Over the past 6 months, I’ve been giving myself a crash course in digital marketing. As one of my self assigned duties, I started this blog. In it, I tend to point out the mistakes others have made while using social media — but now I think it’s time to point the finger back at myself. In a short amount of time, I’ve found out what works and how to thoroughly embarrass myself in the blogosphere.
Don’t Shamelessly Plug
When I first started blogging, I was also relatively new to Twitter. I had an inkling of how to use Twitter to promote my blog…but was completely ignorant to the nuances.
So one day, after I wrote one of my first blog posts, I immediately got on Twitter. I thought it was bad form to tweet “Read my blog post!”, so I watched my Twitter feed for awhile to see if I could slyly slip my blog post into the conversation. Within an hour, I saw a tweet from Mashable — one of the most respected and influential social media websites — which mentioned a Foursquare article they just posted, which I just happened to blog about. Being the social media maven that I thought I was, I responded to the tweet with:
“Great article. I just finished a blog post about how business should use Foursquare!”
Then, I sat back and waited for my blog visits to skyrocket, and better yet, a retweet from Mashable saying how great my post was. Five minutes passed….nothing.
30 minutes…one hour…still nothing. My devious plan failed.
Seemed innocent at the time: I liked Mashable, they have over 2 millions Twitter followers, and I was able to slip my blog post into the conversation. I did everything right, or so I thought.
About a month or so later, I realized how incredibly tacky it was. Some may disagree, but it’s extremely transparent when a person with very little clout tries to shamelessly plug themselves through a celebrity or another influential Twitter account, like Mashable. I later discovered, the most traffic that I’d ever receive was a post that I innocently placed on my Facebook page for my friends to read…
Strike while the Iron’s Hot
The Chipotle Facebook Cat controversy….aka the Chipotle Cat Killer…aka “How Not to Handle a Social Media PR Nightmare (Thanks Chipotle)“, has been my most viewed blog post to date. I’m not going to rehash the details of the innocent (read the post!), but it was one of my proudest moments in blogging. Why? Because my blog went from 5 views to 450 views within 6 hours of posting the article.
In retrospect, it was simple: I saw the huge blunder that Chipotle made, blogged about it immediately, and I had content that no one else had. Facebook was abuzz with this Chipotle Cat Killer story, and people wanted to find out what happened. My blog was ranking number one on google for “Chipotle Cat Killer”.
I received a lot of organic search engine traffic, but the lion share of the views came from Facebook. I posted the article to my Facebook account, and within hours it spread through Facebook like wildfire. About 300 of those 400 views came from Facebook alone.
Lesson learned: The early bird gets the worm, so don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. I had no idea how readers would react to my post, but it was something I felt strongly about. It just so happened that my readers felt the same way.
Don’t take it personally
There are people who don’t like me in real life, and there are people who don’t like me in blog life. Although I don’t get a ton of comments on my personal blog, I comment on others’ blog posts and articles. Every now and again, I’ll receive a comment on my comment that’s negative.
At first, it hurt — I mean, I thought my ideas and thoughts were the cream of the crop! Yeah, not so much.
People have their opinions, whether right or wrong; but the great thing about social media and blogging is that you’re allowed to have your opinions. I would be a hypocrite to tell Chipotle, a huge corporation, what they should have done better, then turn around and get upset for someone criticizing something I’ve done or said.
Be open to your critics, in the long run, they can make you a better blogger, writer, or even a better person.
There’s More to Blogging than Content
I know, I know…content is important. A pretty blog with crap content is still a blog with crap content. However, what’s the use of having the best content if your blog isn’t navigable?
When I first started blogging, I focused too much on content, and not enough about usability. I didn’t care about widgets, plugins, or anything that WordPress had to offer. I started noticing that visitors to my site were reading one post, (at the time, each page was one post) then leaving. I was feeling that maybe my content wasn’t compelling enough.
Then one day, I was talking to my sister about my Resume SEO article. She said she really liked it and wanted to read more of my posts, but got so frustrated trying to navigate that she left the site.
Leave it to family to tell you that your baby’s ugly…
But it ended up being the best feedback I ever received. I immediately began using the featured posts, popular posts, and internal linking. I saw that my blog visitors were now looking at multiple posts! I’m still trying to get the right formula to make my blog as easy to navigate as possible, but it’s an important lesson — content may be king, but your visitors need a little help with navigation to get to the throne.
There you have it…my failures and my wins in blogging. What lessons have you learned from your blogging experiences?