What makes a blog tick? An insider’s guide to audience connection

It occurred to me that the variety of posts I ran two weeks ago represents a great cross-section of the overall content — and results — I get here on my blog.  I thought it might be interesting to dissect the week of content to illustrate some of the patterns I see with social sharing and how my blog community responds to my content.

When readers tweet and share my posts, these are like “votes” that indicate whether I am aligned with my audience’s needs and interests. If you examine the social shares I received over the course of a week, I think it reveals some universal lessons about blogging and connecting with your audience …

First let’s look at how the blog posts for the week performed in terms of social sharing (Total of Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+):

audience connection

Now let’s look at each post to see what made it tick (or not!)

Monday: 3 fundamentals of a successful social selling strategy

social sellingEach week I try to write at least two strong “pillar posts” — articles that represent interesting new ideas and original thinking. I explored new territory with this subject of social selling so I sensed before it ran that this would be a popular post. When I create something thought-provoking, I am definitely rewarded by my community.

Another reason this “ticked” is that Mondays are usually higher traffic days for blogs. Blog posts with numbers in the headlines also seem to attract more attention.

Tuesday: Few brands driving online influence and advocacy

social media loveOn Monday afternoon, I received some interesting research about consumers and social media amplification. Since I thought this would be useful to the community, I took a bit of a risk by running an extra post on {grow} and broke my pattern by running two posts on Tuesday.

Running research reports are hit and miss. Since it is not original thinking by me, and not something exceptionally ground-breaking, I expected it to perform “OK” and the chart reflects that. A few weeks earlier I ran a report on social media use at Fortune 500 companies that received more than 1,200 shares compared to less than 400 for this one. Like I said, hit and miss!

Tuesday: Five ways to use social media in sales even if your customer is not on Facebook

taking the leapThis post was risky in two ways. First, it was competing for attention with the research report I had published earlier in the day and second, it was the second part of a “series.”

When I wrote Monday’s post on social selling it was originally far too long so I broke it up into two separate posts. At the end of the Monday’s post, I asked everybody to come back the next day for more on this topic. I NEVER run a series of posts because they seldom work. They are better off standing alone as independent posts.

I thought this “pillar post” would do much better than it actually did. If you look at the total social shares for both Tuesday posts it equaled what I expected for just this post alone, so maybe my risk did not pay off. I’d still do it again though because my mission is to share exceedingly great content with you, and I did.

Wednesday: Unusual writing advice from somebody who should not be giving writing advice

mars dorianMost Wednesdays I feature a regular paid contributor to the blog and this week it was the wonderful Mars Dorian. Mars is steadily improving as a thought-provoking and creative blogger and I thought he hit this one out of the park. I find the artwork he contributes to his work mesmerizing.

By paying exceptional, regular bloggers, I know I can count on at least one day a week that a trusted colleague is in charge of the blog so I can give full attention to customer stuff. Wednesdays are usually strong blog traffic days and I was very pleased by the audience’s reaction to the blog post through both social shares and some lively comments.

Another lesson from this blog post: No matter how good a guest post might be, it almost always get lower audience attention for one simple reason: It’s not me. This is not any sort of bragging on my part. It is simply a fact of the business. People generally come to Schaefer’s blog because they want to see Schaefer. But I love my regular columnists and the diverse views they bring to these pages so I will always feature high-quality guest bloggers.

Thursday: Extreme Content Marketing with Julian Smith

julien smithThis was a video blog with a fun and interesting guest but it had two things going against it. First, Thursdays are a normal slump day for blog traffic and second, video blogs always, always, always get less attention than regular blog posts.

Why? I have no idea. I like video blogs because they mix it up and add a little entertainment value to {grow} but I simply have not figured this out. The chart reflects that this was the lowest-performing post of the week and that is usually the way it is with videos, unfortunately. Anybody have any feedback on that?

Friday: Television 2.0. A {growtoon}.

what makes a blog tickFor the past two years I have paid some creative loonies to come up with an original cartoon every Friday. Why?

  • Nobody else had ever done that (although a few people have since copied this)
  • It provides original content but does not take any time in terms of community management
  • I don’t know about you but by Friday I’m tired and a cartoon is about all I can handle!

The {growtoons} get a relatively low amount of shares and comments but people seem to love them.


Overall, it was a typical week and we can take away a few lessons on igniting your audience:

  1. Timing matters. Posts published earlier in the week do better.
  2. Posts with numbers in the headlines tend to attract attention.
  3. If posts run over 1,000 words, break it up into two posts (in general).
  4. Breaking a consistent pattern and overwhelming your audience with content is a risk.
  5. A “series” generally does less well.
  6. Videos blogs attract fewer social shares, at least for me.
  7. Guest posts generally get less social shares but still add diversity to the blog.
  8. Most important, make your posts INTERESTING. Your community responds and absolutely rewards you when you do a great job!

Notice I did not mention anything about aiming specifically for great SEO value with any of these posts. I think with that ever-changing landscape, I would drive myself crazy trying to do that! I firmly believe that in the long-term, if you create valuable, interesting content that ignites your readers to comment and share, the SEO will take care of itself.

What do you think? Make sense to you?

Keynote speaker Mark SchaeferMark Schaefer is the chief blogger for this site, executive director of Schaefer Marketing Solutions, and the author of several best-selling digital marketing books. He is an acclaimed keynote speaker, college educator, and business consultant.  The Marketing Companion podcast is among the top business podcasts in the world.  Contact Mark to have him speak to your company event or conference soon.

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