking for instant results and you are just starting out, then you have to be one of the first to leave a comment-especially for a popular blog. So look into the posting the schedule of the blog and do your best to be there when posts first go live.
8. Strategic Guest posting. Guest posting can take a considerable amount of time and effort. I know a lot of people are saying that you should do a guest post at least once a week. If you can’t do that then look for guest posting sites that will expand reach as much as possible. In other words, you want to piggyback on other people’s influence. Aim for at least one guest post a month with a relevant topic and a keyword-rich title, and make sure you are around to answer comments.
So, there you have it. I guarantee you, if you make an effort in any or all of these places, and pay attention to the tips I mentioned, then you’ll be able to drum up interest in your business blog like a real problogger.