At ProteusThemes we’ve lately started to focus more on the content marketing. I am by no means the expert of the field or have years of experience, but in the last couple of months of reading and listening to lots of marketing podcasts (namely Marketing Made Easy by Amy Porterfield and Online Marketing School by Neil Patel & Eric Siu) I’ve learned that:
- Invest less time in creating content and more time in promoting content.
- Focus on high-quality content, the content that lasts. Produce less in quantity for the better quality. Find existing content on the topic and upgrade it instead of always starting from scratch.
- Promote your content heavily, especially in the first weeks, because nobody else will do it for you (unless you’re lucky, so don’t rely on it).
- Repurpose your content.
This is the first draft of the article and might not be in the best possible shape, but here is lesson no. 5: always ship before you’re comfortable. Done is better than perfect. Hence a little bit non-organized shape, but I promise to deliver the most important: value.
Use case: The Ultimate Guide to Image Optimization for WordPress
I’ll go step by step what I did to promote Marko’s ultimate guide to image optimization.
Here is the impact of publishing that article on our blog:
First of all, check the article. It really helps if you have top quality content (second bullet point above). When you provide more value than the competitive articles, it’s so much easier to promote it. For instance, it’s a no-brainer for people to switch over the links from their articles to your site. It’s a win-win situation and you don’t have to master the persuasion techniques. We’ll come to link building later on.
When it comes to social media, 2 most important lessons are: be human and help the content to take-off.
I don’t use any auto-posting WP plugins, tools or services because they are mostly made in a way that they publish by the pre-defined template like
We've published <Content Title> on our blog. Check it out here <URL>. It’s not working because everyone can feel it’s something automated, it’s not interesting, and I also believe that because it’s posted via API of the social networks (FB, Tw) these platforms treat these submissions less important and give them less exposure.
Asking for likes/retweets
A year or so ago I’ve started saving the most important and strategic contacts in a Google drive sheet. Most probably there is a better way of doing it, but for now, it works for me. This way I can quickly reach out to the relevant people so I expand the audience of the people via social media. I don’t have a blueprint/template ready for that, instead, I rather craft a quick personal outreach every time and adapt it to a specific person. Mind that I don’t send mass mail (everyone in bcc). In comes down to few bullet points:
- respect people and their time,
- don’t ask too much,
- don’t be too aggressive,
- offer the same thing or something similar in return,
- be relevant and on-time.
So I’ve catered that list of top 25 most relevant people and by of the time of writing this I’ve only managed to reach about half of them. Here are two examples on how I’ve approached them:
See the difference between these two conversations? They are not a template. Let’s take a look at the relevancy:
- I try to reuse the existing conversations in the most recent channels I’ve had with these people. This is human and natural. Messenger when I communicate mostly via Messanger. Skype if we chat via Skype. Email for email conversations. You get it.
- I point them to relevant social media site where I know these people are active (not trying to get everything from everyone).
- I make it easier for them to provide direct links (on Facebook and Twitter you get this by clicking on the publish date/time).
- I offered to return the same favor when they need it. If you harass people they will get sick of you.
Don’t underestimate the power of real life 🙂
In the first few days, I’ve had this article on top of my mind all the time. I’ve just landed in Paris when the article was published and a day later the WCEU started. Don’t assume that asking for shares and likes works only online. I’ve been telling people about the article, getting them excited, sending the link to the article directly on the spot to their email and of course later on followed up with them if they’ve read it, asking if they’ve liked it and if the answer was yes (it’s top quality article, so 100% positive feedback) to retweet or share it. They did.
Nothing is more powerful than meeting people in real life. That’s when you have their attention and if you have something relevant to talk about, do it. If you need a favor, ask for it, but don’t be too aggressive and offer something in return.
Jumping on every chance
This might sound unrelated but I’ve got a promo email from DigitalOcean about the new object storage feature. After signing up for a beta access there was a click to tweet button in the confirmation mail. I tweeted. And replied to that email just to see if they are monitoring and replying. Surprisingly, they do. After getting a positive reply I got an idea it would be great if someone like DO with their 141K followers tweets about the article. It’s related, so why not? This is what I replied back:
Still waiting for an answer (and you can also see that I’m using Boomerang for Gmail), but even if nothing comes out of it, I wanted to give an example that there are opportunities lying everywhere around.
Sharing in related groups
If you have to show your human side when posting to your own social media sites, you have to be insanely human if you want to share it outside your own territory. Facebook groups have a great reach, but they don’t tolerate self-promotion unless the value of the content is huge. Here is an example of the post I’ve shared in Advanced WP group:
I also posted it to the other smaller group of WP creators where the article wasn’t approved and to the local WordPress Slovenija group where people accepted it, again, mostly because it was written in a personal and engaging way.
Sharing in Slack channels
I’m active in some Slack channels among other WordPress products creators. I shared it there and asked for the feedback and some people responded (mostly ones I know personally) but the majority didn’t respond. Most of them probably didn’t even click the link. My hope was that the resource is so detailed and useful it would land in the documentations of these sites. However, I’d have to try a personal 1-to-1 approach here. On my TODO.
Reddit / Hacker News
These social networks are merciless and will come after you with if you’re self-promoting. Probably that’s why I see people avoiding it and saying they don’t work anymore as they used to. Did I mention already it helps if you deliver top quality content? Marko submitted it to Reddit and at the time of writing this, it’s no.1 of the last month with 54 upvotes.
Marko re-posted it a week later to /r/Frontend where it also got 20 upvotes, but some criticism as well that it’s not the most related content. Similar happened in the Hacker News. It’s worth mentioning that with these social network sites, it really helps to artificially stimulate the initial push. I personally reached to some friends and asked for upvote. Beware here, you can easily get flagged if too many people upvote. I usually contact 3-5 in span of 2-3 hours. If your content is good, that’s enough.
Boost on Facebook
I’ve boosted the FB post for couple dollars so it’s got the wider reach. I started doing so for all more important posts in FB. I usually target people who have visited our site proteusthemes.com in the last 30 days. Probably I should come up with some better audience, but for now, it’s good enough.
Reachout to everyone mentioned in the article
This is another trick I’ve learned listening to the Online Marketing School podcast. People love to see you’ve mentioned them or their products in your article. So it’s great to 1) reach out to them directly and tell them and 2) ask at least for a social share. We’ve agreed with Marko that he will take care of this part, but last week he said he had very little success, so in the next days we will take a look at this together.
However, I can share an experience from our other blog post. I did an interview with one of our best customers and he mentioned a couple of resources and services across the web. I wrote to them privately that they were mentioned in the interview and if they can share the interview directly to their audience or at least share the FB post or retweet it. They were all ready to do so. Here’s and example of what I’ve sent to them (again, not the same to everyone, but did my homework to get some context):
SEO and backlinks building
One of the best resources for finding the related content and reaching out is using the BuzzSumo. It is a very time-consuming process but it will pay off in the long run. I’ve reached out to two article authors so far and I got 2 backlinks to the article. A lesson here is that don’t be shady and ask directly what do you want from them. If I cannot find a way to approach them privately from the beginning I ask directly via social media profiles.
When I got the permission to ask, I’ve sent this:
Well, as I promised yesterday, I was flying from Paris to LJU and didn’t have time to write a DM till the end.
I found an article on Sitepoint page how to select the perfect image format. This one https://www.sitepoint.com/how-to-select-the-perfect-image-format-to-optimize-your-website/
We’ve recently published a similar article of these and other tools for image optimization and I’d love your feedback because you’re an authority on this field.
Let me know if you’re interested in and I’ll send it over?
This started the conversation.
Finding most relevant content
Here is how I find the most relevant content on some domain. I type into google:
site:https://domain.com my relevant keywords. This way the google shows me what are the most relevant pages in that domain.
When I have the conversation going, I tend to prepare as much as possible for these folks. I read the content they’ve prepared in sweat and tears and try to add the links to our content in natural way. Adding a semi-related sentence at the end of the post is spammish and obvious you were there for a backlink. Always think how you can add value. So here is a screenshot from my gmail how I’ve prepared a content for the author to only copy/paste it in the article:
What is not obvious from the screenshot is this: I put some time to write these two so they are relevant, they blend in the original article and they add value to the reader of the article. I got them up minutes after sending this email.
Answer related questions. As everywhere else, don’t spam because it doesn’t pay off. Spam is spam and it’s treated as such.
Something I have on my TODO and to explore.
Medium allows you to republish your articles from other media. These “imported” articles get the
rel="canonical" meta tag in the source, so you are not getting penalized for duplicate content. Their importer works really well. It imports content and titles the way you’d expect them to. Usually, you’ll have to fix the images. At the time of writing I have the Medium draft ready of the article, I just have to go though everything once again and put in the images and take screenshots of the graphs, because AFAIK Medium doesn’t allow embedded google sheets charts.
Repurposing via video
If you’ve checked the article you’ve noticed the video summary of the article. It’s a great way for making it easier for the people to see what’s the content of that long article it’s about. I’m doing video a lot recently.
I’ve recorded the screencast using ScreenFlow (thanks Dwayne McDaniel) and put it online. With video you can again do similar things mentioned above, like sharing it again on social media. It you get a backlink again in the video description, you can send it over the newsletter because it’s easier for people to digest it.