To put it as simply as possible, a blog without readers isn’t a blog at all. It’s just you talking to yourself. For a blog to be successful, it needs to have readers. More specifically, it needs to have readers who will interact with you and share your posts with their friends.
So what can you do to get more readers for your blog? To understand, you need to first know what things you shouldn’t do as a blogger. These are the 5 things that will cause you to lose blog readers.
If there was a single right way to write copy, every company would have a great website that attracts traffic and converts visitors into buyers. But the truth is that copywriting is part art and part science. Sure, there are some right and wrong things you can do, but for the most part, copywriting and most marketing is very subjective.
However, there are some things you can do to help determine the quality of your website copy.
- Use the We-We Calculator—Your copy needs to be focused on your customers. It needs to be about them, not you. You should be talking about how they will benefit by taking action. The We We Calculator grades your copy on how customer-focused it is. It’s an essential tool that every copywriter should be using.
- Read it aloud—The easiest way to tell if your copy has a smooth, natural flow is to read it aloud. Take note of any phrases that sound awkward or are troublesome to read. This is especially important when you’re optimizing your copy for keywords as you want to make certain you’re not guilty of keyword stuffing.
- Have someone who doesn’t know your business read it—Sometimes, you can be a little too close to your business. It’s easy to just assume everyone understands who you are and what you’re selling. That’s why I like to have an outsider read my copy. If they read it and understand it easily, that’s a good sign that your copy is clear and effective.
- Track the results—At the end of the day, it’s all about results. If your copy isn’t getting visitors to take action, it’s not doing its job. Thankfully, there are plenty of tools out there that let you monitor the behavior of your website visitors. My personal favorite tool to use is Google Analytics.
What are some other things you can do to determine the quality of your website copy? Share your best tips by leaving a comment below.
I spent 5 years as an elementary school teacher before I became a commercial freelance writer. Along the way, I think it’s safe to say that I became a bit of a grammar snob. Besides making me pretty annoying, this also made my transition into freelance writing more difficult.
Since getting into the business, I’ve learned to drop my grammar pride. It’s all fine and dandy for writing research papers, but when you’re writing marketing materials, the rules don’t always apply. Sure, you don’t want punctuation mistakes or misspellings, but there are some academic no-no’s that work great when writing sales materials. Here’s a few of them.
While complex sentences impress the scholar, they only hurt your conversion rates. Fragments offer a way to cut down your average sentence length. Making your copy more readable by setting a rhythm. By the way, that was a fragment.
- Starting with conjunctions
I remember getting points off on papers for beginning sentences with conjunctions. Well guess some what? Sometimes it just makes the transition flow more smoothly. And frankly, I like beginning sentences with “and.”
- One sentence paragraphs
— Nothing draws attention to a key point like a one sentence paragraph. Here let me show you:
Often people define a paragraph as a block of text with a minimum of three sentences. Anything less and you need either need to expound on the paragraphs main idea or combine it with another paragraph. You wouldn’t want to break sacred grammar rules, would we?
If you’re a copywriter, you betcha!
So the main idea is set aside in its own paragraph, ensuring that the reader doesn’t miss it. Typically in copy, this one sentence paragraph will highlight a main benefit of the product or service.
- Slang—You want a conversational tone for your copy. The reader needs to feel like they could sit down and exchange some words with you over a few beers. That said, now’s not the time to sound like a professor. So those rules about slang—throw them out the window. That includes contractions.
As always, remember your audience. You aren’t going to say “rock and roll, dude!” to someone looking to hire a lawyer. On the other hand, you might to a group of, well… rockers. And also, if you don’t know the correct slang, don’t use it. “Rock and roll, dude!” probably went out of style with the ninja turtles, so I wouldn’t really use it. If you can’t talk the talk, keep it simple and straight forward.
Remember, these “mistakes” don’t always work. Use your best judgment and use them as you see fit.
Thanks to a recent feature story in Entrepreneur magazine, ghost Tweeting has once again become a hotly debated subject. So, I thought I’d throw in my $.02 on the subject.
Note: For those who don’t know, ghost Tweeting is when you hire someone else to Tweet under your name.
- It goes against the whole point of social media—Call me crazy, but isn’t the whole point of social media to be, umm, social? Social media is about interacting, building relationships, getting to know one another, and just being yourself. Now, if someone else is Tweeting under your personal name, doesn’t that violate all of this? It’s like when a 50 year old fat guy in a chat room pretends to be a 21 year old blonde chick. Not cool, man.
- It can distort the brand image—Celebrities and high-profile execs are usually the ones who hire people to ghost Tweet for them, and I get it. They’re busy. The last thing they have time for is to Tweet all day, but they also want to build their brand and keep their name out there. However, I think this is a bit dangerous and can easily backfire. Even if the ghost writer is good at capturing your exact tone and personality, there’s no way they can know the celeb’s thoughts on every subject they Tweet about. Sooner or later, something will be Tweeted that isn’t in line with the celeb’s “personal brand”, and this will distort that image and confuse their audience.
- The speed of Twitter makes it difficult to edit—I understand ghost blogging because the ghost writer has time to interact with the credited author to get ideas for posts and edits on their writing. But Twitter is a real-time conversation. There’s no time for editing and approving every single Tweet before it gets published. This creates a dangerous environment where the ghost writer can very easily slip up by Tweeting something they shouldn’t, and as a result, it’s the celebrity who ends up paying for it.
Alternatives to Ghost Tweeting
- Hire a social media consultant to train you on how best to use Twitter.
- Tweet when you have time. Quality over quantity.
- Don’t Tweet at all
For those looking to spread their message far and wide on Twitter, attracting ReTweets (RT) is a must. When your followers RT your content, it can create a snowball effect.—Your followers RT it, then their followers RT it, and then their followers RT it, and so on.
But to enjoy that snowball effect, it all starts with knowing how to attract those initial RTs. Here are 13 tips for getting more people to RT your content.
- Message your friends to ask for them—I’m assuming you have at least a few close friends on Twitter. To get that snowball rolling, shoot them an email or an IM asking them to RT your content. Most times, they’ll be happy to help. Just make sure you don’t constantly bombard them with RT requests. Moderation is key.
- Include “Please RT” on your tweet—It might seem a little desperate, but adding “Please RT” at the beginning or end of a tweet can help you get some good RT action. Again, this is something you don’t want to overdo as your followers will begin to ignore you. I prefer only using “Please RT” for important causes, rather than something that just benefits me.
- Install a Twitter button on your blog—Placing a TweetMeme button on your blog makes it easy for your readers to instantly share your content on Twitter with only a single click. Make sure the button is placed above the fold so readers easily see it.
- Include @mentions to those referenced in the post—Sometimes, you might quote or reference someone else in your post. Whenever you do this, include an @mention of that person. For example: “33 Copywriting Tips found on Twitter (include link) w/tips from @Copywritings @heatherlloyd and more” These @ mentions put you on the radar of those people, and it could lead to them ReTweeting your content.
- Don’t just drop a link. Add something to it—Take a look at the 50 most recent Tweets from your followers. I bet probably half of them are links to articles or blog posts. We’re constantly being bombarded with links on Twitter. To stand out, you need to add something to your link drop that makes it more intriguing.
By now, you’re undoubtedly familiar with the reasons to use Twitter for your business. However, most conversations on the subject rarely offer specific strategies for using Twitter for your business, and instead they consist of vague statements like connect with and engage your audience or build your brand.
Today, we’re going to take a look at specific actions you can take on Twitter to help your business.
- Provide customer support—While I certainly don’t recommend using Twitter as your main source of customer support, it’s helpful as an additional option for customers. JetBlue and cable service Comcast are just two major companies that provide customer support through Twitter. Make sure the employee providing customer service over Twitter is trained properly to solve problems and to offer excellent service every time.
- Hold contests—Twitter is an excellent medium for holding a contest for your business. Last year, web hosting services company @HostGator held a contest where the company gave away an iPhone every day for a month. To enter the contest, entrants had to Tweet the details of the contest each day. This created thousands upon thousands of mentions about the web hosting company, making the contest a viral success.
- Alert customers about special sales—Many companies use Twitter to update customers about special sales and coupon codes. @MarcJacobsSales and @DellOutlet are two examples of Twitter accounts where you can learn of the latest and greatest deals.
- Poll audience for data gathering—One of the most overlooked ways to use Twitter is to gain deep insight from your target audience. Polling customers can involve anything from getting their thoughts on new product ideas to finding out which topics they’d like to see you blog about.
- Let customers know your location (for mobile businesses)—Several mobile businesses (e.g. taco trucks, ice cream trucks, waffle trucks, etc.) use Twitter to let customers know where they are. This drives foot traffic to the business, helping increase sales.
- Monitor your reputation—If your target audience is on Twitter, there’s a good chance your company could get mentioned at some point. Guess what? These mentions might not always be so positive. Subscribe to company-specific keywords on Twitter search so that you’re alerted every time someone mentions your brand.
- Tell customers when you have an opening—One of the most creative uses of Twitter I’ve seen is @Laundryroom. This Twitter account alerts residents at Olin College’s West Hall every time a washing machine in the Laundromat is available.
- Promote special events—Does your company host after hours events or special parties? Twitter is the perfect way to promote the event so you can have an excellent turnout.
- Post company news—Keep your customers, partners, and employees up to date with the latest news on your company through Twitter. This can be anything from updates on big projects to information about new products you’re releasing.
If you enjoyed this post, be sure to check out how to get more followers on Twitter.
How does your business use Twitter? Leave a comment with your suggestions for effective business Tweeting.
As more and more companies jump on the social media bandwagon, they’re beginning to realize that running an SMM (social media marketing) campaign isn’t always as easy as it looks. It’s not like you sign up on Twitter, send out a few meaningless Tweets, and then experience a sudden surge in business. Social media marketing requires a long term commitment, and the results are not always easy to measure.
Today, I want to talk about some of the challenges you’ll face when you start an SMM campaign. By knowing what you’re up against, you’ll be better prepared to avoid these common pitfalls.
• Finding the time—Personally, this is my biggest challenge. I run a one-man show, so it’s overwhelming finding the time to do all of my work plus staying active on social media outlets. But here’s the thing you (and I) have to realize: Marketing can never be placed on the backburner. It’s just as important as doing your actual work. Marketing should be something you do day in and day out. It’s the only way you’ll ever gain any attention and build a following on the social networks. I recommend scheduling time each day (maybe in 10 or 15 minute blocks a few times each day) for handling your SMM business. Consistency is key.
• Handling negative comments—This is usually the challenge that leads to a company spiraling out of control with their SMM campaign. Look, at some point, someone is going to say something about you or your company that you won’t like. It might be a comment on your blog or a random Tweet, but how you handle it will determine how successful you’ll be with your social media campaign. The thing is there isn’t really one set method of handling negative comments. For me, if the comment isn’t just pure hate, I take the time to respond thoughtfully, letting the person know I respect their opinion and asking them some well thought out questions. There’s nothing wrong with a polite conversation between two people who disagree. However, if the comment is just pure Internet hate, it’s probably best just to ignore it.
• Balancing personality with professionalism—This can be a tricky challenge to overcome. The whole point of social media is to be personable and to connect with your audience. This means you can’t come across as a corporate stiff shirt. However, you also don’t want to be too informal and risk creating a negative image for your company. My suggestion is to find a balance of the two. Obviously, you probably shouldn’t post pictures of yourself doing a body shot at the bar, but you also want to avoid sounding like a corporate robot. Simply put, just be yourself, but always proofread everything before you post.
• Staying committed for the long haul—Like I said at the beginning of this post, social media isn’t a quick fix. It’s something you need to stay committed to every day over the long haul. Unfortunately, many companies fail at this. They’re very passionate when they first start a Twitter profile or a new blog, but inevitably, a couple of months pass, and they gradually disappear. This usually happens to those who don’t set any actual social media goals and who are just blindly blogging and Tweeting away with no real purpose.
• Measuring SMM results—The value of SMM has always been debated. Some people claim that, since they don’t generate any physical business through their Twitter or Facebook account, SMM is a waste of time. Others say that social media is a great way to increase brand awareness, gain insight into your target audience, and build useful business connections. The reason most people have a hard time measuring results from their SMM campaign is because they don’t know what to measure. Is the goal of your campaign to earn more back links to your site? Is it to increase search position? Or are you simply interested in boosting your sales? By having a clearly defined purpose for your SMM campaign, you’ll be better able to measure your results.
What challenges do you face when using social media marketing? Share them with us the replies!
In December, I wrote a post talking about the 10 most creative Twitter uses I had seen. Based on the plethora of comments with more suggestions for the list, I could see I had barely scratched the surface of creative Twitter uses. For this reason, I bring you 10 MORE examples of creative Twitter uses. Some of these are user-submitted while others are accounts I’ve recently come across. Enjoy.
- TwittMinder– To me, this is about as cool as it gets. TwittMinder is a service that Tweets you to remind you of important events. All you have to do is email them the event info (date/time/etc) and they will send you a Tweet when the time comes to remind you of it. Sure, you could just set an alert on your phone or calendar, but this is pretty darn cool if you ask me.
- WaffleTruck– This was recommended to me by one of our readers, Simon. This company serves up waffles from their truck throughout the streets of New York. They Tweet updates regularly to let their customers know exactly where they are. Mmm. Waffles.
- ImagineChurch– Regardless of what your religious preferences are, you have to admit ImagineChurch is pretty creative. For those who don’t have time to go to church, they’ll Tweet a live play by play of their Sunday service. Church via text message. Who woulda thunk it?!
- CookBook– What’s for dinner tonight? If you don’t know, maybe you should visit this Twitter account. CookBook offers recipes that serve 3-4 people in just 140 characters or less. Throw out the old cookbooks, and get into the 21st century!
- SATWordoftheDay– I remember years back when I had to prep for the SAT. It was a nightmare. Huge prep books and boring classes made it less than exciting. Thankfully, I performed well, but I could have done better if this Twitter service was around. Lear a new SAT vocabulary word each day!
Hamburgers. TV shows. Office products. These are just a few of the things being promoted in an unorthodox manner through viral marketing campaigns. For those who don’t know, viral marketing is any technique that entices users to pass on a company’s marketing message to their friends and family, thus creating more exposure for the message.
Of course, doing this often requires an “outside-the-box” approach. After all, few people are going to spread a blatant advertisement to their friends. That’s why I’ve created this list of some of the most brilliant and successful viral campaigns. The one thing that each of these has in common is that they engage their target audience and elicit a response.
- BK Sacrifice– This Facebook App is brilliant! Burger King is no stranger to viral marketing. Almost everyone came across the Subservient Chicken at one point or another. This time, Burger King used Facebook to launch their newest viral campaign. What is it? Users install an app that gives them a free coupon for a Whopper after they delete (or “sacrifice”) 10 friends from their profile. Every time a user sacrificed a friend, a message would be sent to them stating their friend chose a Whopper over them. Of course, Facebook wasn’t thrilled with the campaign, and they pulled the plug shortly after its launch. However, the buzz had already been created, and all in all, the campaign was a success.
Comments. They’re the lifeblood of blogging. Without this ability to interact with the author and other readers, blogs wouldn’t be blogs at all. They’d just be standard, boring, static articles.
When the subject of blog commenting typically comes up in SEO conversations, it’s usually related to link building. And while commenting can be a part of your link building strategy, the benefits of commenting extend far beyond link building.
Here are a few of the true benefits of leaving comments on other blogs.
- Getting Your Name Out There- The first step to building your reputation online is to get your name out there. It’s not enough just to stay on your little website or blog. You have to visit new blogs in your niche, leaving insightful comments that add to the conversation. In other words, don’t leave comments like “Good post. Come check out my blog!” Take time to digest the post to think of a fresh perspective to add in the comments. Try to write comments that demand someone replies to them.
- Building Relationships – Social media is all about building relationships. That’s why you shouldn’t just leave a comment and leave. Always check back to see if anyone has responded to your comment. Interacting with the author and other readers is the key to building strong online relationships. These are relationships that you’ll be able to leverage down the line to get guest posting opportunities and to attract readers to your blog.
- Gaining Authority- If you make a habit of making insightful comments that add value to the conversation, you’ll start to build authority over time. No matter how big the blogosphere might be, if you focus on blogs within your niche, people will start to recognize your name and take your comments seriously. It really is a small world. Remember, every comment you leave affects the way people see your brand. Always put your best foot forward by making each comment great.
- Learning from Others- Blog commenting isn’t just about getting your ideas out there; it’s about learning from others as well. I can’t tell you how much interacting with others online has helped improve my marketing education. You don’t know it all. Take the time to truly listen to what others are saying, and you’re sure to learn something new. Never stop learning. The moment you do is the moment you’ll become irrelevant.
- Generating Ideas for Your Blog- Often times, ideas come up in the comments section that need to be fleshed out fully. In short, you might be able to turn one of your blog comments into a full post for your own blog. I don’t have to tell you how difficult it can be to come up with fresh ideas for blog posts. Hanging around in the comments section could be the perfect cure for a case of writer’s block.
Now that you understand the importance of commenting on other blogs, I’m going to leave you with a list of what NOT to do when leaving comments. Avoiding these mistakes will make you a commenter that earns respect.
What NOT To Do When Commenting
- Don’t leave brief comments that add nothing to the conversation
- Don’t be overly self-promotional…it’s not always about you
- Don’t immediately discount other people’s opinions
- Don’t forget to follow up on your comments
- Don’t be controversial for no good reason
- Don’t forget to proofread. Typos and poor grammar make you look less than intelligent
- Don’t talk about something you don’t know about
Do you have any opinions or insights regarding comments? Please let us know in the comments below.