What is Dark Social? [BlueBird Dictionary]

Every once in a while we come across the term “Dark Social” but it almost seems to be a secret what that actually means.

  • Does it have something to do with the “Dark Web” we hear about in movies and TV shows?
  • Is it something bad or shady?

Social Media people don’t like to talk about dark social very much and you’ll understand why after reading this post.

Alexis C. Madrigal from The Atlantic coined the term when he described the content that gets shared privately. Content that is shared via email or chat apps like Skype or WhatApp.

So when you send someone a link to this blog post in a message or by email, it is dark social.

Why is dark social significant?

One of the cool things about social sharing is that we can see how often a piece of content was shared on what platform. We know what type of content resonated with our audience and what didn’t. That’s where we Social Media people get confused – we teach you to look at your analytics to see what your audience likes. But dark social can’t be measured!

Is the amount of content shared this way significant?

Digiday.com quotes a report by the analytics tool RadiumOne that says that 82% of mobile sharing is done via dark social. That means that our content actually gets shared more often silently than openly.

[clickToTweet tweet=”According to @RadiumOne 82% of mobile sharing is done in #DarkSocial” quote=”According to @RadiumOne 82% of mobile sharing is done in dark social”]

What should we do about dark social?

I have a few ideas about this. And I would love to hear if you have more!

  1. As you know I’m a big proponent of social share buttons. They make it easier for you to share my content and encourage you to do so. As soon as I learned about dark social, I added buttons to encourage the use of email. Because my aim is that as many people benefit from my content.
  2. We can embrace dark social and start encouraging our readers to share our content by email or whatever means are most comfortable for them.

Summary:

Dark social is not as scary as it sounds.

If you feel relieved now, please share this post with your friends – you are welcome to use the email button :-).

 

How to Create Amazing Featured Images in Under 2 Minutes

With more and more content published on the Internet every day, we are struggling to stay visible. There are several ways to react to “Content Shock” (See Mark Schaefer’s book “The Content Code”). The most common ones are more output and higher quality. Creating custom images is an important part of igniting your content.

More output

In my interview with Robert Caruso we already explained in 2013 that you have to post enough content to stay visible. Robert’s points certainly hold true today.
However, we are beginning to see signals from Google that the quality of the content is increasingly more important than the amount of posts.

Higher Quality

One of the new technological advances is automatically created content. You can already read sports papers that feature game reports that are written by robots. Needless to say that this type of consumable content will increase in the future. Even the most prolific writer can not create enough content to keep up with a machine. Creating good custom images can be a boost to your post quality.

Custom Images

Beginning with inspirational quotes we saw a real surge of eye-catching images with a text overlay. Not surprisingly these started to take off. The internet is getting more and more visual and with these enhanced images our message stands out much more than it ever could using text formatting tools.

There were a few tools early on that made it possible to create these images without having to invest in a professional designer or an expensive editing software. Due to its brilliant marketing, Canva.com is dominating this market today and some of the early tools have been absorbed by others or simply disappeared.

Recently I have discovered more and more tools that are obviously aiming to take some of Canva’s market share by emulating its functionality and interface.

There is one problem with most of these tools: It takes too much time to create images on the fly. 

[clickToTweet tweet=”If you want to create great quote images in record time, @GetStencil is the tool of choice!” quote=”If you want to create great quote images in record time, @GetStencil is the tool of choice!”]

If you are a busy content creator, or if you (like me) love to surprise your friends with images containing their quotes, you need a tool that allows you to do this well and especially quickly.

A number of years ago I discovered a tool that was called “Share as Image” and later changed its name to “Stencil“*.

If you watched the video above you know how quickly Stencil creates these images. Often I simply highlight a quote in a post or on Facebook and click on the Chrome (Firefox) extension. Stencil automatically puts the text into the frame and all I need to do is style it. Within 2 minutes I have a shareable image that is appreciated by my friends without getting side-tracked from my work for too long.

 

I use Stencil for creating featured images as well.

Every blogger, YouTube star, Pinterest fan…. knows that it can take a lot of work creating images for each social network. Stencil makes it really easy to re-format the image for each network as well as for custom sizes. All you need to do is select the right size; rearrange your image elements and save the new image. Below are these examples for this post:

Image rights

It is always important to make sure you have permission to use and alter the image you use. With the both the free version and the premium version you have access to images that are ok to use. You can also upload your own images and use those.

Cost

Stencil has a good free account that gives you a limited amount of background images and lets you create up to 10 images per month.

The Pro account for $9US gives you more backgrounds and up to 50 images – that is lots for most solo users.

I never get tired of using Stencil and I highly recommend it to all my students.

 

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What is a Podcast? – BlueBird Dictionary

jack-podcastingIf you met me walking our dog in the last couple of weeks you might have noticed that I have earbuds in my ears listening intently. I am listening to a number of podcasts because I am considering starting one myself (stay tuned). But as usual, I want to define the term for you first.

What is a podcast?

A podcast is an episodic series of digital mediafiles which a user can set up so that new episodes are automatically downloaded via web syndication to the user’s own local computer or portable media player.

Wikipedia

Ben Hammersley introduced the term in an article in 2004. The word “Podcast” is a combination of “iPod” and “broadcast” and here is why:

https://flic.kr/p/8FHwEZ
https://flic.kr/p/8FHwEZ

Apple had pioneered small personal audio players similar to mp3 players. These devices could be used to store audio files in a handy, portable format. People started listening to music and other audio files long before mobile phones integrated the technology.

Podcasters started producing regular broadcasts to serve this new market. In a way, you can think of podcasts as internet radio shows that you can listen to when it’s convenient for you. Some podcasts are broadcast live and some are recorded. Some even contain video.

Generally, podcasts have a website or are part of a website (I’m planning to have mine as part of my blog). But what makes them especially interesting is that you can subscribe to the RSS feed on services like iTunes or Stitcher.

Where to find podcasts?

You can listen to podcasts on your computer and most podcasters I follow post their episodes on their blog. The unique advantage is that you can listen to them while you are on the go: during your commute, while you are cleaning your house, or (like me) while you are walking your dog 🙂 .

iTunes is still the place where you will find most podcasts but other services specialize in podcast listings.

[convertkit form=4963693]

Just like you can read your email in a variety of email programs, you can use other programs – lovingly called “Podcatchers” to manage your subscriptions and play the episodes. My current favourite is Player FM.

Here are some of the Podcatchers:

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Podcasting has steadily gained popularity over the years.

Edison Research estimates that about 57 Million people listen to podcasts each week.

 [clickToTweet tweet=”One in four Americans ages 12-54 listened to a podcast last month.” quote=”One in four Americans ages 12-54 listened to a podcast last month.”]
(via convinceandconvert.com)

Plans for the BlueBird podcast:

There are a lot of things to consider before launching a podcast.
I wrote two posts on the topic a while ago:
Now I’m seriously considering starting a podcast. I still have to decide on a lot of moving pieces like:
  • Do I create a solo podcast or do I collaborate with someone?
  • How often do I post? (consistency is key)
  • What elements do I want to have in my podcast?

There is no rule about how long a podcast should be.

The key questions are:

  • “How much time does your audience have to listen to you”
  • “How much time can you devote to producing your podcast”

 

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Find more in-depth information about podcasts in these sources:

A big thank you to all of you that suggested podcasts for me to listen to!

Feel free to comment on these and add more to the list:

5 Important Reasons Why a Blog Is Right For You

Are you sitting on the fence about blogging for yourself or your business? I understand! I too have been frustrated but I realized how important my blog is for my readers, me and my business.

Let me list a few of the reasons and then tell you how I can help.

  1. Show that your business is still alive.

    A few years ago a client asked me to look at 100 local small business websites of past clients. Most of these had some kind of blog or news section. Sadly most of these 100 pages had not posted any updates in years. I realized that the fact that these websites had obviously not been updated in a long time made me question if the business itself was still active.
    I know customers could have contacted these businesses and checked. In reality though, most people would not bother but rather go with the business with the fresh website.

  2. Drive traffic to your website – ranking.

    Search engines are in the business of showing their users the best results for their query. Most of the time newer content will be more up to date. It will be of more interest to us and be more relevant. That’s why search engines love fresh, relevant content!
    In a case where two sites have an answer to the question you type into google, the newer content will rank higher. Meaning it will show higher on the list.
    Another SEO factor is that a site that provides a lot of answers to users and serves as a resource for other pages will be more valuable to its users and to search engines. Every blog post is a new page to google. More relevant pages = more trust = higher ranking.

    [clickToTweet tweet=”Search engines LOVE fresh, relevant content!” quote=”Search engines LOVE fresh, relevant content!”]

  3. Establish yourself as an expert in your field.

    Technology, the Internet and Social Media have given all of us the opportunity to create and publish content. What was formerly reserved for the educated or wealthy few has been replaced by a mass of information. Before you could go to the library or a bookstore and choose from a few works on your topic of interest. The author of the book automatically became your trusted expert. Today it’s not enough anymore to publish content and wait for people to consume it. There are many publishers out there and it’s easy to find content. An active relevant blog helps people know quickly that you have the answers to their questions and can provide the service or product that they need.
    Would you not hire this person or buy their product over the competitor that does not have that information readily available?

  4. Create a library of resources.

    I have been blogging since 2009. In this time I have written many articles on my blog that answered questions my clients or others had about topics like Social Media, Facebook, Twitter other Social Media tools and blogging. By publishing the answers on my blog I was able to help those that asked but I also created a resource for others to find and for me to share. Today I am able to send people a link to an article I wrote about the question they have.
    Your blog is also a great resource for content to share on Social Media. Because the links go back to your website, visitors who click will be exposed to your services and products.

  5. Connect with others.

    To me, blog posts are almost Social Media posts. I am a strong proponent of leaving blog comments open and, despite the fact that blog commenting currently seems to be suffering from a decline, I celebrate every one of your comments. As a publisher I can open a discussion, my readers can add content or insight and can ask questions. I hope this deeper connection to content will see a comeback. I am hopeful 🙂

blogs are like puppies

But blogging is a lot of work!

In your content marketing efforts, maintaining and growing a blog is a lot of work. Given the advantages I listed above it’s worth it though. Your blog posts can save you a lot of time explaining things over and over and by driving new traffic to your website they can increase sales for any kind of business.

Yes, researching, writing, formatting and promoting a blog post can take hours. But like with many things “practice makes perfect” you will find that if you blog regularly things will get easier and faster. There are tips and tricks to get you going faster as well!

It is also more and more difficult to stand out in the overwhelming amount of content out there. But there are ways to deal with that issue too.

[convertkit form=4963693]

 

5 Security Habits Every Blogger Needs to Make a Part of Their Daily Lives

Guest post by Cassie Phillips


If you owned a jewelry store, you’d want to protect your merchandise. You wouldn’t install flimsy locks on your doors, leave your store open and unattended, or forget to install an alarm system. As a blogger, your information is your merchandise, and your blog is your store, so you need to protect them just as you would any other stock and business. As such, you should make the following five security habits part of your daily life to protect your blog and your business.

Create and Use Secure Passwords  

username-and-password-shutterstock

I’m sure you’ve heard this countless times, but strong passwords are essential to your online security. In order to protect your business accounts and information, you need to make sure you practice good password habits. Good password habits include:

  • Never using words such as “password” or “admin” as passwords
  • Never using your pets’ names, loved ones’ names or birthdays as passwords
  • Using at least eight characters in each password
  • Including lowercase letters, uppercase letters, numbers and symbols in your password
  • Never using the same password for different accounts
  • Changing your passwords regularly (especially for your blog account)
  • Never sharing your passwords with people, not even those you trust. They may inadvertently share your password through the websites or applications they use, and if their accounts get hacked, the hackers might find your passwords
  • Using a phrase as a password because it’s long, hard to guess and easier to remember

Like most people, you probably have accounts on many different websites. This makes it much harder to keep track of all your passwords. If this is the case, you should consider using an application such as 1Password to store all your passwords securely.

Use Anti-Virus Software

When online security is mentioned, most of us immediately think of anti-virus software. Anti-virus software really is a must-have on any device that connects to the internet. It’s used to avoid, detect and remove malicious software (malware), such as computer viruses, keyloggers, spyware, Trojan horses and more. All of these pose a significant threat to your blog and need to be avoided or removed.

Some anti-virus software also includes other features, such as protection from phishing attacks, online banking attacks, and spam. Consider getting a product that has all these extra features to improve the overall security of your blog. Remember to update it regularly and scan your devices for viruses frequently. Don’t be tempted to shut it down even if it annoys you.

Use a Virtual Private Network

17-1466143914-vpn-shutterstock-407169670

Another vital part of online security is using a Virtual Private Network (VPN). When you connect to the internet, you’re open to having your personal information stolen, hacked or having your activities tracked. A VPN will encrypt your internet connection and mask your IP address, providing anonymity that will protect your information.

Many bloggers use public WiFi to work at coffee shops and restaurants. If you use public WiFi, it’s especially important you get a VPN. Public WiFi is unsecured, and this means people with the right tools can eavesdrop on your online activities or steal your information. A VPN will prevent this and keep your blog’s information safe. Secure Thoughts has a VPN review to help you decide on the best one for your blogging needs.

Manage Your Blog as You Would Any Business

If you earn money from blogging, it’s essential you manage your blog as you would any other business. Don’t cut corners on security simply because you work from home or online. Start by always logging out when you’re not working on your blog because staying logged in is like leaving your front door open.  

Another important way you need to manage your blog is by keeping all your software and plugins up-to-date. While plug-ins can add a lot of value to your blog, they can be a security risk if you’d don’t keep them updated. The updates usually fix any security vulnerabilities that could allow hackers to add malware to your blog or steal data.

Also be sure to moderate your blog as unmoderated pages are often targeted by hackers looking to post malicious links. It’s important to delete any comments that have malicious links to protect your blog and your readers. It’s also a good idea to delete any offensive posts, as they might upset your readers and stop them visiting your blog. Just be careful to avoid over censoring, as this will also alienate your readers.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Don’t cut corners on security simply because you work from home or online.” quote=”Don’t cut corners on security simply because you work from home or online.”]

Other Good Practices

There are some other, more general security habits you should try to incorporate into your blogging routine. They include:

  • Updating your social media privacy settings often    
  • Backing up your blog and all your other data regularly
  • Not clicking on any dubious-looking links on websites
  • Not opening any suspicious emails
  • Using separate email accounts for your blog and your private life
  • Going offline when you don’t need to use the internet
  • Keeping your webcam and microphone switched off when you’re not using them

Conclusion

Your blog is your business, whether it generates large or small earnings. This means you need to protect it to the best of your ability, so it’s imperative you create and keep good security habits. If your blog is secure, you’re also more likely to draw more readers because people won’t be afraid to visit your page. This increase in traffic might increase your revenue.

Do you think we’ve covered all the important security habits bloggers need to make part of their daily lives? Please let us know in the comments below.

Win The Content Game With The Most Amazing Headlines

Most of us spend much more time creating content than creating a headline. Mostly I have an idea for a post, create the content and then think of a headline. I then write the headline with the keyword(s) for the SEO in mind.

But if you think about how we decide what to click on the internet the headline is much too important to be an afterthought. If you look at your blog’s analytics a lot of the traffic comes from search engines. snippet screen shotOn Google listings, you only see the headline and 156 characters of the meta description. In most cases, this is your content’s only shot at being chosen over all the other great content on the web.

In this article, you will find an interview with a professional writer, tools to create and improve a headline and two plugins that monitor the performance of your headlines in your blog.

[clickToTweet tweet=”You have 2.6 seconds to win a new visitor – make your headline count!” quote=”You have 2.6 seconds to win a new visitor – make your headline count!” theme=”style5″]

My friend Larry Arrance of Cornerstone Consultants is a professional “Wordsmith”, a copywriter with a wealth of experience in all kinds of copywriting areas. He has published several books and regularly teaches writing workshops. Larry helps business owners and professionals to get their message across with more clarity and power.

He is a published author of several books and has delivered over 2400 workshops on personal and professional development. Larry’s “Unleash the Author Within” writing workshops and coaching has helped many people become better writers and many of them have published successful books.
There is a lot we can learn from Larry, but today I want to focus on writing headlines:


Larry’s formula for promotional content:

  • I – Interrupt
  • E – Engage
  • E – Educate
  • O – Offer

[4:10] The headline comes first before the actual email or blog. That doesn’t mean you are stuck with it. But the headline also guides what I’m putting into the blog.

[6:15] WIIFM > What’s in it for me. Whatever you are writing has to be relevant to what your audience is doing.

[7:30] Stay away from headlines that promise something when your content is about something else. People feel duped and won’t trust you anymore.

(Here is my post about Clickbait.)

[8:50] Email subject lines will follow the same pattern but with email you will have to be much shorter. A lot of people use the preview window that also shows the first line of the email. So the beginning of your email is very important for the open rate.

Keep your email subject lines tight – 7 words max. That’s why that first line is so important.

[14:35] If you can spare ten minutes a day you can write two books a year.

[18:00] I give myself two or three headlines that best match up with the content.

You can get Larry’s document “350 of the Best  Headlines Ever Written” by connecting with him on LinkedIn or sending him an email.

[clickToTweet tweet=”‘The purpose of your headline is to make them stop’ ~ @larrance” quote=”The entire purpose of your headline is to make them stop” theme=”style5″]

Tools to write a better headline

As I mentioned in the introduction, I am often guilty of treating the headline as an afterthought. This article is supposed to change that. With this in mind, I started with the headline. There are several tools that help with writing a good headline and I also found one to measure the quality or effectiveness.

Portent Title Maker

https://www.portent.com/tools/title-maker is called a “content idea creator”. So you can actually use it to find a blog post idea as long as you know what term should appear in your headline.

headline creator kardashian

Fair warning: This tool is so much fun you might just spend too much time using it. As you can see above the title maker comes up with a lot of funny headlines that may or may not have anything to do with what you want to write. But it also comes up with a breakdown of all the elements of a headline and why they might be helpful to get your content seen.

micropersonas_01_officemanSidenote:

There are a lot of posts on the internet that talk about headlines. Some even offer swipe files to copy and paste into your own blog. Be careful not to become a slave to these recipes. Worse than losing a few new visitors would be to lose loyal fans by boring them with the same type of headline all the time.
For example, A friend of mine told me recently “If I get one more email titled “5 things….” from X I’m going to unsubscribe”

Darren Rose from Problogger posted a great podcast on this topic: http://problogger.com/podcast/156/

coscheduleCoSchedule Headline Analyzer

http://coschedule.com/headline-analyzer# This tool goes beyond the design phase and analyzes your headline and even gives it a score. For this post (and all future posts) I ran all my headline ideas through the analyzer and got the following score:

headline-score

As you can see, the tool looks at different aspects.

  • Common words
  • Uncommon words (Increase the number of uncommon words in your headline to improve)
  • Emotional words
  • Power words

My Headline “Win The Content Game With The Most Amazing Headline” could use an increase in the number of uncommon words.
It is ok in the Emotional and Power categories. “Great headlines are usually made up of 10-15% emotional words.

With 51 characters the headline is under the 55 character limit recommended and the 9 words included in it are ok too. Apparently headlines with approximately 6 words tend to earn the highest number of click-throughs.

I am happy with my score of 75 for this post. I believe my headline captures what I want to convey and is sufficiently optimized.

The exercise was a little stressful because I am not used to someone judging my work like this. But it is like having a good coach that tells you what’s good and bad without beating around the bush.

 

Two tools for the indecisive

This headline tweaking is tough! And at the end, I still often end up with a couple of choices I like. There is a tool for that. Actually, I know two tools:

Kingsumo Headlines

I’ve used Kingsumo Headlines for about a year now and I am happy with the results. For my little blog, the lifetime fee is $99USD.

How to use it: I add multiple headlines and the tools automatically tests them. It starts showing the different headlines in searches and my blog first in random order. After a while, it tells me which ones performed better and I can delete the ones that underperform.

kingsumo

Thrive Headline Optimizer

The tool is relatively new and I have not tried it. But I use Thrive to create landing pages and am quite pleased with the product. Thrive Headline Optimizer does the same A/B testing as Kingsumo Headlines but it also looks at how much time visitors spend on the content and how far they scroll down. It looks like a very good alternative to Kingsumo and starts at $67US for one site.

headline post featured

After spending the time to go through this exercise and learning the things Larry talked about I am confident that I will write better headlines in the future. I will also go through some of my more important posts and consider re-writing the titles.

What are your headline tricks? What have you learned?

 

 

 

What is an Affiliate? – BlueBird Dictionary

Often, when you shop online you come across an “affiliate” offer.
What does that really mean? Is it bad?

Let’s look at where the word comes from:

af·fil·i·ate
verb
verb: affiliate; 3rd person present: affiliates; past tense: affiliated; past participle: affiliated; gerund or present participle: affiliating
əˈfilēˌāt/
  1. 1.
    officially attach or connect (a subsidiary group or a person) to an organization.
    “the college is affiliated with the University of Wisconsin”
    • officially join or become attached to an organization.
      “the membership of the National Writers Union voted to affiliate with the United Auto Workers”
noun
noun: affiliate; plural noun: affiliates
əˈfilēət/
  1. 1.
    a person or organization officially attached to a larger body.
    “the company established links with British affiliates”
Origin
mid 18th century: from medieval Latin affiliat- ‘adopted as a son,’ from the verb affiliare, from ad-‘toward’ + filius ‘son.’
Source: Google
______
 

In online marketing, this affiliation simply means that the seller is recommending a product or service of someone else and receives a commission on any sales this recommendation generates.

Affiliate marketing is one of the most common ways to monetize your blog. You build a following and recommend products or services to your followers.  This is usually done by a special link you get from the vendor called an “affiliate link”.
 
You can enter into agreements either with the vendor directly or through an affiliate network like Clickbank or Amazon Associates or one of the many others. Sorry, I’m unable to recommend one over the other. As usual, please read all information carefully to decide if one of the solutions would work for you.
 

Is this type of marketing bad?

Short answer: Not necessarily.

As with everything that involves earning money the temptation for some to take advantage of others is great. Some marketers whose main source of income comes from affiliate commissions are pushing very hard to make as much money as possible. As long as you are transparent and honest and don’t misrepresent the product everything is fine.

Unfortunately, affiliate marketing has gotten a bit of a bad reputation due to unscrupulous sales tactics. Some places restrict advertising for affiliate deals. If you want to create a Facebook ad for example, make sure you read the Facebook Advertising Guidelines. I found a really good post about this on Jon Loomer’s site.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Before you advertise your #affiliate link, make sure you read @jonloomer’s post: http://bit.ly/2b8SzAE” quote=”Before you advertise your #affiliate link, make sure you read Jon Loomer’s post!”]

Some ground rules for promoting offers:

  1. Be trustworthy – As always your biggest asset is the trust of your audience. Make sure your customers are always your first priority. Damaging this trust relationship to make a few bucks in the short term is never worth it in the long term.
  2. Be transparent – As mentioned, there is nothing wrong with sharing an affiliate link. Make sure you clearly state that the link is an offer you benefit from financially, though. Transparency is part of a trust relationship. (See my comments below on how I handle this)
  3. Select carefully – Make sure you research the offer and the conditions thoroughly. I will only promote a service I have used myself or thoroughly tested. I will only recommend a book I have read.

I found this article by Lynn Truong quite helpful: Top 10 Commandments of Affiliate Marketing .

How do I handle affiliate offers?

Affiliate offers will never become my main income source but I am planning to use some paid links to products, services, and books that I highly recommend.

  • All offers are researched and tested by myself or someone I trust 100%
  • Affiliate links will be marked by this symbol: [fa class=”fa-money”] and a link to the Terms & Conditions page
  • I will write reviews of these products and possibly add them to my Store – with the proper indication of course

Do you have experiences with affiliate offers?

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Ditch Your Blogging Strategy To Be More Successful

I passionately teach business owners to use blogging as one of their core content marketing methods. Together we work out a blogging strategy: Who to write for, what to write about and how to format the content so it is appealing to that audience.
 
But blogging is also one of the most time-consuming forms of content creation. It takes a lot of time to research a topic, come up with the right words and create images, graphics, videos…. and all the other pieces of content I need to present my thoughts to the world. All of this only to be thrown into the huge pool of content already out there.
And it doesn’t stop there. Once published I want to either reach as many people as possible with these thoughts or I want to reach exactly the target audience I had in mind. The motivation is different for everyone and may be for every piece of content. Sometimes I want to sell something and sometimes I want to show that I have expertise in something. Sometimes I want to tell you about something a friend discovered. But every time I want to show you what I feel is important for you.
 
I do what I can to teach my intended audience. I optimize my blog so it’s easy to read on all devices, I do what I can to help search engines suggest my content to you over what others have written. I create special images to make sure that when you like my thoughts enough to share it the right image shows up for the social media tool you choose. 
 
[clickToTweet tweet=”And then I send it out there – an original part of myself…” quote=”And then I send it out there – an original part of myself “]
 
And then I send it out there. An original piece of me or something I learned from others important enough to tell you about. As tiny as it seems, after spending a couple of hours on these pieces the act of pressing “publish” is a momentous occasion. After that, I cheer every time you share my link. I literally jump up and down when you comment on my blog or if I see that my post was read by one of my content heroes.
 

The Content Abyss

But sometimes my content seems to disappear into the abyss of unread, unloved content on the ever-growing Internet. When I dare to look at my analytics or share counts I am regularly disappointed that the piece I wrote from the heart, that content I wrote just for you, didn’t get as many eyes on it as I thought it should. What that number should be is different for everyone. One thing is for sure, with trillions of internet users, there is always someone I didn’t reach.
 
It can be frustrating and it can definitely be discouraging. Chances are, those of you with an inclination to supporting others secretly put on their counseling hat after reading my last paragraph. You want to share words of encouragement and appreciation in a comment here or on Facebook or on Twitter. You may even want to cheer me up in person. By all means – reach out 🙂 .
 
But that’s not why I’m writing this newest piece of my mind. As you can see I keep writing, I keep sharing, and I keep interacting with you. But in my role as social media coach I have to analyze what is happening with my content. Because I know that my clients are going through the same dilemma. It is really hard for a small business owner to find the time in their busy lives to write original content. Often blogging, the most important part of most content marketing strategies, stays on the to-do list. It becomes one of these tasks to do “when I have time.”
Considering that fresh relevant content is increasingly important to make your website and your business found, this problem can be big. A lot of small business blogs are deserted or don’t even exist. Even some of my colleagues that sell content services don’t show a blog on their website.
 
I almost gave up on my blog altogether. But I had a good hard look at what is important to me and how writing and producing content helps me be a better coach. I also read Mark Schaefer’s newest book “The Content Code” that gave me a lot of inspiration to become a better blogger. 
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description_advanced_styling=”{‹²›text‹²›:{‹²›google_font‹²›:true,‹²›subset‹²›:‹²›latin‹²›,‹²›variation‹²›:‹²›regular‹²›,‹²›family‹²›:‹²›Quattrocento Sans‹²›,‹²›style‹²›:false,‹²›weight‹²›:false,‹²›size‹²›:‹²›16.5‹²›,‹²›line-height‹²›:‹²›28‹²›,‹²›letter-spacing‹²›:‹²›0‹²›,‹²›color-palette‹²›:‹²›‹²›,‹²›is_saved‹²›:false}}” box_desc=”‹¨›p‹˜›Check out my review of ‹¨›a href‹´›‹²›https://www.businessbluebird.com/content-code-mark-schaefer/‹²›‹˜›The Content Code‹¨›/a‹˜›‹¨›/p‹˜›” icon_type=”{‹²›icon-box-img‹²›:‹²›icon-class‹²›,‹²›icon-class‹²›:{‹²›icon_class‹²›:‹²›fa fa-hand-o-right‹²›,‹²›icon_size‹²›:‹²›30‹²›,‹²›icon-color‹²›:{‹²›id‹²›:‹²›color_1‹²›,‹²›color‹²›:‹²›‹²›},‹²›icon-bg-type‹²›:{‹²›icon-box-img‹²›:‹²›icon-square‹²›,‹²›icon-square‹²›:{‹²›bg-color‹²›:{‹²›id‹²›:‹²›fw-custom‹²›,‹²›color‹²›:‹²›#f6e6d4‹²›}},‹²›icon-circle‹²›:{‹²›bg-color‹²›:{‹²›color‹²›:‹²›‹²›,‹²›id‹²›:‹²›fw-custom‹²›}}}},‹²›upload-icon‹²›:{‹²›upload-custom-img‹²›:‹²›‹²›,‹²›icon_size‹²›:‹²›40‹²›,‹²›rounded‹²›:‹²›‹²›}}” 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show_bnt=”no” animation_group=”{‹²›selected‹²›:‹²›no‹²›,‹²›yes‹²›:{‹²›animation‹²›:{‹²›animation‹²›:‹²›fadeInUp‹²›,‹²›delay‹²›:‹²›200‹²›}}}” responsive=”{‹²›desktop_display‹²›:{‹²›selected‹²›:‹²›yes‹²›},‹²›tablet_landscape_display‹²›:{‹²›selected‹²›:‹²›yes‹²›},‹²›tablet_display‹²›:{‹²›selected‹²›:‹²›yes‹²›},‹²›smartphone_display‹²›:{‹²›selected‹²›:‹²›yes‹²›}}” class=”” __fw_editor_shortcodes_id=”e66d21a6b0efb248be2f4eda3061710f” _array_keys=”{‹²›icon_type_picker‹²›:‹²›icon_type_picker‹²›,‹²›heading‹²›:‹²›heading‹²›,‹²›description_advanced_styling‹²›:‹²›description_advanced_styling‹²›,‹²›icon_type‹²›:‹²›icon_type‹²›,‹²›button_options‹²›:‹²›button_options‹²›,‹²›animation_group‹²›:‹²›animation_group‹²›,‹²›responsive‹²›:‹²›responsive‹²›}” _fw_coder=”aggressive”][/icon_box]
 
If you scroll back in this blog (please do!) you can see that I don’t blog as often as others. You can also see that I have times where I published more posts and then there are large gaps. Sometimes the gaps have to do with large client projects or other factors going on in my life. It also has to do with strategic changes in how I see the role of my blog in my business. 
 
In my blogging seminars, you heard me quote the statistic that companies that blog consistently receive 70% more leads through their websites. The internet is full of advice on how often to publish and when. There is added pressure to write really long content because it gets shared more and contains more keywords.
 

My blogging experiment:

 
GraduateMore leads through my website would be great, so a while ago I started an experiment to blog three times a week. I quickly learned that I couldn’t produce this much content on my own. I purchased content from others (I’ll tell you about PLR in another post). The number of blog visitors increased by 600% as I hoped. But all this traffic did not help my business goals. I gained no new coaching or social media management clients. Nobody from these thousands of visitors asked me to improve their website. I did, however, use a large amount of time and creative energy on this experiment. I stood 100% behind what I posted. Even if I didn’t write the core content myself and saved time on research. I still needed to search and find the PLR content, put my own spin on it and format it to my standards.
 

The results of my experiment:

  1. Traffic increased by 600% over previous months
  2. I shared a lot of helpful content
  3. I saw no direct benefits to my business
  4. The overall quality of my blog content decreased 🙁
 
While I enjoyed the increased visibility, I stopped posting so much. Due to becoming extremely busy with work (unrelated to my blogging efforts) and life, I barely posted at all for almost a year.
 

But I missed blogging 🙁

And I also know that being an active blogger adds credibility to my brand as a Social Media professional.  It took me a long time to get over this blogging slump. I produced other kinds of content; videos, courses, webinars….  I needed to make a change to my blogging strategy so that I could be successful.

How did I adjust my blogging strategy to accommodate what I learned?

 My blog stayed quiet until I realized that I was focusing on the wrong goals:

  • Answer questions I get from my clients and others
  • Create a library of actionable knowledge you can use
  • Establish myself as a trusted expert that practices what he teaches, hoping you will recommend me to a friend as a consultant, coach or speaker
  • Comment on current trends in the digital media world

Blogging allows me to digest what is going on around me and talk about it. I hope you read some of it and that it will help you with your own content creation.

What now?

  • I will get back to blogging more regularly but only if I have something to say
  • I don’t worry too much about the length of posts but will publish what I find important
  • I will worry less about analytics and share counts.
    • Of course, I will do what I can to create shareable content
    • Of course, I will do what I can to optimize my posts so they can be found by search engines
  • Of course, I will continue to celebrate when you comment on my posts or share them!
 How are you doing with your blog? Did my post inspire you? Did you find other ways to overcome blogging obstacles? Please let me know in the comments!

 

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[Book Review] The Content Code by Mark Schaefer

 

 

[clickToTweet tweet=”In a world of copy and paste, it’s refreshing to read The Content Code by @MarkwSchaefer.” quote=”In a world of copy and paste content creation, it’s refreshing to read The Content Code by Mark Schaefer.”]

I’ve been a fan and regular reader of Mark’s blog {grow} for a number of years now and I have recommended and given away his last book Social Media Explained because I consider it one of the best books to explain how social media works. The Content Code is his latest publication and it is a game changer for me.

Mark Schaefer Content Code
Each of the little tabs is a quote that inspired me.

The Content Code

The world of social media content creators is full of those of us who read books and blog posts and then republish it in our own words. People like Mark Schaefer go beyond this and create original content worth reading and digesting. The Content Code is another example of this. I just finished reading it the first time and the book is filled with my annotations and little post-it stickers marking passages that “ignited” my mind by offering seeds for my own thoughts. I can now work through it again, expand on these thoughts to write my own content, and teach my own “alpha audience” about what I learned from Mark.

[Spoiler Alert] Mark discusses a topic that has been bothering me for a while and poses a big challenge for all content creators – “Content Shock.” The term summarizes the problem that there is a flood of information competing for our attention. Sometimes this over-supply is called “noise” or “information overload”. The challenge for us is to break through this and create content that reaches our audience.

He also introduced me to the term “Alpha Audience,” meaning a group of dedicated fans that help “ignite your content and help spread the word about it. It’s important to treat this alpha audience well and keep them close. One of the reasons why I am in Mark’s alpha audience is that he “walks the talk”. He has personally researched the topic and he actually does what he suggests his readers should do. Mark has a Facebook Group called the “Alpha Audience” where he gives background information about new content and discusses questions around future publications.

The Content Code has helped me overcome my doubts about the future of this blog. Stay tuned for a post about this very soon.

As you can see in the image, my copy of the book is full of highlights and tag that will help me “ignite” future content. So I won’t be able to lend you my copy. However, I highly recommend it to anyone that wants to be successful with publishing content!

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What is Organic Reach – BlueBird Dictionary

Judging by the stream of Social Media posts on the topic, “organic reach” seems to be the holy grail of the online world.

Let’s explore what the term really means.

A look into the dictionary doesn’t help much:

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To explain the term organic reach I will look at each word on its own first:

reach in terms of digital analytics is simply the number of people the content (post, image, video….] was shown to. The difference between reach and the term “impressions” that print media refers to is that in digital media we can actually tell who saw the same content multiple times. Keep in mind that the fact that someone saw your content does not mean they actually noticed it. Let’s hope they did 🙂 but so far there is technically no way to tell. Right now the only indication is the time span a piece of content is displayed. This metric was just introduced into the Facebook algorithm.

For me, reach is one of the most important metrics to look for in all of your digital media efforts. After all, if more people see your content, more have a chance to read it and react to it. Reach doesn’t mean your message was successfully received but it is the first step so to speak.

organic in this context means that the content was shown without a (paid) promotion.

paid vs organic reach from Facebook insights

You might recognize these graphs from your Facebook page insights. The darker areas indicate reach in paid promotions and the lighter is the organic reach.

This is why organic reach is such a hot topic!

Social Media is not free! You can create and maintain a profile on a Social Media network that is generally free and you can broadcast for free. Your time, creativity and expertise are your investment.

Traffic is not guaranteed either. As explained in my article about Algorithms most social networks have followed Facebook’s example and are filtering what we see in order not to overwhelm us.

Facebook is just going through another update of their algorithm, showing us more updates from our friends and fewer updates of the pages we liked. Facebook has been suffering from a decrease of original posts and a lot of users are complaining that they see too few updates from their friends.

For Facebook pages, the update means a further decrease in organic reach.

Read more about this in Facebook’s news release.

What can we do to react to this news?

  • We will likely increase the number of posts we need to promote with ads or boosts
  • We will need to focus even more on consistently creating posts that engage our audience

If you have taken any of my Facebook classes you already know that I am a strong advocate of creating a high number of high-quality posts on a daily basis, focussing on information and entertainment. Facebook’s algorithm update is a good reason to examine your Social Media Strategy and tactics.

You can find more about this in the following related posts:

Quality Content + Conversations + Relationships = ROI

Social Capital or 24 Ways To Help Your Friends Online

Do you want to suggest the next word for the BlueBird Dictionary?

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