Content Saturation

Great Twitter thread by Moz founder Rand Fishkin:

Yes, there’s more content on the web than ever before. The barrier to entry is virtually nonexistent these days, which has naturally led to increased competition.

But the reality is that the vast majority of content is mediocre at best.

“Content saturation” is not inherently a bad thing for marketers. It actually presents a massive opportunity for those willing to put forth the effort to create deep, uniquely valuable content that exceeds expectations.

A Unique Way To Pre-Launch A Blog

Someone on Quora asked, Should I promote my blog already? This is my answer:

Since you mentioned Facebook ads, I’ll assume you have a bit of money to work with. Here’s a contrarian idea that I highly recommend: don’t launch your blog until you hit a target number of email subscribers.

I know what you’re thinking. How do I get email subscribers before I launch my blog?!

It’s doable, and it could save you the trouble of spending months or years writing a blog that no one is reading.

Here’s what I recommend:

  1. Determine the number of subscribers you’d like to have by launch day. It could be 100, 500, 1,000, whatever—it’s up to you.
  2. Create some kind of extremely valuable “lead magnet.” It could be a short ebook, a case study, a list of tools, a video course, etc. Put this free resource behind a landing page where people have to enter their email address to see it. Remember: this will be everyone’s first impression of you, so make sure it’s good.*
  3. Promote that landing page to your target audience using Facebook ads. Test and tweak your ads to maximize your conversion rate. Test your landing page too.
  4. Once you hit your subscriber target, launch the site. Send an email to your list and let everyone know it’s up.

Boom: You’ve just launched a blog, and you have readers who care what you have to say from day one.

*It’s important to note that this strategy only works if the content of your free resource is excellent. If you make people sign up for garbage, they will expect nothing but garbage from you in the future—and your blog will not go far. But if you offer people massive value for free, they will trust you and look forward to what else you have to offer.

How You Can Use Reddit To Drive Massive Traffic To Your Site

Over the years, I’ve found Reddit to be one of the most powerful traffic-driving forces on the Web. Its slogan is “the front page of the internet,” and for many people it is just that.

Reddit has referred millions of people to my content. It consistently falls into my top ten referring sites, and occasionally it hits #1. But using Reddit to drive massive traffic isn’t as straightforward as you’d probably like—so in this guide, we’ll run through everything you need to know about tapping into the world’s largest social news site.

Understanding Reddit

First and foremost, you need to have an understanding of what Reddit is and how it works. In the simplest of terms, Reddit is:

an entertainment, social networking and news website where registered community members can submit content, such as text posts or direct links.

(Thanks, Wikipedia.)

Reddit is divided into different sections and communities, known as “subreddits.” Each subreddit typically revolves around a single topic or area of interest. Here are a few examples of popular subreddits:

  • /r/funny — funny images and ridiculous memes
  • /r/todayilearned — random bits of information that redditors learned today
  • /r/worldnews — news from around the world
  • /r/frugal — a place for redditors interested in saving money

I could list many more, but redditlist.com already has a great collection of the top 5,000 subreddits here.

Users of a given subreddit can share relevant links or text posts with the community, which can then be “upvoted” or “downvoted” by others.

 

The more upvotes a post gets, the more visible it becomes to other users.

As you can see in the screenshot above, Reddit users do not typically use their real names. While you do need an account to post, the whole community is very much anonymous.

What NOT To Do On Reddit

Most marketers use the same shitty promotional technique on every platform: post link after link after link and hope people click. That’s a bad strategy on Facebook and Twitter, and it’s not even an option on Reddit.

If there’s one thing redditors hate, it’s blatant self-promotion. If you’re constantly posting links to your own content, you may find yourself shadowbanned—which is a ban that allows you to continue submitting content but hides it from everyone except you, so you don’t even know you’ve been banned. You don’t want that to happen, so your self-promotional posts should be few and far between (more on this later).

The /r/ShadowBan subreddit has a full list of things you shouldn’t do on Reddit to avoid being shadowbanned.

Create Reddit-Worthy Content

Content is king.

That phrase has become such a cliché, but it’s true. If your content isn’t amazing, it’s not good enough. When someone clicks through to your site from Reddit, they expect it to be worth their time. If it’s not, they’ll close your site and keep scrolling, or worse—downvote it.

So put some serious time and effort into making your content the best it can be. If you do this consistently, Reddit will (eventually) become a source of traffic without you having to do anything, because your readers will start sharing your content on the subreddits they frequent. I get a constant stream of traffic from Reddit to articles I’ve never shared there myself. Keep that in mind.

It’s not hard to optimize your content for Reddit—you just have to do some research. Pick an appropriate subreddit and spend some time looking at the most popular threads. What kinds of things get a lot of upvotes? What are people saying in the comments? What can you create that those people will love?

Let’s say, for example, that I write a blog about aviation. If I want to create some Reddit-friendly content, I’ll start looking for related subreddits on redditlist.com:

Now I’ll look into those, determine how active they are, and try to figure out what types of content perform well on each of them.

On /r/aviation, for instance, people seem to love photos and videos of different aircraft in action. With that in mind, one potential blog post could be a compilation of photos and/or videos of a particular jet. The subreddit also contains quite a few news stories, so covering the latest aviation news might be a good idea as well.

Another great source of inspiration is a tool called BuzzSumo. You enter a topic, and it shows you the most shared content on the Web related to that topic. Take a look:

Again, aviation is just an example. You can substitute any niche and get an idea of what content gets shared by the people you want to reach, and then you can use that data to create something epic.

Using Reddit

Once you’ve created a killer piece of content that you just know Reddit will love, your first impulse will be to pull up a subreddit and share it. Don’t do that yet.

Remember what I said earlier: redditors hate shameless self-promotion, and they can smell it from a mile away. You will be called out by other users and possibly even banned.

The key to using Reddit as a marketer is to not be a marketer. I’ll say it again: you don’t want to be a marketer; you want to be a redditor. Create an account and start using the platform just like everyone else. Share interesting content (not your own) from a variety of sources, upvote other users’ posts, and participate in conversations. This will help you get to know your niche a little bit better, and you may even make some friends along the way.

After you’ve done this for a while, you’ll have a solid reputation and some karma under your belt. Then and only then is it appropriate to submit a link to your own content.

And once you’ve shared your own content, you’ll want to lay off the self-promotion again for a while. I would encourage you to limit your own content to 10 percent or less of your submissions. That means for every link to your own site, you’ll need to post at least nine links to other sites.

Because you’re actually being a member of the community, the risk of a shadowban is significantly lower, and your links won’t appear spammy (especially if they provide VALUE).

You can also ask redditor friends and your audience to share your content. Hardcore fans are always happy to help.

Put This Into Action

Reddit has been a big source of traffic for me, and you can make it work for you as well. Just remember these key points:

  1. Create awesome content.
  2. Reddit hates marketers, so don’t be a marketer. Be a redditor.
  3. Provide value to the community, and you’ll get value in return.

If you have any questions or other suggestions to add, feel free to leave them in the comments below!

What Every Business Can Learn About Social Media From Jimmy John’s

I ordered Jimmy John’s delivery for the first time today, and their commercials are right—they’re fast. Freaky fast. My sandwich was in my hands about seven minutes after ordering.

The delivery was fast, and the food was delicious. But what really sold me was the followup when I tweeted about it:

I know, that’s nothing to freak over (no pun intended). But when I clicked through to their feed, it was filled with friendly replies and outstanding customer service. Unlike most brands, Jimmy John’s is having real conversations and building relationships with their customers, rather than just shouting links all day.

It’s not just replies. Their tweets are awesome, too:

Jimmy John’s gets it. Social media isn’t about spamming your links/message to the world—it’s about building human relationships with your customers. The formal days of marketing are gone. To make it in 2014, you need to have a personality—one your target market can relate to. And Jimmy John’s is doing just that.

Why Your Business Needs Social Media

I’m always surprised to come across businesses that aren’t using social media to their advantage. It’s the most effective marketing medium available to us today, and the entry costs are low, yet so many businesses—both large and small—choose to leave a ton of money on the table.

If you haven’t started yet, now is the time. While you sit back and watch, your competitors are taking action.

But because I realize not everyone is convinced, let’s talk about why your business should be on social media…

Your customers are on social media.

Once upon a time, outdoor advertising was a great use of any marketing budget. If you bought billboard space alongside a busy highway, you had a guaranteed captive audience including every passenger of every car that passed your ad. But today, those passengers’ eyes are elsewhere.

Next time you’re out in public, count the number of people you see staring at a smartphone or other mobile device. Everyone’s attention is focused on a screen, and if you can’t get your message on that screen, you won’t be noticed.

When business owners claim their target market doesn’t use social media, I laugh. Facebook has 1.32 billion monthly active users as of June 30. If your customers don’t fall into that group, you should probably reconsider your business.

But what’s the ROI?!

Some folks, particularly execs at large corporations, refuse to embrace social media without knowing the ROI (return on investment) beforehand.

Here’s the thing. I don’t know what the ROI is. And that’s okay.

Why? Because social media is the only platform that people hold to this standard. What’s the ROI for a TV commercial? What’s the ROI for having your face on the cover of a magazine? What was the ROI for a billboard ad ten years ago?

It’s hard to tell. But we know it’s something.

Good business in 2014 is relationship-based, and the best way to build relationships with your clientele is through social media. Skipping out on social is far more of a risk than jumping in.

The Ice Bucket Challenge: One Of Social Media’s Greatest Accomplishments

If you’ve been online at all over the last couple of weeks, you’ve probably seen a ton of people dumping buckets of ice water on their heads. It’s called the Ice Bucket Challenge, and it’s all about spreading awareness and raising money to fight ALS (also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease).

Here’s how it works: when someone nominates you, you have the option to either complete the challenge on video (and nominate three others) or donate $100 to the ALS Association.

The campaign has spread like wildfire. And it makes sense: every time someone completes the challenge, the number of people participating triples.

But not everyone is thrilled about it. Some folks claim that it’s a waste of water. But more than that, the criticism suggests that the challenge is a way for people to look like they’re supporting a cause without actually doing anything, and that Americans would rather dump buckets of ice water on their heads than donate to charity.

I disagree.

According to the New York Times, the ALS Association received $13.3 million in donations between July 29 and August 17 of this year, compared to only $1.7 million during the same period last year.

That’s an $11 million difference that we can safely attribute to the Ice Bucket Challenge.

As for the idea that people would rather douse themselves in cold water than donate to charity, almost everyone I know who accepted the challenge donated and made a video.

Me, drenching myself in cold water

And yes, there are people who don’t know anything about ALS who are just jumping on the bandwagon to feel included. But again, $11 million is nothing to scoff at.

What can other charitable organizations learn from this?

For some reason, most charities are behind the times when it comes to tech. The viral effect of the Ice Bucket Challenge should be a lesson to all charitable organizations that social media is the way to reach people today. From breaking news to igniting political rebellion and—most recently—helping to fight a devastating disease, social media has changed the world.

Embrace it and construct a fun, unique campaign to spread the word, and you might just bring in an extra $11 million this month.