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Be a Better Blogger by Doing as Little as Possible

problogger.netWhen you make the decision to grow your blog and hopefully create an income from it, it can be so easy to fall into the trap of doing everything all at once in the name of getting as much exposure as you can. You’re blogging every day, you’re promoting those posts to your Facebook, Twitter, Google+, you’re ensuring all posts have a Pinnable image, and you’re Instagramming the behind-the-scenes for your followers. You’re working hard, commenting on other blogs, finding interesting things to retweet, staying up half the night with your editorial calendar, reading sites like this one about how to make money, and signing up with the next big thing in case it can help grow your blog (Vine, anyone?!).

It’s pretty easy to get to a stage where your blog is running you instead of you running your blog. You’re drowning in emails, you can keyword posts in your sleep, you’re a slave to your stats, and you will scream if Facebook changes its algorithm one more time.

But that’s not all. You’ve had ideas for a Blog Series, several eBooks, a podcast and an eCourse. You’re keen to get started – in fact, when you see how successful others are, you wish you started years ago.

But what if you’re stretched so thin that you’re doing everything, and none of it as well as you could? What would convince you to cut back to only a few things, and putting your heart and soul into making them great?

A while ago I was listening to the How they Blog Podcast with Kat Lee. Kat is a blogger, a podcaster, and a stay-at-home mom of three. She has two blogs (each with their own podcast), the usual number of social media sites, eBooks, a small blogging course, coaching sessions, and seemingly a huge number of things that need her attention on a daily basis.

But one thing she said in conversation with another blogger really caught my attention: her motto is “do as little as possible as well as possible”.

Each year, each season, she has different things she focuses on, and is happy to let the others take a back seat. I decided to ask her more about it, in the hopes that the way she came to streamline her online presence might be inspiring to those of you who are a little bit overwhelmed and over it.

First things first: How did Kat adopt the mantra?

“I’m an ideas person,” she says. “I love being creative and starting things, but while this can be a definite advantage, it can also be a huge disadvantage – I realized that every time I started working a new idea, I was actually also giving up on something else. And if I kept moving on to new things, I’d never develop anything excellent.

“We all have a finite amount of time in the day. I’d rather be excellent at one or two things than dabble and be average in twenty things.”

For the people I know who have turned their backs on “having it all” and have shifted gears to hone their talents in one or two areas at a time, it was usually because of burnout. Trying to be all things to all people at all times had forced them to make a change. Kat says it wasn’t quite like that for her, but she still needed to make that change.

“Honestly, I think I hit “plateau” stage rather than “burnout” stage,” she says. “I wondered why things weren’t taking off like they used to. I finally realized that greater levels of success require greater levels of sacrifice. That’s why you don’t see Olympic athletes at McDonald’s or Disneyland the day before their gold medal event. We all have a limited capacity for…everything. So the only way to increase our capacity for one thing is to reduce our capacity in another area – hence “Do as little as possible, as well as possible.”

“This past year, I’ve focused a lot more on podcasting (and less on writing) and as a result, my podcast [Inspired to Action] is consistently on the Top of the Kids and Family charts on iTunes. The beauty of this is that I’m not eternally confining myself to anything. Just because I’m currently focusing on podcasting, doesn’t mean I’ll never write another epic blog post. It just means not right now. “This season is for learning how to consistently create excellent podcasts and building systems and skills that will make it all relatively habitual. As I build habits, podcasting requires less effort. Eventually, much of it will become second nature…which then increases my capacity to add something else back in – like writing.

Gary Keller says, “Success comes sequentially, not simultaneously.” Ronald Reagan was a famous actor and President of the United States of America, but not at the same time. We just don’t have the capacity for simultaneous excellence, but we can build on our knowledge and skills so that we can have sequential success. I want to do things with excellence and excellence can only be achieved with focus on one thing at a time.”

When you’re new or you’ve just made the decision to turn your blog into a business, the internet is a world of possibility. It can take time to get to a point (whether burnout or plateau or otherwise) to really narrow down your focus. You might not want to do less, you’re happy to just be on the playing field. Kat explains the situation well:

“I think the biggest reason [for that] is because newer bloggers aren’t sure what they want,” she says.

“That’s not a bad thing, but until they figure out what they want, it’s hard to find the motivation to say no to other things. Just like kids participate in 24,976 different activities – their job as a child is to figure out where their talents and passions collide. Once they find that sweet spot they can then arrange their effort around pursuing it with excellence.

“It’s the same with a new blogger. Until they know their audience, their message and their voice, it’s hard to say no to all the opportunities that are out there.”

In fact – Kat thinks it might be worth newer bloggers shifting priorities at the start to ensure that when they do focus, they’ve got a solid foundation from which to grow.

“I think that a new blogger needs to focus on writing and connecting with their audience,” she says. “Increasing traffic and building a platform and refining their message should come AFTER they actually know what they want to say. Otherwise, they spent all that energy possibly building their platform in the wrong location.

“However, I do think they can follow the motto by applying it to the process of finding their message, audience and voice. Be focused about writing and honest about what resonates with you and your readers. Instead of spending energy on increasing your page views, focus your energy on understanding what you want to say and who needs to hear it.”

So how does the motto manifest itself in Kat’s reality?

“I’ve narrowed down what I do online,” she says. “Ironically, I blog less and podcast more. I’d rather have a Top 10 podcast and an average blog and social media presence, than an average everything. Of course, as I mentioned before this is temporary. Once I have a system for podcasting with excellence, I want to return to writing and learn to do it with excellence.

And as someone who has spent a lot of time being intentional about how she divides her attention, she has some advice:

What’s the best tip you’ve found to help you pare back?

To use physical folders. It’s easy to expand digitally, but if I have physical folders for projects I’m working on and limit those to 6 at any given time, I have a concrete reminder when I over commit.

Did you read any books or resources that helped you refine your schedule?

Simplfy by Bill Hybels, The Best Yes by Lysa Terkeurst and Tell Your Time by Amy Lynn Andrews

 

What would be something you’d like to pass onto bloggers who are feeling overwhelmed?

Why are you blogging? What message burns within you that you know will help others? Who are you blogging for? Once you know the answers to those questions, it’s so much easier to separate the blogging wheat from the blogging chaff. Just like a hunter might have a super powerful gun that can down any deer from a mile away, if he isn’t locked in on the target, that powerful gun doesn’t do him a bit of good. Find your target, then scale down your vision to focus on it – success comes easily once you do that.

So what do you think – is simplifying but excelling something for you? What would you focus on? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Stacey Roberts is the Managing Editor of ProBlogger.net, and the gal behind Veggie Mama. A writer, blogger, and full-time word nerd, she can be found making play-dough, reading The Cat in the Hat for the eleventh time, and avoiding the laundry. See evidence on Instagram here, on Facebook here, and twitter @veggie_mama.

Rebranding Your Blog: The Resources

REBRANDING YOUR BLOG-

Last week we had Jodi from Practising Simplicity talk us through the decision behind rebranding her six-year-old established blog.

Many of you had questions about the technical details of moving a blog, so I’ve rounded up some resources to help. You will find everything from changing social media handles to 301 redirects. Feel free to ask any questions in the comments and we will try to assist!

Before you even start, get clear on WHY you want to rebrand: Nuts and Bolts Media // Things to Consider Before Rebranding Your Blog.

The Lotus Creative // How to Rebrand Your Blog Has a step-by-step guide right from the very beginning – choosing a name and getting a .com. Kate also discusses traffic loss due to the switch, and what you can do about it.

This post also goes into moving a blog from an SEO perspective to keep your traffic high : Search Engine Land // How to Rebrand Without Losing Your Hard-Earned Rankings.

Freeing Imperfections // How I Rebranded My Blog goes into more design issues – how to find a customisable theme and how to make your blog visually reflect you the blogger.

Tico and Tina has an entire series on Rebranding Your Blog which should have you brainstorming taglines and making decisions about navigation in no time.

There are step-by-step images and screenshots on exactly how to switch to a new domain here at Elizabeth Loves // Rebranding Your Blog 101: The Technical Stuff.

And for seriously in-depth discussion (with a little bit of humour!) about the nitty-gritty of seamlessly rebranding your social media accounts, Moz has got you covered with How to Rebrand Your Social Media Accounts. They include just about every social account you can think of. More than I could think of, actually!

What kind of hiccups have you encountered when rebranding your blog? Is it even making the decision to do it?

Stacey Roberts is the Managing Editor of ProBlogger.net, and the gal behind Veggie Mama. A writer, blogger, and full-time word nerd, she can be found making play-dough, reading The Cat in the Hat for the eleventh time, and avoiding the laundry. See evidence on Instagram here, on Facebook here, and twitter @veggie_mama.

Thinking of Rebranding Your Blog? Read This.

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Rebranding an established and successful business? Why would you do that?

For some, the risk of changing the name of something people have grown to know and love is too big. For others, the risk of being boxed into something they no longer feel much affinity for is even bigger.

No doubt it’s a scary leap to rebrand a blog – would people still read? Would a slight shift in direction upset the established audience? Would the to-do list of technical issues be too overwhelming? Would you lose all that Google love you’ve built up over the years?

At some point, if you’ve felt the rumbling undercurrent of wanting to make a change, you’ll decide those reasons are no longer enough to hold you back. And so you research new domain names, you design new logos, you test the waters. And you make the switch – your blog (and your online identity) is something new. Something more you.

Jodi Wilson did that on New Year’s Eve 2013. She took a blog she had lovingly nurtured for six years from online journal to a much larger online place of community and inspiration, and gave it a complete overhaul. Once a place to share the milestones and sleepless nights as a new parent, the blog had evolved into a new space of a woman finding joy in a simple, humble life. And Jodi felt it required a new look and name to reflect that.

One of the biggest factors in the name change was the fact that my blog was originally named after my son and his teddy – Che & Fidel,” she says.

“Che had started school in 2013 and all of a sudden his world was much bigger and I had less control. I didn’t feel like his stories were mine to share anymore and it only felt right to stop blogging about him, hence the blog name just didn’t resonate. As I wrote in my first post as PS: ‘Che & Fidel no longer resonated with me, I didn’t feel like it represented my blog or my intention. My days of sharing notable milestones and tales of sleepless nights were over. Instead I was using my blog as a means of exploring ideas and seeking inspiration. It was more about my experience as a woman than just my experience as a mother’.

“It wasn’t a decision I made lightly, either. To tell you the truth, my energy and enthusiasm for blogging was waning and I needed a boost, as a creative and a writer. I wanted to keep doing it, to keep enjoying it, but there were times when it was a hard slog – it was work.”

The hardest part, she says, was finding a new name that would encompass all the blog had come to be about. A name that would resonate with people, but most importantly, herself.

“I spent months exploring different names and, of course, checking whether the domain was available (it was really important for me to move to a .com). Funnily enough, the name was quite literally staring me in the face the entire time,” she says.

“In June 2013 I started a series called Practising Simplicity where I explored simple living. The series was as much about me exploring new ways of being as it was about sharing information with my readers. I loved writing it because it inspired me; it made me more mindful of my creative process, my parenting, my wellbeing. It wasn’t until mid-November, when I was reading through past posts in the hope of “finding” a name, that the idea came to me. Of course, it was perfect (and yes, the .com was available).”

Often a change in name can mean a change in blog direction, but mostly always means a change in logo and branding. Jodi says a new design for Practising Simplicity was “essential”, launching her blog in the new year with not only a new name, but a new web address, and a clean, simple, refined design that reflected her aesthetic and intention.

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It also comes with a not-so-small checklist of to-dos to ensure your readers are redirected with a minimum of fuss, your social media accounts are changed, and all the boxes are ticked (you can check out the one Tsh Oxenreider used when she made a similar change from her hugely successful blog Simple Mom into The Art of Simple).

Jodi saved a lot of time and heartache by getting it right the first time around: “I handed much of the technical work over to my tech guy Graeme - I knew it was beyond me and it felt only right to employ someone who knew exactly what they were doing,” she says.

“Graeme managed to redirect my Che & Fidel address to PS with ease – basically, if you go to my old address you automatically end up at practisingsimplicity.com - don’t ask me how he did it, I’m just glad he managed to work it out!  When it came to changing my IG profile – that was done with a simple name change in my profile. I contacted Facebook and requested they change the name of my page; which they did within 48 hours. I did the same for bloglovin’.”

But while the technical side of things can easily be taken care of, and you’re excited about a new change, new branding, and new direction – that doesn’t mean everything will go smoothly. Jodi said there was certainly some small fears on her part, but received wonderful support from her readers.

“I was realistic about the fact that there may be readers that wouldn’t appreciate the change. But at the end of the day I was making the change for me more than anyone else,” she says.

“I knew that I couldn’t keep blogging with heart unless I was proud of the space I was creating – it needed to be authentic, no ifs or buts.

“When I pressed “publish” on that first post I remember sitting back and marvelling at the fact that my humble online journal had become a website – one that earned me an income. It was a bit overwhelming to tell you the truth. Who would have thought? After I got over that I received a few very encouraging comments from long time readers. I exhaled.”

And the biggest fear of all for some – how will the readers react?

“With an incredible amount of positivity!,” Jodi says of her experience.

“They felt like the change was a perfect fit for my current content – the ultimate feedback. There was, of course, a few comments regarding readers’ dislike of sidebar sponsors but every comment was expressed with kindness which I’m incredibly grateful for. Each to their own!”

If you’re thinking of making the switch, Jodi has some words of advice for you:

“When you launch a new space there are always going to be hiccups. Be patient – they won’t take long to fix.

Also, if you’re considering making a change – do it! It’s the best thing I’ve ever done for my career. Within weeks of launching my new space I had numerous new sponsors who appreciated the fact that my blog was more “lifestyle” as opposed to “mumsy” and I continue to work with all of them. The new look also caught the attention of publishing company, Blurb, who offered me a book deal (six weeks after my launch!).”

You can find Jodi at her blog, Facebook, and Instagram.

Stacey Roberts is the Managing Editor of ProBlogger.net, and the gal behind Veggie Mama. A writer, blogger, and full-time word nerd, she can be found making play-dough, reading The Cat in the Hat for the eleventh time, and avoiding the laundry. See evidence on Instagram here, on Facebook here, and twitter @veggie_mama.

Q&A: Your Social Media Strategy

There’s not much Darren hasn’t tried in the way of social media, and using it as a complement to his blog.

In this webinar (available in full to ProBlogger.com members), he outlines his method for success, as well as answering your questions about how to make the best use of this media.

Darren covers:

  • Where social media fits in your blogging journey
  • What hierarchy of importance social media should go in (because you can’t be across everything!)
  • How to find readers
  • How to build a presence
  • How often you should update your social media channels
  • Hints for scheduling your content
  • How much time you should invest in it
  • What your status updates should say
  • Case studies of status updates that really worked

And questions sourced from the ProBlogger.com forums as well as your inquiries on Facebook and Twitter. One not to be missed!

Creating and Selling Ebooks Webinar

This webinar (available in full for ProBlogger.com members) features ProBlogger Marketing Ninja Shayne Tilley outlining the strategy for getting the best return on your efforts creating and selling eBooks.

It covers:

  • Sell Sheets: Do you need one? What is it? How to make a good one.
  • What content to have in your book – what shouldn’t you miss?
  • An effective book outline
  • Thinking about your audience
  • Your review process
  • Writing tips – not only to get content written, but also tips about format, consistency and even mindframe mid-book
  • The editing process
  • Adding visual elements
  • What your final draft should look like
  • The design – DIY or outsource? How to do it thriftily
  • Which format is best – PDF, ePub, Mobi, audio?
  • Sales pages – what should they contain
  • Gearing up for your launch, and what you should do to prepare
  • How to plan your launch month
  • How to manage the book and sales once it is out there.

ProBlogger.com is home to to the ProBlogger Community, featuring regular webinars on all kinds of content, forums to connect with other bloggers, along with discounts, and free plugin downloads. You can join here. See you there!

Facebook Week: Putting it All Together

Screen Shot 2014-08-04 at 3.33.11 pmIt has been an action-packed Theme Week here at ProBlogger as we delved into making Facebook work for you. We’ve been hearing for a long time now that bloggers and small business owners are both confused and frustrated with the platform – where they once enjoyed using it to interact with their audience, they now faced algorithms that meant they needed to work harder to be seen by everyone who had signed up to receive their updates. It has left a lot of people dissatisfied.

Organic Vs Paid

But all is not lost. As Darren mentioned at the start of the week, he has seen both organic and paid reach still holding strong with his Facebook pages, with a little behind-the-scenes strategy. He shared some of the things he was trying (and had seen success with) and came to the conclusion that his winning formula was: be useful, be visual, be interactive, be inspriational, and experiment to see what works. He also mentioned the decision to wade into the world of paid Facebook advertising, and that their return on investment well exceeded what was expected.

Popular Pages Successful Strategies

Tuesday saw a rundown of five popular pages on Facebook, and an overview of their interactions. We saw what got the most traction was visual content – both video and images – but also a focus on what people as humans can relate to. Their interests, heartwarming stories, educational content, and things that inspired seemed to be the most useful types of interaction for best engagement.

Which Posts get Higher Organic Reach?

After sifting through hundreds of Facebook pages, it became clear: whatever works on your Facebook page depends upon your own audience. While we discussed each type of post and how popular they are for inspiring engagement, (video and images again appear to be the most useful), it really does come down to monitoring your own Insights page to see when your audience is online, and what kinds of posts they’ve been interacting with the most. While images come up trumps for most bloggers, my own Facebook page ranked them last. So it’s definitely important to tailor your output to what your audience has been enjoying the most, not just taking blind advice.

So Tell Me About Facebook Advertising

Jon Loomer stopped by to give us his insights on Facebook advertising and marketing, and making it work for you. The ability to ailor the audience of your ads is incredibly specific, and he helpfully explains that while also breaks down the Boost Post myth, and the debate about which is more useful – that or Power Editor? (hot tip: it’s Power Editor). He also discusses what makes a great ad, and how to decide what needs to be seen in the newsfeed. The full webinar is packed with easy-to-understand information (but you do need to be a member of problogger.com to see it).

Darren’s Facebook Advertising Success

Our marketing guru Shayne Tilley gave us a detailed rundown on the experiments he’s been running with paid content on Facebook, outlining how to create the ads, what kinds of ads he’s been running (and which ones work the best), how much he’s spending, and what he needs to explore more. It shouldn’t be missed by anyone who is doubtful about giving Facebook their money, or are utterly confused about where to start.

We’d love to hear, though – what advice has been more useful to you? What else would you like to know?

Thanks for being around, we’ve had a lot of fun this week.

Theme Week: Tips and Tricks to Nail Facebook Advertising, a Webinar with Jon Loomer

Sam Surname

Jon Loomer, the King of advanced Facebook marketing, recently stopped by ProBlogger.com to share his insight and specialist tips on all things Facebook advertising. Not just for business with big budgets, targeted Facebook ads and a little forethought can be useful for any kind of blogger wanting to reach out to readers. The full webinar is available for ProBlogger.com members (you can sign up here).

So what are the benefits of Facebook advertising for bloggers?

Jon says it’s really for anyone looking to drive traffic to a website. When you build an audience on Facebook, you’re sharing that website with people who have shown an interest in wanting to read it. As a bonus, many people who pay for advertising on Facebook also report an increase in organic reach.

Why should you pay for advertising when you can use Facebook for free?

  • It breaks through traffic plateau – go beyond the reach you’re getting now
  • If you have been working hard and not getting far, then it might be worth a try to see if you can catch a break
  • With regular sharing, you’re limited with the amount of people who will engage with your post – paying will reach people who still want to read your work – people who have been to your blog but don’t currently like your Facebook page, perhaps. It also assists in finding people with similar interests who might like your blog, but just haven’t heard of you yet
  • Helps to speed up the growth of your page
  • You’re being proactive rather than crossing your fingers and hoping to go viral

Boost Post versus Power Editor – Is one really more useful than the other?

  • The nuggets of gold in Facebook advertising and targeting are mainly found within Power Editor. but it doesn’t guarantee you success. You could still be targeting badly
  • The issue with Boost Post it is an easy button, often for real success you need to think a bit beyond doing that
  • At the end of the day, you want sales and subscribers, not just be seen in the newsfeed, so you need to use Boost Post a little bit more strategically. This is where you can use Power Editor to select a pre-chosen group to boost your post to
  • You can create and save target group lookalikes and custom audiences in Power Editor, which can then be used across Facebook advertising in all its guises
  • Learn Power Editor first, and it makes everything else easier

What about more sophisticated campaigns?

Website custom audiences are Jon’s favourite feature – it’s not just a matter of targeting anyone who visits your website, but also narrowing it down to specific pages they’ve seen, or articles they’ve read on your site.

So how does Facebook know what your readers are looking at?

Facebook provides conversion pixels, which uses cookie information from your blog. When they return to Facebook after your site, they will then see a targeted ad. Only one code is needed, but you can create many different rules that depend on visitor information. Even better, when you promote your new blog post, you can tell Facebook to exclude the readers who have already read it – effectively saving you money.

To take advantage of this, create a Website Custom Audience for every sales line you have, every landing page, every success page, every important blog post. Think about the categories of content you have that would appeal to different people, and tailor your ads to suit.

What makes a good ad?

  • Imagery, things that stand out, or that people can relate to. Faces, people their own age, professional images, proper image dimensions
  • Copy – what do you want from your ad? If you’re not selling, then you’re still being casual, useful, and wanting to get people to click on your link. Think of providing a call to action
  • Keep it short. You want to keep under character limits so Facebook doesn’t truncate your post, forcing users to click over to read the whole thing.
  • Ensuring the targeting is as relevant as possible

What else is on the webinar?

  • Jon goes into how to create a great Facebook advertising campaign and gives you steps to narrow down your needs so you can better strategise and target your audience.
  • Building a highly-relevant audience, and gaining their trust so you can market your products or services to them successfully
  • Targeting people depending on what page they’ve landed on your blog
  • Specific tips for Power Editor: how to create custom audiences, using tracking pixels
  • Links to articles that explain the complexities of Power Editor and how to harness it for your particular needs
  • How much to budget for Facebook campaigns
  • The difference between an ad set and a campaign
  • The lowdown on ad reports and how to track efficacy
  • Understanding lookalike audiences and how to target them effectively
  • Targeting fans, email lists, and anybody who has visited your website – highly-relevant people who already know who you are, but might not be following you on Facebook.
  • A discussion about the appearance of ads on Facebook in the first place. If they’re not going to go away, how best to work with them so you’re delivering useful advertising to its users, rather than irrelevant information
  • More detail on what makes a great ad.

Tune in tomorrow for our marketing ninja Shayne Tilley, who will take you through a list of Digital Photography School Facebook advertising that has seen real returns – and also the ones that didn’t do so well.

Have you tried Facebook marketing? Has it been useful for you?

Facebook Theme Week: Boost Your Organic Reach with These Tips

Sam SurnameIt’s a war most of us as bloggers find ourselves in with Facebook fairly often: our desire to have our posts seen by our likers, versus Facebook’s desire to not overwhelm its users with thousands of updates every single time they log on.

With so many users on the world’s biggest social media site (Darren said this week it’s been logged as 1.317 billion monthly active users in the second quarter of this year), the potential for reader overload is astronomical. Facebook advertising executive Brian Boland explained a few months ago that Facebook now handles more pieces of information than ever before, mostly due to how easy smartphones make it for people to share. He says that there is “far more content being made than there is time to absorb it”, and for people with lots of friends and page likes, there is potential for up to 15,000 stories to be available every time they visit the site.

So what does that mean for Page owners? Well, it means that the Facebook News Feed Algorithm is designed to show your readers what is most relevant to them, not every single thing uploaded. What you need to do now is be relevant. And how do you know what is most relevant to your audience? You get familiar with your Insights.

What does your audience want?

For all the general advice we can give, it doesn’t beat your own personal experience, and the needs of your readers.

In your Insights tab, you can click on “Posts” and then “When Your Fans are Online”.

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As you can see, the Likers of my Veggie Mama Facebook page are online pretty much all day – but 8pm sees the biggest spike. If I want to catch the most of my readers, that would be the time to do it.

So now you know when your readers are online – the next step is to see what types of posts on your page they interact with the most. Click “Post Types” and get an overview of successful post types (including their typical reach and typical engagement rate). For me it’s video, followed by status, link, and then photo last.

Where to from there?

Make a plan to increase the types of posts your readers like, while still trying to stay useful, interesting, and entertaining. Facebook themselves say the most engaging posts you can create on Facebook are “short, original, benefit the person viewing the content, and connect to your objectives and identity”. But at the end of the day, you want real interactions with your readers, so being authentic regardless of post type should be your main aim.

Facebook also recommends video and images for the best interaction, especially those that depict humans and their relationships with others.

Video

Facebook’s recommendation to use video, and my insights listing video as the most popular post type, is consistent with the conclusions we came to yesterday about what worked on popular pages. For four out of the five pages we studied, video was their first or second most successful post type.

You can see here that a recent video shared on singer Beyoncé’s page has had incredible success. 222,000 shares (almost double the highest share rate from yesterday’s posts), 42,000 comments, and almost half a million likes.

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So what makes it work?

  • it’s original – only Beyoncè has this particular video
  • it’s current – The 50 Shades of Grey book was a phenomenal success, and excitement for the new movie is ramping up
  • it features a never-before-heard Beyoncé track that fans would be interested to hear
  • both Beyoncé and 50 Shades of Grey are highly popular among their target audience
  • It also doesn’t hurt that mobile Facebook video autoplay would make this run automatically in people’s feeds, making it look like they’re interested in it (regardless of whether they actually want to watch it or not)

Images

It has long been said that images were consistently achieving the best results for people looking to increase their reach. Beautiful images, relatable images, funny images – as visual creatures, it appears that appealing to that sense is usually a winner.

There is little doubt that Humans of New York has nailed the use of images on Facebook. Primarily to showcase his photography work, Brandon’s Facebook page has become a legend. Every day, millions of people see and interact with the images and small snippets of conversations he provides.

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So what makes it work?

  • It’s heartwarming
  • It’s relatable – whether you are someone like that, or know someone like that. It might make you think of your parents or grandparents
  • Love is a language that transcends all barriers
  • It’s a beautiful picture in a beautiful park
  • The people are smiling – they’re obviously happy, and that can be contagious
  • Readers might think this will brighten others’ days as it has theirs, so they share
  • It’s also a bit cheeky and people love a bit of a joke.
  • It’s a little bit unexpected – often the elderly have assumptions made about them and their usefulness due to their age. To see them cheeky and joking around is pleasantly surprising.

While usually focused on people (hence the “Humans”), sometimes the unexpected on the HONY page works even better.

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Text Status

For a while there, it was popular to try and provide useful or engaging text statuses, as they seemed to be the least penalised by Facebook (at least, less penalised than links, which could be seen as too promotional or salesy, and less penalised than overtly meme-y or spammy images). It gave rise to the question, or the fill-in-the-blanks. For some, it works really well. For others, it really can be seen as a blatant engagement grab, and quite off-putting.

So what makes a great text status?

Let’s look at Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman. With more than two million fans, and a regularly-updated Facebook page, Ree connects with her readers in a variety of ways (mostly with images of her delicious cooking). But Ree has a quirky sense of humour her readers love, and often gets the text status exactly right.

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Always self-deprecating, Ree likes to poke fun at herself and how she looks on her Food Network cooking show. Her penchant for overexaggerating also usually sparks a giggle.

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Ree has a brother with special needs, and he is quite the character on her blog. Many of her readers can relate, and think he’s sweet.

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Again, her quirky humour and casual, friendly demeanor really makes an impact. Thanking your readers for something is usually something they appreciate.

Consistency

People want to know there’s a human person behind the Facebook page, and that the person is interested in them. If the reader comments or otherwise engages with the content on the page, they want that engagement to be a two-way street. If you are a blogger, then make an effort to be around. Don’t just post and run – post and chat. Post regularly (but not so much that your posts get hidden as people get sick to death of seeing you) and be approachable. Facebook keeps track of the pages that each person interacts with, and boosts the visibility of the last 50 pages in the newsfeed. It’s ideal to be one of those last 50 interactions (which include engagement and profile/image views).

Authenticity

Not only will Facebook limit the reach of meme content in favour of more relevant (i.e. current news or shared interests) pieces of content, but fans will see through desperate grabs for likes or comments. It also pays to be thoughtful and aware of giving your readers what they want without appearing overly strategic. At the end of the day, you still can’t beat being useful, inspiring, visual, and interactive. And nobody will tell you what works on your Facebook better than your readers will, so get to know your Insights.

As Jon Loomer says:

Meh. Just share interesting content. Monitor your results to figure out what works.

(Jon will be back tomorrow with some super-useful tips from the other side of the coin – advertising and marketing on Facebook – it’s not to be missed!)

Do you think as a whole, bloggers are over-thinking Facebook organic reach strategy? Have you found reaching your fans frustrating? Or have you hit a stride that works?

Stacey Roberts is the Managing Editor of ProBlogger.net, and the gal behind Veggie Mama. A writer, blogger, and full-time word nerd, she can be found making play-dough, reading The Cat in the Hat for the eleventh time, and avoiding the laundry. See evidence on Instagram here, on Facebook here, and twitter @veggie_mama.

Facebook Theme Week: Case Studies of Popular Pages (and What They’re Doing to Get Great Engagement)

There has been much discussion in blogging circles of late about Facebook and the effects their algorithms have on reaching all your “likers” with each of your posts. While Darren mentioned yesterday in his brief overview of organic vs paid reach that both have positives and negatives, the fact remains that many bloggers are still doing their best to increase their engagement organically. Today we are going to look at five popular Facebook pages and see what has been most successful for them when interacting with their audience.

Facebook

The most popular page on Facebook is actually the “Facebook for Every Phone” App, with more than 480 million fans. They haven’t updated their page since December 2013, but still rank the most overall. The second most popular page is Facebook itself (which defaults to whichever country you are in unless you opt to see a different one), but their engagement differs wildly with each post.

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Posts per day: One (but not every day).

What types of posts do they do? Videos, images, and links with images. They share motivational images and Facebook user information.

Most popular recent post: A motivational quote image. It garnered almost 140,000 shares, which was way over and above anything else on the page. It had just over two million likes, and more than 22,000 comments. This type of engagement doesn’t appear to be common, with the next-highest sharing rate being 64,000.

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Least popular post: A shared link from the American Cancer Society, asking people for donations. It had 13,000 likes, and less than 1000 shares.

What gets the most engagement overall? Videos, by far.

Most popular topics: Motivational stories, Facebook user information.

Shakira

Shakira is a musician from Colombia, and is the most-liked person on Facebook. She was the first person to reach over 100 million likes, and ranks third in the most popular Facebook pages (just under an App for Facebook, and Facebook themselves). She has a super-engaged page, with fans interacting constantly.Screen Shot 2014-08-01 at 3.38.57 pm

Posts per day: One (but not every day).

What kind of posts do they do? Images, video, images with links.

Most popular recent post: A grid of images of Shakira performing at the World Cup Closing Ceremony, and a message from Shakira herself. 2.5 million people liked the image, almost 85,000 shared it, and it was commented on more than 42,000 times.Screen Shot 2014-08-01 at 3.38.47 pm

10556436_10152673650169560_2488786109078107775_nLeast popular post: A shared link from the World Food Programme asking people to donate to the Mwamba Primary School in the Democratic Republic of Congo. It received 75,000 likes and only 87 shares.

What type of post gets the most engagement overall? Videos of Shakira performing, or addressing her fans.

Most popular topics: Behind-the-scenes peeks into Shakira’s life.

Real Madrid CF

With almost 70 million likes, Real Madrid CF is one of the biggest pages of Facebook.

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Posts per day: Between 3 and 9 posts a day

 

What kind of posts do they do? Mostly images and video.

 

Most popular recent post: A photo album of their star player Cristiano Ronaldo practising for an upcoming match. It had more than 300,000 likes, 5000 shares, and 3000 comments.

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Least popular post: A link (with image) to their online store. It had 37,000 likes, 764 comments, and 169 shares.

What type of post gets the most engagement overall? Photo albums of their players training.

Most popular topics: Players training.

I F*cking Love Science

IFLS is a site bringing science to the masses. Elise Andrew shares images, cartoons, science news and interesting tidbits that are designed to be accessible by everyone, not just scientists. IFLS might be trailing these pages in likes (although 17.5 million on a page updated by only one person is quite the achievement), but they are knocking them out of the park with engagement. Just about every single post has high engagement, and each type of post seems to do well.

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Posts per day: Between 8 and 19, at a rate of about one update an hour.

What kind of posts do they do? Mostly images, followed by images with links.

Most popular recent post: An image quote about the use of the planet’s resources. More than 96,000 shares, 350,000 likes, and 3708 comments were generated. With the exception of the unusually high Facebook post share above, it is a higher share rate than any of the other pages mentioned.

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It appears that unusual or interesting images work really well for them – this post about fluorite got 22,000 shares, 240,000 likes, and almost 6000 comments in 16 hours.

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Another thing IFLS fans seem to enjoy are geeky science puns. As you can see, this link to purchase a shirt got 37,000 shares in just 7 hours. With shares being the highest-ranked Facebook engagement (they appear to be more beneficial to your chances of higher organic reach than likes or comments), it’s clear that IFLS has a knack for creating viral content. It also goes to show content doesn’t need to be viral in a global sense, just viral to your readership.Screen Shot 2014-08-01 at 3.27.14 pm

Least popular post: A straight link to an article about planets with companions having a better chance of harbouring life. Compared to the IFLS average, 8000 likes, 673 shares and 163 comments is ultra-low.

What type of post gets the most engagement overall? Images, by far. Especially if they’re punny.

Most popular topics: Health stories, animal information, and religion seems to get the readers fired up.

 

Humans of New York

Ask anyone what their favourite Facebook page is, and plenty of them will say Humans of New York. A page by photographer Brandon Stanton, it showcases the everyday person on the street, usually with a quote from the conversation Brandon has with them. It has quite the cult following, with 8.5 million likers and plenty of interaction.
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Posts per day: 5

What kind of posts do they do? Images.

Most popular recent post: An image and snippet of an interview with an older lady reminding people to keep in touch with distant friends and relatives. It sparked 37,000 shares, almost 350,000 likes, and 6000 comments.

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Least popular post: A link to buy Brandon’s latest book. 1000 shares and comments, and 73,000 likes.

What type of post gets the most engagement overall? Images with emotive or inspirational quotes from the people themselves. Half a million likes for this guy’s story.

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Most popular topics: People doing and saying things you don’t expect just by looking at them.

What does this mean for you?

Ultimately, it depends on your readership. But the common thread between all of these pages’ successful posts is the human element. What are people doing behind the scenes? Who are they when they are relaxed? What’s going on in their real life? It appears that people like that glimpse into humanity, and they also enjoy a good joke.

Most of these pages saw real success with images on their own, without links. Links appeared to be less useful, especially if they were selling something, or asking for people’s money. The IFLS page still saw success when they posted image credit links in the statuses, but that might be because they’d been enjoying such high sharing interaction, driving up their organic reach in general.

I think it pays to look at your recent Insights to see what kinds of posts are resonating with your readers. Are you showing them enough of the human you? Are you being just that little bit different? Can they relate to your content? Are you being useful?

What kind of posts have you seen success with? Tomorrow we’ll be doing a case study on the types of things you can do for better organic reach. See you then!

Stacey Roberts is the Managing Editor of ProBlogger.net, and the gal behind Veggie Mama. A writer, blogger, and full-time word nerd, she can be found making play-dough, reading The Cat in the Hat for the eleventh time, and avoiding the laundry. See evidence on Instagram here, on Facebook here, and twitter @veggie_mama.