Note from Beth: I’m packing my bags for a trip to India to lead a training for NGOs that are Packard Grantees to kick off a peer learning project called “Networked NGO.” My colleagues at Momsrising, the poster child for Networked Nonprofits, offered this amazing guest post filled with great tips on how to get your blog noticed. Enjoy!
Seven Ways to Make Sure Your Blog Gets Noticed, Guest Post By Elisa Batista, Donna Norton, and Monifa Bandele from Momsrising
It’s every blogger’s nightmare. You write a compelling post, actually, a brilliant post, and it doesn’t get so much as a click. It’s heartbreaking to see your masterpiece die a slow and painful death as it rolls off the front page to virtual oblivion.
The good news is this is completely avoidable in the Age of Social Media.
Over the last six years since our founding, MomsRising has worked with hundreds of bloggers and has learned how to strategically use social media to ensure that key audiences don’t miss compelling posts. To rescue other would-be brilliant posts from virtual oblivion, we thought we would share with you some of the lessons we have learned along the way.
Recently, MomsRising conducted a blog carnival on school food , which serves as a useful case study about how social media can ensure that target audiences see compelling blog posts.
A blog carnival is a series of blog posts related to one theme, in this case, the promotion of USDA-proposed nutritional standards for snacks in schools, which coincided with a Kids’ Safe and Healthful Foods Project poll showing that most Americans support the guidelines. These posts are then placed as a series of links below an overarching introductory blog post that was written by a MomsRising staff member.
As of April 23, 2012, MomsRising published 35 blog posts as part of the food blog carnival that were initially promoted on our own network and then pushed out, using various community #hashtags on Twitter and by our policy partners and other allies. After initially promoting the blog carnival on our network, which has a social media reach of 3.5 million readers, hundreds of thousands of others have viewed the stories as well.
Here are seven lessons we have learned along the way:
Lesson #1: Publish compelling content that will appeal to your target audience
As childhood obesity disproportionally impacts children of color, we specifically used social media strategies to reach communities of color. We started by proactively reaching out to bloggers of color to participate in the blog carnival.
After sending out at least 60 invitations, we published 35 blogs, of which eight were written by African American writers and another eight by Latinas. Another two blog posts were by Asian-American mothers for a total of 18 of 35 posts – more than half of the blog carnival was written by writers of color.
These blogs were compelling and personal, like Latina blogger, Nicole Presley, who shared her experience of providing an alternative to junk food to neighborhood kids in her native community of East L.A. and Bryan Hurt, the filmmaker of Soul Food Junkies, who discussed the complex history of soul food and how our food choices and lack of access to healthy foods are making us an unhealthy people. Many of the blog posts included pictures of food, school children and the bloggers interacting with sources they interviewed – making the blogs even more compelling to read!
Lesson #2: Identify and use high-trafficked #hashtags on Twitter that resonate with your target audience.
One of the ways MomsRising has increased and diversified our Twitter following is by meeting families where they are. We have been able to cultivate relationships with African American and Latina mom bloggers by tweeting our stories to hashtags such as #bwb (“blogging while brown”), #latism (Latinos in Social Media) and #LatinaMomBlogs and re-tweeting others using these hashtags.
We were also able to create huge buzz around school foods by encouraging everyone in our network to use the hashtags #SchoolFoods and #NoMoreJunk.
Lesson #3: Ask partners and allies for help in disseminating your blog.
You, your partners and colleagues can be crucial in disseminating your blog to target audiences. For example, the MomsRising food blog carnival was part of a larger campaign that included coalition partners Pew, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and PreventObesity.net as well as other child advocates and nutritional experts. The goal was to draw attention both online and on the ground to expected USDA standards for school snack foods. We did this by writing and seeking out blogs in favor of the standards, and even worked with a number of bloggers to incorporate the Kids’ Safe and Healthful Food Project poll.
Once the blog carnival went live, we provided sample tweets and Facebook updates about the blog carnival to our bloggers and partners and encouraged everyone in the coalition to share the links with their networks.
This proved to be fruitful. Among other social media mentions we received thanks to help from our coalition partners were NASCAR champion AJ Allmendinger who posted a link to the blog carnival on his blog and Input for Impact Weekly, a Twitter newsletter, after spotting it on the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation website. Numerous coalition staff members mentioned the blog carnival on their networks.
Lesson #4: Leverage co-workers and personal contacts for additional pushes.
In our third push, we asked our MomsRising team for additional organizations, bloggers and individuals who could potentially broadcast the blog carnival to their networks. Over e-mail, we brainstormed for bloggers, food justice activists, doctors, child and family advocates – anyone we thought would be interested in the theme of healthy snack foods in schools.
Then we each went at it, e-mailing our contacts with sample Facebook and Twitter messages to see if they would share with their networks. As a result, we garnered tens of thousands of additional impressions on Facebook and Twitter, most notably, the National Council of La Raza (@nclr), which tweeted – twice — to 13,297 followers and marked it as one of their “favorite” tweets; the Children’s Defense Fund (@childdefender) tweeted to 8,834 followers; Latina Lista, easily the largest political blog for Latinas, posted on its Facebook page to 2,730 followers; and The National Physicians Alliance shared with 1,342 followers on Facebook.
Lesson #5: Craft those thank you notes!
We also sent individual thank you e-mails to our bloggers, and included sample tweets and Facebook posts they could share.
In return, we received a frenzy of tweets after our top writers mentioned the blog carnival to their Twitter followers: Marc Lamont Hill, an African-American television commentator, tweeted his story to 40,552 followers. Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution team (@FoodRev) tweeted the blog carnival – twice — to 25,125 followers.
And, of course, we made sure to thank them again in a re-tweet.
#6: Use any coverage of your topic in traditional media outlets to disseminate your blog post.
To promote and disseminate our MomsRising food blog carnival, we also scoured the web for news articles that covered the recently released poll the Kids’ Safe and Healthful Food Project.
In the comments threads, we let readers know that there was indeed an online movement of families for healthier snacks in schools and then linked to our blog carnival. We received many reader tweets from this and also the media itself. Among traditional media that mentioned our blog carnival were Liz Szabo, a health reporter at USA Today with 15,737 followers on Twitter, and Gina Carroll a reporter for the Houston Chronicle with 3,036 followers on Twitter.
Lesson #7: Continue to search for opportunities to promote your blog post
The work that was involved in promoting our food blog carnival and the amazing response we received, was too valuable to let disappear into virtual oblivion when the blog carnival ended. We did an extensive write-up of this blog carnival, including everywhere that it appeared and its overall impact on the debate.
We not only shared the original blog posts and good news about the popularity of the blog posts with our coalition partners, but also the White House! During a May 10 MomsRising tweet chat with the White House, we not only shared the blog carnival with tweeters but provided a hard copy of our food blog carnival write-up to White House officials who were participating in the tweet chat.
In this particular tweet chat, the No. 1 item of discussion was childhood obesity, which garnered 65 out of more than 400 tweets! Among those who attended the tweet chat to discuss this topic, was tennis legend Billie Jean King, who has more than 13,000 followers on Twitter. Besides this particular tweet chat, we have continued to look for opportunities to promote our food blog carnival posts, for example, tweeting out key blogs during a tweet chat hosted by the CDC on obesity.
With the incredible power of social media, there’s no reason for any blog post to fade into oblivion. What strategies have you used to promote your blog posts?
MomsRising.org (http://www.momsrising.org) is a national organization with a social media reach of 3.5 million readers and more than a million members across the country advocating for policies related to family economic security, child health and ending discrimination against mothers.