Web-based promotion has become just as important for writers as producing content. You can write the most suspenseful novel, the most scathing political blog, or the most comprehensive report, but unless you find a way to get it out there, your words will go unread.
Social media makes up an estimated 30% of web traffic and offers a huge array of promotional opportunities. Most writers, however, don’t even scratch the surface. There are so many factors that increase the visibility of SEO-oriented content and it’s important to master the basics.
Here are 3 crucial tricks to drive up web traffic and increase your audience. These apply to the major social media websites including Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Google+, YouTube and LinkedIn, as well as those tailored for writers like The Creative Penn, The Writer’s Network and Writer’s Café.
1. Use engagement techniques
Think about articles and ads on Facebook or Twitter that have caught your eye. What grabbed your attention? Chances are that some of the following engagement techniques compelled you to click.
Writers may love words, but visuals are key.
Statistics show that tweets with a picture or video get more re-tweets. Facebook posts with photos trend more often than those without. Pictures, graphs, infographics, art or any other kinds of visuals are great ways to get more likes, shares and re-posts, which means your content is reaching a wider audience.
You don’t have to create the visuals yourself. Many websites offer images that are free to use or available under license agreements, which means you agree to credit the creator of the image. Check out Flickr’s Creative Commons for free images.
Alternatively, you can pay for stock images to go with your content, from sites such as Dollar Photo Club, iStockphoto, Big Stock Photo, 123RF, Photos.com and GraphicStock.
This may be obvious, but a compelling headline is often the main item in attracting an audience. Create headlines that are funny, poignant or clever instead of one that screams "click bait". You don't want to give off an air of desperation.
The best headlines communicate your topic in novel and original ways, suggesting to potential readers that they will benefit from clicking on your post. Don't be afraid to use different titles for the same post across various social media platforms. This can help you figure out which headlines attract more traffic.
Get on Trend
You can sign up for Google trends and look at trending lists on Facebook or Twitter to tap in to what is being discussed right now. Content that is specifically relevant to trending topics is much more likely to be read and shared. Use on-trend hashtags to make your posts visible to a wider, currently active audience.
Social media is designed for people, not companies. You could post from your foodie blog and just state: The best kale salad recipes. Or you could post the recipes and ask: What’s the best dish you’ve ever made with kale? The point is to create a human connection with your audience and compel them to respond. The more you generate feedback and promote direct engagement with your content, the bigger an audience it will attract.
2. Customize your content for each social media platform
Most social media platforms – from Facebook to Pinterest to LinkedIn – have customization features that help optimize your content to reach as wide an audience as possible, yet so few writers use these features. This is understandable (you try thinking of good headlines, pictures and description after finishing a high-word count article on a one-day turnaround!) but try to use the unique features each platform offers.
Customize your covers on Pinterest. Post a video to go along with your article link on Twitter. Register for subscriber notifications on Reddit while using add-ons to watch subreddits. The more customization you use on each platform, the better you can track audience engagement with your content and make adjustments when necessary.
You can also use specialized social media tools to manage audience engagement. Four great ones to try are Klout (free to use), Communi.it, Crowdbooster and Sprout Social (all free to start).
3. Join online communities of writers
There are multiple benefits to being part of an online community of writers. They are savvy in the trends and fads; you will connect with people that have the same interests as you; and other members will have similar audiences, meaning your content will likely resonate with their followers, which will extend your reach. Become an active member of the group. Comment on other people’s links and post your own. If a popular writer features your work, you should see an immediate bump in web traffic.
Below is how to join the social media communities that will give you the best exposure.
Go to Facebook. Log in to your account – or if you don’t yet have one, set one up.
In the search box at the top of any page, enter the term of the group you want to join; for example, “writers” or “Stephen King”. Select none of the options that come up. Instead, click on the last label, “See all results for XXX”.
Now click the “Groups” tab at the top of the page.
Now click “Join” to add yourself to the various groups. I recommend joining those with many members, which will increase your exposure.
Go to Google+. Log in to your account – or if you don’t yet have one, set one up.
In the search box next to “Create Community”, enter the term of the group you want to join.
Then click “join”, and you will be part of the community!
Go to LinkedIn. Log in to your account – or if you don’t yet have one, set one up.
In the search box, enter the term of the group you want to join; for example, “writer”. Click on the label “Groups about XXX”.
Join the various groups. As with Facebook, I recommend joining groups with many members.
The more time you spend on engagement techniques, content customization, and online communities, the further your posts will reach. And after spending all that energy writing something great, you want as many people to read it as possible. Don’t you?
Best of luck!
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