Six Ideas for Getting More Eyeballs on Your Blog

Image There are millions of blogs out there – more than 120 million on just Wordpress and Tumblr platforms – with this much content circulating cyberspace, getting your’s discovered is not a simple feat. A solid content-promotion strategy is just as important as the quality of the blog content itself. Luckily, there are a lot of ways to promote your blog and build your audience. Here are six ideas from me. Leave us a comment with the tips that work for you.

1. Make it easy for readers to come back. This may seem obvious, but if you want people to come back and read your next post, include an easy way for them to be notified when you publish. In blog platforms like Blogger, Wordpress and Tumblr you can easily add widgets for Real Simple Syndication (RSS) feeds or “subscribe to this blog” options. Also, readers who enjoy your content are likely to be connected to others who may like your content, so include social sharing options so that readers can tweet, like, + or even pin your post without having to leave the page.

2. Use keywords in your posts so that people searching for the topic you write about are more likely to find you through search engines. Search engines love blogs for their fresh content and drive the majority of traffic to blogs. In fact, many companies start their blog strictly for the purpose of search engine optimization and traffic that this can drive to the site. Don’t go crazy with keywords though. If it reads like you are writing for a search engine, your reader will probably lose patience and leave.

3. Call attention to like minded bloggers to expand your readership. This can be as simple as creating a blog roll on your site that lists links to similar blogs and influencers in your field. In the AEC world this could be blogs that inspire and inform you as well as those of your clients, your subconsultants, industry allies or even other blogs that support the same causes as you do. If you can help drive traffic to these blogs, they are more likely to promote yours. If these blogs influence you in some way, give them credit by writing about them. A feature story or even a guest post from someone you’ve done business with is likely something that they will want to promote through their own social media channels. This opens your blog up to their network of readers. Don’t know any AEC blogs? Here’s a list of influential blogs from this week’s AEC Social Media Twitter chat (#AECSM Tuesday 1pm PST).

4. Participate in other forums with a similar audience. Look for other blogs, publications, LinkedIn and Facebook groups that target the same demographic as you do. Spend some time reading these and when you have something to add or a question for the author, leave a thoughtful comment. You can also include a link to one of your blog posts when it is relevant to the topic, but be careful not to be overly self-promotional. No one likes to be spammed. Participating in other forums and contributing useful information and knowledge helps to build your reputation around the subject at hand and provides visibility for your firm and brand. If you leave a compelling, interesting comment in one of these forums, other visitors may be curious about you. Remember that the social web is a very connected space, so make sure your profile on each of these networks is up to date and includes a link back to your blog.

5. Approach the blogger, editor or community leader about writing a post for their publication or ask if they would reblog a post you’ve already written. All bloggers are hungry for good content, so if you have an essay or a point of view that is in line with their blog’s purpose they may just take you up on the offer. Not only are these opportunities good content for your social media channels, they help you gain exposure within the industry and a credible introduction to a new community.  Don’t forget to include a link to your blog in your byline.

6. Tap into a blogging community. Many companies develop their own proprietary blog. The “pros” of a customized blog is consistent branding and style with the firm’s website. The “cons” of having a customized blog is that you don’t have access to the sophisticated platform that these companies have created and are continually updating. I’ve watched clients with beautiful custom blogs get frustrated when each little tweak requires a whole new change order and days or even weeks of programmers’ time just to add a simple function. The Wordpresses and Tumblers of the social web give this to you for free. Your proprietary blog won’t be a part of a community of bloggers and you won’t have the advantages that these networks provide. On Wordpress, each time I post I’m informed of a handful of similar new posts that I may be interested in – and I often am interested in these. The community of bloggers can help you activate your blog with dialog. After all, only a very small percentage of internet users are actually content producers and content producers are the ones who are more likely to leave comments or ask questions. These blog networks are serving you up a community of very active and very vocal contributors. Seek out blogs of interest within your platform, follow them and follow back the blogger that follow you. Reciprocity goes a long way.

What do you think? Are there other tactics that work for you?


HMC Architects' Social Media Story Telling

HMC Architects' Social Media Timeline As with any learned skill, story telling on social media takes practice. When we started working with HMC Architects in June 2010, they had already established themselves as one of the top architecture firms to follow on Twitter. From the start, they used Twitter to connect with and share knowledge and resources with others in the AEC industry and this approach continues to serve them well.

However, the firm's blog was simply an extension of their newsroom -- predominantly announcements of new projects, press coverage, new hires and promotions. In July 2010, the firm started creating content that told the stories of its work and its professionals largely by interacting with employees behind its firewall through an internal blog to mine for stories that readers might find interesting on their external blog.

Over time, HMC was able to learn from the blog and Facebook posts that prompted people to respond and share.

We created this timeline of HMC's social media path to illustrate the many lessons they learned over the years of consistently publishing content and ideas and closely monitoring what worked and didn't in terms of engaging their readers. Social media requires an ongoing process of trial and error. Even though their storytelling has matured and is effectively engaging readers, HMC continues to try new things.

There are lessons here for anyone starting or evaluating their social media program, perhaps, the most important message is that social media success takes time and consistent posting to understand what your fans and followers want.

What are some of the events that have shaped your social media strategy?

A large format version of this timeline is currently on display in the "Presenting Architecture" exhibit at the American Institute of Architecture San Francisco Chapter.

Fueling Social Media through Internal Communications

This article was originally posted on the Knowledge Architecture Blog. It’s not uncommon for architecture and engineering firms to assign the goal of “creating a social media presence” to the marketing or communications departments and expect to see great results. When social media is all about sharing and presenting an authentic voice, a centralized approach for an intellectual and technical crowd could be looked at as an obstacle. But, you have to engage. Luckily, you are sitting on a wealth of ideas, knowledge and sources — you only need to look inside your firm. Here are seven internal communications tips to tune up what will be the engine of your external social media program.

1. Find a multi-directional communications tool to use internally.

If your firm uses an internal blog, SharePoint, or other internal social tools, your foundation is already in place. If not, talk to your IT staff about setting up a WordPress or similar free-blog tool behind your firewall. These tools let you post messages and queries to employees and interact with those who comment. Ideally, these tools should allow other employees to initiate conversations and ask questions too. It’s important for this to be a democratic space because, equally important to your role as content contributor; you’ll also need to be an active listener.

2. Survey your staff.

Some of these internal social tools will have a survey function built in. If yours doesn’t, tools like Survey Monkey make it really easy (and free if you keep it short) to survey and monitor results quickly. Get a sense for how many employees have accounts on the primary social networks like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter and how often they use these. Is anyone blogging regularly? How do they use these networks?

This information can not only help you identify colleagues who are interested in, or even knowledgeable about, social media (perhaps they could be the initial members of an internal social media community), but these statistics could also be a valuable benchmark for future surveys or data to track your success.

Report the findings and your assessment back to employees and ask for their analysis of the results.

3. Advertise your social media efforts.

Tell everyone about the firm’s new accounts. Ask them to “like”, “follow”, subscribe or join the company pages and accounts – and ask them to refer their industry friends/contacts to the accounts as well.

Make your program objectives clear and include information on how they can participate. (These could be informal or formalized guidelines). Use other internal vehicles, like printed posters hung in common areas or an email blast to promote awareness of the social media program and invite them to participate in the “behind the scenes” efforts that go into creating external marketing content.

Publish hyperlinked headlines and subheads of new external blog posts internally to encourage people to read, comment and forward on blog posts. Share external social media accomplishments with the group. Pass along complements to your contributors through these visible internal channels “Jane Doe’s opinion blog post was picked up by three widely read blogs, drew six thoughtful comments and we saw a 66% spike in blog traffic.”

4. Ask for input.

Let staff know what topics you are researching for future external blog posts and ask your readers specific questions to help you develop these, i.e. “Does anyone know a source for this type of research?” or “Have we used this technology on any of our projects?” You could also make an editorial calendar that sets some preliminary dates for when you’ll be blogging on a particular topic and allows staff to submit projects or ideas to you in advance.

5. Find the low-hanging fruit.

Keep your eyes and ears open for internal mentions of material that could be repurposed. This could be presentations that have been given at events or conferences, articles or whitepapers that an employee has written, general research that was conducted for a project or even popular internal conversation threads. With a little work these can be broken down into singular ideas and repurposed as blog posts, or cleaned up and made available on iTunes or the firm’s YouTube channel and then promoted through Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn.

6. Identify knowledge centers and groups.

In most firms’ intranets, subgroups are popular activity centers. Collectively these can be a wealth of information and ideas. These very focused units can bring a diversity of scale to your social media content. Big lofty idea posts are great for showcasing big picture visions, but a smattering of focused stories, like how a 3-D visualization helped community members understand and support the proposal for a new development, can show the care taken at each phase of a project.

7. Reach out to active voices.

Take stock in the people who are most comfortable engaging internally and the topics they gravitate toward. These could be subject-matter experts with knowledge to share or simply people who are comfortable sharing feedback and extending conversations in social forums. Contact these people individually to consider ways they could be helpful outside the firewall as well. Encourage them to contribute a blog post, submit a comment, man the Twitter account or even just forward interesting data and articles that are worthy of tweeting or posting.

There is a component of ego in the design professions. Tap into this by aiming the spotlight on individuals or their work can pay off in their loyalty and interest in helping you the next time around.

After all, the culture of social media is about engaging and sharing. It only makes sense to start with your own community of employees. By leveraging internal communications tools to grow your network of resources and ideas, the social media program you create makes the most of the ambitious and authentic personalities within.