As a marketing tool, blogging is still very much alive and kicking. Case in point: In a study by Social Media Examiner, 58 percent of marketers rank written content as their No. 1 priority on social media. Meanwhile, 68 percent plan to blog more than they do now in the coming years.
Considering what blogging does for businesses, those stats make sense. According to Hubspot, companies that blog bring in more website visitors, more inbound links, more indexed pages and more leads per month than those that don’t. Of course, this is assuming the blogs in question are:
- Able to get readers to take a desired course of action
- Well-represented on social media
By now, you already know how to do No. 1 and No. 2. In this post, I’ll discuss No. 3: aka how to draw eyeballs to your blogs in the noisy world of social media.
1. Craft a Kickass Headline
If Copyblogger is to be believed, at least half of your time should be spent writing the headline. That’s because eight out of 10 people read headline copy, while only 2 out of 10 bother to read the rest.
Sounds absurd? Not really. Readers can only consume so many articles a day, so if they want to read one piece out of the hundreds on their newsfeed, they should be able to tell ? within 5 seconds flat ? whether it’s worth the read or not. In other words, a clickbait-y headline might not salvage a mediocre piece, but a ho-hum headline is a surefire way to get an excellent article bypassed.
Try to take a leaf out of BuzzFeed’s book, and craft headlines that push readers’ curiosity buttons. You can also refer to Buffer’s comprehensive guide on headline formulas, or cheat your way to headline ideas via title generators like those from Hubspot, Portent and WebpageFX.
2. Always Include at Least One Image
A wise man once said: “One grain of rice can tip the scale. One image may be the difference between victory and defeat.” Mulan references aside, it’s amazing what one photo can do to your social share count!
In a study by OkDork, posts with images are twice as likely to get shared on Facebook and Twitter as those without. Moreover, posts that utilized Open Graph meta tags are three times as likely to get shared, since these tags allow you to customize the thumbnails pulled by social networking sites. For a detailed guide on using Open Graph, see this post by Jay Hoffmann. If you use SEO by Yoast as your SEO plugin, you?re in luck ? Open Graph meta tags are built into the plugin. As you can see on Socialboss SMM service, all the blog articles in social media posts have relevant images.
3. Choose Your Images Carefully
It’s not enough to just have an image, though. According to Hubspot, your image has to be:
- Relevant. If a post is about a recipe, you can’t use an image of a Star Wars action figure ? unless maybe your headline is ?5 Ways to Make Lasagna Luke Skywalker Will Love.?
- Compelling. When you have a headline like “10 Ways to Escape the Corporate Rat Race,” it’s better to use a photo of a man in a suit rushing past the finish line than an oh-so-common image of an office worker falling asleep over a desk.
- High Quality. Are you a crap photographer? Source your images from people who aren?t. Trust me, you?re better off that way. There are literally thousands of free, high quality images out there and even tools to search for them.
- Optimized for All Screen Sizes. A plugin like Hammy will take care of this for you.
- Within Your Rights to Use. This one can be tricky. If you’re not careful, you could end up like these copywriters who paid $4,000 for a $10 photo. It’s best to search for Creative Commons images, which require attribution, or Creative Commons Zero images, which do not.
The more your posts’ images meet these criteria, the better.
4. Overlay Text on Your Images
You know those photos of quotable quotes superimposed over beautiful scenery? Those are great examples of overlaying text on images. They work pretty well as marketing materials, since people are naturally drawn to visuals. Also, they’re quite easy to make, thanks to the following tools:
- Canva. With its user-friendly features like templates, custom image sizes, and drag-and-drop interface, Canva is perfect for those who don’t have the resources to hire a professional designer.
- Pablo. Here, all you have to do is write your text, pick a background image and you’re good to go. Other customization options, such as font size and formatting, are available.
- PicMonkey. If basic features are all you need, PicMonkey is available for free. Edit, crop, and perform basic modifications to images right in your browser.
- ReciteThis. Like PicMonkey, ReciteThis is a free, Web-based tool. Its intuitive interface ensures that you’ll know your way around it in no time.
Whether you want to spruce up photos or add a more creative twist to your marketing campaign, overlaying text on images is a great technique to learn. For more tips on this, check out these 19 inspiring examples.
5. Tailor Image Sizes for Different Social Networks
Yes, size matters too. For example, a tall image works better for Pinterest than for Facebook, while the opposite is true of wide images. Buffer has a great post on ideal image sizes for social media posts, though the general rules are as follows:
- Facebook: 1,200 x 628 pixels
- Twitter: 1,024 x 512 pixels
- Google+: 800 x 1,200 pixels
- LinkedIn: 800 x 800 pixels
- Pinterest: 735 x 1,102 pixels
- Instagram: 1,200 x 1,200 pixels
If you take these sizes into account, you will fill up the optimum amount of screen real estate on your social platforms, without your images getting distorted or cut off.
6. Use the Power of Suggestion
No, we’re not talking about Jedi mind tricks. We’re talking about giving your audience big, flashing signs that say: “Hey, can you do this for me? It’s free!” Make it easy to tweet quotes from your article with Click to Tweet, or appeal to your readers? inner pinner with a readily-accessible Pin It button overlaid on your images.
7. Appeal to Your Audience with Colors
People respond subconsciously to colors. For example, yellow is often associated with optimism, while red is associated with passion. If you know how to mix and balance them as detailed here, you’ll be able to avoid school uniform syndrome; that is, the presence of complementary but boring colors.
Be careful not to oversimplify the meaning of colors, though. To quote marketing strategist Gregory Ciotti: “?Elements such as personal preferences, experiences, upbringing, cultural differences, context, etc., often muddy the effect individual colors have on us. So the idea that colors such as yellow or purple are able to invoke some sort of hyper-specific emotion is about as accurate as your standard Tarot card reading.” Couldn?t say it better myself.
These rules aren’t set in stone. Experiment with these one at a time, and see which one of them works best. The important thing is to try, analyze and implement the ones that resonate the most with your specific audience. Also, remember to keep learning new things, so you’ll always be one of the forerunners in your industry.
Adrienne Erin is a freelance writer and designer who blogs at Design Roast. Follow @adrienneerin on Twitter to get in touch.