Synopsis — With Twitter’s active users numbering more than 100 million and Facebook’s over 480 million alone, social media sites create a market that can significantly grow your company’s fan base. Many major companies are turning to the social media market in hopes of developing interest in their brand and products from the millions of users. An effective way to do this is to write an informative blog that users will want to share with their friends and peers.
In his article, “Blog + Audience = Social Sharing?,” Steve Beatty explains why a company blog is a great way to present your audience with interesting content they can share with the popular social media platforms.
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Blog + Audience = Social Sharing?
It’s been almost 20 years since the first blog was launched on the web, although there is much debate over who posted it. Wikipedia cites Justin Hall and Jerry Pournelle, who both began writing online in 1994, as two of the earliest adopters. According to CNET, David Winer began what is now one of the longest running blog sites on the web — Scripting News — back in 1997. Whenever the official “first” blog, they have since evolved into one of the most popular means of communication on the web.
To Blog Or Not To Blog?
WordPress is the most popular blogging platform, with more than 73 million active WordPress sites (blogs) in existence. Some of the big brands that use WordPress include CNN, UPS, TechCrunch, and NBC Sports. According to eMarketer, 43% of all companies will blog in 2012. Why are so many involved with blogging? One major reason companies choose to blog is to develop interest from an audience they hope will share their content on social media. Let’s explore what led to this trend.
Speak Now Or Forever Miss Your Piece Of The Social Audience
Social media growth has really spurred a new generation of online users and behavior. Twitter and Facebook have been at the forefront of this movement, with Twitter’s active users numbering more than 100 million and Facebook’s over 480 million. The combined number is almost twice the population of the US alone. An audience of this size has essentially forced businesses to take steps to engage with social media enthusiasts or lose out on a potential market. Pinterest, an image-driven sharing site, recently joined the ranks of Facebook and Twitter insofar as becoming a “must” for setting up a business presence. According to TechCrunch, Pinterest has more than 10 million active users, and 2 million of them are daily Facebook users.
With so many people involved in different social media properties, businesses need to make sure they are on these platforms, engaging with and growing their fan base, and working on creating valuable content to share with their audience. A company blog can be a great location from which to present your audience with interesting content they can share with the popular social media platforms.
Content Is Not King — Google Is!
Starting in 2011 and continuing through early 2012, Google initiated multiple algorithm and policy changes focused on creating better user results, building social sharing channels, and enforcing content standards for sites. For example, in June 2011, Google introduced Google+ as its answer to Facebook and challenge for share of the growing social media audience. Later in 2011, Google+ for businesses debuted.
In 2012, Google continues its heavy focus on great content and social sharing. With the global search engine giant now predicting more than 400 million Google+ users by the end of this year, businesses can’t afford to wait to use any means available — and blogs are a fantastic one — to help spread social content to their audiences.
As Google and Bing evolve their algorithms to put more emphasis on real-time and relevant results, a social-media orientation is increasingly important for your overall online marketing strategy. To help achieve this:
- Share quality content with users that they can — in turn — share on social sites like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, etc.
- Create interesting social content (infographics, interactive pieces, videos).
- Write engaging blog posts.
A blog is an ideal spot at which to feature and then distribute content, but to ensure the content spreads beyond, helping cement your blog’s success, a few key factors need to be considered.
1. Viral Content: What Is It?
Viral content typically describes a piece of content released initially on a blog or website page that is then shared multiple times with others online. If a business, brand, or site owner uncovers an interesting piece of information that is timely and becomes a popular search trend, the potential for viral spread is present, with the pieces of content likely to be shared by the audience and with the audience’s peers.
Viral content can take a variety of different forms, but often it is in the form of a video (e.g., the 2011 Global Android Activations YouTube Video), an interactive piece (e.g., The New York Times Budget Puzzle: You Fix the Budget 2010), or an infographic (2012’s TechGerms from KeepingItKleen.com). The key elements shared by all of these pieces are great information and an attractive design and layout that the viewer appreciates. More importantly, many pieces that become viral originate from blog posts and grow in popularity through the social channels through which they are shared.
2. Build A Brand For Your Blog: If You Blog Well, They Will Come
Create a strategy encompassing the goals your company wants to achieve with the blog, such as increasing user engagement, traffic, and visibility. Define the goals and then build the blog around them. A blog is a great platform to discuss industry trends in your space, create viral content, offer helpful tips to your customer base, or simply to share new product news.
The more interesting content you share, the more likely visitors are to return to your blog. Each piece you write doesn’t have to have viral potential, but each should be interesting and reflect a consistent voice for your company. Sometimes that voice will be controversial, sometimes not. The extent of controversy you deal with may depend on the constraints of your particular industry regulations (if any), legal restrictions, and brand guidelines. But don’t forget that the more interesting your blog is, the more chance you will have for engaging with users.
3. Social Buttons Are A Must
Including social share buttons on your blog, such as those for Facebook likes, for Reddit, Pinterest, Twitter, Stumbleupon, and Tumblr will increase the chances of your site getting picked up by other social platforms. Social share buttons can easily be added to any post or page of a blog by using a service such as Addthis.com.
4. Create Authorship
With the advent of Google+ and the Google “rel=author” tag whose use the Panda updates have encouraged, Google is potentially setting the stage for redefining the value of links. With the authorship tag, the theory among online marketers is that it will associate more equity based on the authorship of an article (blog post) versus the actual page itself. All blog and content strategies should begin to incorporate this element in creating an online/social presence voice for the company and/or the site. As part of this, posts on your site should have designated authors. A company’s authors should have Google accounts associated with them and post with this alias consistently in order to create author credibility.
5. Leverage For Link Building And Organic Visibility
Google has clearly stated its desire for more relevant and interesting content from sites, hence the Google algorithm changes of the past year focusing heavily on fresh content, social signals, and diversity of links. Bing has also acknowledged it is looking at sites that have more social diversity in sites linking back to them. Use the blog as a medium to help provide this.
As previously mentioned, viral pieces have shown to be great content sharing places for social links. For example, the New York Times Budget Puzzle piece, published nearly two years ago, still has more than 2,818 inbound links. Blogs are great for building additional links to help build up your site’s overall domain strength and potential online visibly in organic search results. Also, the blog can potentially rank itself for key terms your company is focusing on.
Don’t Just Blog … Blog Well
Today’s blogs are becoming an extension of SEO and social media teams. Blogs are a key strategy piece to any organic (SEO or social) marketing campaign your company may be pursuing. Work to make your blog a rich piece of content that others want to share with friends and colleagues on other social sites.
Most importantly, as with many things in life, timing is everything. Always aim to share something newsworthy, timely, and interesting on your blog. The web is an ever-changing landscape — what is merely interesting news today could be tomorrow’s viral social news sensation of the moment.