Over the past few months, I’ve sold $40,000 worth of my product, iDoneThis, with content marketing alone.
For us, content marketing means writing and publishing articles on topics of interest to our potential customers. Because our product helps people track and share what they’re accomplishing at work, our articles are mostly about management, productivity, and happiness at work.
Content marketing isn’t for the faint of heart. Content marketing guru, Leo Widrich, Chief Marketing Officer at Buffer, reports writing 2-3 blog posts every single day for months to get the ball rolling. That can get very painful.
Fortunately, in starting from scratch and cranking out hundreds of blog posts myself, I learned three very simple, time-saving tricks to supercharge your content marketing efforts. The secret is to use social media to figure out what people want to learn so that you can write about it–then, use social media to connect with your audience and push your content far and wide.
1. Don’t guess what people want to share, find out what they’re sharing.
The goal of content marketing is to create content that people will share. That thought used to make me feel a ton of pressure to produce something amazing. I would feel paralyzed by fear and a blank page.
Then, I had a realization.
I don’t need to guess what content people would share, or even write something amazing. All I need to do is produce content similar to what people are already sharing. That gave me the insight I needed.
When you set out to write, rather than racking your brain for ideas, just go on Twitter and Facebook to see what articles that people are actually sharing.
I used this technique to write a blog post that 50,000+ people read, and it took less than an hour. I saw on Facebook, Twitter, and Hacker News that people loved an article about Jerry Seinfeld’s productivity secret, which triggered an idea I already had percolating in my brain about productivity tricks used by Silicon Valley companies. I titled the post Silicon Valley’s Productivity Secret, and sure enough, it was read and shared by tens of thousands of people, and resulted in a significant revenue boost.
2. Turn social sharing into your own distribution network.
When I started as a content marketer, I had zero distribution for my content. That means that if I wrote an article, no one would see it.
What about my first trick of writing content that I knew people would share? It doesn’t end there.
After the incredibly popular Silicon Valley Productivity Secret post, I had turned to social news sites like Reddit and Hacker News to get my next article in front of people, because I didn’t have my own distribution network.
That’s when I realized that you must build your own social media distribution network to grow the sets of eyeballs reading your message.
Growing that network is simple: anytime someone has a satisfactory experience reading your article, ask them to connect with you on social media. The “ask” need not be explicit–it could just be a well-placed button that results in a Twitter or Tumblr follow, or a Facebook page like.
We decided to build our blog on Tumblr, where we now have 120,000+ followers. That means that every time we write an article, 120,000+ people will see it on their Tumblr dashboards. Our Twitter account has 4,000+ followers, and our Facebook has 1,500+ likes. Now, when our articles go viral, we’ll not only get a one-time bump, our social media distribution network will continue to grow stronger.
3. Say thank you to everyone who shares, especially influencers.
When someone shares your content, they are doing you a huge favor. Think back to the days before social media: you would have to pay a publisher to share your message in the form of obtrusive advertising. With social media, people share your content and don’t ask for a cent in return. That’s amazing!
I’ve found that when someone shares your content, it’s incredibly effective to tweet, comment, or email them two simple words: “Thank you.” Don’t botch up the moment by asking for something in return. Just say thanks.
This creates a genuine connection and makes it much easier to connect down the line. Never forget: social media and content marketing are a long game about building authentic and meaningful relationships, and that’s why they’re so mutually reinforcing.
Creative use of social media can help solve the toughest problems in content marketing: figuring out how the content should be positioned and building an audience. I used the 3 tricks above to take my company from zero revenue to the point where we could pay two people to work full-time, and start the beginnings of a real business. The great thing that social media and content marketing share is no up front spend to get started–you just need the motivation to make it happen!