If you’re a blogger, you want to write content that people want to share. Admit it. You do. Why else are you blogging on a public platform?
The result was “12 Rules to Increase Your Klout Score“.
At the time of me writing this, that post has 159 Twitter Shares, 29 Likes on Facebook, 77 Shares on LinkedIn and 28 Google+ shares. It is also the 4th most commented-on post on this blog.
Sure, these aren’t ProBlogger or CopyBlogger numbers in terms of shares. But you know what? I’m not ProBlogger or CoppyBlogger. Most people aren’t. And I think most bloggers would be more than happy to have 159 Tweets about their post. (Keep in mind that I do not know how accurate the actual stats are from the Sharebar, but that is what I’ll go with it).
So here is a break down of how I went about creating a blog post that people wanted to share:
1. Pick a Hot Topic
The first step in picking a shareable topic is to pick a hot or trending one.
I decided to go with the topic of increasing Klout score. I noticed there were a lot of people chattering about it on Twitter and thought “looks like now’s a good time to post something about it.”
Finding hot topics isn’t very hard. Here is a short list of places to find topics that are trending (I originally shared this list during my last experiment write-up here):
Twitter Search – Check out the trending topics on Twitter.
Facebook – Are your friends talking? Do they all share a common theme in their statuses? That’s how I found out about Macho.
Google Trends – Check out the hot search items on Google on a daily basis.
Digg Top News – Filter by top news, then most recent. See what’s trending right now.
Alexa – Sure the rank might be worthless, but they do show “Hot Topics” right on the front page.
Technorati – Check out the hottest blogosphere items.
The topic I picked came from Twitter. This may be why I saw an initial insurgence of Twitter shares (more so than any other network).
2. Solve a Problem
The second part of picking a shareable topic is to pick one where you can actually help people solve a problem or achieve something. In this case the post outlined how people could achieve a higher Klout score.
While cute cats may be trending on Twitter (aren’t they always trending somewhere?), they don’t make for a very good problem-solving blog post. And while, yes, a cute cat has a good chance of going viral, you’ll probably feel better about getting comments thanking you for quality information rather than comments saying “Haha, Dude! That was so funny I just dropped my bong!”
You’ll also have a lot more competition for cute cats than you will for actually helping people find valuable information (go figure!).
Speaking of which…
3. Pick a Keyword
I know you don’t want to hear this, but you should probably do a little bit of keyword research.
You can always use a free tool like Google Keyword Tool. But I prefer Market Samurai because you can get more research done faster, quickly customize filters and run some competition reports (which is always important). And, since I already own it, why not use it?
By the way, yes that’s an affiliate link. And I’m their affiliate because I love the software. Sometimes I go on there just for fun to play around with it. Plus if you buy their product you can also become an affiliate (win-win-win!). So give it a free trial now and see how you like it (no obligations!).
So when writing the post I had to decide what to focus on: “improve klout score”, “increase klout score”, etc. After doing the research I decided to go with “increase klout score” because it received more searches (and more searches is potentially more traffic!).
4. Post Slug vs Title
The post slug (that’s the part of the URL after the forward slash: www.domain.com/post-slug) should reflect your keyword. One of the marvels of WordPress is that you can have a blog post title that is different from your post slug.
For that specific post, my post slug is “increase-klout-score” because those were the keywords I wanted to focus on. The title, on the other hand, is “12 Rules to Increase Your Klout Score.”
Your post slug should be geared towards SEO, while your title should be geared more towards the reader (who wants to read a post titled “Increase Klout Score” ?). Keep in mind, however, that the title includes the keywords as well.
But that brings us to a different topic…
5. Post Title
As I mentioned in the previous section, your post title should be geared for the reader. It should prepare the reader for the journey they are about to embark on by telling them what they are going to read about.
A good place to start for some good title ideas is Brian Clark’s 10 Sure-Fire Headline Formulas That Work.
I consciously used “Your” in the title to show that this post will be about helping the reader, and that the reader can benefit from it. I also told the reader how they will benefit (increased Klout score).
The post title also included the word “Rules.” While the 12 actions I listed aren’t necessarily “rules” per se (Klout won’t kick you out if you don’t do these), it displays a level of authority to introduce the post.
The fact that I included the number of “rules” in the post title is no fluke either. By telling the reader how many “rules” they have to go through before the post is over tells them that there is an end. The post is finite. It’s easier psychologically.
Which brings us to the actual content…
6. Post Content
I chose to go with a list format for the content. Like I said, it gives a dimension of finiteness (yes, that’s a word) to the post. It is also easier to read because it breaks the post up into sections.
You do not have to go with the list format, but you should still break the post up into sections that make it easier on the eye and make it easier for the reader to skim the post if they so chose. Let’s face it, most people don’t read every single word in detail, which also means you shouldn’t write essay-long paragraphs.
I talked about this in the Klout post (what a coinkidink), but you need to make it easy for the reader to actually share your content if you want them to…*drum rolls*…share it.
As I say in that post:
Provide social buttons in convenient places. I have social sharing buttons before the content, after the content, and a Sharebar stalking you all the way down the page…staring at you…making you uncomfortable about not sharing (so ease your nerves by clicking it now!).
I personally use the 1-click Retweet/Share/Like plugin.
8. Mention Others
Reciprocity is often at play in the blogosphere. If you mention someone in a post, they are much more likely to tell their followers that they have just been mentioned.
Mentioning people with large followings increases the chance of your blog post getting more views, and more shares.
But don’t mention others just to mention them. Make sure it is appropriate and on-topic.
9. Utilize Your List
If you haven’t started building your e-mail list, you need to get on that ASAP. Like now. Well, maybe finish reading this post first, signup for my list (at the sidebar or end of this post), share the article with your friends, and then get to list building.
Once your post is live and ready to go share it with your email list to let them know you have this awesome new post that they probably want to read.
10. Get Social
Don’t wait for everyone else to share your post. Start the sharing process yourself. Don’t limit yourself to just Facebook and Twitter.
A very under-utilized social networking tool for bloggers is LinkedIn groups. Find groups that are related to the general topic of your blog and join them. Share the post in these groups. I had a pretty decent response from this tactic.
I also used SocialAdr to get my post bookmarked on social bookmarking sites.
11. Use a Bonus Rule
Ask people to share! The bonus rule is a good tactic because it adds a bit of humor to the fact that you are asking the reader to do something for you. But if they’ve gotten all the way through to the bonus rule, they probably enjoyed your post anyway, right?
You don’t have to implement a “bonus rule”, but you should ask the reader to share the content if you want them to (by the way, I would love it if you shared this post!).
12. Bonus (No, Not the “Bonus Rule”, an Actual Bonus!) Here’s What I Missed…
This really is a bonus for you because it is something I did not implement and only realized I should have after the fact.
It’s not too late to go back and change it now I suppose. But that would defeat the purpose of the experiment, wouldn’t it?
Using hash-tags in your post title (compliments of Paul Wolfe) can increase the reach of your blog post (at least on Twitter) by tagging it with a topic (in this case one that is popular).
So from the Klout post example…
Instead of “12 Rules to Increase Your Klout Score” I should have titled the post “12 Rules to Increase Your #Klout Score.”
Then, every time someone shared the post on Twitter, they also joined the general Twitter discussion about Klout, thus increasing the audience reach.
13. Value and Effort
You have to provide real value to your readers in order for them to reciprocate by sharing your post with their friends and followers.
They are coming to you for answers. You job is to make their life easier by answering the questions they have and shouldering all of the hard work. This takes a lot of time, research and effort. To write the most value-packed post on your blog, chances are you’re going to spend the most time.
A “shareable” post results in more traffic to your site.
For me it also resulted in more shares of older content because readers would stop by, like the post, and check out what else I had to offer. That means lower bounce rate.
Having a lot of shares also results in higher search engine rankings for your keyword. If you’re telling me that Google isn’t putting more emphasis on the social side of the internet then I’m not listening.
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Your Two Cents:
What is the most popular post on your blog? How many times has it been shared? Did you employ any of these tactics when you wrote that post? Did you do it consciously? Did you find it hard to replicate the success of that post? Does more shares also mean more comments?