If You Build It, Will They Come? (Part 4 on Blogging)
If you decide to start a blog for yourself or your organization, part of your strategy should include blog promotion. How and where you promote your blog are key elements in engaging your readers to comment, subscribe, and share your messages.
To learn more about blog marketing and promotion, we continue our conversation this week with Paul Twitchell from AIDS Action Committee’s blogExit Disclaimer and Dr. David Wessner, Professor at Davidson College, of The AIDS Pandemic blogExit Disclaimer. We’re also joined by James Daugherty, author of the HIV and AIDS News blog, and we’ll share our own blog promotion experiences at HIV.gov.
Creating meaningful and relevant content is one of the most important ways to get people to read and subscribe to your blog. Everyone we spoke to commented on the importance of being authentic. As James told us, “My best advice would be to blog about what you want,” he said. At HIV.gov, we strive to create relevant content by consistently checking in with our readers, monitoring their comments and feedback, and responding with meaningful material. Our readers told us they wanted to hear more HIV/AIDS-specific new media examples. We responded by including this perspective in every post.
Make Sure People Can Find your Blog
Here are some recommendations from our colleagues and the HIV.gov blog team on how to make your blog visible:
- Promote your blog on your organization’s website with a prominent link to the blog.
- Include your blog URL in all print materials. (It may be worth using a dedicated postcard mailing or handout to promote your blog launch.)
- If you have a newsletter (online or off), announce the blog launch in your newsletter and then include a blurb about it with the blog URL in every subsequent issue.
- Mention your blog during interviews.
- Share the URL with your peers in other organizations and invite them to let their audiences know about it.
- Identify established bloggers with an affinity for your subject matter, and invite them to write about and link to your blog. (If appropriate, you might also invite them to guest post on your blog.)
- Offer readers a way to subscribe to your blog by e-mail or an RSS feed.
“We also use some traditional search engine optimization (SEO)Exit Disclaimer techniques to make sure we are showing up where we want to,” said Paul. SEO is a process that helps improve your website’s ranking on search engines, such as Google and Yahoo! Our own SEO efforts include using Google AdWordsExit Disclaimer , using keywords (we’ll write more about this in a future post). James evaluates the success of his marketing efforts by checking where he ranks on Google (right now, his blog is the third Google result for blogs with HIV news).
Google results are not important for every blogger. Because David Wessner’s AIDS Pandemic blog and podcasts are primarily course projects, he’s not as concerned with promoting them. “I encourage my students to tell their friends about the blog. I’ve talked about it at conferences, within the context of using blogs in the classroom. It’s been fun to see The AIDS Pandemic get mentioned by a few different groups (like HIV.gov), but obtaining a large number of subscribers has not been one of my goals.”
Part of promoting a blog is making sure it is accessible to everyone. If your organization’s policy allows, and has the infrastructure to moderate them, we recommend that you enable comments.
When we asked Paul how AAC promotes their blog, he told us they used traditional marketing methods when they first launched it. “We issued a press release and we featured links to recent posts prominently on our homepage.” Since then, they have developed relationships with other AIDS-related blogs and occasionally cross-post on their blogs--so their promotion has moved online.
It is also important to become an active participant in the blogosphere. The HIV.gov team contacts all the people who are mentioned on this blog and encourages them to leave a comment. We join the conversation by developing relationships with others who blog about new media and/or HIV/AIDS.
Conferences are another way to share information about your blog. For example, in a few weeks, we’ll be presenting about our blog at the CDC’s National Conference on Health Communication, Marketing, and Media.
We continue to learn from our colleagues, like Paul, James, David, and YOU. And when it comes to promotion, we are inspired by posts like Problogger’s If You Were Starting Out in Blogging from Scratch - How Would You Promote Your Blog?Exit Disclaimer and Chris Brogan’s Growing Your Audience - Some BasicsExit Disclaimer. In addition, search-this.comExit Disclaimer has a helpful series of four articles that cover various aspects of how to promote your blog.
Do you have your own blog promotion tips? Or advice for bloggers? Leave us a comment to let us know!
Next week we’ll be writing from AIDS 2008--XVII International AIDS ConferenceExit Disclaimer in Mexico City and we’ll be Twittering from there. To find and follow us on Twitter, visit: twitter.com/AIDSbooth