Content Promotion for Busy Business People.July 8, 2015
I know, creating content is already hard enough, but when you add promoting that content to the brief, and many give up from the start. They publish only occasionally and do not spread the word about it.
How can you make your content appear on the radar without spending hours per week on promotion?
Also: How do you promote without shouting “click here!” all the time?
You are not Seth Godin or Neil Patel
First off there are basically two ways to promote content by working smarter not harder. Automation and humanization. Sadly you have choose only one of them. Why? They contradict each other. When you read mainstream marketing blogs you will be inundated with advice on how to automate social media sharing.
Scheduling and cross-posting messages on different social media sites is quite often offputting though. You can only do it when you already have a large and faithful audience. In case your name is not Seth Godin or Neil Patel you can’t do it in most cases.
Guess what happens when I notice that a particular account is largely or completely automated? I stop talking to it. Imagine it in real life: would you talk to an answering machine or mailbox each and every time when you never get a proper response by a human being? No, after the third time most people will lose patience I guess.
I don’t stalk influencers or brands on social media.
I may be an exception but I even like to be able to reply to your newsletter mails. I can do it when Brian Dean writes to me but not with most independent musicians who put me on their list.
I downloaded their free album so they started to send me updates from Google-like do-not-reply addresses. I unsubscribed after failing to send feedback on the sometimes even broken mails I received. It happened three times with three different artists.
Dear Buffer, how are you today?
Just like in the early years when seemingly everybody in marketing attempted to flood social media with their self-submissions nowadays most marketers automate their social media activity using tools like Buffer.
I reply to your Buffer a few times by accident but then I will sooner or later notice and stop talking to you.
I may be a rather advanced user of social media you might argue. Average people won’t even notice which tool you use to share content on social media. True, they will usually notice that you aren’t very responsive though. Even non-geeky people are not stupid. They don’t like talking to walls either unless they are some kind of lunatic.
Hello, is it me you’re looking for?
It’s called social media for a reason. No, it’s not selfish media. People want to actively socialize with you. No, they don’t want to chat about your breakfast unless you’re a foodie but instead they want you to respond when they ask you something. It’s as simple as answering the “social media phone” as some pundits put it.
Luckily unlike a phone social media does not always need instant reactions. You can listen and monitor throughout the day and respond in batch. Most of us should be glad to be able to have something to respond to in the first place.
How to humanize your social media activity
OK, now that we know that automation is evil or at least ostracizes people we can focus on the real thing: being friendly in person. Didn’t we want to save time instead of practising social networking all day! Yes, true. Like mentioned above you can respond in batch to those who have mentioned you.
Of course you need people first who would respond to you. Nobody talks to strangers. It’s important to introduce yourself first. What’s the best introduction on social media? It’s a present. Bring flowers. In social media terms you can share other people’s content first.
Yeah, but isn’t that time consuming too? yet it is. You can streamline that too. Collect the posts that mattered last week and share them throughout this week. You can use free tools like
Just peruse the popular posts and take those that mattered to you and your preferred audience and plan how to share them throughout the week. Yes, you could automate that but then again you would lose potential friends. Instead you can select five to fifteen posts that matter to you and share them throughout the days.
Just share the posts you planned on Monday during the evenings when you reply to messages in batch.
Ideally start with the content you share (curate!) so that you are still around when people respond. React to the updates people have posted throughout the day. Then answer your mails or phone calls or whatever and then recheck whether some new social media interaction ensued.
Personally I schedule half an hour in the morning for SMO that is using social media for business and then in the evening I reply to the messages that ensued. I do it every day but on Mondays I spend longer on the content curation part. Sometimes I look up Twitter or Google+ in-between tasks as well, as a diversion.
Organic social media approach
Personally I practice a moderate form of the inbox zero type of approach where I spend half an hour or more each evening to respond to my messages, including those from social media and phone.
I don’t treat people differently just because they used a different tool to contact me. Yes, social media messages are probably less formal or even important in some cases but in the long run you can’t be antisocial and only respond to current clients or people who reach out to you by phone or mail.
Weak social media links (connections not hyperlinks) are often the most important ones when it comes to promotion on social media sites. The idea is that once you share others people’s work they will notice you as well. Some of them will check out your shares or onsite content and a few of them will even share something as well and/or follow you in future.
This is a very organic approach that works in reality but takes a while to unfold. Most marketers are in a hurry and do not want to invest time and effort. To speed up the process you can actually use Twitter lists to remember and highlight all those people who actually engage with you. I have done that in the past with private lists but decided to create a public list instead called engagers.
Engaging with the engagers
The engagers list features the few good people who really listen and respond to me on Twitter. There are many broadcasters in the marketing sphere, that is people or companies that use social media like radio or TV back in the days: just telling the world about what they want the world to know but never responding. Like mentioned earlier the rise of social media automation also leads to a growing noise level.
People who automate usually repeat a lot and share while they are are offline so that they won’t respond to your feedback. Automators usually won’t be around when you share your or third party content either. When you have no time to promote yourself so that you automate it you most probably won’t promote other people either. These non-responsive people use social media selfishly.
And it doesn’t make sense to follow them until their content is so unique and valuable that you want to. Again in case of Seth Godin you may follow him for the unique insights although you know that he will never even notice you because he’s simply not there.
Then there are the lurkers. They usually make up 90 or more % of any platform’s user base. What do they do? Nothing! In the best case they listen and never reply but in most cases they just started using a social media service once to rarely or never return. Ignore them like they ignore you. Sadly you can’t save lurkers.
I tried to convert lurkers to active users for a few weeks. I addressed them personally. I thanked them for following me. I asked them questions. Nothing helped. They do not want to engage.
When they follow you it’s their only action. They are downright rude by not responding but again, they are probably not even there anymore. They just followed you accidentally or because the site suggested you.
Showing love for those who care
When you can forget the
the few good ones left are the engagers. In recent weeks I have focused all my attention on them. I collected the few dozens of people who responded to my social media activity on Twitter. I will do the same thing on Google+ using circles. I just hope they don’t discontinue the feature before I can do it.
I had a secret best friends list on Twitter for ages and I always checked these people’s updates first but over the years many of them turned irrelevant to me or stopped being friends, just like in real life. So checking out their offtopic tweets just because we were close 5 years ago appeared to be counterproductive to me now.
That’s one of the best things of the engagers list. It’s public. No nepotism behind closed doors.
You can engage with the people and companies I have identified as active engagers already. They are very cool people in most cases: I’d like to highlight some of them here. I will write more in detail about the engagers in future. As of July 2nd, 2015 I have only 39 engagers on my list. Consider that I follow over 1.000 accounts in total!
I’m still testing but I can already recommend you some people who care:
Gab, as I like to call her (I’m not even sure I’M allowed but she never slapped me) was one of the few people who stayed on my best friends list for several years while remaining relevant an ontopic. She has at least three Twitter accounts she actively uses and is very supportive.
Ed is one of the few leading agency types who get social media right. He is actively curating news and evergreen resources and likely to share your content when it rocks. He’s also responsive and likely to give positive feedback.
Dan is the anti-automator who takes a stand by not automating social media at all. He’s even written a post on it: that’s even better than me. I tried automating here and there, mostly to no avail or mixed results. He’s also the opposite of noisy but when he shares something it usually matters.
Paul has a long history of being a connector. He will think of you when a topic matters to you or when a client needs your services. He already sent me interesting articles, warnings and at least one client my way.
Ashley is en excellent blogger. He also excels at personal (not public) relations. A few weeks back we chatted on Skype for at least half an hour and exchanged anecdotes of the secret life of business bloggers. He uses some automation but he also seems to be around a lot and he will talk to you.
Stellan is a prolific curator who will digest the huge onslaught of industry news from search, marketing and adjacent disciplines to serve only the news that matter. I always try to view most of his tweets to get a quick overview of what’s going on. He’s very attentive and will notify you of errors on your site.
Jeremy has been stalking me all over the place for a few years. He just can’t stop adding useful comments and sharing valuable insights. Whenever he starts a debate below you post you can rest assured that it will be a worthwhile addition. He’s been with Raven Tools for years but now is an independent consultant.
The linkaratis is a whole team of bloggers from the Page One Power Agency. They have been reaching out to me years ago already and we’ve built a successful business relationship ever since. I’d need to include at least three name from the team here, so I’d rather feature the whole linkarati account. They also engage during their #linkaratichat.
* The content promotion image has been provided by the illustrators of Freepik.com