I am often asked what the benefit is to many of the blog promotion steps I take after publishing a new post. While some of them, like sharing to Twitter, are not only obvious but clearly rewarding in terms of traffic and sales, there are many that have far less quantifiable benefits.
What’s the point of sharing a blog post to a site that’s only going to get me a couple of views, at best?
I’m reminded of a scene from The West Wing. In it, President Bartlett is having a discussion with his re-election campaign consultant Bruno Gianelli. In the scene, Bartlett was questioning why Bruno, or anyone else, would care where the Bartlett’s spent Thanksgiving. Bruno had decided to run some polling to see if Americans had a preference for where the President spent the holiday. In response to Barlett’s questioning, Bruno said:
“I have difficulty sometimes talking to people who don’t race sailboats. When I was a teenager, I crewed Larchmont to Nassau on a 58-foot sloop called Cantice. There was a little piece of kelp that was stuck to the hull, and even though it was little, you don’t want anything stuck to the hull. So, I take a boat hook on a pole and I stick it in the water and I try to get the kelp off, when seven guys start screaming at me, right? ‘Cause now the pole is causing more drag than the kelp was. See, what you gotta do is you gotta drop it in and let the water lift it out in a windmill motion. Drop it in, and let the water take it by the kelp and lift it out. In, and out. In, and out, till you got it. The voters aren’t choosing a plumber, Mr. President. They are choosing a president. And if you don’t think that your family should matter, my suggestion to you is to get out of professional politics. And if you think that I’m going to miss even one opportunity to pick up half-a-mile boat speed, you’re absolutely out of your mind. When it costs us nothing, when we give up nothing?! You’re out of your mind.“
So what’s the lesson here? If I can get just a few more visits from interested readers, and it costs me nothing; I give up nothing – if you think that’s an opportunity I am going to pass up, you’re out of your mind.
Watch the scene to really appreciate how Ron Silver delivers the line (and please ignore the odd credits at the end):
Does that mean that I recommend bloggers spam their links out to every possible third tier social network and directory. Absolutely not. If you take a look at my blog promotion checklist, you’ll note that I regularly re-evaluate the tools and services that I’m using. I do want to make sure that my time, even if it’s just a few minutes or seconds, is being well spent.
Just like Gianelli with his polling, I regularly look at my Analytics, and not just to see what my top-performing referrers are and where my traffic is coming from. I also dig down a little deeper and take a look at whether or not some of the more niche sites or third tier networks are generating any traffic at all.
For most, once you have an account set up, sharing new articles that you write takes just a few seconds each time, so for me, it doesn’t take much in terms of traffic for that time to have been well spent.
Take StumbleUpon for instance.
For a minimal investment, I was able to attract 106 more visitors to my site and blog content last month, and 1,295 visitors over the course of the last year. Some of these visitors may have read a post and moved on, but others may have shared a post to other social networks, signed up for my newsletter, or perhaps even progressed to becoming regular readers and clients.
So by sharing my blog posts to these kinds of sites, I’m improving my sites performance, even if it’s just a tiny amount – like cleaning the kelp from my sailing boat. The tiny improvements can make a significant impact over time and when coupled with other changes and improvements.
So here’s my takeaway for you: if you want to make sure that you’re doing everything that you can improve your business, website and blog, and continuing to expand your readership and potential client base, always be on the lookout for new places to share your blog articles and spark discussions and engagement opportunities. I regularly advise clients to add one or two new accounts and distribution channels each month, and to regularly analyze how their existing channels are performing. Sometimes spending a little more time developing a channel can reap massive rewards. Other times, it’s a better idea to simply cull the channel from your promotion checklist and move on to other methods. Either way, make sure that you’re doing everything you can pick up that extra half-a-mile of boat speed.