How to Promote Your Article Online
Daniel Vahab and Lisa Chau
“These days, it’s not enough to be a good writer online. You have to be a smart marketer, your own content factory, your own publicist. If you can do it all, you are golden. If you cannot, you are screwed.”This blunt statement, penned by Forbes.com contributor Susannah Breslin, refers to today’s online culture judging an article’s success by its popularity as measured by its traffic and social engagement—how many shares, tweets, comments, views, etc., it receives. And this all helps a lot with SEO.
So, without further ado, we bring to you a list of simple yet effective ways to promote your piece:
Tip 1: Share your piece on all your social media platforms and continually build connections there.
Tip 2: In addition to having a social media presence, actually interact with your connections. With LinkedIn, for example, you should join groups of interest and participate in discussions, said Audra Hamlin, founder and CEO of HKCMedia, a public relations and business solutions firm. “This is the single best way to see activity on your own content. If you reach out and help someone with a problem they are having you can answer a question for them and then provide a link for more information. It is human nature to then want to help you and they often do.” Taylor Aldredge, ambassador of Buzz at Grasshopper, a virtual phone system company catering to entrepreneurs, recommends engaging your audience “often and consistently. Your goal online is to give people a reason to talk about your stuff . . . At a fundamental level, if you’re not doing that, then no one will share your content.”
Tip 3: Follow the conversation. Salon’s communications director Liam O’Donoghue writes, “When I’m writing a tweet to promote a new article on Salon, I try to pick out the nugget from that article that I think is most likely to make people click through and read the article . . . However, I’m constantly using social listening tools like ChartBeat and Topsy to see what other people are saying when they tweet our articles, as well. If I plan on tweeting an article from the morning again later in the day, I’ll often use this awareness of what our audience finds most interesting about the article to inform the content of that follow-up tweet.”
Tip 4: When you post a piece via social media more than once, vary the attention-getter rather than just posting the link for the sake of not annoying people and gaining new engagement. Stacey Acevero, social media manager of Vocus/PRWeb, offers the example of a post titled, “Five Questions to Ask Customers to Improve Your Content Marketing.” The second time the piece is shared, she said, “switch the front and the back part of the title to make two parts: ‘Improving Your Content Marketing: Five Questions to Ask Customers.’ For another social share, change the title into a question in order to solicit a response from your audience: “Are you asking your customers these questions in order to improve your content marketing?’”
Tip 5: Respond to comments. “Your readers appreciate knowing that you care about their opinions,” said Andrew Schrage, co-owner of Money Crashers, a popular finance blog. “Even if it’s just thanking them for commenting on your social media page or website, your readers will know that there’s an actual human being who can provide feedback and interaction.” And Brad Hines, a digital marketing strategist, agrees. Said Hines: “Based on the reciprocity principle, if you like/+1/favorite etc. someone’s content . . . not only do they feel goodwill toward you, but also that they owe you one. This isn’t as smarmy as seems on the face of it. Think about the times someone likes your article but doesn’t say so. Unfortunately it will always partially be a popularity contest.”
Tip 6: Start an e-newsletter and dedicate a blast email from it to promoting the piece. Marc Cenedella, founder of the job-matching service TheLadders, is perhaps the perfect example. His weekly newsletter, entitled “Career Advice,” goes out to over 5 million subscribers. On his own way “up the ladder,” Cenedella sent out the newsletter to people he wished to invest in his company, even those who were interested at the time. And has received great feedback over the years from the newsletter. Mailchimp is a great, free service for designing and sending out a customized newsletter. The newsletter can offer advice, commentary on news, articles of interest, or simply be a blog sent via email format.
Tip 7: Promote your content at the optimal time. Laura Lorber, executive online editor of Entrepreneur.com, recommends promoting your content the moment it goes live. And Liam recalls the 2012 election year. “Because events like the national conventions, the debates and the election itself are all scheduled far in advance, we were able to plan for ‘full court press’ coverage of these events and assign our various writers different angles to cover ahead of time. Most importantly, we were able to turn stories around as the news was breaking and the audience for this news was most hungry. During the debates or on election night, I would post breaking news from our site to Twitter and Facebook and the engagement and traffic was astounding. Some stories were getting hundreds, even thousands, of retweets, shares, likes, etc. within minutes of being posted because people are so hungry now for instant analysis.”
“Being prepared for these kinds of big traffic days is crucial,” she added, “because this is when you can pick up the most new fans and followers. Because we ran a live-blog all day on election day, I constantly had fresh content to tweet, which gave us an opportunity to reach millions of people who maybe don’t normally follow political news as closely as our typical audience.”
Tip 8: Build a dedicated team of social media “ambassadors” who can promote your piece. Entrepreneur and copywriter Sarah Wood says it’s about “developing deep meaningful relationships.” She adds that you’ll end up cross-promoting their material, and that “there’s a feeling of mutual respect and friendship.”
Tip 9: @mention via social media companies/organizations/proper nouns mentioned in the piece as well as people and organizations who would be interested in the subject matter.
Tip 10: Cite relevant thought influencers in your piece. They in turn will be inclined to promote the piece.
Tip 11: Add your article’s link to your email signature and away message and send your piece to any lists of which you’re a part, recommends The Huffington Post to its bloggers.
Tip 12: Send out a press release. A press release, says Jaslin Marian Dsouza of Godot Media, a content marketing and social media agency, will increase traffic to the piece by mentioning the article and providing a link to it. Your article may even get picked up or republished by a publication as such.
However many ways there are to promote content, Lorber added that, “There’s no such thing as a set-it-and-forget-it approach. The best way to socialize content is treat it as a moving target that continues to evolve, so we are always experimenting and seeking to assess results.”
And while some writers and publications are simply better at promoting content online than others, in the end, the content itself matters—a lot. A breaking news story, a trending topic, a controversial issue, and just a damn good story will invariably receive more engagement. The free market, if you will, will decide whether your article is worth buying into and sharing with others.
“If marketers approach users with ‘social marketing’ that seems inauthentic—and I’ve seen many examples of this—it’s the easiest thing in the world for users to ignore it or respond negatively to it,” says Alejandro Crawford, Tuck School graduate and senior partner at Acceleration Group, Inc., a business set on empowering entrepreneurs. “So we’re in an era where if you want to sell something, you can’t really fake it.”
Daniel Vahab is a freelance writer as well as a marketing/social media researcher and strategist. His writing has appeared in such major publications as Mashable, Yahoo! News, U.S. News & World Report, The Huffington Post, The Baltimore Sun, The Jerusalem Post, the Sun-Sentinel, and the Jewish Daily Forward.
Lisa Chau has been involved with Web 2.0 since graduate school at Dartmouth College, where she completed an independent study on blogging. She was subsequently highlighted as a woman blogger in Wellesley Magazine, published by her alma mater. She has been published in US News and Forbes on the subject of social media. Follow her on Twitter @Lisa03755.