Smart brands know that social media is a powerful client attraction tool, but blogs are essential for connecting with your audience. In this interview with Ira Haberman, Director of Marketing for Atomic Reach, find out some very big mistakes you might be making, how to write so your audience will feel it in their hearts and why SEO doesn't work like it used to.
One of the most important things for bloggers to consider when writing a post is the audience. How can bloggers make sure they are writing for their audience?
It's about the length and cadence of your language. I think we get swept up in thinking we're amazing writers, or artists, without considering the audience that is reading the material. Being able to match the knowledge level of your audience, by delivering the message in a way that is easily digestible specifically for them just makes sense. Sometimes that means a succinct simple to understand piece while other times you need to write a piece filled with jargon, complex language and loads of information.
Successful writers should absolutely consider who they are writing for, before they put finger to keyboard and definitely before they hit publish. I find it ironic that the word colloquial is so complex, because it's such an important thing to consider when writing. You need to know them, and write for them. When you do, magic happens.
Can you share some tips for bloggers on creating titles that aren't just SEO magnets but also reader magnets?
Yes, title is a very tricky thing, but writing a great title delivers, tremendous engagement. Gone are the days of trying to squeeze a headline based on font or letters into a column width. Now it is about connecting with your audience. Drawing them into your piece, so that they read it, and hopefully consider sharing it.
A few things that I have found effective include, using positive or negative language, personalizing the title with a pronoun, and considering key words or themes of your content. One absolute for a great title is using one or four superlatives. Don't ask me why it's one or four, we've just found that scientifically, that seems to work better.
Bloggers often focus on keywords for search engines and sometimes it's obvious that they are stuffing keywords to boost SEO. Does this have a negative impact on readership?
I'm not a huge advocate for keyword stuffing, or many of the "Black Hat" tricks of SEO. The truth is, Google is starting to loosen it's grip on much of this because even they realize quality content written for real people is far more effective than content written to game their system. If a word logically fits, is on topic and matches the kind of content you are writing and who you are writing for, use it, otherwise, why bother?
Some bloggers think the holy grail of blog posts is 3+ figures in social sharing. Do you have any tips for bloggers looking to boost social engagement in blog posts?
This is going to sound absurd, but please take it from a really good place. I wouldn't obsess over the quantity of shares, but instead the quality of the shares. I realize, that we're all very proud when our content performs well, but that on it's own shouldn't define the success of your piece.
All great content, whether it's a novel, a song, a television program or even a photograph manages to touch our head and our heart. It evokes an emotion. It causes us to take action, or even lead to a discussion, that you are impacting engagement. That's what it's all about. The numbers game is fleeting. It's about connecting. Just ask Deadheads, Apple Fanboys, Dallas Cowboy fans (wait do they exist?), they have a deep connection with whatever they love, and while not in the majority, but do deliver substantial love for their favorite band, brand or team.
Why does writing blog posts with emotion matter and how does it boost readership if a blogger is writing a piece for a brand about something seemingly unemotional like for instance... socks?
Here's the deal. We all relate better to content that touches our heart. Reaches us on some emotional level. To accomplish that, it's important to fill your post with emotional language. Think about the content you interact with, whether it's a cat, a baby or a pile of bacon, you immediately have a visceral reaction to it, either positive or negative. Needless to say, that's what causes you to share the piece or not. So imagine for a second being able to tap into that reaction. That's powerful stuff.
Can you share a bit about why grammar matters and what happens when bloggers actually take a few minutes to correct these small (but significant) errors?
I went to journalism school a long time ago. I remember an instructor reminded me time after time that you need to put the subject before the action. Great writers know how to flip a sentence on it's head and be very cute with it. In a digital age, when our audience is reading material on their mobile device, or crunched for time sitting at a desk, they shouldn't need an English degree to decipher the code. Just give them really easy to understand sentences. I think they'll love you for it.
None of this is incredibly shocking or difficult to do but the connection you will have with your audience is significant when you consider them. When I say that, I don't mean in a big data, demographic kind of way. I specifically mean taking the time to understand their perspective, how they are approaching your content and the things you need to do to ensure it will resonate with them. This is about creating a deep, meaningful connection with your audience so that they will love you, come back for more time and time again, and ultimate tell their friends about you. I think, that's a good thing.