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7 reasons no one shares your blog

7 reasons no one shares your blog

Ever write a blog post, hit publish, and feel like all you hear are crickets? If your content isn’t remarkable, it’s not shareable. Search is social. So whether or not your content gets shared makes a huge difference in your blog’s traffic and lead generation.

People share content for a variety of reasons. A recent study from the NY Times’ Consumer Insight Group (CIG) looked into why people share content online. Among the variety of motivations was a desire to define ourselves to others with the content we share as well as a desire to grow and nurture relationships by sharing entertaining or interesting content. Is your content interesting and entertaining enough for people to want to associate their personal brands with it? If not, you better re-think your approach and consider these 7 tips.

7 Reasons No One Shares Your Blog Posts

1. Your Headline Sucks

Your headline is the most important part of your post because it’s your first impression. It’s what people see in big, bold text when your blog post shows up in search engine results.
It’s also what they see when your content is tweeted and shared on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+. So without a great headline, few people will get that initial intrigue that makes them want to click through and check out your post. Write great headlines that are descriptive but also spark a sense of urgency. And don’t be afraid to try a funny or snarky one, too. Grab their attention with the headline, and hook them with the great content behind it.

2. Your Timing Is Off

Blog posts published in the morning generate the greatest number of page views, especially when targeting women. Do you know your audience, and do you know when to deliver your content in order to get the best results? Get the insight you need to create more shareable content. Survey your audience and ask when they prefer to read your content, or dig into your audience analytics to get the information you need. And remember: planning ahead is key. Creating and maintaining a blog editorial calendar will prepare you to have content to publish each morning, versus constantly playing catch up and publishing posts in the late afternoon after you wrote them that day.

3. You Don’t Have “Regulars”

You want your blog to be like Cheers — where everyone knows your name. You want your posts to spark a conversation and to ignite an interest that keeps people coming back for more.

A great way to develop a relationship with your audience is by being attentive to blog comments. Spark a conversation on your blog by discussing recent industry events or asking for your readers’ perspectives on new research. It’s all about the writing style and balancing your point of view as the expert opinion and being a participant in the conversation. To get the comments rolling, make the content useful and thought provoking, and “reward” your commenters by responding. If you generate a group of regulars who always come back to read your blog content, chances are good they’re also regularly sharing and evangelizing your content, too.

4. You Write About Yourself

Your company is interesting to you. It’s also interesting to your mom. So she might subscribe to a blog full of company party photos, product feature updates, and long essays written from your point of view. But is your mom your target audience?

When readers are visiting your blog for the first time, they don’t care about you yet. Make them care by addressing the topics they want to learn and talk about. How-to articles and lists of tips and resources are good formats to begin with.

5. Your Posts Are All the Same

Ever listen to a band and every one of their songs sounds the same? Boring! Change up the format of the content with charts, infographics, videos, photos, and other visuals to keep people coming back for more. If you look at Social Media Examiner‘s posts, you’ll see how they break up the text with different visuals, headings, and bold text. Break up your content to make it easier to consume so you get more people to read it and more people to share it.

6. You Ramble

If there isn’t a clear takeaway from your content, people don’t have a key point or reason to share it with their friends and followers. Long paragraphs full of allegory, symbolism, adjectives, and adverbs are best saved for English class. Cut to the chase, and make the lessons from your content loud and clear.

7. You Make it Difficult to Share

It’s surprising to me how many blogs don’t have social sharing buttons. It’s easy to get caught up in selecting the perfect design or theme and then forget about the obvious, functional elements likes social media buttons or “subscribe by email” widgets. Have at least a simple design that looks clean, but first get the basic features on your blog and get a content plan in line. Then go crazy with design.

How to promote your website content

OK, you’ve got a great new site and planned out a fail-proof content strategy. You’re going to be posting all sorts of interesting and insightful blog posts and newsletters, and everyone is going to come to read it. Then they are going to hire you to do work. Right? If you build it they will come. Isn’t that the way it works?

Not really…

While we are big proponents of a strong content strategy, simply putting the content out there is not going to drive traffic from far and near to come visit your site. You have to spend the extra time promoting your content as well. Producing the content is the first big step, and it is definitely going to send you in the right direction, but promoting that great content is just as important.

Newsletter Promotion

One great piece of content that is actually a promotion tool as well is an email newsletter. Just to be clear, when I say “email newsletter,” I am referring to long-form content that is well-writen and is distributed via an attractive email that includes a graphic, an abstract of the article, and a link back to the site.

The email should alert subscribers and drive them to your site to read the content, not deliver it all straight to their inbox. If you just deliver the full article, then it just becomes content, not a promotion tool. However, by providing an abstract of the article, then drawing the readers back to your site, you not only are promoting the newsletter content that lives on your site, but it also makes the reader aware of the other content you have to offer.

I would also recommend watching the webinar by Dan Zarrella called “The Science of Email Marketing,” to learn more about the best times to send your newsletters, the best words to use in subject lines, as well as some real data about frequency and the importance of subscriber freshness.

Blog Digest

While on the topic of email marketing, you should also consider putting together a digest email that promotes your short-form content (think: blog posts) by sending out a weekly or bi-monthly (or whatever frequency is appropriate) email that includes a list of recent content with links back to the site.

A digest can serve as a reminder to the user of all the content you are continually publishing. A relative few people utilize RSS readers, as most would prefer to receive the updates right in their inbox, so we suggest giving them this option.

Promotion through social media

I hate to be one to jump on the bandwagon, but the fact of the matter is that social media is one of the best ways to promote your content, if you do it well. You must determine what social media platforms are appropriate for your target audience. Is Facebook the way to go, or are most of your users active in LinkedIn? Or maybe they’re early adaptors and you want to promote on the new Google+.

Odds are, it is a mixture of social media avenues, and a mixture of active and passive promotion. Active promotion refers to you actively posting your website content to your social media pages. Passive refers to enabling sharing options on your site to leverage the social networks of your readers.

What we do to promote our content through social media is not going to work for everyone, and what others do probably won’t work for us. But, I will use Newfangled as an example.

Whenever we send a newsletter or post a new blog post, we promote it by first tweeting about it. Usually Chris Butler will tweet it once it is published, and it will usually get a couple of re-tweets from others in the office.

The other social media avenue we utilize is LinkedIn. We started a group on LinkedIn which is fairly active, and we promote discussion in this group. Because of this small, engaged audience, it makes LinkedIn a good place for us to promote our content as well. Joining active, tightly-focused LinedIn groups can be very beneficial because it enables you to reach a very targeted audience. Some other niche groups I would recommend are the PJA Advertising: This Week in Digital Media group, or the HOW Mind Your Own Business group, just to name a couple.

Use your website

Sometimes the best promotion tool is your own website. A website that is focused on content strategy should have various avenues to promote the all-important content.

For example, we have the ability to publicize newsletters and blog posts in specified areas of our homepage so that they are seen as soon as a user hits the site.

Another way we publicize within the site is our related content sidebar widget. If you look over to the right on this page, you’ll see a sidebar widget at the very top that suggests other related articles that you may enjoy. This is a more passive promotion, but we have noticed that it can be quite affective.

Make it personal

Occasionally taking the time to send a uniquely crafted, regular old email to someone who you think would enjoy reading and benefit from the content can really stand out. Promotion doesn’t always have to be to the masses – it’s OK to promote content at an individual level.

These are just a few examples of how to promote your content. Clearly, there are other ways to promote your content and your brand, but remember, writing the content is only half the work. The other half is getting it into the hands of people who want to read it.

How to be sure that your business blog is not boring?

It seems that in the last few years, businesses have finally wizened up some. They’ve realized that simply having a website is just not enough. To truly increase their presence (especially their search presence) on the web, they have to create and deliver content. The best way of doing this is by creating and maintaining a blog.

For most businesses, this is about where the line of intelligent internet marketing stops. Need a better web presence? Get a blog. Problem solved. But what too many businesses fail to realize is that having additional content for your website simply isn’t enough. That content has to be important, valuable, and worthy of high amounts of traffic and links. And the most effective way of transforming your content to reach this level is by thinking: How do I keep my blog from being boring?

Step 1: Be Personal!

Yes — I understand you represent a business. You want to appear professional. What you have to realize though, is that actual people will be reading your blog. This is not a meeting with another company or some agency. This is a way to branch out to normal people, and the best way to do this is to appear personable and have a distinctive, engaging personality. Of course, you should cut down on the crude language, but your blog shouldn’t sound like it was written by a lawyer. This is your chance to give customers an opportunity to identify with your company, so be friendly, show some personality, and maybe even crack a joke here and there.

Step 2: Cut Back on Specialized Language

One of the biggest, most widespread problems I see for business blogs is that they are caught up in their own world of technical vocabulary. I guarantee you that 95% of your customers don’t understand or care for the technical industry jargon and language behind your products or services. Try to write in layman’s terms so more or your prospective customers can understand your blog actually want to read it. Of course, you can describe the logic behind one of the processes of your products, but try to be clear, define terms, and use analogies to make the read as easy as possible.

Step 3: Vary the Format

Too many general posts about the same industry topics over and over will make even the most well-written blog boring. Try to write a variety of different posts on different topics in various formats. Consider incorporating customer interviews, manufacturer interviews, employee interviews, news briefs regarding your industry, reports on a company outing (with photos), and anything else you can possibly think of. I’ve seen some companies maintain multiple blogs written through the perspective of different employees. This is an excellent way to inject some genuine personality into your company.

Step 4: Use Quality Images

Even if it costs a little money, it’s worth it to use interesting, well-composed images. Blurry, low-resolution, or horribly-lit photos are one of the easiest ways to look unprofessional, scare away visitors, and discourage people from clicking on posts. There are many stock photography websites available with cheap rates, and of course you can always search for Creative Commons Share Alike licensed images through Flickr or Google. Just be sure to pick a high-quality, relevant image.

Step 5: Implement a Creative Blog Design

If you have the resources, a unique and creative blog design can really be an incredible force for a blog. Viewers will naturally be attracted to the blog, and coupled with some great content, you will be able to attract a loyal, ever-growing audience. If you’ve had the same design for two years or so, consider changing it up a little bit. Perhaps you could create a new header, change the layout, or incorporate new visual elements. Even if you don’t have the resources to hire a designer, there are tons of very impressive-looking blog templates you can purchase for reasonable prices.

History of blogging

Blogs have become an integral part of online culture.

Practically everyone reads blogs now, whether they’re “official” news blogs associated with traditional news media, topic-based blogs related to one’s work or hobbies, or blogs purely for entertainment, just about anyone you ask has at least one favorite blog.

But it wasn’t always so. Blogs have a relatively short history, even when compared with the history of the Internet itself.

And it’s only in the past five to ten years that they’ve really taken off and become an important part of the online landscape.

The Early Years

It’s generally recognized that the first blog was Links.net, created by Justin Hall, while he was a Swarthmore College student in 1994. Of course, at that time they weren’t called blogs, and he just referred to it as his personal homepage.

It wasn’t until 1997 that the term “weblog” was coined. The word’s creation has been attributed to Jorn Barger, of the influential early blog Robot Wisdom. The term was created to reflect the process of “logging the web” as he browsed.

1998 marks the first known instance of a blog on a traditional news site, when Jonathan Dube blogged Hurricane Bonnie for The Charlotte Observer.

“Weblog” was shortened to “blog” in 1999 by programmer Peter Merholz. It’s not until five years later that Merriam-Webster declares the word their word of the year.

The original blogs were updated manually, often linked from a central home page or archive. This wasn’t very efficient, but unless you were a programmer who could create your own custom blogging platform, there weren’t any other options to begin with.

During these early years, a few different “blogging” platforms cropped up. LiveJournal is probably the most recognizable of the early sites.

And then, in 1999, the platform that would later become Blogger was started by Evan Williams and Meg Hourihan at Pyra Labs. Blogger is largely responsible for bringing blogging to the mainstream.

 

The Growth Period

The early 2000s were a period of growth for blogs. In 1999, according to a list compiled by Jesse James Garrett, there were 23 blogs on the internet. By the middle of 2006, there were 50 million blogs according to Technorati‘s State of the Blogosphere report. To say that blogs experienced exponential growth is a bit of an understatement.

Political blogs were some of the most popular early blogs. Some political candidates started using blogs during this time period, including Howard Dean and Wesley Clark.

One important event in the rise of blogging was when bloggers focused on the comments U.S. Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott said regarding U.S. Senator Strom Thurmond in 2002. Lott, while praising Thurmond, stated that the U.S. would have been better off if Thurmond had been elected President in 1948. During that race, Thurmond was a strong supporter of racial segregation (though his position changed later in his political career). The mainstream media didn’t pick up on the comments and their potential implications until after bloggers broke the story.

In-depth topic blogs were also becoming more popular during this time. They often delved much deeper into current news and pop culture than mainstream media sources, in addition to commenting directly on what traditional media was reporting.

By 2001, there was enough interest in blogging that some how-to articles and guides started cropping up. Now, “meta blogs” (blogs about blogging) make up a sizable portion of the most popular and successful blogs out there.

A number of popular blogs got their start in the early 2000s, including Boing Boing, Dooce, Gizmodo, Gawker (the first major gossip blog to launch), Wonkette, and the Huffington Post. Weblogs, Inc. was started by Jason Calacanis in 2003, and was then sold to AOL for $25 million. It was that sale that helped to cement blogs as a force to be reckoned with rather than just a passing fad.

A couple of major blogging platforms got their start in the early 2000s. Version 1.0 of Movable Type was released in September of 2001.

WordPress was started in 2003, though parts of its development date back to 2001. TypePad was also released in 2003, based on Movable Type.

Some peripheral services to the blogosphere also started in the early 2000s. Technorati, the first major blog search engine, was launched in 2002. Audioblogger, the first major podcasting service, was founded in 2003. The first video blogs started in 2004, more than a year before YouTube was founded.

Also launched in 2003 was the AdSense advertising platform, which was the first ad network to match ads to the content on a blog. AdSense also made it possible for bloggers without huge platforms to start making money from when they first started blogging (though payments to low-traffic blogs weren’t very large).

Once bloggers started making money from their blogs, the number of meta blogs skyrocketed. Bloggers like Darren Rowse (of Problogger.net and Digital-Photography-School.net) and John Chow made sizable amounts of money telling other bloggers how they could turn blogging into a full-time career.

One early event that highlighted the rising importance of blogs was the firing of Heather Armstrong, the blogger behind Dooce, for comments posted on her blog regarding her employer. This event happened in 2002, and sparked a debate over privacy issues, that still hasn’t been sufficiently put to rest by 2011.

“Dooced” became a slang term to describe being fired from one’s job for something you’ve written on your blog, and has made appearances in Urban Dictionary, and even on Jeopardy!

 

Blogs Reach the Mainstream

By the mid-2000s, blogs were reaching the mainstream. In January of 2005, a study was released saying that 32 million Americans read blogs. At the time, it’s more than ten percent of the entire population. The same year, Garrett M. Graff was granted White House press credentials, the first blogger ever to do so.

A number of mainstream media sites started their own blogs during the mid to late 2000s, or teamed up with existing blogs to provide additional coverage and commentary. By 2004, political consultants, candidates, and mainstream news organizations all began using blogs more prominently. They provided the perfect vehicle for broadcasting editorial opinion and reaching out to readers and viewers.

Mainstream media sources are also teaming up with existing blogs and bloggers, rather than just setting out on their own. Take, for example, the regular posts on CNN.com from Mashable editors and writers. Another good example is the purchase of TechCrunch and associated blogs by AOL, which, while not a traditional media source, is one of the oldest internet companies still in existence.

During this time, the number of blogs grew even more, with more than 152 million blogs active by the end of 2010. Virtually every mainstream news source now has at least one blog, as do many corporations and individuals.

 

The Rise of Microblogs and Tumblogs

A lot of people only think of Twitter when they think of microblogging, but there are other microblog (also called tumblog) platforms that allow for a more traditional type of blogging experience, while also allowing for the social networking features of Twitter (like following other bloggers).

Tumblr was the first major site to offer this kind of service, starting in 2007. They allow for a variety of different post types, unlike traditional blogging services, which have a one-size-fits-all post format (that allows users to format their posts however they want, including adding multimedia objects).

It also makes it easier for users to reblog the content of others, or to like individual posts (sort of like Facebook’s “like” feature).

Posterous is another, similar service. Launched in 2008, Posterous allows bloggers to set up a simple blog via email, and then submit content either via their online editor or by email.

Posterous is sometimes considered more of a lifestreaming app than a blogging platform, thought it’s technically both.

 

The Future of Blogging

Eight to ten years ago, blogs were becoming the primary point of communication for individuals online. But with the advent of social media and social networking in the past five years, blogs have become only one portion of an individual’s online persona.

Vlogs and podcasts have also taken on a bigger role in the blogosphere, with a lot of bloggers opting to use primarily multimedia content. Services that cater to these kinds of posts (like Tumblr and Posterous) are likely to keep growing in popularity.

With new services like Quora coming onto the market, there’s the possibility that the blogosphere will shrink, and more people will turn to sites like these to get information. But services like Quora also provide valuable tools for bloggers, as they give insight into what people really want to know about a topic.

Blogs are unlikely to go anywhere in the foreseeable future. But there’s a lot of room for growth and innovation in method in which their content is found, delivered, and accessed.

Difference between journalism and blogging

The Web is a galaxy of information that is rapidly expanding. Blogs and online magazines are helping shape the future of this Information Age that we live in. Those of us who read, write and design blogs and online magazines possess extraordinary power and potential. How will we choose to use it?

If you use your website to publish news, events, opinions or interviews, you should familiarize yourself with the basics of journalism. These tools can help us develop and share information that is exciting, intelligent, and responsible. They can provide guidance and support as you pursue a career or hobby writing online.

Newsstand2 in We Can Do Better: The Overlooked Importance of Professional Journalism

This article is accompanied by examples of photojournalism, which is the practice of communicating news through photographs. The above photo of a 1940′s newsstand in New York City was taken by photojournalist Ruth Orkin

We, designers, go on all day about the usability of our WordPress layouts and the readability of our typography, but all of those things have been considered in vain if our writing is poorly spelled, riddled with inaccuracies, or based on second-hand assumptions that will leave our audience misled, confused, or worse. Even if you’re just casually writing about why you personally love/hate the iPad (for example), you can do so in a truthful way (truthful to your own opinions and truthful to the information you are discussing).

Whether or not you strive to produce writing that you consider journalism is not all that important. What is important is that no matter what writing genre you specialize in, you have a responsibility to your readers to publish high quality writing that is truthful, accurate, and readable. Oh, and this applies to your professional Twitter stream and Facebook updates, too. All of these elements have a reflection on you and your brand.

Trained professional journalists spend years studying the complex techniques and thorny philosophical values that define the trade of journalism, so don’t expect to receive a Master’s degree from Columbia by the end of this article. What this piece can serve as is a crash course designed to introduce concepts that will improve your writing, pique your interest, and instill a sense of respect for the fundamentals of a noble profession.

What is Journalism?

The most familiar function of journalism is ‘hard news’ reporting you’ll see on the front page of the New York Times or the Washington Post. But journalistic writing also extends to editorial writing, cultural reviews, interviews, and more.

According to The Elements of Journalism (written by Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel), “Journalism’s first obligation is to the truth.” Journalism is the pursuit of truth, accuracy and fairness in the telling of a story. Journalists serve and inform their audience by investigating and reporting on news, trends, issues, and events. Much like designers, journalists pride themselves on a duty provide their audience with useful, high-quality content.

What’s the difference between Journalism and Blogging?

CNN.com delivers journalism. Your cousin’s homemade Twilight fan fiction site, on the other hand, is a blog. However, somewhere in between lies a hotly debated grey area.

So can blogs be journalism? According to NYU journalism professor Jay Rosen, “They can be, sometimes.”  How can you tell the difference? Depends on who you ask. Rosen himself is both journalist and blogger (he runs PressThink, a weblog about journalism and the press). In his essay ‘Bloggers vs. Journalists is Over’, Rosen decides that the sometimes indiscernible difference between these two forms of writing is less important than the implications of massive shifts of power in the media. Rosen acknowledges what Tom Curley (Chief Executive of the Associated Press) called “a huge shift in the ‘balance of power’ in our world, from the content providers to the content consumers.” What does that mean for those of us in a position to take advantage of our newfound power?

It means we should move forward with a spirit of responsibility and immense excitement. We live in a revolutionary time when just about anyone with access to a computer can make his or her writing available to an enormous international audience with the click of a button. As Web designers and online writers who are experienced with the Web, the potential of our medium is tremendous.