Thursday, August 30, 2012

My bewildered blogging friend proves content is king if you want to "go viral"

Every now and then one of my clients will send me an email or casually ask me at the end of a session something along these lines: "How can I go viral?"

They've seen a photo or video or blog post go wild around the world and produce incredible amounts of promotion for someone else, and they want to do the same. And they hope - and I can understand that hope - that there is some magic formula to make this happen.

Of course, when you sit down and think about it for a few moments, you know there can't be. There's a combination of factors that will help some little piece of the web go viral but really the only thing you can control is quality. If you create lots of online content that is high quality, then you're increasing your chances of people wanting to spread your little bit of the web to friends and colleagues across the world. And I have a great example to prove it!

A few months back, I was sipping my cup of tea in playgroup when I overheard some of the other mothers talking about "some internet thing" they'd be forwarding to all their friends. My ears pricked when I heard them mention it was about having three kids. I asked them for some more details and sure enough, it was the blog post I suspected it might be, written by my blogging student (and friend) Shannon, owner of the parenting blog Relentless.

Shannon wrote a post called The Brutal Truth About the Third Child when she was pregnant with, as you might guess, her third child. It's a beautifully-written comparison of parental experiences as the first, second and third children are born.

She didn't promote this post in any unusual way - she posted it on her Facebook page as normal, and that was it. Suddenly, it started getting massive amounts of internet traffic, and the reason was simple: people loved it and wanted to share it with their friends. Shannon started to email me with questions like "Should I reply individually to every single comment?" when it began to get dozens and dozens of comments, well more than the usual half a dozen she would feel lucky to get. I watched as numerous of my friends shared it on Facebook - and not because I'd told them about it, either. Her Facebook fan page follower number jumped dramatically, enough to make me rather jealous, I must admit!

Half a year later, Shannon's blog goes from strength to strength, but the massive boost she received from that one post going viral is still having a huge effect on the amount of interaction she gets, both on the blog and her blog's Facebook page. And for me, it's absolutely proof of what I always tell clients who ask me "the viral question" - it's all about quality.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Save some time with Facebook scheduling

I work with all kinds of different clients, but increasingly, a whole swag of them have a Facebook business page, and complain that they don't have time to update it as regularly as I'm advising them too. In the past, I've advised them to use scheduling sites like Hootsuite, but in most cases, I can already see their eyes glazing over as I'm explaining how it works, and I can see them thinking - *another* site I have to remember how to log in to?

Thankfully, Facebook seems to have figured this out and have implemented a reasonably workable solution. It's not perfect and it's a bit cumbersome but it works (nearly all of the time ...) and the post comes out looking how you want it to.

You can now schedule posts from within Facebook - and that means posts with images, links or just simple status updates - for up to a year ahead. This means you don't have to log in to Facebook twice every day to post something, and you can sit down for a half hour or so at some stage during your week and schedule content for the days ahead (or up to a year ahead, if you're super-keen!). If this sounds like something you need to try, here are some instructions:

1. Log in to your Facebook account and "Use page as ...[your business page]" from the drop-down arrow at the top right of your screen.

2. Click in the "What's on your mind?" box on your page profile and create a post as normal (add a photo, a link, write a status update).

3. Behold the magic schedule button: this small clock that appears at the bottom left corner of the status update box. Click it!

4. This part is the cumbersome bit, but it works - choose the year, then the month, then the day, then the hour, then the minute (I did say it is cumbersome!). You can spread our your content across the week and also try to post it at the optimal times for your "likers" to see it.

5. Ta-da! Done! And you have no more excuses for not putting out some at least semi-regular updates on your Facebook business page.
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