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#44: The Secrets to Building a More Strategic, Valuable Blog

January 29, 2015

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To a large extent, blogs are living, breathing things. They're a place for you to record the day-in-the-life of your brand, to explore new possibilities and take the occasional look back to see how far you've come.

This is precisely what makes your blog the primary place where brand loyalty is fostered. Your posts allow your audience to come along with you and experience the development of your brand as it happens.

Ideally, your blog is your audience's closest connection to you. That's why it's a good idea to step back now and then to reexamine your blog. Even if you've had a blog for a long time and your subscriber numbers are strong, it's always a good idea to find ways to breathe new life into it.

Don't worry–I'm not talking about a whole new site redesign. There are lots of simple, no-cost ways to tweak, amplify and expand your blog's potential, making it more valuable for subscribers to read…and more streamlined and effective for you to use.

To help us really understand what launches a blog from good to great, I've invited master blogger, Mike Stelzner, to share his insights and tips.

If you don’t know Mike Stelzner yet, he’s the founder of Social Media Examiner, the world’s largest social media magazine, and the host of the top-rated podcast “Social Media Marketing.” Mike and I go way back—he offered me my first paid gig when leaving my corporate job.

That feels like a lifetime ago, but in reality, it was just a few shorts years ago! You’ll also learn about a really cool way to make sure that all of your blog posts look fantastic when they are shared on Facebook.

This is SO CRUCIAL to attracting new visitors to your blog!


Get the Quick Guide: “How to Easily Set Up Open Graph and Make All Your Posts On Facebook Look Outstanding”


Mike is a goldmine of insight on creating a successful blog. Here are just a few of the things we talked about in my recent podcast episode:

Choosing Content

Social Media Examiner churns out huge amounts of quality content in the form of long, newsy blog posts…every single week! How do they choose what to blog about?

⇒ Run smart surveys

As of my conversation with Mike, Social Media Examiner was producing their 2015 survey to find out how marketers are using social media to grow their businesses. It’s coming out soon!

You'll learn about trends in mobile optimization and social integration, which content categories and social platforms to prioritize, and what to expect from the future of social media marketing. (If you can’t wait until the 2015 one comes out to see what one of these surveys looks like, click here to see the 2014 version.) The data collected in these surveys is used to decide what their audience wants more of as they design their editorial calendar for the year. This narrows down the field considerably to topics that will instantly catch on with their readers.

There’s still a lot of brainstorming to be done, but it’s focused within certain categories that are important to the Social Media Examiner audience.

⇒ Reach out to great writers

Make it worth their while. A lot of talented writers contribute to Social Media Examiner in exchange for their huge number of page clicks. Find out what exposure on your site can offer your writers, and start sending out feelers. If you find a couple of truly standout writers, snap them up—put them on retainer or hire them for specific blogging projects. When you can marry great content to an engaging, authentic voice, you’ve got blogging gold.

⇒ Pay attention to what your audience likes

Facebook shares and “likes,” retweets and comments are important, but they aren’t always the most important. In their first couple years, Social Media Examiner would take their cues on content from the number of tweets and page views any given post received.

If an article got a lot of Twitter play, for example, they would write more articles on that topic. But then they realized that page views weren’t their goal; their method of monetizing had to do with growing their email newsletter list. After tracking conversions, they started to see patterns in what brought in paying leads. Those became their new guidelines for what kind of content to produce and where to channel it. Don’t miss out on more of Mike’s priceless advice for optimizing your blog—click here to listen to Episode 44 for the full interview.

Don't Be Afraid of Sending Too Many Emails

Social Media Examiner is famous—some might say “notorious”—for emailing their list every single day. Here’s what Mike had to say about all those emails:

⇒ Consider the end game

Statistically, most people come to your blog once and never come back. By getting them on your email newsletter, you have a chance to lure them back over and over. The daily email from Social Media Examiner teases subscribers with their great content—little 70-word blurbs that include the day’s articles and lures them back to the website.

⇒ Use FOMO to your advantage

Daily emails are an implied brag, i.e. if Social Media Examiner has something to email about every day, they must have a lot going on! It creates FOMO (fear of missing out) in the subscriber—they want to stay up to date—which gets those emails opened.

⇒ Give your followers something to share

Everybody wants something cool to share with their friends and followers. If you produce a lot of content, your audience will always have something to share online—“Check out this cool article I read on Social Media Examiner.” Even if they never buy a product that you have to sell they become evangelists for your brand, offering the most powerful kind of advertising: word of mouth. Recently, all those great blogs have parlayed into the Social Media Examiner Show, a podcast that comes out four times weekly and repurposes longer articles into abridged versions delivered through audio. An entirely different editorial staff handles these audio episodes, as opposed to the written ones. Obviously, it takes really rich content to be repurposed in so many ways. If you don’t have the budget or the time to manage a big editorial staff, here are Mike’s top two priorities for soliciting help in creating content that can be mined for multiple uses:

⇒ Copy editor

The most important step is making sure your content is pitch perfect—you can’t have misspellings, punctuation errors or awkward, clunky, repetitive phrases. No matter how great an authority you are on your topic, misuse of the English language will undermine your readers’ respect for what you have to say. When I asked Mike which was the single most important blogging-related hire to add to your team, he answered without hesitation “A copy editor.”

⇒ Graphic designer

First impressions are a big deal, when it comes to content getting shared. You want something that looks beautiful wherever someone shares it—a Twitter Card, for example, is a lot more visible than a simple tweet, even one with an attached image. An Open Graph-optimized image for Facebook and Twitter will get your content optimum play on social media. Open Graph data is how Facebook decides what image to post in your feed; you can determine it yourself, instead of letting Facebook (or whoever is posting the link to your content) decide for you. One image with eye-catching typography and white space left in the right areas will draw an audience’s roving eye and get your content opened. Download our free quick guide that walks you through the process of setting up Open Graph. This free download is extremely valuable to attract even more traffic to your blog!

Tracking Your Traffic

You probably already know that Google Analytics will tell you what percentage of your traffic is coming from Facebook and Twitter and so on. But by using UTM tracking codes—a little extended code that goes on the end of your URL and compressing that with—you can assign campaign-level triggers to any particular thing you do. It works like a homing device to see where your posts end up and which ones are getting the most traffic. This allows us to segment what percentage of our social traffic is coming from our own sharing versus other people out there sharing on their own.

Get More

You can listen to the entire podcast and get all of Mike's valuable insights on how to make your blog better than ever. Just click here to go to iTunes and choose Episode 44. And don't forget to download the quick guide that we created to help you set up Open Graph–an easy way to make sure your Facebook posts look outstanding and consistent.


Get the Quick Guide: “How to Easily Set Up Open Graph and Make All Your Posts On Facebook Look Outstanding”


Don’t miss Mike speaking at Social Media Marketing World, an annual event held right here in San Diego, California. It’s the place to be if you want to rub shoulders with people just like you who are trying to figure out social media marketing. If you can’t attend this March event, make sure to download the recordings from the more than 100 sessions being offered.

Results are not guaranteed. Please see earnings disclaimer for more detail.

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