Hey bloggers do you want to use Google+ like the Pros?

Darren Rowse is one of the most famous Pro bloggers around and those of you who follow him know how good he is about teaching blogging as well as photography.  He has written a great blog post about how blogging pros use Google+ which provides 4 tactics:

  1. Cross promote an offering
  2. Day-in-the-life reportage
  3. Personal brand mini-blogging
  4. Close curation

You can read more about each in his post.  I wanted to add my own thoughts to these and point out that Google+ provides such a rich feature set in which you can get your message out.

Videos

For example, Darren talks about how Gary Vaynerchuck uses a lot fo videos and this is a very powerful way to get your message heard than just text alone or even with pictures and text.  Google+ allows you post links to YouTube videos or you can post a quick video that you record of yourself directly  from within Google+ and this is a feature I don’t see too many people using so far which is a shame.  This allows you to say what you want instead of typing in a whole bunch of text and I would encourage you to use this more and experiment and see what kind of engagement you get from these posts.

Personal Brand

This is another area that is often lost on people in that Google+ really offers you a chance to develop and promote your personal brand, or put simply what you are about.  There was uproar at the start when Google+ came out that it didn’t allow people to use their aliases as they had become known as on things like Twitter but really this about people getting to know you and the things you care about.  So when you post things ensure they are about those things that you care about and this will also allow people who are similar to you and have shared interests to find you and you can engage and interact.  Decide what it is you want to be known for and then use Google+ accordingly to back that up.  Of course your profile page should reflect this too so there is consistency in what you’re saying and what you’re posting.

Curation

It’s not easy to find time to write original articles and posts but to further strengthen your Personal Brand look to share things that are interesting to you and those who share your interests and passions.  Just like Darren mentions Gina Trapani you know the kinds of things you expect to read from Gina and if she is writing her own stuff, finding other stuff on Google+ to share or finding stuff out there on the internet to post into Google+ you know it’s going to be along the lines of her passions.  Do the same and become known as a good source of information (original or curated) for what you want to be known for.

There was much debate about whether Google+ replaces the need for blogging but I think they complement each other well.  Continue to write you blog posts on your platform and then use Google+ as a place to share that content and have discussions around the topics you’ve posted about.  This way you’ve got the best of both worlds that you are keeping your content safe while encouraging people to comment and discuss the topics.

What about you?  Have you got any additional ways that Darren and I have not covered that would be useful to Bloggers using Google+?

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Is your blog popular? Tell everyone about it!

This week I got a few Likes on my blog posts from Lesley Carter so I went to have a look at her blog. I enjoy travelling so the blog appealed to me and I’m so glad I checked it out because I found some impressive blog stats – almost 8,000 followers and over 290,000 hits in less than 6 months !!

One of the things that Lesley has on her blog which I recommend you also include if you’ve got a lot a good number of followers and/or get a lot of hits is to show these statistic off.  Here is how it’s displayed:

This is what is known as Social Proof.  It’s like when you go to a restaraunt and depending on how empty or full it is your decision to eat there or not is influenced.  The same goes for things in the online world where if you see these kinds of statistics you’re more likely to follow since so many other people are doing so and this has a snowball effect which is very effective. 

So my call to action to you is simple – if you have a good amount of followers and/or get a lot of hits then you should display this prominently and proudly as it will definately help influence others who visit your blog.

Leave a comment – please please please….you know you want to!

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – I think it’s harder these days to get people to engage and leave comments on blog posts.  Best practice recommendations include having at the end of your blog post a call to action which may include a request to leave a comment which is fine but what if your blog post is one where you want someone to go away and do something?  And really ending all of your blog posts with a line that invites them to leave a comment is going to make your blog posts boring so you want to have the freedom to end in different ways.

The standard text that is above the comment box in WordPress simply says Leave a reply.  Not exactly inspiring is it?  Well – you can actually change this and make it a bit more exciting and compelling for people to leave comments on your blog posts.  Maybe you want to use the line that this blog post is titled “Leave a comment – please please please….you know you want to!” but I think that may sound a little desperate and other than the people who might feel sorry for you I’m not sure it’s going to work.

I’ll let you decide what works best for your blog and your audience but I just wanted to share with you the fact that you can change this if you wanted and weren’t aware of it.  So how do you do it? Well from the Dashboard select the option for Settings which will then open up a page with a lot of different things you can alter and set.  Right down at the bottom of the page there is a section titled Comment Form and there it display the current uninspiring Leave a reply which you change.

So now my call to action – I challenge you to go and change your prompt to something more interesting and compelling.  Surely you can do better than my What do you think?

Tags, Tags, Tags and more Tags

In a previous post I talked specifically about how and why you should use Hashtags on Twitter to raise your visibility and get discovered by others – which is especially important if you don’t have too many followers.  This isn’t restricted to Twitter and in fact it holds true for any social media and blogging platform you use that has the capability to allow you to do this.

For example let’s take WordPress – when you create a post you have the option to add Tags to it and this works along the same lines as the Hashtags in Twitter that I mentioned.  Let’s say I have a blog post that I’ve tagged photography not only will people who visit my blog be able to find all my post tagged with photography but it will also allow anyone visiting the WordPress site to click on this tag on the Popular Tags page.  This will show all posts that have been tagged with this so again someone may discover your post and your blog as a result of that giving you more visibility than you would normally have.

Similarly you can add Hashtags just as you do on Twitter in Google+ posts and people can either do a search within Google+ to find posts that have this tag or they can click on the tag from an existing post and see all other posts with that tag.  I really saw the power of hashtags over the last week on an iPhone photo sharing app that I use called Instagram where I had been posting pictures I’d taken and sometimes didn’t tag them and if I did I’d just use one tag to describe the photo. A new follower who came across a photo of mine told me to “start tagging” and when I looked at her photos I saw a lot more tags than I’d been using.  As soon as I did this the amount of new people who were now discovering my photos, leaving comments and following me increased dramatically.

So if you want to increase your visibility on blogs, social media and even apps look out for opportunities to add tags and I will leave you with the advice that I got that worked well “start tagging!”.

Why should I bother to comment on someone else’s blog?

I’ve read a lot of stuff over on Google+ from bloggers who are finding that when they post content there that the interaction levels are far higher than they ever achieve on their traditional blogs.  Some have even gone as far as abandoning their blogs altogether in favour of posting purely to Google+ as a result of that and you know Good Luck to them.  For some people this makes a lot of sense as it’s not the traffic they’re interested in per se but it’s the interaction and discussions their posts are generating and it works for them then that’s wonderful.

I can see why they’d take this option because since the arrival of things like Twitter, Facebook etc the discussions have moved off the blog posts themselves and are happening more on these social networks.  How many of you have posted something and instead of getting comments on the blog post itself people have replied to the tweet you posted publicising the post.  It can be tough getting people to comment on your blog posts but we also need to look at ourselves and examine whether we too are commenting on other people’s posts or not.

In addition to being a good fellow blogger by leaving comments on other people’s blogs there are benefits that you can gain:

    1. When you leave a comment on someone else’s blogs if you enter your blog address in the URL field this provides a link from your comment back to that blog.  So this raises the chances of someone discovering you and your blog from your comment.
    2. Leaving thoughtful contributions and joining in the discussion can help you demonstrate you know what you’re talking about and build up your credibility.  People may then be tempted to find out more about you and look at your blog or find you on the other social networks.
    3. By leaving comments on other people’s blogs you encourage them to also leave comments on your blog posts.  If you don’t fancy leaving a comment you could also click the Like button on their post (if they have included this) which on WordPress shows a picture of you and also they get an email notifying them that you liked a post and encouraging them to return the favour.

There is a lot of good content being produced out there by some very knowledgeable and talented people – much more than we can ever hope to consume.  Let’s all help each other out and leave comments sharing your opinion on a topic or leaving some appreciation to the blogger for their post.  It’s a win-win situation since you potentially gain from leaving comments too.  What do you think – can we get this whole blog commenting thing going again?

Making it easy for others to share your content

Following on from my Sharing is Caring post I wanted to flip this around to talk about how you can make it easier for others to share your blog content.  I have a theory that these days we’re all suffering from short attention spans and we want to be able to do the things we want quickly and easily – or in other words we’ve all become rather lazy!  So even though it doesn’t take too much effort on people’s part to copy a link from a blog post and then share this by pasting it into a tweet or Facebook update or Google+ post people just don’t bother.  So it’s important that on your blog you include ways they can help share your content by simple click or two and blogging platforms like WordPress give you the ability to add these in very easily.

What you need to be aware of is that not all of the Blog themes you select will have this option so when you’re choosing a blog theme or thinking of changing your existing one to a new one pay close attention to this.  in WordPress look under Settings>Sharing and it will give you a whole page of options to settings and the following is what you’re looking for are the options you want to provide like this:

Once you have chosen the services you want to give to your readers to share your content you will see them displayed at the bottom of your blog posts just above where they have the opportunity to leave a comment:

The additional benefit you get also, which you can see from above, is that when anyone shares your content it using the services you get a count. So as in the above example you can see that 3 people have tweeted the blog post and this can also help encourage others to share your content if they can see this kind of information.  The key thing is that you’ve given them nice easy ways to do this and provided them with a choice of a few ways to do this so they can select the appropriate services that they want to share this with.

Go check your blog – have you provided people an easy way to share your content?  If not does your blogging platform and/or theme give you the ability to do this?  If not then I would recommend you find a way to enable this for your blog posts which may be as simple as choosing a new theme.  As always – feel free to share this blog post using the sharing buttons below!

Post your content while you sleep

The blog title is not really what this post is about…but it could be.  The internet has made the world a smaller place and I think most people don’t even blink at the thought that the people they are interacting with online are thousands of miles away, from different cultures and backgrounds etc.  They have shared interests and so all these differences do not matter and it all just works…generally.

However there is a small problem that you may need to consider when you’re posting links to your content, e.g. blog posts. What if the people who consume your content are in a timezone that is several hours different to yours meaning that if you post something in the UK say at 9am people on the East Coast of the USA would still be in bed as it would only be 4am there? You could wait until a bit later in the day to find a time when both timezones overlap and post at that time but maybe that is convenient for you for whatever reason.

Well there is a simple feature which not everyone is familiar with on WordPress (and I am sure in other blogging platforms) which allows you to set the exact date and time you want to publish your post. It’s available in the Publish section and it hidden away behind the Edit button next to where it says ‘Publish Immediately’.  When you click on the Edit button it gives you the option to schedule the date and time you want to publish.  So if you have your other social media programs linked to automatically post your content when you publish this would allow those to happen at at time which is right for your followers and this could well be at 3:30am for you when you should be fast asleep but that could be the optimal time when you followers are consuming content.

This is also very useful to schedule the publication of several posts if you don’t want to publish them all immediately after they have been written.  So you may write a week or month’s worth of blog posts and want them to be published individually at set intervals – let’s say every other day – you can set the date and time of exactly when you want this to occur so again they are happening when you want them to happen. How cool is that!

When the best time for you to publish your blog posts will require some trial-and-error. Take a look at which timezones the people who are following your blog and commenting are and see if by publishing at times that are more convenient to them makes things better and gets you more followers.  Do take the time to look at your Blog stats to see at what times your blog is being read. You may need to share links to your content at various different times since no single time slot is going to work for everyone and I will show you how to do this in another post.

Go check it out – you don’t need to write blog posts everyday and publish immediately.  Take some time to plan things out based on what works best for your followers.  This post was published the day after it was written.