How you can effectively promote your content from our Writing Challenge
For those that have taken time to participate in the Dallas Design Sprints 30 minute writing challenge, you’ve probably created an article or two in the past week.
For those of you who hate writing or find it a challenge (especially if English isn’t your native language), consider these first few attempts a really good start. A lot of people just struggle with getting out the gate, trying to find that level of quality they’re comfortable showing to the rest of the world.
If you’re getting okay with being ‘good enough’, you may start wondering how you can showcase your content to a wider audience. You could be writing on an initial platform like Medium, but speculate on how to spread the word for more attention. Or, maybe you just want to be on Instagram but really step up your game with hashtags.
Whatever your situation or desired end state, there’s a proper way to get it done. Let me show you what I would generally recommend.
First, you’ll need to decide which platforms your content is ideally suited for.
For example, if you’re writing about design sprints and a new way of doing dot voting, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn are all viable options. Top 10 Tips for hair brushing a miniature dog? Maybe Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat.
The amount of platforms you decide to cover will ultimately be determined by your interest in marketing the content and the amount of time you have to get it done. If you’ve already spent about 40–50 minutes on your writing challenge, you may not have a lot of fuel in your cognitive gas tank. You might be happy just getting the damn thing done before you lose any more sleep working late into the night.
But if you’re determined to get into the habit of promoting your content (and to an extent, your professional brand), curate that list of supported platforms and get ready to distribute your stuff.
Promote Your Content
The following example assumes you’re writing your content on LinkedIn (for that absolutely crazy organic reach it currently offers), with an interest in transferring that work to Medium, Facebook and other platforms.
For reference, this process works if your origin content starts on Facebook, Twitter or another social platform. As with all forms of promotion, you’ll need to modify a few of the steps below in order to align with particular platform limitations and their standards.
For reference, I’d recommend reading this Hootsuite article on the ideal character count for each platform to guide your overall content creation. You can determine your overall level of effort through their research and run with it.
Finally, you should allocate about 30–45 minutes to go through this exercise of promoting your content. If you’re new to this, be nice to yourself and reserve a full hour. You’ll need it.
- Start with your audience
Who did you write this for? Soccer moms? Design Sprint Facilitators? Political operatives? Get a short list of 1–3 groups and write it down.
- Reverse engineer your audience on Google
Do some simple Google Searches for those groups you wrote down. What websites, groups, blogs or organizations come up that directly support them? Do any influencers pop up in the first page of search results? Keep these tabs open for later reference.
- Capture their social media contacts and hashtags
Look closely at your open tabs from Step #2 and begin fishing for their social media information. Are they on a particular platform? When you look up a person’s name on LinkedIn, what lists or hashtags do they use in their posts. Capture this in a digital doc for later use.
- Construct your copy offline
Don’t try to create something magical or in-depth on your platform’s submittal page. The last thing you want to do is lose a carefully articulated and groomed Tweet over a fat finger keystroke that accidentally refreshes the page. Take it from me, it hurts.
Instead, create a new digital document and start drafting your marketing copy. You can also write with pen/pencil and paper if that’s more your speed. Whatever makes your Tai Chi.
- Write for the largest character count first.
It’s always helpful to create more copy that you really need when it comes to marketing. You can strip out material that doesn’t fit within the character limit of a particular platform, and have more room to craft the proper message for your audiences. To that end, I prefer starting on Instagram most of the time.
- Use a simple structure to write your copy
Here’s a nice framework that captures the main content for any proper marketing post on social media:
a. Introduction + POV
b. What and Why
Write your copy in 2–3 complete sentences. Be sure to include any persons, companies or organizations you’re featuring in your content within the copy.
When you read it back to yourself for a bit of quality assurance, make sure it sounds like something you’d say to someone else in your natural voice… minus the hashtags of course.
- Add links and hashtags from Step #3
If you did your initial research right, you’ll have a nice list of links and hashtags to integrate throughout your post.
Have fun with it, but don’t go crazy on the hashtags. Using 9–10 of them should work just fine.
- Log in and start a new post on LinkedIn.
- Click on ‘Start a Post’, and copy/pasta your curated text into the input window that appears.
- Add ‘@’ mentions where you’ve included names of individuals, companies and organizations in your copy.
If you’re into networking, this step is very important. You want to let them know you’re promoting their brand or telling others what they’re about. Otherwise, they’ll never know it exists unless their organic news feed figures it out. Take the time to get this step right.
- Double check your work, take a deep breath, and submit your material.
But wait! There’s more
Now that you’ve submitted your content to LinkedIn (or your favorite social media platform), you’ll need to keep your expectations in check. You won’t be getting tens of thousands of reactions and comments to your content right off the bat. That sort of engagement takes time.
Instead, consider the following approaches to engaging your audiences and developing a habit for continuous self-promotion of your content.
- Respond to all comments
Reactions and likes are all wonderful validations of our brilliant self. But they are… in the end… just vanity metrics. You’re specifically looking for those individuals who take the time to leave a comment… either negative, positive or otherwise. You’ve hit the jackpot if they ask a question to clarify their understanding. Respond to them all.
- Ignore the analytics
Promoting your content, especially when you’re just starting your social media marketing efforts, isn’t a metrics game. It’s a game of attention, and finding the audience that likes and appreciates both your point of view and the material you provide them is what you’re after.
- Practice makes perfect
The whole point of doing the writing challenge in the first place is to make you a better communicator. I guarantee you’re going to improve by the end of the month as long as you continue to practice. Make sure your nascent audience is there to experience your growth as well.
- Pigeonhole yourself
If you’re struggling to find topics to write about, your audience is also struggling to understand who you are and what you represent. It’s easier to write about something when you narrow your focus to a specific topic (like virtual design sprints). You’ll also attract the right audience once they know what you represent.
- Harness the long tail
We’re currently living through the greatest era of digital distribution for your content and perspective. Take advantage of that reality by producing as much content as you can, and at scale. You’ll be effectively building a long tail of material that will only serve you well in the future. Keep it up.
If you have your own tips and tricks for marketing your content on social media, please leave them in the comments below. Thank you for reading!
Join the Kung Fu Writing Challenge
This article is part of the 30 minute writing challenge I’m doing throughout the month of June to help and encourage others to improve upon their writing skills and become better practitioners of prose.
If you’re interested in taking the challenge, check out this article for more information: https://medium.com/dallas-design-sprints/heres-how-to-participate-in-our-month-long-writing-challenge-41ca795a5176