30 Apr 7.5 Secret Steps To Winning At Blogging
In early 2013, I had a call with a writer named Jeff Haden. A few weeks before our call, Jeff had written an article about being “likeable.” I had thought to myself, “Wow, I need to chat with that guy.” I had no idea, however, that Jeff Haden would make such an incredible impact in my professional and personal life. Thanks to Jeff Haden, I was introduced to the awesome editors of the LinkedIn Infuencer program and began writing alongside leaders like Barack Obama, Richard Branson, and Arianna Huffington.
My friend and fellow speaker, author and entrepreneur Lon Safko, surprised me last week with the following in-depth analysis and insight on what it takes to be a successful blogger on LinkedIn and beyond. Thank you Lon, for your incredible insight. I hope you all enjoy:
With the changes in the way Google indexes pages and the amount of information being published each day, we as marketers are faced with an increasing pressure to develop and post content. The easiest way to content creation is by blogging. A major drawback is competing for readers from nearly 200 million other blogs.
Bloggers today are searching for the secret formula to achieve the goal of the largest audience possible. The “eyes” have it. Increasing traffic to your blog posts make it easier for you to sell your products and services to a larger audience, so I went searching for that secret formula.
A good friend of mine is a prolific content generator, author of NYT bestselling books, blogs, articles, tweets, status updates, and posts. His name is Dave Kerpen. He is the author of the phenomenally successful book “Likeable Social Media” and has build an agency around it. Dave is the most read LinkedIn blogger to date with more than 2,700,000 views with just one of his blog posts alone. Dave and I met due to our common achievements of both having bestselling books in the social media industry.
I quickly realized if I was going to look for that buried treasure, Dave’s LinkedIn blog posts was possibly where that treasure might be found.
I shared with Dave an insight or two into what has been working in my blogs and what doesn’t. He sent this great information explaining the success of his blog posts.
As the human being with most page views of all time on the LinkedIn platform (22M+), I’m uniquely if not humbly able to opine on this subject. I’ve published a blueprint for publishing on LinkedIn on Inc.com here:
But briefly, your headline is the single most important factor in success and it must deliver a succinct promise, as others have said. Next up in important is the hero image at the top of the post, followed (last) by the content itself. The number one factor in determining virility is rate of comments too, so best to solicit comments in both the post and offline amongst friends.
Publishing time is important too, M-W AM EST is the best time to post although this varies more now with so many others publishing.
All that said, I’ve had posts that have had as few as 2K views and posts from with as many as 2M views, so obviously there are other factors including luck at play.
Best of luck! When I see your posts, I try to share whenever possible with my 500K followers, happy to help.
Dave also wrote an article for INC. “How to Make Money by Blogging on LinkedIn”
Here’s Dave’s six steps:
- Think of a great headline.
- Find or take a compelling photo.
- Write a concise post.
- Include two strong “calls to action” at the bottom of your post.
- Share the post on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.
- Repeat steps 1 through 5.
I went to LinkedIn and retrieved the primary information available on all of Dave’s blog posts; Title, Views, Likes (shares), and comments. Then, moved this into a spreadsheet to look for patterns, to find a criteria that if replicated would ensure blogging success. After a couple of hours of analysis, I felt like John Nash from “A Beautiful Mind.” If you want a copy of this spreadsheet, you can click here:
Get The Spreadsheet Here:
Here are the general statistics after analyzing Dave’s blogs on LinkedIn.
There were a total of 132 blogs. While several of Dave’s blogs were over 2,000 words, most settled in at about 900 words.
I started by analyzing the blogs by the Holy Grail number, the number of views. The range in the blog views were 2,655 at the low end and over 2 million views at the high end.
- Views Likes Comments
- Lowest 2,655 36 10
- Highest 2,718,988 26,898 7,499
The next step was to separate the blog views into 8 “view size” categories making it easier to analyze.
- 0k<25k 46
- 25k<50k 29
- 50k<100k 27
- 100k<250k 12
- 250k<500k 10
- 500k<1m 7
- 1m<2m 0
- 2m+ 1
- Total 132
- More than 77% of the blogs were under 100k views.
- 46% or nearly half were 25k or less views.
- Only 5% had over 500k views.
- Only 1 out of 132 blogs achieved more than 1m views.
Important Factor: Perhaps the key and most influencing factor with this analysis is that size matters. Dave has 499,821 LinkedIn connections, nearly 27,000 friends on Facebook, and almost 47,000 followers on Twitter. When he pushes out content, his reach is amazing.
It’s the size and quality of your following that matters.
Finally, I had to make a few assumptions. Assumed that:
- All of Dave’s blogs had about the same high quality content.
- All blogs were promoted the same through other networks, Facebook, emails, public, etc.
- Momentum of frequency had no effect.
Secret #1 – Types of Titles
There is little doubt the title of a blog is the most important criteria in a post’s ability to capture readers. The very same is true for email subject lines, status updates, newspaper ad headings, and even radio and Television ads.
I named this the “1.5 Second Rule” and the “5 Second Rule”. With all of the noise, news, and constant information being pushed on a daily basis, we’ve developed the attention spans of hamsters. The first step, is getting someone’s attention with only 1.5 seconds to accomplish this. If you achieve this feat, you will have only 5 seconds more to keep their attention. This is the importance of using an attention grabbing headline, followed by an attention holding first sentence.
Here’s some analysis on Dave’s use of titles. “Neutral”, meaning not really hyperbole, “Numbered Lists”, “How To’s”, and “Hyperbole”. When looking at the spreadsheet, the two largest categories of titles read are Numbered Lists and Hyperbole. Neutral titles and How To’s didn’t fair as well. Blogs with the most views seemed to be about “life”, “business”, “success”, and “family”.
Hyperbole Vs Lists
In doing some independent research regarding headlines and blogs, people said “I have time for “6 Tips” or “10 Secrets” or “5 Things”. “I won’t read a blog or article that I actually have to read. I don’t have time for that. I DO have time to scan a few bullets, however.”
Here are 20 examples of Dave’s “Numbered List” titles:
- 15 Ways to Get
- 9 Quotes
- 11 Simple Secrets
- 5 Real Life Tips
- 9 Moments
- The 5 New Realities
- The #1 Tip to
- 5 Secrets to Go Viral
- 17 Trends in Business
- 17 Things The Boss Should Never Say
- 7 Simple Rules for Amazing
- 10 Podcasts You Should
- Top 10 Workplace Movies
- 7 Rules For Talking to Children
- 21 Amazing Authors
- The 6 Stages of Mobile
- 13 Must-Have Mobile Apps
- 7 Ways to Gamify
- The 1 Thing You Must Do
- 8 Simple Ways to Inspire
As it turns out, Hyperbole is the second most read titles; “If it bleeds, it leads.” Use words in your titles that that grab your readers attention, like these 20 more examples:
- The Secret to
- The Only Way
- These New Rules
- Why You Should
- How This 32-Year-Old
- How to Get
- The Power of
- How to Get More
- Simple Strategy to
- How to Turn Your Idea
- Best Advice:
- Secrets to Balancing
- The Biggest Challenge
- How to Get Ahead
- What’s Missing From
- The Simple Secret to
- How Successful People
- The Real Value Of The “F” Word
- How Crowdemand is Disrupting Fashion
- Should You Take a Summer Vacation?
The next step was to analyze the type of headings used in top 5 most viewed categories.
- Title Headings Number Top 5 Viewed
- Neutral 15 0
- Numbered Lists 47 18
- How To 16 4
- Hyperbole 54 8
- Total 132
The top 5 most viewed categories; 100k views to 2m views, Number Lists, wins out over Hyperbole, with more than 2 to 1 win! Hyperbole outnumbered the How To’s, 2 to 1, and, Neutral titles didn’t score well, at 0.
Additional Tip: Creating a blog including content from other bloggers and famous people is also a way to get your blog read. By bringing in other people to contribute, you build on their Google Juice* increase your Link Love, and scope of promotion.
- Google Juice: The number of indexed pages for your site with your industry keywords.
- Link Love: Also called External Reputable Links; links from other web and blogs sites linking back to yours. Both Google Juice and Link Love are still rated highly by all search engines therefore driving your blog pages to the top of the searches.
Answer #1: It’s Numbered List titles by far with a sprinkling of Hyperbole and remember to include blogs about “life”, “business”, “success”, and “family”.
Secret #2 – Hero Images
As you can see in Dave’s email, he suggested that the first image or “Hero Image” was also critical.
I looked at all the images he used and placed them into five categories:
- 1 – Stock Images
- 2 – Dave and / or Family
- 3 – Likeable Brand and / or Company”
- 4 – Famous People
- 5 – Movies / TV
Here’s how the images were used in Dave’s 132 blog posts:
- 1 -Stock Images 60
- 2 -Dave and / or Family 29
- 3 – Likeable and / or Company 16
- 4 – Famous People 22
- 5 – Movie / TV 5
The next charts shows the top five most viewed categories with the number of each type of Hero Image used. Dave also suggested images of “People” were much more effective than “Inanimate Objects.”
The Category 1m<2m Views were eliminated from the cart above as there were no entries.
- 100k<250K: Random – mostly stock photos, mostly people, no correlation.
- 250k<500k: Random – Nearly all stock photos, 50/50 people, no correlation.
- 500k<1m: Random – stock, Likeable, famous, and movie photos, no correlation.
- 2m+ Comments: Random – 1 Likeable photo, no people, no correlation.
Examples of each of the image categories:
Answer #2: Stock Images work great, followed by personal photos.
Secret #3 – People Vs Inanimate Objects
A picture is worth a thousand words and Dave suggests using an image of a person as opposed to an inanimate object, no matter if the object image better describes the content. People images either work better for capturing attention or bloggers use them more often. It’s believed that the reader needs someone to relate to. An image where the reader can say, yea, this person is just like me, trying to figure this stuff out too!
In Dave’s total blogs list, he had:
- People 102
- Inanimate Objects 30
Answer #3: While pictures of people seems to be preferred in the blogs, the very highest views did not include People Hero Images at all. The results are inconclusive, so go with the People images.
Secret #4 – Engagement, The Call To Comment
Dave really “engages” his audience and encourages comments with closing questions. Using an ending section he calls “Now It’s Your Turn”. Engaging people brings them closer to your brand and they feel a part of your success. Deliberately asking questions at the end of your blog reminds and encourages them to participate. Brilliant!
Here are several examples of Dave’s call to comment:
Now it’s your turn: Have you ever listened to a podcast? What podcasts do you love? Which have helped you become a better leader? Does your company have a podcast? If not, what’s stopping you starting one?
Now it’s your turn: What companies do you think do a great job of being helpful or useful? What is your “Youtility”? What useful information do you provide to your customers and prospects? And how do you get the word out about it through social media? Please let me know in the Comments section below, and please do share this post with your network.
Now it’s your turn: Which of these leadership principles are most important to you? What attributes would you add? What makes you a likeable leader? Share your thoughts in the comment section below!
Answer #4: The analysis showed blogs with the highest Engagement were about family, work, problems we all face, and the How To’s. It was the social side of the conversation getting the best engagement, not the numbered lists. This makes sense as a list is a list; a quick way to digest information and move on. The social side encouraged conversation. So, do you want engagement or views?
Secret #5 – Likes, Shares or Trust
Shares are a function of trust. Trust in you and your content. Remember when someone shares your content with their tribe, sharing is a reflection on them. Either good relationship secrets or insightful business tips will make them look good.
The blogs that with titles such as “Reality TV”, 21 Favorite Songs, or Negative Workplace titles had the least Likes per view. Another interesting statistic was, as the views increased, the likes went down, which I cannot explain.
Secret #6 – When To Send
Dave recommended that the best publishing time is Monday – Wednesday in the AM EST.
Answer #6: Actually he’s right. To be very specific, both emails blasts and blog postings are most effective when sent at 10:00 AM on Tuesday.
Secret #7 – Signature Block
Dave is brilliant using this signature block at the end of every blog. It summarizes every take-away he wants his reader to leave with:
Dave Kerpen is the founder and CEO of Likeable Local. He is also the co-founder and Chairman of Likeable Media, and the New York Times-bestselling author of Likeable Social Media and Likeable Business, and the new collection, Likeable Leadership. To read more from Dave on LinkedIn, please click the FOLLOW button above or below.
Want to learn about how to grow your business using social media in 2 minutes? Click here.
Answer #7: This shows his readers his accomplishments, promotes his book, and his company. It also encourages readers to connect with him on LinkedIn and drives people to his website with a tantalizing promise of spending only 2 minutes. Anyone can spare 2 minutes to learn more after reading an awesome blog. More importantly, using your “keywords” in your signature block reinforces these words with the search engines. It strengthens your page index for those keywords.
Secret #7.5 – LUCK!
Most people define success as “Where preparation meets opportunity”. We all have been there done that. At one time or another, we have been very prepared when the opportunity presented itself, but the results were less than anticipated. After speaking with and interviewing so many successful people, all admitted coming to the same conclusion. Even Dave himself said it in his email… It’s all about luck! “Success is where preparation meets opportunity, and you get struck by luck.” If you’re not prepared or opportunity never knocks, it won’t be a success. If both are true, there is no guarantee of success unless lucky lightning strikes.
Answer #7.5: Be prepared, wait for opportunity… And keep your fingers crossed.
My last thought: “Imitation is the highest form of flattery”. Go and flatter us!
Get The Spreadsheet Here
My, Now It’s Lon’s Turn: What has been your experience using images of people vs images of inanimate objects, which perform better for you? Do you use a signature block? How much information do you put in it? What type of blogs do you Like or Share? Which don’t you share? Do you often comment on blogs? Only certain blogs? How do you feel about Hyperbole titles vs Numbered Lists? Do you prefer non-Numbered Lists blogs depending upon how much time you have? And, what am I missing from this analysis? Really… I want to hear your views!
Lon Safko is the founder and CEO of Innovative Thinking. He is also an acclaimed international speaker, trainer, and the author of two bestselling books “The Social Media Bible” & “The Fusion Marketing Bible”. To learn more about Lon go to http://www.LonSafko.com or on LinkedIn, please click the FOLLOW button above or below.
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