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What is Your Posting Rhythm to Social Media?

social-media-update-frequencyLast week I was on a panel discussing social media at a conference here in Australia and a question from the floor asked about how often is ideal to post to Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest?

I was fascinated to hear the range of answers we gave as panelists and I thought it might be a good discussion to have here on ProBlogger.

What frequency do you publish to the social networks that you’re active on?

I’ll kick things off:

Facebook Pages: On the dPS Facebook page I try to update 3-4 times a day with posts spread out over a 24 hour cycle. I find if I do it too much more regularly that the posts don’t get as much engagement.

Twitter: On my ProBlogger Twitter account I find I can post at a higher frequency on Twitter as tweets tend to have a shorter life. Having said that most of my tweets are done live when I have something to say (and time to tweet).

Tweets go up automatically when I post a new post here on the blog or when a new job goes up on the Job Boards and I’ll often share another link to a blog post 12 or so hours later. The rest of my tweets are more personal/conversational and not scheduled.

Pinterest: on the dPS Pinterest account I’ve employed Jade to update our board.

Google+: My Google+ account is something I don’t update with great frequency. I use it more when I want to test an idea that I’m thinking through, ask a question or share something I’m excited about.

As a result there are days when I might post 2-3 times and then it might be 2-3 days before I post again! My posts there can be as short as a link or up to 2000 words!

LinkedIn: I’m a dismal failure on LinkedIn. Status updates are largely new posts on the blog and automated. I feel like I could improve a lot in this area.

What about you? What’s your posting rhythm on to social media? Do you update them all the same or have different strategies for each one?

Google Hangouts: Turning Bloggers into Broadcasters

This is a guest contribution by Sarah Hill, the Chief Digital Storyteller for Veterans United Network.

Blogging no longer has to be a text based conversation. Google+ has allowed bloggers to become broadcasters, adding a visual component to each blog post, and all you need to become a “Blogcaster” is a webcam, an internet connection, and Google+.

Understanding the Basics of Google+

Narrow-minded individuals have been quick to dismiss Google+, seeing another Facebook; however, the true functionality of Google+ goes beyond keeping up with friends. This platform offers a unique feature that allows you to live-stream face-to-face video chats to the masses through a feature known as Hangouts.

Google’s Hangout feature is unfolding into a product that is changing how people collaborate and learn, providing real users with the tools and information to accomplish real-world tasks, and the ability to display it for all to see via YouTube.

This free broadcast tower is deepening relationships between bloggers, businesses and personal users through face-to-face interaction, setting the social network apart from all others and creating a fresh way to experience the web.

Hangout Preparation

Starting a Hangout can be done in a few seconds, just by clicking the “Start a Hangout” button; however, before diving in head first, it is best to prepare.

When you start a Hangout for the first time, you will be prompted to install a quick plugin. All you need to do is download Google’s voice and video chat plugin, ensure you have a webcam with a microphone and a decent internet connection. Ethernet is preferred but I’ve done lots of Hangouts over Wifi and even 4G as well.

In addition, it is best to check your lighting and background beforehand to make sure people can clearly see your face.

Once you’re confident in the set up and have ran some practice Hangouts, it’s time to promote a live event.

Announce the hangout

First, create a Google+ public event announcement a few days to a couple weeks before your Hangout. You want to give users time and create awareness of the Hangout.

Set to stream the hangout

Also, when creating the Google+ Hangout, be sure to open a “Hangout on Air” as those Hangouts stream live on YouTube and are then automatically recorded to your YouTube channel after you hit “end broadcast”.

Promote your hangout

Next, build awareness by posting in related Google+ communities, as well as other social channels. Don’t stay only on Google+, but cross-pollinate your live event to all your social platforms. Also, consider using a specific hashtag for your event.

Over Memorial Day, Veterans United partnered with Google+, the 9/11 Memorial and Virtual Photo Walks for a live Hangout. We used #honortheheroes to promote it to the public. Search that hashtag for examples of how we promoted that event.

Becoming a Blogcaster

Hangouts fuel the possibility of bloggers to become blogcasters, allowing up to ten users to video chat at a time, with the ability to broadcast to the entire world through “Hangouts on Air.”

So what would you talk about when you host a Hangout?

What are you passionate about? Original ideas, quality content and social sharing are the goal, and if you are posting interesting, thought provoking content on a frequent basis, you have the ability to gain followers and grow your authority – and this is no different through Hangouts.

Common Hangout topics include education, interviews, product demonstration and, more recently, customer service. However, when blogging, consider taking your hottest blog post and invite other authorities in the space to join in on the Hangout panel, providing multiple angles on the topic.  This lengthens the life of your blog beyond just the initial post.

Preparation is a must. Put together a list of questions that you can ask members in the Hangout, know who is speaking, on what topic and how long. Also, be sure to keep the conversation flowing by having transition topics so that you don’t permit awkward downtime.

And, no matter what method is used when producing a Hangout, remember to monitor social channels, blog comments from people who couldn’t attend the Hangout. You should also point users toward a social feed that they can post questions, essentially making them a part of the Hangout as well.

As with blogging, when you engage with your users on a frequent basis, user interaction and discussion becomes much easier. With Hangouts, that interaction is deeper as it’s now face to face via webcam.

Claim Your Work

The larger your presence is on Google+, the more likely it is that Google will see you as an expert or authority in your personal niche. And, to ensure that you’re capturing all the authority given from your Hangouts – especially when you post the URL to another site – be sure to claim the content through Google+.

“Eric Schmidt, the executive chairman at Google, recently said that future rankings will be determined by verified author profiles,” said Matt Polsky, an organic search strategist. “If you haven’t realized it yet, authors are already verifying their content on Google+, which is more than enough of a reason to get started.”

As Matt said above, bloggers are already verifying their broadcasts and content, providing users with not only a picture snippet in search results, but with additional authority for your specialized niche – especially when you branch out and write for other authority publications.

To verify your content, you can add the rel=author tag to your Google+ link in your byline when you create and post content.

With some forethought, time, and effort, you can grow your online presence and authority so people can discover your content. Broadcasting isn’t just for TV stations anymore. If you have a blog, you too can become a Google+ blogcaster.

Have you already used a Hangout? What was your experience?

About the Author: Sarah Hill is the Chief Digital Storyteller for Veterans United Network – a leading hub of news and advice on veteran and military issues. Connect with Sarah on Google+ to start a Hangout, or chat with her on Twitter.

How I Turned a Guest Post into 3 Million Visitors and Over 150,000 Social Media Shares

Yesterday, I shared a practical exercise for diving deeper into your blog’s analytics to discover how you can use the last month of blog action to plan for the future.

Today, I’d like to show you an example of just how powerful this discipline can be when it comes to building traffic to your site. In fact, this simple exercise led to a series of events that generated:

  • 3 million unique visitors
  • 131,000 ‘pins’ on Pinterest
  • 25,000 ‘likes’ on Facebook
  • 19,000 RT’s on Twitter

It all started with a Guest Post Submission

This story all began in March of 2012 when I received an email through the contact form on dPS, outlining an idea for a guest post. The author wanted to write a post with some examples pictures of how to pose women for portraits.

I liked the idea and agreed that the author could write the post. He submitted it a couple of weeks later and I scheduled it to go live late on the 28th.

The post was titled Posing Guide: 21 Sample Poses to Get You started with Photographing Women (note: on the blog it says ‘Part 1′ but at the time of publishing it was a stand alone post).

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Initial Results

I thought the post would do well as it was on a topic we’ve had good responses to in the past i.e. posing techniques. It was also an image based post, which we’ve had quite a bit of success with.

Four days later (on the first of April), when I was doing my ‘deep dive’ into Google Analytics, I was excited to see that the post had done very well indeed.

The day it was published the post had over 17,000 visitors, which was higher than an average post on its first day. Around 30% of that traffic was coming in from Facebook, which was surprising as I didn’t promote it on our own Facebook page until the day after.

The second day after publishing, the post saw around 8,000 visitors but day 3 saw it reach over 42,000 visitors.

This spike was partly due to the post being featured in our newsletter, which normally spikes traffic to the site, but that day also saw some great traffic from social media including StumbleUpon, Facebook and Pinterest.

Over the following few days it continued to do really well so by the time I did my analyse it had already received around 150,000 visitors – considerably higher than other posts on the site in their first week.

Other than the raw traffic numbers I was interested to see that:

  1. The number of sharing events the post was getting on Facebook, StumbleUpon and Pinterest. The post had some great visuals that seemed to stimulate this.
  2. The number of comments and emails we were getting from readers asking how to pose men and kids.

Building Momentum

I saw an opportunity and immediately emailed the author to see if he’d be interested in similar followup posts on posing men and children.

He had also noticed a spike in traffic to his own site as a result of the post, was keen to do more and immediately began work.

Within a week we published Posing Guide: 21 Sample Poses to Get You Started with Photographing Men.

This second post did about 75% of the traffic of the first post but the patterns were very similar. The difference was that we didn’t see traffic from StumbleUpon but instead saw it from Reddit.com

10 days later we published a Posing Guide for Photographing Children with very similar results.

While traffic wasn’t quite as spectacular on posts #2 and #3 they were still well and truly out performing most other posts on the site. Naturally, I commissioned the author to write more!

Post #4 was a Posing Guide for Photographing Couples is an interesting case study in and of itself because while it spiked in traffic over the first week it didn’t drive as much initial traffic. However, since publishing it last May it has gone on to become our most popular post ever on Pinterest and continues to drive great traffic to the site ever since.

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To this day, that post has over 83,000 ‘pins’ and has been visited just under half a million times in the last 12 months!

Over the coming months we published more followups in this series:

Each post has not only gone on to drive its own traffic but every time we post another addition to the series we see a surge of traffic to previous posts (as we interlink them all). So now, because we’ve published six followup posts in the series, our original post has received around 850,000 visitors and they’ve had over 2.5 million visits between them all.

Take Home Lessons

The take home lesson for me is it’s not only important to create useful content, you need to take note of what works. You also need to attempt to find ways to build momentum on your site and followup with more of the same!

While the traffic levels may not be the same as what we do on dPS (we have the benefit of having build decent traffic to the site since 2006) the same principles can apply for a blog at any level.

The success of this series of posts has generated a lot of future ideas for dPS. We’ve commissioned the author to create another series of posts (the first of which went live on the blog in the last hour) which will also include ‘real photos’ based upon the poses previously covered. This was something we had requests for in the previous series of posts so I’m hoping it goes well.

How LinkedIn Groups can Explode your Blog Traffic

A Guest Contribution from Fiona Hamann.

Whatever topic you blog about, whether it’s your business or your life, getting your name out there and expanding your blog community can be a challenge. Social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter or Instagram are free and work well if you have the time to organically grow a following. But let’s face it, if you are new to blogging or a small business blogger with little or no social media strategy, achieving 10,000 organic followers on these sites is often a pipedream.

Now, you could take the paid route via Google AdSense and sure, AdSense is a great tool for bloggers who want to get noticed online, but the drawback is that it costs money and can quickly eat through your budget.

So what other options are out there for bloggers wanting to increase their blog traffic and gravitas in their industry, without breaking the bank?

The answer is LinkedIn Groups.

Now I’m not guaranteeing that you will receive 10,000 ‘connections’ or that LinkedIn Groups is the only answer for bloggers with no marketing budget; nevertheless if you are considering social media as part of your online promotion strategy, LinkedIn Groups is a must.

What is a LinkedIn Group?

LinkedIn defines LinkedIn Groups as “a great way for organisations to keep in touch with their members about current events and to discuss issues of common interest.”

LinkedIn Groups have a stronger business focus that Facebook or Twitter, and unlike other social media sites, most LinkedIn Groups are industry specific. With its focus on careers, business and networking, LinkedIn Groups is one of the most appropriate social media tool for industry bloggers, and is one of the best ways to attract people to your business blog.

Not only can LinkedIn Groups attract readers and customers to your blog, who have a genuine interest in your topic and industry; it can also create viable financial business opportunities – all without breaking the bank.

The benefits of LinkedIn Groups:

  • It’s free
  • It’s social
  • The members are your targeted audience and either work or are genuinely interested in your industry
  • It’s effective at driving traffic to your site
  • It’s effective at getting you noticed in industry circles

LinkedIn Groups are not normally open for just anyone to join. This means that in order to be a member of a LinkedIn Group, your profession usually has to be the same as those members within the Group. For example, the LinkedIn Group labeled ‘Sydney Financial Services Industry’ is likely to have the captains of the financial services industry in Sydney as their core demographic – an ideal target audience if you are blogging about Australian fiscal matters and policy.

Give me the stats…

Before jumping in to how LinkedIn Groups works, let me firstly give you a real example on the effectiveness of LinkedIn Groups:

A small Sydney-based, PR firm used a WordPress blog post to attract clients and connections in the Public Relations and Communications sectors. The specific blog post in question was called ‘The 4 Words That Will Get Your Email Opened’ – a dilemma most PR professionals come across in their career.

After pinning the blog post on the Walls of just three different LinkedIn Groups, the blog readership skyrocketed from 212 readers to 736 readers in just 24 hours – a jump of 334%. Not only that, the blog viewership for this PR firm has remained consistent at about 200 hits every day thereafter. In addition, subscriptions to the blog grew by nearly 300%.

graph.jpg

As can be seen by the above graph this specific blog did not begin with a huge readership, but to get noticed, you don’t need a huge following.

Let’s look at the bare facts. This company spent nothing and tripled the amount of hits on their site from a single post on LinkedIn Groups.

graph4.jpg

The table above shows nothing grew the blog’s readership faster, or as organically, as LinkedIn Groups. According to the table, the blog article got as much as 29 times more views from LinkedIn Groups than from Facebook.

This response was enough to get the ball rolling on the PR-firm’s social media strategy, and the blog’s popular commentary helped cement the firm as a thought-leader in the industry. Moreover, another PR firm contacted them with a job opportunity that led to a monthly media monitoring contract.

Ca-ching! Free LinkedIn Groups marketing turns to profit.

Why do LinkedIn Groups work?

Killer content rules in social media circles and this is no different with LinkedIn Groups. If you blog content misses its target audience, or is not well written, it is unlikely to attract readers.

Using the above example on the PR firm, the majority of the content on their blog is about copywriting, social media and Public Relations. They targeted industry LinkedIn Groups that would be likely to read about these topics. In this example, the LinkedIn Groups they joined were ‘Copywriters Guild’, ‘Sydney Media People’ and ‘Public Relations and Communications Professionals’.

Each of these groups had over 250 members and unlike other social media, LinkedIn Groups sends a private email directly to these members whenever a new article/blog has been posted on the Groups community wall.

Essentially, putting your blog post on a LinkedIn Group wall is like direct mail marketing to a targeted audience, who are likely to click back to your site. All for free.

If you consistently post up new articles on the Linked Group wall, it’s as if the members of the LinkedIn Group are already subscribers to your blog.

Obviously, the more LinkedIn Groups you post on your blog to the greater chance of an improved readership. For example, say you post your blog on the walls of five LinkedIn Groups related to your industry, and each Group has around 500 members – essentially, you are targeting an audience of over 2,500 potential clients and connections – at no expense.

Just remember, there is a fine line between targeted promotion and spam. It is highly likely that same industry captains will be members of more than one group, which means they could potentially receive your blog post 3 or 4 times if you share it with too many Groups. For this reason, limit your blog post to the most important Groups: The ones with the most members or the highest level of comments and interactions.

The nuts and bolts – How do I make LinkedIn Groups work for me?

Step 1: Create a blog

Your blog’s purpose is to promote your business and/or your online profile, as well as to drive traffic to your website. If you are unsure if your website has a blog section in its Content Management System, speak to your web developer, they can help you get started.

In my experience, the more controversial or opinionated a blog post is – the more response you will get. However, don’t be rude, insulting or arrogant; after all, the intention of your blog is to sell your expertise, and you don’t want your opinions to come across as ‘rogue’ in the industry. Be professional about what you post, be informative and give some tangible advice.

If you find an edge in your business or in the industry, don’t be afraid to share it. Fellow members and bloggers in the industry will often thank you for it, share your discussion or even send you business – it happens!

Also, if you are a business, don’t make it obvious that you are selling something. This is spam. It is acceptable at most to put a single byline at the bottom of the post like:

“I would be interested to hear your thoughts on the topic, and if you are considering a personal loan, feel free to contact me.”

It is also fine to inject some humour or a funny photograph but keep it in tune with the professional character of LinkedIn and the group. You are talking to your industry peers, not your friends.

And again, be consistent. If you put up one or two posts a week, your face will become a familiar sight in the LinkedIn Group and will give your blog more exposure.

Step 2: Join LinkedIn

Sign up to LinkedIn. You can’t join a LinkedIn Group without a LinkedIn profile and signing up is easy and free. Just go to www.linkedin.com and follow the steps to create an account.

Once you have created an account complete your LinkedIn profile so that the bar on the top right-hand equals 100%. This may take some time as you will need to build connections, seek endorsements and put up a professional profile photo. Note, that some LinkedIn Groups won’t allow you to join their group if your profile is incomplete, so to increase your chances of being accepted into a Group, spend some time giving your profile some love.

Step 3: Join a LinkedIn Group

Once you have a LinkedIn profile, select the tab ‘Groups’ at the top of the page and in the search bar type your profession. For example, if you are in the financial broking industry and is selling personal loans, type keywords such as ‘Financial broker’, ‘Personal Loans’, ‘Financial Planning’ into the search bar. Different groups will appear such as ‘Finance Industry Professionals’, ‘Finance Broking Careers’, and ‘Women in Finance’.

Tip: To find Groups that are more local, type in your country or state or city in the search bar in addition to your profession.

Look for Groups with a strong following – anything above 500 members is fair game. Anything below that may be worth joining but is probably not considered the chief Group of that profession and, if you want to be noticed in the industry, you will need the biggest audience.

Moreover, check out the conversations taking place on the Group’s wall. Sign up if you see a lot of peers commenting in the Group – healthy conversation is a great form of networking.

Once you’ve found a Group, click the button ‘Join Group’. Don’t be discouraged if you are not accepted straight away, as many Group administrators want to check who you are before allowing you into their Group (hence the importance of a ‘complete’ LinkedIn profile). Spamming is an issue in LinkedIn Groups and Group administrators put up these checks in an attempt to keep it spam-free.

Step 4: Post your blog to the Group

Once you have been accepted to the Group, it is time join the conversation.

  1. Start a ‘Discussion’ or ‘Promotion’ by giving your blog a compelling headline. There are a number of ProBlogger articles that will teach you how to write the perfect hook for a blog headline, but one technique that I normally use to get results is to incorporate numbers and lists. Using a financial broking business as an example, some good titles to use would be ‘5 tips to paying off a personal loan faster’ or ‘4 smart ways to consolidate your personal debt’, ‘the cheats guide to loan applications’.
  2. Beneath the headline there is a section that asks you to add more details about your post. Fill this space with a quick synopsis of your blog post, e.g: ‘A recent survey revealed 64% of Australians take out a personal loan to buy a car. We all know that cars are a necessary, but bad investment. Check out these five savvy ways to pay off your personal loan in record time…’
  3. Lastly, ensure you post the link to your blog post where it says ‘Attach a link’, it will bring all LinkedIn traffic directly back to your blog.

In addition, Some Groups have strict rules on what you can and cannot post on a wall and when you post is also important. Some Groups like to use the ‘Discussions’ section, while other Groups prefer that you post in the ‘Promotions’ section. It is important to abide by the rules otherwise your post may be blocked by the administrator.

To illustrate this point, here is a message from the administrator of the ‘Australian Writers’ LinkedIn Group:

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And that is it.

Monitor your progress using Google Analytics or WordPress Stats and tailor and time your posts to how your audience responds. It is entirely free to use LinkedIn Groups and it’s an effective way to get traffic to your business site or grow your blogging profile. Good luck.

Fiona Hamann is the senior PR manager at Aussie. She is passionate about all facets of communications including PR, writing, editing, website content, new media, crisis and issues management and branding in the finance industry – home loans, personal loans, credit cards, and insurance.”300%

The Wave System: How to Get Your Facebook Page Updates Seen By More People

Did you just write a killer blog post? Or do you have an event/product to promote?

The Problem of Sharing Links on Facebook

If so, you probably rely, at least partially, on linking to your webpage through Facebook. But lately Facebook is showing outbound links to such a small percentage of your page followers, that it’s potentially detrimental to blogs and businesses alike.

Bloggers have it worst because even when people click on a link through a Facebook and decide to share a blog post, they don’t share or interact on the Facebook post–they do it directly from the blog. So the Facebook post gets no interaction and therefore Facebook views it as irrelevant. Before I developed the Wave System I’ll outline below, my outbound links were being seen by less than 10% of the followers on my page.

I’ve spent a lot of time and money to acquire the fans on my pages; but when I write a blog post or have a sale that my readers can benefit from, Facebook doesn’t allow me to tell anybody about it.

Sound familiar?

Within 20 minutes, any post with a link from your Facebook post falls so far down the feed, it’s rendered useless.

By this time, you should know that the more interaction you get on a post, the more people will see it. If you have figured out a way to get people to interact on your promotional posts, I’m all ears. I’ve tested on 10 different pages and still haven’t figured it out.

Since payment buttons, squeeze page, and blogs usually exist outside of Facebook, you need people to click a link—a link that Facebook doesn’t want to show them.

You’re then left with two bad options:

Bad Option #1 – You can continue to post sales material multiple times a day and preface it sheepishly with words like:

“hey guys,

In case you missed it earlier, just a reminder we’re having a big sale on our super premium widgets today.”

This way more people will see the ad, but it also means you’re no longer adding value to your followers and will probably get your page hidden.

Bad Option #2 – You can decide to pay for Facebook’s “pay to promote” feature. I like Facebook ads, but am I the only one who has noticed that it gets more and more expensive? It costs me $1,000 to promote a SINGLE POST to the followers on one of my pages.

I already run Facebook ads continuously, but $1,000 to promote a single post to my existing fans is almost never worth it–especially to promote a blog post and not product sale. And, for almost every Facebook page owner that runs a small business, it’s out of the question.

To put it bluntly, you’re screwed. All that time, money, and effort you spent building up a Facebook page has gone for naught. Facebook is evil right? Would you agree that they are greedy pigs that are systematically squashing small businesses?

I don’t…

Facebook is Forcing Marketers to Evolve

Facebook used to be a place where lazy marketers could get heard. All they had to do was put sales pitches in the feed and generated big email lists that turned into sales. But now I can’t log onto Facebook without seeing a marketer (or even the occasional social media expert) complaining that Facebook is evil and is making it impossible to succeed.

Make no mistake; Facebook is still the most powerful marketing medium on the planet. That is, of course, if you know how to use it.

I say this because, through a lot of experimentation, I’ve developed a system to select the posts I want Facebook to show to my audience for free. With a bit of planning, I’ve repeatedly gotten status updates with outbound links to my blog posts and event promotions to 50-75% of the users on my page. And no, I don’t do this by combining my links with cheap pictures, motivational quotes, or memes.

This article will teach you exactly how to trick Facebook into showing your blog posts and promotional status updates, which get little to no interaction themselves, to the majority of your users for free. In addition, I’ve included a bonus section at the bottom where I show you how to identify specific groups within your page and target them, also for free.

The First Step is Understanding EdgeRank

EdgeRank is the Facebook algorithm for determining relevance. While the specifics often change, the constant is that Facebook is trying to figure out who and what you want to listen to. It does this largely by tracking your interactions.

“Like” an update, click on a picture, watch a video, or share an article, and your affinity towards whoever shared that article goes up. (Note: This is obviously a very superficial overview about EdgeRank, but it’s enough to understand my system below.)

The Wave System – How to Manipulate EdgeRank and use it to Your Advantage

I’ve been experimenting on 10 different Facebook accounts for two years. Despite all of Facebooks changes, it has always worked and will always work in a predictable pattern.

I’ve used the Wave System to build multiple fan pages with 15,000+ members in a matter of months. Not only that, these are users who are avidly interested in my business and purchase my products.

I’ll be sharing one example of each different type of post I used in the example from the picture below. This was a promotion for a conference I’m holding. The result was that Facebook showed this post 78% of my fans for free. It did this because of the insane relevance I was able to build up in the days previous using my 4 step system below.

Ptdc seminar 1

It takes some planning on your part. Here are the 4 steps to the Wave System:

Step 1 - Collect what you predict will be a series of very viral photos. Whenever you come across something that you think will get a ton of interaction, put it in a special folder.

There are probably pages that already serve your demographic. Take a couple of hours and go through their archives. Download the viral memes or pictures that do the best on your competitors pages and put them in your folder—why start over when somebody else has already done the work for you? (Note, always give proper attribution to photos if you can. Most people don’t on Facebook, but don’t be a jerk like most people.)

Step 2 - The most viral pictures and status updates concern a controversial or often discussed subject pertaining to your industry or the perception of your industry.

Write the biggest public misconceptions about your industry. What is it that gets under your skin as a professional? Write that down.

Next, on that document, note the side of the controversy that your audience firmly sites on.

Below is a picture of an example I used to generate a lot of shares and likes leading up to my conference promotion. I know that trainers get frustrated when people say that they need to wait for everything to be perfect to start working out (because it never will be). So I posted a viral photo and added in a bit of a rant in the description for good measure.

Meme 1 pre launch

Step 3 - 2 days before you plan on putting out a promotional post start to publish 4-6 viral pictures or status updates that you expect get a ton of interaction. Pull them directly from your file in steps 1 and 2. Refer to my post called, “When is the Best Time to Post on Facebook?” to pinpoint, to the minute, the best times to publish these posts for your audience.

The more people that interact with these multiple posts the better. Continue to publish 4-6 times a day generating as many likes, comments, and shares as possible. The purpose is to generate as much relevancy from as many of your fans as possible towards your page.

The most effective status updates in terms of gaining relevancy are those that hit on a public misconception that affects your industry. It’s likely a source of common frustration and one that your audience will want to share to help education their friends and family by sharing the post. Below is an example I recently used.

Written statement

Step 4 - When it comes time to post your promotion, publish the post with your sale or call to action. For the next 2-3 days, wave in and out viral materials.

Your promotional post will not get much interaction. But, because you’ve build up so much relevancy the previous two days, Facebook will show automatically show your post to more people.

For the next 2-3 days, wave in and out promotional materials with viral posts. This way, Facebook will continue to show your promotional posts to a higher percentage of your page users.

How to Use Questions

One other option for increasing affinity to a large group of people is to ask questions that you expect to get a lot of interaction. I poll my audience for two distinct different reasons: information collection and relevance building. Allow me to give an overview of both.

Information Collection Questions – My Facebook page is my focus group. Often I’ll ask them questions like, “what topics do you want me to cover in the coming weeks?” or I might be doing one of my many experiments. For example, if you read my article linked above on the best time to post on Facebook, you’ll note that I did an experiment where I wanted to find out the most common times my following exercised. So I asked them, and hired administrative help to graph it for me.

Relevance Building - Getting a lot of comments on a status update is a fantastic way to increase relevancy to a number of followers on your page. Sometimes I’ll rile up my audience by choosing a controversial subject that affects them, arguing one side, and asking for their input. Below is an example (note that this was two days before I promoted my conference):

Question pre launch

Bonus Section – Using the Wave System to Pre-Select Your Audience

I was in a social media gathering last week and a good question came up. The question (paraphrased) was, “My Company offers different services that appeal to different types of people. Is it a problem to promote all of the services to my entire page or will that turn off the groups that aren’t interested in that one service?”

I’m in a similar situation here. My page for personal trainers promotes both nutrition and exercise products. I use the Wave System to manipulate EdgeRank to pre-select my audience.

The best way to illustrate this is with an example:

Let’s say I’m going to be promoting a nutrition program in 3 days time. I would start the wave system as per the steps above, but would only use viral photos that were nutrition based. This way, the people who were interested in nutrition would like and comment on those posts. The people who weren’t interested in nutrition would ignore them.

Then, when it comes time to put my first promotion up, the people who my content pre-selected would be shown the promotion and those who aren’t interested in nutrition wouldn’t.

It’s not perfect, but it works reasonably well.

Facebook is not evil, quite the opposite. Facebook is powerful and, if you understand how to use it, can be the most important marketing tool at your disposal.

Never forget though, the purpose of Facebook is not to collect fans; it’s to find your audience so that you can get them off of Facebook and onto an email list. Use the Wave System to get people to your squeeze pages and into your marketing funnel.

Jonathan Goodman is a 2X author and the creator of Viralnomics. He is currently offering free enrollment to his 20-day content creation course.

What Progress Have You Made on Pinterest? [Discussion]

This week has given us a chance to look at Pinterest from a few different angles.

If you’ve not had a chance to get into Pinterest, I hope that our Complete Guide to Pinterest got you inspired to set up an account and start pinning. If it didn’t, EcoKaren’s story of Pinterest success should have convinced you of the pulling power of the network.

Our look behind the scenes of Pinterest practice with Jade, my own Pinterest consultant, hopefully gave you a bit of insight into the ways you can learn more about the platform—or find someone who already does! Her expert advice on creating Pinterest Personas should help you take your first steps toward setting a Pinterest strategy for your blog.

Pinterest

Today, we’re interested to hear your stories. Have you already established a Pinterest account for your blog? If you  have, how’s it going? How are you managing it, and what kinds of results are you getting? Let us know of your successes—and the other stuff!—in the comments.

If you’re not yet in Pinterest, we’d love to hear why not. Is it that you don’t feel your audience uses the network, or is the problem time constraints—or something else entirely? Is there anyone among our readers who uses Pinterest personally, but not for their blog? I’d love to hear from you, too.

So let’s get talking. How’s Pinterest helping you as bloggers? Let’s hear about it!

ProBlogger Challenge: Create a Pinterest Persona

I struggled a lot when I first started managing the Pinterest account for Digital Photography School.

I knew that I wanted to focus on visual curation, and that I wanted to provide a comprehensive overview of techniques and tools. There were so many possible boards I could create and I didn’t know what was the best tactic or idea. Should I spin this topic off into a separate board? Should I avoid creating this board altogether?

Then I accidentally stumbled across the concept of a Pinterest persona. My partner and myself are amateur photographers and I found myself asking whether I would be interested in the content that I was pinning. If it didn’t seem relevant then I wouldn’t pin it. This saved me so much time when making decisions and has allowed the DPS brand to maintain a very consistent focus.

It’s what today’s Challenge is all about.

mannequins

Image by SebastianDooris, licensed under Creative Commons

What is a Pinterest persona?

A Pinterest persona is simply a description of the type of person you are targeting with your Pinterest account. This is very similar to the concept of a blog persona. The difference is that Pinterest users have a different level of savvy and you want different behaviour from different groups.

Darren has previously written about creating reader profiles/personas to help with your blogging and identified the many benefits:

  • It personalizes the blogging experience.
  • It informs my writing.
  • It identifies opportunities.
  • It can be helpful for recruiting advertisers.
  • It identifies ways to connect with your readership.
  • It will identify opportunities to monetize your blog.

I recommend that you check out that article and see the type of profiles he created for Digital Photography School readers. I adapted these for my Pinterest Personas, and you can adapt them for yours, too.

Your persona description should include information about:

  • how people discover your boards
  • why they repin certain types of pins
  • why they use Pinterest in general
  • what inspires them to leave comments
  • why they like a pin.

I recommend you wait at least a month after starting your Pinterest account before creating personas.

How can you create a persona?

What creating a pinning persona, ask what actions you want people to take when they visit your Pinterest account.

Read this article at the Social@Ogilvy blog. It helps you figure out how your users differ from your blog’s profile. The author recommends that you answer three key questions:

  • How does the person behave in social media?
  • Who influences the users in social media?
  • How will the users engage with the brand or branded content?

You can figure this out by monitoring the types of people that currently interact with your profile. You will notice different behaviours for different types of people. You can then create profiles based around these.

You may notice their needs are different than you thought they were. You may also notice that your Pinterest account isn’t currently meeting their needs. This is fine—it’s all part of the normal Pinterest learning curve.

Your challenge

Your challenge is to create two or three profiles based around the types of people that your Pinterest account is targeting. These won’t be set in stone—instead, they will evolve as you learn more about your followers.

Your next step is to evaluate your Pinterest account and see if you are meeting the needs of these types of people. Be objective. If you’re not serving all of them well, what can you do to better cater to your followers? What changes will you have to make to your Pinterest workflow to accommodate them?

Over to you

Do you have social personas to help you with your account? Are you having any trouble creating them? Let me know in the comments and I’ll see how I can help you.

How My Old Blog Post Got Half a Million Pinterest Views [Case Study]

There’s a lot of information on the web, including ProBlogger, on how to maximize Pinterest to get traffic to your site. Between tutorials on how to optimize Pinterest as part of your social media marketing strategy, Darren’s own experiment on Pinterest, how to create Pinterest-worthy graphics, and how to run a Pinterest contest, there are some great tips out there.

But I wanted to share my own personal experience on how an old post on ecokaren received almost half a million pageviews—50% of all-time page views on the post—just from Pinterest. Along the way, I’ll share some tips (and some of my biggest pet peeves) that you can use for better a Pinterest experience.

Crowd

Image by unknown photographer, licensed under Creative Commons

Ecokaren on Pinterest

Now this wildly pinned post from ecokaren—which received over 490,000 pageviews and was pinned more than 129,000 times—is about … how to wash a washing machine.

Woah, did you read that right? 129,000 pins and 490,000 pageviews?

Yup. You read that correctly.

And the post is about washing a washing machine?

Yup. Again, you read that correctly.

I was shocked too when this old post started receiving crazy traffic without my trying, never mind that it was from a newly un-shrinkwrapped social media site called Pinterest. One person’s pin of the post was repinned over 1400 times and has more than 300 likes. I should buy her a drink! Or maybe send her my homemade laundry detergent.

Now, the post was not your typical pin-worthy post. It had no huggable furry animals, no wise quotes, no cute babies nor scrumptious gourmet food. Nor did it have trendy ensemble suggestions for a fashionista or bare-chested Ryan Gosling wannabe.

Instead, it had a few small, individual photos of moldy interior of a washing machine and how it looked after it was washed. Not pretty at all, as you can see here.

clean front loader bottom

So how did a boring, three-year old post get pinned so many times, to the point that it now continuously brings traffic from Pinterest? How did I make pinning sexy? (No, sex has nothing to do with it.)

My top Pinterest tips

Here are my unwritten (now written!) rules on pinning and driving traffic to your site.

1. Be active on Pinterest every day

It’s a no-brainer, right? But it’s true. I pin or repin almost every day, even if it’s just one pin. It’s always better to pin original posts than just repin what others are pinning but either way, I’m active on Pinterest daily.

And when do I pin? The prime time for pinning is between 4 to 11pm US EST. I pin while waiting at the bus stop in the afternoon, waiting for my daughter. But I also pin early in the morning, while my coffee percolates. It’s a perfect way to spend time in the morning.

2. Don’t just pin your own stuff

The unspoken rule of pinning is similar to StumbledUpon. It’s better to high-five others than yourself. (Did you try high-fiving yourself? Yeah. Doesn’t work well.)

You don’t want to be bragging about your post or product all the time. If you compliment others by pinning and repining, pretty soon, others will do the same for you. Sure, you can pin your stuff once in a while but it’s always better to pin that of others.

My general rule of thumb of ratio is 1:6 in pinning my post to those of others. Again, this is not written in stone, but it’s my own unspoken rule. And remember, don’t ever violate Pinterest’s copyright rules when pinning. Just don’t go there.

Karen Lee's Pinterest social media icons

3. Install a Pinterest button with a counter

It’s obvious that you need a Pin it button on your posts. I use the Pin it extension or widget from my bookmark bar. But it’d be easy to have a Pin it button somewhere on your post too. Don’t make readers have to search for it. Make it easy for them.

To take it one step further, I like icons with counters. I was f-l-o-o-r-e-d when I saw “108k” on my Pin It icon on that washing machine post when its pinning frenzy started. That number will be over 127k by the time you read this. Your posts’ readers will see that number too, and they will be more inclined to pin it, seeing that it’s a wildly popular post.

Why? Readers feel validated when their views are in line with the popular majority. They want to share that feeling with their followers, and that makes them want to pin.

4. Engage your pinners and interact

Add nicely and thoughtfully constructed personal comments to pins. Not one word comments like “nice” or “

They don’t allow interactions. A real sentence or two will.

Also, reply to comments on your posts that have been pinned. I always check the comments people are leaving on posts of mine that have been pinned or repinned. I thank the original pinner and leave replies to other commenters too. Some people are shocked that “ecokaren” is “that personal” and actually came to comment. That always cracks me up. I feel like a total celebrity when I read comments like that.

5. Upload your blog logo

Load a generic blog badge or logo on your landing page, so that even if there is no image attached to your post, at least your logo or badge for your blog will be pulled up on Pinterest for people to use.

I loaded my logo into the sidebar so if there is some reason an image doesn’t load up for visitors to pin, at least they can use the blog’s logo. I see my badge on Pinterest once in a while, alongside comments like “Awesome site!”—and that makes me grin.

6. Teach people something

My all time record-breaking pinned/repinned post is about washing your front loading washing machine. Yes: a very sexy topic indeed!

But apparently, people had so much trouble with moldy-smelling front-loading, high-efficiency washing machines that they were pinning and sharing my post for “solving their problem.”

So even though the post was written three years ago and images are ugly, it finally got the attention it deserves—albeit late—and all because of Pinterest. All because the post taught readers something. It solved a problem.

How do I know that? I receive emails from housewives weekly, (I don’t mean to stereotype housewives but let’s face it folks, who does the laundry the most often in your house?) thanking me for the post.

I also created a Welcome page for email subscribers and about 75% of the signees are from the post. And in the comment section, they describe how I solved their front-loading washing machine mystery. I feel their warm hugs daily.

Karen Lee's GA image on Pinterest

Optimizing your post for Pinterest

Here are some clean stats for the post (as of January 21, 2013):

  • Publish date: June 2009
  • Total pageviews: 965,085
  • Pageviews from Pinterest: 489,014
  • Average time: 1:27
  • Bounce rate: 57.21%
  • Approx. number of pins: 127,000

And the post is getting more views as you read this.

So, it’s great that this little star of a post is getting oodles of eye balls. But what did I do optimize it?

As soon as I noticed the traffic, I made a few key changes to the post:

  • I added related links into the body of the post to other posts readers might be interested in, like how to make dryer balls out of orphaned socks, how to make homemade laundry detergent, how to clean your dishwasher, and more. And now, those posts are getting traction on Pinterst. I can tell you are fascinated by these topics too!
  • I added affiliate links to relevant products on my Amazon affiliate account. I’m not a millionaire yet, but it’s paying the bills.
  • I cleaned up the images. Okay, so the images are still not Darren’s quality but I cleaned up the images that were dingy and blurry looking. A moldy washing gasket is never that pretty but the older images were dark and less desirable for pinning.
  • I added text to the images to make them more pinnable and gain attention right away.
  • I added watermarks to images so that even if someone pins (or “steals”) the images, anyone who sees them will know where they came from.

If you want to get more exposure on Pinterest, some of these ideas might work for you, too.

Pinterest peeves

Finally, I wanted to highlight my biggest pet peeves about Pinterest. These are things I always avoid—as does any good citizen of Pinterest!

  • I abhor when people don’t give credit where credit is due on Pinterest. In other words, they steal your image and don’t link to your post. So I started watermarking all my images. And I check on Pinterest to make sure the images are linking back to my site occasionally. So far, I haven’t discovered my image being hijacked, but I have seen plenty of other pins that do not link to its original post. I think that is wrong!
  • I wish there was an easier way on Pinterest to see all the pins that others pinned from ecokaren. Currently, there is no way for me to search my URL or name on the site to see all the images or posts that are pinned. I still have to use Google Analytics for the stat. Not cool. I’m hoping that Pinterest will improve pinning visibility for blog owners before long.
  • There isn’t a fool-proof method of searching for Pinterest users. I tried to search for pinners and more often than not, they don’t appear in the search results. Again, I have better luck using Google. Something is wrong with that picture.
  • I wish there was an easier way to conduct contests. A Pinterest contest is one of the best social media campaigns you can do for your business or your blog. At Green Sisterhood (http://greensisterhood.com), we manage Pinterest contests for our clients and they require a lot of maintenance. A tool that finds boards and pins that have been repinned the most would be ideal. Again, let’s hope Pinterest adds functionality for this kind of thing soon.

Are you listening Pinterest? If you can make these four things happen, I’d love you even more!

Pinterest lessons

Solve people’s problems!

On Monday, Jamie highlighted the fact that attractive, inspirational content does well on Pinterest, and that’s true. You can put up pretty images or cute animals pictures and even life changing quotes with awesome graphics on the network.

But nothing—and I mean nothing—gets people’s attention like solving problems that they have been struggling with.

Ask yourself, “What would I want to pin and repin?” That’s the post that will get pinned the most.

Do you have a personal success story on Pinterest? What was the post about? Tell us about it in the comments.

Contributing author Karen Lee is a co-founder and managing partner of Green Sisterhood, a network of green women bloggers with aggregated monthly page views of over 2.5 million pageviews. We help companies to increase online branding awareness with content and social media marketing strategies, like Pinterest contests. Karen is also a founder and publisher of ecokaren where she writes about importance of washing your washing machine and on greening your life.

Do You Need a Pinterest Consultant? Interview with Jade Craven of dPS

Back when Pinterest was brand-spankin’-new, we heard the same cry from a lot of Problogger.net readers: “Not another social network! Who has time for all this?!”

Who indeed? Each social network is different, and they all require slightly different approaches and skills.

One potential solution for more than a few bloggers is to hire someone to help develop and implement a Pinterest strategy. But where do Pinterest experts even come from? What do they know that we don’t? Can they really deliver a return on the investment you’re making into Pinterest?

We thought we’d go behind the scenes with Darren’s own Pinterest specialist, Jade Craven, to find out what Pinterest consultants do, and how they can help bloggers.

Jade, we know you’ve been instrumental in helping Darren build a Pinterest following for dPS (check out the dPS Pinterest account here). But Pinterest’s pretty new. What were you doing before Pinterest hit the scene?

Jade Craven

Jade Craven, Pinterest Pro

I was just a normal person trying to make it in the blogosphere. I could only work part-time due to illness, so I was scraping by on whatever client work I could get. I’d spend the rest of my time learning as much as I could and doing little experiments.

I used to be a professional blogger. In operating in the marketing space and became disillusioned with some of the activities I saw. Now I tend to focus my research on the lifestyle- and women-orientated niches.

I also wrote the Bloggers to Watch list for Darren for four years and occasionally consulted with people on product launches. Basically, I was obsessed with word-of-mouth and curation, and was learning as much as I could about it.

And how did that work prepare you to work on Pinterest? What skills do you need to make the most of this network?

Well, I’ve been doing this for four years. It meant that I had developed very good research skills and intuition, especially around the subject of content curation.

Curating content is one of the most important things you can do as a blogger. There is just so much information out there and it is very easy to get overwhelmed.

This skill is vital when it comes to Pinterest. The only difference is that you are curating content over the long term via multiple boards, instead of curating content for a single blog post or page.

I also find that it can take a lot of research and experimenting to know what works for different demographics. Most of my research previously had focused on how ecommerce sites could use Pinterest. My overall strategy was based on a hunch, but the day-to-day decisions are based on specific research and case studies.

Right. So how did you land a job as a Pinterest consultant, when the network’s so new?

It was one of those cases of being in the right place in the right time. I was working for The Village Agency as a paid intern. My employer, Justine Bloome, asked me to focus on Pinterest. She is pretty savvy and had a hunch that it would take off.

She was speaking and writing about Pinterest at the time, so I had a couple of boards dedicated to Pinterest. I learned a lot while building those boards, to the point where I was spending around ten extra unpaid hours on Pinterest experimenting and learning about the platform. It was amazing to be trusted so much.

Then, late last year, Darren made the decision to put more effort into Pinterest for DPS. He put out a tweet asking for suggestions on what to do and Justine, who is a good friend of his, put my name forward. I sent over a quote, we quickly set up 20 boards as an experiment, and it exploded from there.

Basically, it was a case of and being willing to work unpaid in order to build up a desirable skillset and being in the right place at the right time. Only one of those elements was something I could control, which is why I believe that some bloggers should strategically work for free.

Great point! So can you tell us what it is that you spend your time doing as dPS’s Pinterest maven?

I have a very simple workflow. My goal is to curate all the relevant articles that may be useful to photographers. I spent my first four months pinning the archives from the top ten photography blogs. I’d do a lot of extra work on top of what I was getting paid to do, because I wanted us to have an account that was industry-leading.

Now this workflow has simplified to scheduling one pin for every hour from Monday to Friday. I follow the blogs in Google reader, and skim through the list of updates. I ignore those that are only relevant for a short period of time. If I see a number of articles on the same subject, I consider making a separate board on that topic.

The rest of my time is spent monitoring competitors’ boards and seeing if there is anything I can do to improve our strategy. I research new board ideas, especially ones that may be related to product launches. I created several new boards based on dPS’s latest portraits ebook.

Wow, there’s so much to it. Can we step back for a moment and ask you what you feel Pinterest has to offer bloggers? It’s easy to say, well, Pinterest uses images, and that’s what makes it different from other networks, but other social networks let you post images. What’s different about Pinterest?

It shows how skilled you are at visual curation. Most forms of curation involve information being spread all over the place. You may have a weekly round-up post, or an awesome Recommendations page.

People will have to look in many places for that information, but Pinterest allows you to collect it all in one place. It allows you to show how up to date with trends you are. The descriptions you add to pins allow you to add context—to talk about why you think the image you pinned is relevant.

Look at the account for Interiors Addict. I will go to the Pinterest account over the blog because it’s a lot easier for me to discover, curate and organize the images that she has pinned here than to wade through her blog archives.

At its core, Pinterest is all about social discovery. It’s about leveraging your social networks to discover new things. There is no conversation or networking—it’s pure entertainment. It’s like Youtube, only you have more inclination to create and buy stuff later.

So in that case, we’d expect that the basic focuses of a Pinterest strategy would be different from other social networks.

Yes, I’ve found that the focus is completely different. On most platforms, the focus is community building and engagement. On Pinterest it is all about curation and social discovery.

So are there particular niches or audiences that the network’s suited to?

It’s obviously suited to images that show the end result of a project. This is skewed towards activities that are traditionally associated with women—cooking, crafts, and so on. But it can equally apply to men if you focus on the right niches.

I’ve found that the DPS audience is 50/50 male/female in terms of who’s repining and engaging with the content.

If a user finds your blog through Pinterest, will they expect your blog to look gorgeous? These users are obviously visual people, so does a blogger need to finesse their blog design before launching a Pinterest strategy?

It isn’t expected that your blog needs to look gorgeous. However, if you are using Pinterest graphics then it is helpful if the blog design is consistent with the image style.

Look at the design of Alex Beadon’s blog. She has the same design elements in her header and sidebar. That kind of attention to detail and consistency is is one of the reasons I chose her as one of this year’s bloggers to watch.

Having said that, people expect to find what they want in the description of a pinned image. If it is link to a blog post, they want a quality blog post. They will expect the other images in that post to be of the same calibre, but primarily they are there for the content. With fashion, for example, they either want to be taken to the store or to a site that describes how to put the outfit together.

Design is, and will always be, an important part of the user experience. But it is more important that people find exactly what they expect when they click a link on Pinterest.

Well, what you’ve said here makes me wonder if Pinterest is a doable addition for the solo blogger who’s managing everything themselves. Can they get traction on the site? What tasks should they prioritize in building a Pinterest presence?

It is doable for the solo blogger. You don’t need to invest as much time into relationship marketing. It’s just basic curation.

The main thing these bloggers should prioritize is creating a persona that reflects the Pinterest users they want to attract. Create a rough document outlining who the target user is as a person, and what you want them to think and do when they visit your Pinterest page.

This can help you decide whether it’s worth investing in another social platform and how much time you should dedicate to it. Editor’s note: Jade will be telling us more about how to do this later in the week.

The second thing they should prioritize is making their brand page look pretty. Organize your boards and focus on choosing beautiful images as the cover. That is what is going to encourage people to stick around.

And in terms of everyday activity and interactivity, what are your favorite tools for working on Pinterest?

I have two favourite tools. I am struggling to find one affordable solution that does everything—Problogger readers may have an idea. At the moment I am using two tools: Pingraphy and PinLeague.

Pingraphy is the tool I use for scheduling. It’s not very intuitive but it is free and simple to use once you get the hang of it. I usually schedule the pins for the week in one or two sessions, so it doesn’t interfere with my other work.

Pinleague is an analytics solution. It is free up to a certain point, but is pretty comprehensive. It tells you about what boards are popular, what pins are popular, and who your brand advocates are. You can even see how much income Pinterest is generating for you after you integrate this tool with Google Analytics. It’s really useful to help you tweak your strategy.

I used to make decisions by manually observing changes over time but Pinleague makes it so much easier. It means I get to spend more time experimenting and researching instead of trying to figure everything out myself.

Wow, great advice. Thanks so much for your time, Jade. We really appreciate your insights.

Thanks for having me.

Keep an eye out for some inside advice from Jade on ProBlogger later in the week.