If you write blog posts for pay, you know how important social sharing is. For bloggers, social shares are like television ratings–the higher, the better.
To get your post in front a lot of people, there are some steps you need to take.
As someone who has created blog posts for pay for over seven years, I’ve had many posts that received hundreds of social shares. In this post, I’ll share what makes a blog post popular and what writers must consider before they agree to write a viral post.
Define Your Expectations
What do you consider to be a popular post? How many shares would it take for you to consider a post viral?
Not everyone agrees about what it means for a post to go viral.
Some consider a post to have gone viral simply because it receives more social shares than any other post on their blog. Others aren’t satisfied unless a post receives thousands of shares.
I once had a client contact me excitedly because they believed a post I had written was “about to go viral”–with only two dozen shares. To me that seemed like a low number of shares, but for that client getting that many social shares was a first. They were ecstatic.
Once you define your expectations, look carefully at the blog where the post will be published. Many factors impact a post’s popularity, including:
- Existing blog traffic
- Social media strategy
- Existing community
I’ll go into these factors in more detail in the next few paragraphs. But remember, don’t expect the impossible. Few blogs go from having posts with less than ten social shares to having posts with over ten thousand social shares overnight. It takes time to build a social presence for a blog.
Pay Attention to Blog Traffic
When it comes to popular posts, blog traffic makes a difference.
A post on a high-traffic blog will receive more social shares than a similar post published on a low-traffic blog. I’ve seen this time and time again.
Think about it this way. To get social shares, someone has to see your post and like it. The more people who see your post, the more likely it is that one or more of them will share it.
Publishing frequency is also important. Blogs that publish often are more likely to produce popular posts.
Blog traffic doesn’t just happen. The blog owner needs to purposefully build a social strategy and foster a community.
Have a Social Strategy
One of the biggest obstacles to building traffic on a blog is the lack of a social media strategy. Ignoring social media is a big mistake. Running a popular blog is not a passive activity. Social media is a must.
Low traffic blogs usually have a weak social media presence. Even if the blog owner has a social media profile, participation may be sporadic. He or she probably has little to no interaction with others.
Here are some quick social media tips to help build your blog’s strategy:
- Share more than just your own posts. Seek out and share posts from experts and thought leaders in your field.
- Share only the highest quality posts. People don’t share what they don’t like. What you share also reflects on your blog and your brand.
- Interact with others. If you’ve ever tried to engage someone on social media, only to have them ignore you–you know how important interactions are.
- Share often. Different experts will recommend different social sharing frequencies. I’ve found social sharing several times a day to work for me.
- Make it easy to share. Have social sharing buttons that are easy to spot. Don’t make readers log in or pass other hurdles to share.
One key goal of your social strategy should be to build a community around your blog.
Posts from a blog with a community are more likely to be shared. By community, I mean a group that regularly leaves comments and otherwise interacts with bloggers and with each other.
It’s a bonus if one of the blog’s community members happens to also be an influencer who shares your post.
How do you build a community around your blog? Through interaction.
Here are four community-building tips:
- Engage readers through your call-to-action. Ask readers for their opinion. Encourage participation on your blog and elsewhere.
- Answer comments on your blog. I hate to see a blog post with comments and no answer from the author or anyone from the blog.
- Leave comments on other blogs. Leaving relevant comments on other blogs can help draw community to your blog.
- Interact through social media. By interact, I mean more than just broadcasting your own posts or even the posts of others. Have actual discussions. Twitter chats and Google+ Hangouts can help.
Write an Exceptional Post
The quality if your blog post is crucial. A well-written and highly informative post will be ignored if it’s not shared. But you can’t make up for a poorly written post by over-sharing it.
There’s been a lot written about how to write a good post, but Jeff Bullas has published an excellent post specifically about the characteristics of viral blog posts. His Lessons from Blog Posts that Went Viral takes a closer look at what makes a post go viral. It’s worth a read if you haven’t already seen it.
There Are No Guarantees
Imagine working for hours to create and develop a strategy for a blog post. You hit publish expecting success. But shortly after you publish your post a major news story breaks.
What will social media be talking about? Your post or the major news story? The major news story, of course.
This is a very real scenario and it happens all the time. If it happens to you, don’t give up. Next time you may have better luck.
What would you add to my tips for creating a popular post? Have you published any viral posts?
Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments.