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Promoting blog posts can be a very repetitive and mundane task, especially for bloggers in the early stages who don’t have a six or seven figure audience to send their content out to.
Below are some of the tactics and techniques that I’ve experimented with over the past few years to try and systemise aspects of blog promotion.
Some of them are very basic, such as using simple IFTTT recipes, and some are slightly more complex - involving combinations of autoresponders and ‘pay with a like buttons’.
Wherever you are in growing your blog, I hope you find at least one or two things that will save you some time, or help you reach a larger audience with your blogging.
1. Automating submissions to StumbleUpon
One of the pitfalls of popular tools like IFTTT and Zapier is that they don’t allow you to automatically post content to some of the popular social networks, such as Pinterest or StumbleUpon.
SNAP (Social Network Auto Poster) is a free Wordpress plugin that enables you to automatically share your latest posts to many social networks that are typically difficult to automate, such as StumbleUpon.
2. Using RSS-to-email to ‘launch’ your latest posts
I recently experimented with RSS-to-email by adding a ‘blog updates’ form on our sidebar and then automatically sending a monthly email with a summary of our top posts to anyone on this list.
While it’s a bit early to say how effective this is, I was surprised to see that this list grows by up to five new subscribers per day, and our first campaign had an open rate of 37% and a click through rate of 14%.
While these numbers may not rock the boat, this did generate a spike in social shares, helping to ‘launch’ some of our new posts. What’s more, this is now 100% automated.
3. Automate your Reddit submissions
Unlike StumbleUpon, Reddit is one of the few social bookmarking sites that generally sends quite a significant amount of traffic.
I'd only recommend automating this if you generally write about the same topic, as you'll need to specify which subreddit you want to auto-post to. To set this one up, there's an IFTTT recipe here.
4. Automatically syndicate your content to Storify
Storify is a great platform for syndicating your content to, if only for getting a strong followed link back to your original article.
The trick here is to try to and customise your IFTTT recipe slightly so that you're not creating a word-for-word duplicated copy of your original post.
You can find the Wordpress to Storify IFTTT recipes here.
5. Use email auto-responders and ‘pay with a like’ to automate social shares of specific pages.
A few years ago I wrote a post on Moz about automating social signals with email auto-responders. Since then I’ve refined that process down quite a lot.
The gist of this technique is to create a 12 or 24 month string of email auto-responders whereby you offer your email list a series of free gifts in return for them liking or tweeting a page you specify (authenticated with a 'pay with a like' or 'pay with a tweet' plugin.
I originally tested this on a music industry site that I own, where I gave away band agreement templates and lists of music venue contacts in return for the artist having to tweet a link to the products.
After four months, it got to a point where on any given day there were a couple of likes and tweets being posted linking to product pages, which are ordinarily quite difficult to get people sharing.
This technique doesn’t work in every niche, but if you want to ramp up social activity for a typically boring niche, this is one very easy way to do so.
Be aware that you’ll need email marketing software with enables auto-responders to do this.
6. Combine IFTTT and Buffer to automate sharing to social sites
It can get very messy automating your social posting through IFTTT. instead, I prefer to have a system that sends content from Feedly (an RSS reader) to Buffer using IFTTT.
That way I can simply connect my blog, as well as other decent marketing blogs to Feedly, and have the content automatically scheduled to post at certain times and days of the week.
It also means that I can manage everything in one place on the Buffer dashboard.
7. Automatically share your latest post to your Linkedin Profile
While you can use the Feedly-Buffer method above to syndicate your content from an RSS feed to your LinkedIn profile, I prefer to set this one up seperately through a direct Wordpress to Linkedin IFTTT recipe, to reduce the frequency of articles you're posting on LinkedIn.
You may also want to do this on Facebook, and other social networks that are not as tolerant to the frequency of posting that's considered normal on Twitter.
To automate your blog posting to your LinkedIn profile, you can use one of these recipes.
8. Syndicate your blog on Technorati, Alltop, and Networked Blogs
The value of syndication is not to introduce your content to a massive audience. Like some of the other tactics mentioned in this post, it’s the combination of a drip feed of visitors, along with some strong links being built to your latest content.
I receive between 25-100 visits/month from Alltop, which isn’t much, but I’d rather have it than not. On top of that, it provides a followed DA82 link to my latest five posts.
Technorati and Networked Blogs are a similar story. It takes five minutes to submit to these sites, so it’s probably not worth overthinking this one too much.
9 Use Marketing Automation tools to notify your press list of any high-performing content
One of the best tips I picked up from reading Marc Benioff’s book ‘Behind the Cloud’ is to create a list of two dozen press contacts who you contact once a month with an update on the best things that’ve happened in that month.
While a personal touch goes a long way, you could use marketing automation tools, like Hubspot, Infusionsoft, or Marketo to automatically send a template email to your press list once per month with a summary of your best performing articles.
While I haven’t tried this using the tools mentioned above, I recently tried this tactic (manually) on a post about responsive themes.
The result? It was featured in a mailing list that was sent out to 100,000+ developers, led to one interesting guest post opportunity, and generated two decent backlinks. Not bad for one quick email.
10. Use social advertising and content discovery platforms to seed your latest content
Tools like Outbrain and nRelate can be an effective ways to give your latest blog posts a bit of extra visibility.
While this would likely work out expensive over the long run, it’s a tactic that could be worth pursuing for specific posts that you want to divert a bit of extra traffic to.
Another slightly more affordable option is to use Facebook Ads and select the option for ‘promote latest post’ to always ensure that your latest Facebook post is always being promoted to a defined audience segment.
11. Build a fully-automated outreach team on oDesk
A few years ago, Paul Madden led an interesting talk on how he built an oDesk empire, going as far as hiring managers to manage teams of workers on oDesk.
While I haven’t explored the depths of what’s possible as far as Paul has, I have used it to make outreach a more efficient process – and it has scored some of the best links I’ve built. The most mundane aspect of outreach is often compiling the list of possible link targets to contact, so let’s start there.
It’s relatively easy to hire a data miner to collect one hundred or so possible link targets, along with the contact details of whom to reach out to, and add these people into a tool like Buzzstream.
The next step is a bit trickier. You now need someone to manually confirm that everyone on that list is legit. This, I’d recommend doing yourself or having someone on your internal team do.
The next step is relatively easy to automate. Using a template in Buzzstream or Sendy, or whatever your outreach tool may be, fire off a template email to your link targets, and wait for the response.
There are countless ways to optimize this process and increase your open and response rates, but to begin with you just want to iron out the core parts of the process.
12. Hire exceptional freelance writers with their own audiences
Regardless of how much you’re able to systemise and automate the promotion aspect of your blogging strategy, the most time consuming part will always be writing the content.
One of the best ways to systemise this, while ticking the promotion box, is to hire exceptional content writers who have a pre-built audience of influential people.
Kristi Hines is a great example. She’s a freelance blogger who writes for many of the top digital marketing blogs, and has over 54,500 Twitter followers. Not only is her writing fantastic, but she also has the sizeable audience to launch content.
I put the ‘95%’ caveat in the title for a reason. I don’t believe in full-automation. I’ve had my hands burned numerous times by trying to be too efficient, but it doesn’t stop me from constantly pushing to see where the limit is.
Like most things, there is a need for you to get your hands dirty. But you should get your hands dirty only on the things that require it – like learning about the journalists you’re contacting and personalizing your approaches.
Don’t waste time on processes that make no difference whether done by a human or an API.