It wasn’t in the business plan for our blog to be a hit.
When I launched Post Planner in 2011, my focus was solely on the app. Post Planner’s website had a blog, but content was only posted sporadically.
I was of the mindset that many other business owners are: I didn’t have the time nor did I see the real value in it.
But in early 2013, after some experimentation with various blogging practices and freelancers, I took the plunge and hired someone to build and maintain a robust and informative blog.
In less than one year the Post Planner blog has surpassed my wildest expectations, performing on par or better than highly regarded social media blogs. It ranks higher than most of Social Media Examiner’s 2013 Top Social Media Blogs and in the top six of its competitor publishing apps (we’re talking big dogs like HootSuite).
How did it happen you ask?
I can break down the science of our blog success into three stages, all of which have simple steps that I believe have made our blog so successful.
Step 1: The Blog
Hire a blogger
I’m lucky enough to have Scott Ayres, the incredibly talented leader of my blog team. Hire or contract a good freelancer to help you churn out posts. Make sure you deliver practical industry insight, write in an engaging style and turn around posts quickly. Bonus points if your hire is already invested the industry. Scott spent so much time connecting with other social media experts before I hired him that he had a valuable network to tap into as he built the Post Planner blog into what it is today.
Not every blog post you write is going to go viral. Create a consistent stream of posts to boost the probability of penning that viral post, and having regular popular blog content. We do an average of three posts per week.
Value top-notch editing
Editing is something we emphasize at the Post Planner blog. Meticulous editing is not just for words, but for photos, headlines, and layout as well. We optimize the posts so they are easy to scan and easy to share.
Format for digestion: One reason some blogs with excellent content don’t take off is because of the way the content is presented to readers. Keep the paragraphs short (no more than three or four lines). Use bullet points and quotes whenever possible. Finally, put yourself in the eyeballs of the reader — when you look at the post if you can’t easily scan down that left margin then you’re going to lose your reader’s interest.
Step 2: The Newsletter
Use it to share posts
Our newsletter goes out once a week and features the week’s blog posts. We format it with a headline, a sentence or two to introduce the post, and then prompt people to click to read the full post on the blog.
Simplify the design
The layout of our newsletter is not extravagant. I recommend that you ditch clutter and focus on one core aspect — the blog posts.
We send out our newsletter every Sunday. I think it’s a great strategy, as we get a huge bump on traffic on Sundays, but also see a spike again on Mondays as people get back to their email following the weekend. And on Mondays many people are reading up on what new items they need to know for the week.
Step 3: Social Sharing
Post in prime time
We reserve the 8 a.m. slot on Facebook for new blog posts. Keep the time slot consistent and choose one that is proven to prompt interaction.
Optimize for social
This is specific to Facebook sharing, but can be applied to other networks like Pinterest and Twitter. When you share your blog post, you have the ability to customize the image in the link, so chose an eye-grabbing, size-appropriate image. Use Facebook’s link feature and delete the original link copied and pasted into the status update box…it just looks messy.
Introduce your post efficiently
The best technique is to keep it short: no more than two lines. First line: ask a question that applies to a broad audience; do you need, do you have this problem, do you wish? Then give yourself a hard break (makes it easier to read) and go to line two, where you provide the bridge that states how you will answer that question or solve the problem.
You’re always getting new fans and followers and sometimes even an old event is relevant six months or a year down the road. We use our own app to re-post evergreen blog posts because most of our content is as relevant today as it is when published, and you never know if a new fan or follower has been introduced to your expertise before.
A successful blog requires a lot of hard work. And the Post Planner blog has been no exception. But the payoff is real. Increased traffic, SEO ranking, brand visibility and the positioning of your company as an expert in its field are all valuable benefits of building a first-rate blog.